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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Where do we go from here? My take on the tragedy at Uvalde, TX

As I was listening to both Rosalie Cunningham's latest album Two Piece Puzzle and Richard Digance’s song Working Class Millionaire on my iPod Touch, I remember it was just another day. My Dad send me an e-mail on what has happened. Another school shooting in Uvalde, TX that happened Wednesday. Everything came to a screeching halt when I watched the chaos unfolded.

There was this sense of déjà vu all over again. From Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Santa Fe, Parkland, and now Uvalde. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but watching what was going on the TV, the grieving of parents losing their kids in a shooting, the grief will be with them forever, and the pain will never go away.

19 children and 2 adults gunned down. Think about it, think about it. What is going on? The horrors of gun violence is still going on. Mind you, I’m not good at politics, but I need to ask your patience and believe me what I’m going to say on what has happened since the tragedy occurred Wednesday, may upset some people.

It’s terribly sad here in the State of Texas. And you can feel it in the air. I had no idea what to expect. Reading a comic book, playing the BioShock series for the umpteenth time, or writing the next review whether it’s progressive rock, metal, jazz, punk, or alternative music on Echoes and Dust.

But if you’re confused, angry, filled with sadness and grief, as I’ve mentioned before the pain will never go away. It will be with them, for the rest of time. I can’t imagine what the parents in Uvalde are going through right now after what happened at Robb Elementary School.

Texas has been my home since the day I was born. And for nearly 38 years, I haven’t left my hometown state. My family and I went through a lot; from surviving Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Rita, Ike, and Harvey, we kept going and made it through. Our House didn't flood, but we're still here. I can remember last year back in April when my Mom passed away, I didn’t do much reviewing. I didn’t want to talk to anyone on social media, nothing. I had to grieve a lot knowing that the piece of the puzzle was missing on that fateful Saturday morning on the 3rd of that day.

And the small piece of the puzzle, it is still missing a year later. The next question; how will the families move on? The answer; It’s going to be a very long, long time. I can remember the opening lines from Pink Floyd’s On the Turning Away which is; “On the turning away/From the pale and downtrodden/ And the words they say/Which we won’t understand/Don’t accept that what’s happening/Is just a case of others’ suffering/Or you’ll find that you’re joining in/The turning away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that song yesterday. And what David Gilmour wrote in the song is about the political situations that’s going on in the world. Here’s my take on what the song is about. We have both sides from the left and right trying to decide how to prevent gun control, and sometimes they want to do things differently, but it can be really hard to watch them arguing back and forth on what’s going on.

And one final question which will be a very hard to answer, what is going to happen after the tragedy that occurred Wednesday? We may never know. 



Thursday, April 21, 2022

Barbara - Mildly Entertaining

Here’s something that has taken me on a ride that I’ll never forget. Barbara are a duo which considers the Tydeman brothers creating this beautiful pop-orientated sound carrying the aspect of The Beach Boys, Super Furry Animals, City Boy, 10cc, ELO, and Klaatu. Their debut EP Mildly Entertaining is a gripping EP that showcases the Brothers vision on how Progressive Pop is still growing stronger than ever.

The five tracks that are on here, Henry and John delve into this underwater beauty using a lot of the textures that Lynne had done prior to his days as a songwriter, producer, and arranger to get the ideas done right. Now I’m not saying that Barbara are channeling Electric Light Orchestra, but it showcases so much homework ideas that the duo have created.

From Rainy Days in June, you can tell that there’s a bit of Rosalie Cunningham in the song as if the Tydeman’s are tipping their hat to Ex-Purson maestro, knowing that they’re keeping her vision inside the song. It has a dreamy landscape in the atmosphere that soars upwards into the heavens with a West End-vibe, featuring these Queen-like guitar structures to watch the rain drop hitting at the right momentum.

These New Communications is a celebration to give signals in NASA to see if the astronauts are having a ball on the Moon. And it’s a party they’ll never forget. ‘60s organ, string section, talk box effects, wah-wah sounds it’s all there. The song sets up the story that they have become the talk of the town, becoming massive celebrities, and knowing that they’ve accomplished their mission with a massive amount of success.

A Perishing of Cherished Things sees Barbara channeling Graham Gouldman, Lol Mason, and Harry Nilsson rolled into one. It has a reggae twist in the arrangement, but with a bossa-nova groove in the riff from the wah-wah sections. You can tell that they have a bit of humor into the sound as Don’t Send Me Messages has an Andrew Gold vibration from What’s Wrong With This Picture-era in the styles of Lonely Boy.

The closing track BRB has a mellowing record-scratching intro before going into a vaudeville finale that gives the duo a chance to dance to the end by going on their own rocket ship as they head home towards Earth. But, they let listeners know that this is only the beginning for the group. Because they’re just getting started. Their debut EP is quite a trip.

It delivers ideas, hope, and strong vibrations that’ll hopefully get us free from the tricky times of the pandemic when everything came to a screeching halt two years ago. And while the tracks deliver the goods, Barbara are the ones to be on the look-out for in the roaring ‘20s.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Tempest - Going Home

 

How long it’s been since I’ve listened to some real good music and reviewed on my blogsite, Music from the Other Side of the Room? The answer, I really don’t know. It’s hard to tell. So, last night I got a chance to listen to Tempest’s latest new album, Going Home. No, not the one with Allan Holdsworth, Patto's Ollie Halsall, and Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman, but a Celtic band from the San Francisco Bay Area who launched back nearly 34 years ago. The last time I reviewed them for my blogsite was back in 2015 for The Tracks We Leave, and that was it. Until now.

Despite various line-up changes, the band is still going strong. So it’s been four year since their previous release Thirty Little Turns was released. Now in 2022, the band are stronger than ever with Coming Home. When I listened to the new album, I was quite taken aback on how they came back with a giant battering ram to bring the roof down once again.

And this time, it’s with real vengeance. The opening track Mrs. Preston’s has a heavier powder keg eruption with mandolin, brutal guitar chords, and violin dancing to the beats with galloping percussion work.  You feel the intensity, the sound, and the dancing arrangements they would create to get listeners off the floor and do the jig until the crack of dawn.

But what a great way to start the album off with a bang. Then we head off to sea with a cover of Roger McGuinn’s Jolly Roger. It has this sing-along vibration, militant drum work, organs delving into a mournful state, and the hope to reach dry land as Hjemreise walks into the British folk sound of Steeleye Span’s All Around my Hat-era by singing in the styles of Black Jack Davy.

You feel the band tipping their hat to the masters as they channel the border ballads throughout Europe and America before returning to the step dance’s once more in a Bach-sque groove for The Optimist. Then, they sing it in Norwegian for the sisters on Systrarna and Shepherd’s Daughter.

I can imagine it’s both Lief and Lee singing together in this song as he gives her a chance to come center stage to bring these ideas of hope and will into the song as they continue to set sail with some unexpected twists near the end for Lee hammering her violin down as she dances across the aisles on the boat to give a chance of relaxation and enjoyment despite going through all that heavy thunderstorms they endured.

Dark Lover sees Tempest opening up the late ‘70s era of Jethro Tull’s folk-rock trilogy, tackling the Heavy Horses period. Lief tips his hat to Ian Anderson in this song. You feel some of that energy of the band’s legacy during that time frame. And some strong energetic touches of unsung heroes, String Driven Thing thrown into the mix also.

Now what’s this? Have Tempest transformed into a Celtic Glam Rock band on Devil and the Farmer? Well with Lee transforming herself into a snarling beast on double-tracking vocals, the answer is yes. She’s hammering it down, having a blast while playing the violin. You hear elements of Slade and Horslips rolled into one as the song deals with while you make a deal with Satan, you pay the ultimate price.

Because not only he does that, he has a card underneath his sleeve, and it isn’t going to be pretty until the very end. Speaking of the end, we’re at the home stretch of reaching dry land by returning back to the Celtic-Classical Folk styles of Dream Morris and a cross between The Beatles harmonica sound on Love Me Do and Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste to receive one of Paul’s Chickens with some McLaughlin-sque midsection solo improvisation, it’s been one hell of a ride to embark on.

Tempest has done it again by Going Home. It proves that they have brought more of those gigantic cannons to fire whenever they go through another song or instrumental take, they know when to fire. And I have to say that while it took a few listens, I hope to hear more from them. Because I hope they have more brainstorming ideas to come in the roaring ‘20s.



Friday, November 26, 2021

The top 25 albums of 2021

 As we are getting close to the end of 2021, it has been quite a magical year for incredible artists, bands, and various genres to knock it out of the ball park during these hefty times. Some concerts are coming back, but done very carefully. Now there are some that are head-scratchers, un-expected momentum, and surprised choices I’ve picked, you just have to live with that.

So, here we go, the top 25 albums of 2021.

1. Regal Worm – The Hideous Goblink [Quatermass]
2. Isildurs Bane & Peter Hammill – In Disequilibrium [Atraxia Productions]
3. Dee Snider – Leave a Scar [Napalm Records]
4. The Anchoress – The Art of Losing [Kscope]
5. Mahogany Frog – In The Electric Universe [MoonJune Records]
6. Rachel Flowers – Bigger On The Inside [Rachel Flowers Music]
7. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Swagger & Stroll Down the Hole [Spinefarm / Candlelight]
8. Novelty Island – How Are You Coping With This Century [Think Like a Key Music]
9. Penfriend – Exotic Monsters [My Big Sister Recordings]
10. Edge of Paradise – The Unknown [Frontiers Records]
11. Dennis Rea – Giant Steppes [MoonJune Records]
12. PAKT – PAKT [MoonJune Records]
13. The Grid / Fripp – Leviathan [DGM]
14. Jack O’ The Clock – Leaving California [Cuneiform Records]
15. Danny Elfman – Big Mess [Epitaph Records]
16. Laura Meade – The Most Dangerous Woman In America [Doone Records]
17. Jess and the Ancient Ones – Vertigo [Svart Records]
18. Field Music – Flat White Moon [Memphis Industries]
19. Jane Weaver – Flock [Fire Records]
20. Jane Getter Premonition – Anomalia [Esoteric Antenna]
21. Stephan Thelen – Fractal Guitar 2 [MoonJune Records]
22. Steve Hackett – Surrender of Silence [InsideOut Music]
23. Steven Wilson – The Future Bites [Caroline]
24. Emily Wolfe – Outlier [Crows Feet Records]
25. Trifecta – Fragments [Kscope]

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Beledo - Seriously Deep


Hunter S. Thompson once said that “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 have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I believe that a care with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

Music will always be a part of your life, no matter how long it will resonate with you. For Beledo, he always bounce back to the groove with his latest release from the MoonJune label, Seriously Deep. The genesis behind his follow-up to Dreamland Mechanism started out 11 years ago when he and Leonardo Pavkovic first met and have appreciation of the music they shared with each other.

The title came from ECM label artist Eberhard Weber from his 1978 release with Colours entitled, Silent Feet. Both of them had admiration of Weber’s music. But it had a huge impact from Beledo when Jorge played him the album in its entirety from start to finish 43 years ago. And that was where the gem resonated from.

With Tony Levin, Kenny Grohowski, and special guests that include vocalists Boris Salvodelli and Kearoma Rantao and vibraphonist Jorge Camiruaga who introduced Eberhard’s music to Beledo many years ago, it brings their friendship full circle for their latest release as it becomes a flower ready to bloom at any second.

From the moment the opening title-track begins, you feel as if you’re inside a dream. Beledo’s acoustic piano sets up these oceanic landscapes to fill the entire stratosphere between Levin and Grohowski’s puzzle pieces to fill in the empty space. But it’s his guitar that becomes a paintbrush at times.

Beledo paints in the styles of Bob Ross and Jackson Pollock. He creates both the mysticism and visual imagery that he brings his portrait to life. With each color he puts on the board, Levin and Grohowski are there to help him out whenever they can to fill in more of the gigantic trees or a sunset to fill in the final blank.

Kenny pounds his drums very structured. He creates the river wild on his drum kit while Beledo cries out each note by bending the strings exquisitely before going into this unexpected change on Weber’s composition.

Levin’s Bass follows the two in hot pursuit as if he’s cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast by seasoning it with an enormous amount of Tabasco sauce on his upright instrument to add that extra spicy flavor. Quite an introduction to start things off with a bang.

Mama D is a trip down to Crimson land with National Health thrown in as Rantao’s vocals lays down some of that romantic textures with the rhythm section setting up these time changes for Grohowski following her vocals in a hot melodic lead. Coasting Zone is a walk into a Broadway skip lane the trio create in the styles of a pounding powder keg waiting to explode.

Between Grohowski and Beledo lighting the fuse, it is an unbelievable result by adding more intensive lines they create for Levin to calm the scenario down as Maggie’s Sunrise gives the three-piece a chance to cool down as they watch the sun go down as if they’re drinking Daiquiri’s to toast each other for a job well done.

Knowing they’ve got something wonderful up their sleeves, it’s quite an eye-opening experience to witness a warm-relaxing moment to witness the ball of light heading down the west with Camiruaga’s vibraphone embellishing the Gershwin-like textures to have a party at the very end. Knocking Waves is a futuristic composition that Beledo has created.

He gives Tony a chance to come center stage in the composition as he adds some double-tracking tempo on his upright bass to set up the midsection for Beledo channeling Steve Howe’s arrangements in Yes’ Close to the Edge. He channels Steve’s vision by witnessing the waterfalls pouring down rapidly into the volcanic mountains that were envisioned by Yes illustrator, Roger Dean.

But it’s Levin that adds more watery landscapes by going up and down a spiral staircase that awaits its listeners to see where the next parallel door will come upon us. Beledo hammers it down with some brutal wah-wah arrangement as he punches back and forth with Grohowski’s snare-like grooves that becomes a snake sniveling to eat its next prey.

A Temple in the Valley sees Boris scatting down into a gentle view of the world. Beledo creates these melodic tempos for him as he goes from high to mid arrangements on his vocals to climb the highest mountains and scat like no other! There is something very Zappa like in this track.

In the midsection, Beldeo and Boris walk into the Hot Rats territory as they continue the extension from Peaches En Regalia honoring The Grand Wazoo up in the heavenly sky. Quite an achievement that Beledo channels the mastermind’s playing by walking into this Blues-like mystery for Kenny to go into a ramming speed on his drum set before Levin lays down the law once more.

Who knows what the trio will think of next? A tidal-waving effect? Volcanic eruptions? It’s up to you to decide what the trio comes up in this cliffhanger finale. The funk-like ending Into the Spirals Levin channels Bootsy Collins by climbing aboard the mothership as they channel the styles of Parliament’s Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker).

Man does Beledo tip his hat to not only Bootsy, but George Clinton as well. Seriously Deep is a spectacular release from the MoonJune label this year. For Beledo, he has given a lot of strength and hope throughout the entire structure of the album. And I hope to hear more from him in the years to come.



Thought Bubble - 'Around'

From the moment the female voice describes the opening statement, “The waves and the patterns are merging.” It would start things off with the album’s opener, The Waves. It becomes a disturbing nightmare that Chris Cordwell and Nick Raybould would create. It has this ‘80s video game-like structure from Super Mario Bros. 2 as you enter different parallels of the pyramids with these film-noir like atmospheres as the clock ticks rapidly.

Then, the powder keg becomes a fuming heat to increase the next track Rat Race. Nods to Roxy Music’s The Bogus Man and Bowie’s Earthling-era, it’s a freak-out like no other. Cordwell and Raybould would duke it out in a boxing ring punching each other between their instruments. Hay-wiring chaos at its best, it is a batshit composition that would keep you guessing until the end.

Fluctuate is a journey into the unknown. A chilled-out futuristic string-section wasteland that you’ve never seen before while Beatwave channels Devo’s Oh No! It’s Devo-era as they have their pumping iron muscles to get your blood flowing for Nick and Chris tipping their hats to the Spud patrol with a Vivaldi-like crossover.

Mobius Trip becomes a ladder-climbing composition for the duo. They climb each of the ladders that transform into various patterns by reaching to the top of the mountain with a challenging pace by going into a mid-fast tempo for the guitars to slide down in one section to another.

Devoider closes the album by leaving the hot temperature levels inside the jungle. Hallucinated nightmares come to life for Thought Bubble as if they teamed up with Ozric Tentacles and the Irrlicht-era from Klaus Schulze. It is a crazy re-arrangement as they take us into a lane filled with gigantic mushrooms waiting to be eaten for the rest of the month!

Thought Bubble’s ‘Around’ is one of the most mind-boggling debuts that will keep you guessing until the end. ‘Around’ will be talked about in the years to come in the roaring ‘20s. And I hope to hear more from Thought Bubble in the next adventure that awaits them.



Friday, October 15, 2021

Tom Slatter - Escape

 

It’s been a long time since I reviewed something out of the label, Bad Elephant Music. Back in 2013, I listened to one of the most mind-blowing artists to come out of the label named Tom Slatter. His third studio album, Three Rows of Teeth, was a combination between early Genesis, Caravan, and William D. Drake. And I gave it a glowing review along with his other two; Through These Veins and Black Water. And then I had completely forgotten about him. Until now.

His latest release this year Escape, deals with escapism. Slatter took inspirations from comic books, sci-fi novels, computer games, and being an indoor kid. Slatter is bringing more stories to life again as an imaginative movie brought to life. So has it been a while? Oh yes. So let’s get straight to his new album.

From the moment Time Stands Still opens the album off, you hear these static sounds coming from the TV while blistering guitar riffs channels a thrashing attack in mid-tempo arrangement. It channels Diagonal’s sole self-titled debut album that Tom had picked up for inspiration as his eerie stories structure in more Mellotron’s to float in at the right moment.

It goes through this Ayn Rand-sque waltz channeling both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged with a folk-dystopian midsection as the machines take over the entire planet. And then it back to the metallic forefront with an orchestral vibe as Tom tips his mad hattering hat to early Black Sabbath and the first two Iron Maiden albums with arpeggiated textures brought to life.

Too Many Secrets has these electronic hay-wiring effects going chaotic as it tells the story of a group of soldiers who are in a rocket ship flying to another planet, fighting one of the bloodiest wars that’s going on. And the question that remains, is it worth fighting this stupid war that’s happening? Not to mention the dooming and sludging atmospheres that he brings to the kitchen table.

Let’s All Pretend reminisces between William D. Drake, Present, and Osanna’s Palepoli thrown into the blender. It’s Rock Progressivo Italiano meets the Rock In Opposition movement with a nod to the late, great Roger Trigaux’s guitar section while Rats becomes a Punk-Folk attitude.

Fast-sped drums followed by guitar melody, the unexpected time changes go from one corner of the living room to another. You can hear Tom channeling Bowie’s Outside-era as he picks up the pieces where Detective Nathan Adler had left off. Collateral is a psychedelic swinging garage rock dance. It becomes a dance to the death between Be-Bop Deluxe’s Futurama sessions as it climbs aboard Gentle Giant’s train chugging 500 miles per hour.

Going Nowhere is a 19-minute sci-fi opera brought to life. You can hear a Beefheart-sque introduction that makes Tom’s train turn into a fast-speeding overture. There is some Edgar Allen Poe structures for the main character’s death to happen with these guitar-organ sound that is completely unexpected, but works very well.

Not only there’s a ‘60s guitar on a tightrope, but he’s continuing where Rush had left off during an extension of Cygnus X-1 Book One: The Voyage. And then, he makes it a joyful walk before it gets even heavier as Tom fires more missiles by raising more hell than ever before.

Tom then also returns back for another Italian Prog dinner from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso’s Darwin period to I Giganti’s Terra in Bocca. You can the sound of a carousel organ come to life as Tom brings the steampunk audiences to a standstill as the story gets even more dangerous.

Escape is Tom Slatter’s nightmare brought to life. He is still our storyteller brought to life again, following in the footsteps of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Rod Serling, and Vincent Price. And I hope that I will hear more from him in the years to come during these tricky times we’re living in.