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Monday, June 29, 2020

MevsMyself - Mictlan

There’s something that has crept upon the waters of vocalizations with a man named Giorgio Pinardi and his voice solo project, MevsMyself. Since 2015 with the debut release of Yggdrasil, he had begun music when was very young by studying opera singing and sung in the child choir of the La Scala Theater in Milan, Italy. After playing with bands, he decided to bring his voice from different perspectives – extended vocal techniques, body percussion, improvisation, and experimentation.

That and his second album, Mitclan which was released last year, showcases Pinardi’s arrangements by travelling through the various improvisations of Mongolian, African Indian, and Bulgarian music. Now, mind you I was very with this type of sound from hearing Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man from his twelfth studio masterpiece, Headhunters. And two others; Crystal Beth, and the late great Paul Pena.

Who not only wrote the hit song Jet Airliner, but delved into the world of Tuvan throat singing which was covered in the 1999 documentary, Genghis Blues. For Pinardi, he channels those three masters and takes his own spin of vocal percussions with the twists and turns on Mitclan. Giorgio does well on just his voice, but taking us to these various landscapes that structure on where he’s going to land.

Sometimes the genres crossover between Jazz, World, Electronic, Scat, and a touch of Ladysmith Black Mambazo with some tribes of middle-eastern music thrown into the middle. And mind you, it is quite unexpected, but this album is quite a journey from start to finish that Pinardi has taken us into these unbelievable results that you might want to take note on.

While this album took me a long, long time to get into, Giorgio Pinardi’s arranging and composition was really worth exploring into the music of MevsMyself. But it was really something that made me wanted to go back and revisit it again. I don’t recall how many times I listened to, but I went back again and again to give this album my full stamp of approval for 2020. And I hope to hear more from Pinardi in the years to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Gary Husband & Markus Reuter - Music of our Times

While we’re living in these tricky times in 2020 with the Quarantine situation and COVID-19, music is our comfort zone to get away from those rough moments that we are going through right now. That and the latest release from MoonJune Records with pianist Gary Husband and Touch guitarist/live electronics Markus Reuter entitled, Music of our Times. This is the labels 101st release. Recorded at NK Sound Studio in Tokyo, Japan, Husband and Reuter create these visual soundscapes to capture the structures between loneliness, superstition, beauty, and chambering echoes.

The story goes like this, Leonardo Pavkovic booked a block of studio time in Tokyo after Stick Men were stranded by finishing off a performance in Nagoya at Blue Note. So what he did was to construct a plan “B” idea for both Gary and Markus before their return flight. And it was all recorded in one night.

Similar to what John Coltrane did with A Love Supreme being recorded for one night at Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on December 9th, 1964, Music of our Times carries that torch, but with a strength of surreal beauty that is finally brought to life. With the usage of Fazioli F212 Grand Piano, Husband creates some of these darker passages with an echoing hallway effect.

For Markus, he follows Gary by becoming like a painter of sorts as they’re following in the footsteps of both Jackson Pollock and Julian Schnabel. They’re looking through their exhibitions between both original and plate paintings that are brought to life as if they’re walking through the stories inside those portrayals that are unleashed for the first time.

Some of the pieces including the intensive title-track, channel the crossovers between Keith Jarrett’s playing, meets the soundscapes of Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht while delving into the dooming structures of Manuel Gottsching’s playing on Ash Ra Tempel’s Traummaschine. They work well together to create these mournful scenarios. On White Horses (For Allan) you can feel the spirit of the late great Allan Holdsworth in this arrangement.

Reuter channels his visual styles to make his own take of the SynthAxe while Husband follows him by going through the loops and walking towards some cavernous reverb effect as Markus’ instruments cries out to the gods by making sure that Allan is watching up from above and understanding that he’s got their backs, no matter what will happen next.

Colour of Sorrow at first sounds like the bass riff intro on Justin Chancellor’s Schism from Tool’s Lateralus. But it becomes different the way Husband goes into the abyss while walking down the stairs to see this glowing light approaching the duo at the right exact moment for them to fly off into the distance.

Now this was a big challenge for me that MoonJune Records have unleashed in 2020. It took me about six to eight listens. Mind you, I had a few albums that I listened that were very challenging at times. And my ears had no idea on whether or not this album was either going to sink or swim. 

But for me, Music of our Times is the perfect swimming exercise to listen from start to finish. MoonJune Records have never disappointed me with some of the greatest releases they’ve unleashed. And who knows what the label will think of next. But for Husband and Reuter, in the words of Steve Winwood, “Who knows what tomorrow may bring?”

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Andrea Scala - Coming Back, Leaving Again

Andrea Scala is an Italian born, Toronto based drummer and composer that has unleashed his debut album this year on the Shifting Paradigm label entitled Coming Back, Leaving Again. This was a big challenge for me to listen to his new album from start to finish. It was like walking into this other room and seeing what Andrea is going to do next.

I had no idea on what to expect as I was putting my earphones on, but I was up for that kind of challenge with Andrea’s debut. It’s electronic, fusion, progressive, and very whirlpoolish. Everything on this album is very much like the ultimate trip for Scala to push the envelope even further.

While this is my first time discovering the Shifting Paradigm label, some of the centerpieces that are on here, would shivers down your spine to see and hear what Andrea would think of next. There are moments of Avant-Garde, Soul, Electronic, Classical, and Atmospheric noises to make the cycling flower come to life.

Towards Oxygen sounds like the swirling guitar that is in a hay-wiring effect that Manilo Maresca channels the midsection sequence of Mark Mothersbaugh’s guitar on Devo’s Too Much Paranoias. Plus diving into the droning effects between Eno, Cluster, Stockhausen, and the Zeit-era of Tangerine Dream.

With Out Here, Scala goes into this Trip-Hop effect as he walks into these big gigantic steps with Tarenzi’s intensive piano exercise that goes from this cliffhanger effect into a Thelonious Monk approach. He along with Puglisi’s double bass, walk into this garden of dream-like beauty that has been unleashed to its own amazement.

Overnight Walk sees Nicola Costa’s guitar carrying this bluesy effect by channeling some of the early Floyd sounds while Raponi’s Wurlitzer soars into this R&B/Soulful twist with Liberti & Santodonato’s horn sections to take us into a midnight dance with some incredible grooves to give us a chance to see the sun in all of its glory. Cracked at first sounds like these complex challenges with some odd time textures thanks to Mareca’s guitar lines going up and down the rabbit hole.

It becomes this spiraling staircase into the wacky worlds of Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, and Kerry Minnear’s keyboard work from Gentle Giant. Now for me, Andrea Scala’s debut album is like a powder keg that is ready to explode. And he’s not backing down without a fight. He along with his team mates have worked well together to bring this album to life. So for me, I might peak my interest with not just with Scala’s work but the label itself to see what ideas they might have in store for me.

Friday, April 24, 2020

David Sancious - Eyes Wide Open

David Sancious has made a name for himself as one of the original members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. But he’s more than just working with Bruce himself. He’s also worked and toured with legendary artists including Stanley Clarke, France Gall, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Jack Bruce, Jon Anderson, and Eric Clapton to name a few.

This year, Sancious has released a new album entitled Eyes Wide Open. Clocking in at 34 minutes, this is David showing us the landscape on what has America become. And you as a listener, whether you agree with him or not, David is showing them that there is a dark side underneath the homemade crust of Apple Pie that isn’t pretty. And believe me, it is a place that you do not want to go near.

And to be allowed to feature musicians that include Vinnie Colaiuta (Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and Tori Amos), Living Colour’s Will Calhoun, and Prince alumni Michael Bland on drums, it’s quite a combination to see these amazing group of people lending David a helping hand. Now before I went ahead and listened to his new album, I had to go back and listen to his previous albums he did between 1975 and 1976.

Both Forest of Feelings and Transformation (The Speed of Love), reissued by Esoteric Recordings in 2014, were kind of like an introduction for me to discover what I was missing behind those rare and unseen treasures that hadn’t been used for a long, long time. Listening to those two albums was showing Sancious to go beyond the Springsteen sound and into the worlds of; Fusion, Soul, Ambient, Classical, Flamenco, and Progressive rock rolled into one big giant burrito.

He took those different styles of music and he put them together by creating this visual style of format on how the pieces should be written and they should be brought to life as if the paintings of the Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci was set to this mind-blowing score. Now onto Eyes Wide Open. As I’ve mentioned earlier, David is taking the listener through the dystopian world of the new America.

However, there is David’s return to the roots of Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion, and Soul as if he’s bringing it to life again with a little touch of a gospel groove thrown into the vocals at times. When you listen to Urban Psalm #3, you can hear the sound of news reporter tackling the issues of racial tension, protesters chanting in the streets, and the voice of Martin Luther King Jr, lifting their spirits to keep fighting the good fight.

The drums, bass, and organ sets up this battle for the prayer on peace for a new tomorrow. And it is only just the beginning. Flip It is David’s answer to Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters-era. He channels the riffs on the opening sequence to Chameleon with a Pastorius and Bluesy tone. But adding the fanfare along with the stop-and-go sections in there, Sancious has it down to a “T”.

And you can tell that he’s having a ball making this track brought to life by bringing down the funk. The opening title-track takes you into the heart of the battle between the peaceful protesters and the police fighting to bring the tension to a halt. Sancious is telling the listener to keep their eyes open on what is happening behind you and be on the look-out for something dangerous that they might throw at you.

The music itself adds the tension between who can you trust on whether they’re telling the truth or they’re wearing a happy-go-lucky mask to reveal their dark secrets on what they’re doing. And Sancious gives his honest idea of what is happening all around the globe.

War in Heaven is this droning yet dooming atmosphere between the drum crescendo’s and then going up to the Heaven’s with a sax keyboard improvisation. Once the pearly gates are closed behind you, turns out that the gods and the political masterminds are butting heads with some heated confrontations than ever before.

Eyes Wide Open is Sancious’ welcoming return to the doors of real good music. It shows that he’s come a long way and there’s not a single stop sign for him. It was quite new to me to discover his music along with his new album. So who knows what David Sancious will think of next, but Eyes Wide Open shows that he is finally coming full circle.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kevin Kastning & Sandor Szabo - Nograd

It’s been a good while since I’ve listened to Kevin Kastning’s music for a long yet overdue time. Well it’s time for me to get back on the horse to ride again to see what I was missing from the man himself. And this time his tenth collaboration with guitarist Sandor Szabo with the release of their new album entitled Nograd on the Greydisc label, shows that he and Sandor have never disappointed me.

Recorded last year in September at the Evangelikus Templom in Nograd, Hungary for one day on September 22nd, Kevin and Sandor return to their intensive roots once more. Between Kastning’s 12-string extended and 12-string alto guitars along with Szabo’s classical and 16-string guitar, you can never tell who is going to roll the dice and take a turn to decide who will win the race.

There are 14 pieces on this album that Kevin and Sandor composed from scratch. They wanted to extend the wider arrangements that go beyond the classical, experimental, neo-classical, and flamenco realms. But adding a little twist of lemon, you can never tell what the duo would think of next.

Adding the tension by creating these dangerous puzzle maps for the listener to walk through step by step, there are times that they combined the elements of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lubos Fiser, Zdenek Liska, Gyorgy Ligeti, King Crimson, and Ottmar Liebert rolled into one. And some of these compositions can make you walk through the paintings of Jackson Pollock or walk through these spiral staircases that can take you into unknown locations.

Nograd is really a big challenge for me. And I always like to see bands and artists like Kevin 
Kastning always taking those risks by pushing the envelope even more. Now it’s been five years since hearing his album Otherworld back in 2015, again as I’ve mentioned earlier, Kastning has never, ever disappointed me. And now it is time to pull both the curtains back and explore the world of Kevin Kastning and Sandor Szabo’s Nograd.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet feat. Magic Malik - Frame & Curiosity

I had no idea what to say about this next group that suddenly landed on my lap. This 11 piece band led by Skopje pianist and Bosnian drummer, Vladimir Nikolov and Srdjan Ivanovic, the Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet are this large ensemble band that can break all the rules by influencing the sounds of Balkan music and challenging their listeners to an intellectual level.

Joining on their latest release entitle Frame & Curiosity is flautist Malik Mezzadri (Magic Malik) who brings this whole new level that is beyond the Jazz genre. Released on the Coolabel from France and distributed by MoonJune Records, Frame & Curiosity gives it a real jolt of the Jazz and Balkan genre like you’ve never heard it before.

Across the Threshold sees Vladimir the opportunity to channel Wynton Kelly’s piano work as they head deeper into the Kind of Blue-era as Clerc’s accordion, Sedan’s drum beats, and the wind instruments go into a laid-back section that is kind of romantic at times. He then goes upwards into this ballet sequence by rising the tables up in various forms that capture this glowing sphere that is ready to shine.

Anonymous is Mihails’ mid-fast walking bass line that gives him a chance to lay down the grooves while Noe, Vladimir, and Srdan go into a fusion state. And it gives Noe to go into an intensive vibe throughout his accordion before the screeching sounds of Malik’s flute. It becomes this unexpected twist that’s like opening up the heart of Jazz that needed to be open and it becomes this intensive magical power the Undectet have unleashed its true form.

Timbre and Prayer sounded like it was recorded in the streets of Paris set in Black & White during the mid-to-late 1950s as if Wes Montgomery had written this as an orchestral piece for his ensemble. The louder the horn section goes, the more powerful that it hits your heart as it tugs towards you on this tight edge.

Sade Sati sees Mihail’s double bass channeling the late Holger Czukay’s bass riff intro of CAN’s Halleluwah as the Gershwin soundscapes become this view of what people do across the streets of New York. And what they do for a living as Malik’s flute improvisation, becomes this very exciting sequence by walking from 42nd street to Madison Avenue. It shows that not only that the 11-piece band work well as a team, but having each other’s back.

Frame & Curiosity took me about three listens. And I have to say this, the Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet and Magic Malik have taken my response to show my stamp of approval. They know how to bring both of the genres together. As I’ve mentioned earlier in my review, they broke all the rules by taking it a step further. I hope to hear more from them in the next years to come in the roaring ‘20s.

Kanaan - Double Sun

Kanaan is a power trio from Norway that combines the aspects of psychedelia, fuzz tones, atmospheric noises, and post-jazz rock to the core. They alongside other Norway bands including; White Willow, Ring Van Mobius, Gazpacho, and Motorpsycho to name a few, bring the aspects for a spaced-out adventure that you are about to embark on. This year, they’ve unleashed their new album entitled, Double Sun on the El Paraiso record label.

It’s their follow up to their 2018 debut, Windborne. And also a recording session album they did with Casua Sui guitarist Jonas Munk at his studio for a session they did entitle Odense Sessions. Onto the new album, Double Sun. Eskid Myrvoll, Ask Vatn Strom, and Ingvald Andre Vassbo, have stepped up to the plate that is a journey beyond time and space. And believe me, there’s so much sauce they’ve cooked up for a delicious hot and spicy meal.

From the moment you listen to the opening track of Worlds Together, they honor the E minor and A major chord section of Pink Floyd’s Breathe from Dark Side of the Moon while honoring Rosalie Cunningham’s band Purson during the sessions for The Circle and the Blue Door. You can imagine both the band and the artist are in awe to see this trio circling towards the Milky Way.

Clocking in at 12 minutes and 20 seconds, Mountain hurtles the listener through the cosmos as Kanaan into a deep-diving world of Space Madness! You have Eskild’s fuzzy bass sounds going into this deep end of the pool as Ask’s guitar follows him in pursuit with the major and minor improvisations while rising upwards and downwards to the groove.

Ask does his Manuel Gottsching-sque sounds at times, but with an Amon Duul twist channeling the Yeti sessions and crossing over the first two Ash Ra Tempel albums while Worlds Apart becomes this intensive twist of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s race to the finish line. Kanaan gives Ask some dooming guitar structures as Ingvald channels the drumming styles between Bill Bruford and Keith Moon with some rapid firing on his drum kit.

The two-part closer of the title track goes from this Avant-funk swirl as the channel the late great Segre Gainsbourg as if he had recorded this during the session of his classic, Histoire de Melody Nelson with some spaced out scenarios while the second part that features Bjorn Klakegg, delving into some post-punk territory that is a speeding adventure back home to the planet Earth.

This journey is becoming a Space Ritual with some intensive rhythm that makes it worth the ride home. Capturing the essence of Michael Rother’s guitar section from Hero on NEU’s third release of NEU! 75 and Hawkwind’s Spirit of the Age, Kanaan makes it back home safe and sound.

Double Sun is the trip that you’ve been waiting for from Kanaan. The trio have upped their game to get the controls set for the heart of the sun. Now while I’m new to the band’s music, their latest release shows that they’ve done one helluva job. And I hope they continue to do more in the roaring ‘20s.