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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Top 20 Albums of 2023

 A little early before Thanksgiving and getting your Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List ready. I know I've been out of the limelight lately due to being busy and other things I have had lately. But I want to wish everyone both a Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas to everyone. Let's see what 2024 will have in store for us! 

Here's my top 20 list of 2023. 

1. Ring Van Mobius – Commissioned Works Pt. II: Six Drops of Poison
2. The Fierce & The Dead – News from the Invisible World
3. Crown Lands - Fearless
4. Jethro Tull - Rokflote
5. Iron Jinn – Iron Jinn
6. Steven Wilson – The Harmony Codex
7. Stephan Thelen – Fractal Guitar 3
8. Novelty Island – Wallsend Weekend Television
9. Anchor & Burden – Kosmonautik Pilgrimage
10. Philip Selway – Strange Dance
11. Kanaan - Downpour
12. Jason Blake – Subsequent Ruins
13. Lars Fredrik Froislie – Fire Fortellinger
14. Haken – Fauna
15. AVKRVST – The Approbation
16. Soft Machine – Other Doors
17. Alice Cooper – Road
18. Edward Reekers – The Liberty Project
19. Zopp - Dominion
20. Blood Ceremony – The Old Ways Remain

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Top 20 Albums of 2022

Since Thanksgiving is about three weeks from now, I decided to get this list on here on my blogsite. Yes, criticism is always welcome. But you might want to prepare yourself to get your wish list ready before Christmas and Hanukkah right now.  So, here it is! 

1. Rosalie Cunningham – Two Piece Puzzle (Esoteric Antenna)
2. Porcupine Tree – CLOSURE / CONTINUATION (Music for Nations)
3. VOIVOD – Synchro Anarchy (Century Media)
4. Ben Craven – Monsters from the Id (Desert Comb Music)
5. Anvil – Impact Is Imminent (AFM Records)
6. Birth – Born (Bad Omen Records)
7. Motorpsycho – Ancient Astronauts (Stickman / Rune Grammofon)
8. Fractal Sextet – Fractal Sextet (Alchemy)
9. Edenbridge – Shangri-La (AFM Records)
10. Anima Morte – Serpents in the Fields of Sleep (Cadabra Records)
11. SheWolf – SheWolf (Frontiers Music)
12. MAGMA – Kartehl (Seventh Records)
13. Regal Worm – Worm! (Quatermass)
14. Alice Austin – Goodnight Euphoria (Relentless Sunshine)
15. OU – One (InsideOut Music)
16. Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus (InsideOut Music)
17. Clint Bahr – Puzzlebox (MoonJune Records)
18. Mahogany Frog – Faust (MoonJune Records)
19. The Utopia Strong – International Treasure (Rocket Recordings)
20. Klaus Schulze – Deus Arrakis (SPV Recordings)

Friday, August 5, 2022

Molesome - Aftonland


Mattias Olsson does it again by bringing somber arrangements, strange surreal imagery, post-apocalyptic atmospheres, and video game-like scores to life with Molesome’s latest release last year entitled Aftonland. When you put on a Molesome album, it may be a dividing line in the sand for listeners who want to accept Olsson’s invitation or not.

On Aftonland, there’s a strong connection to the Krautrock atmospheres along with the twelve-tone techniques of classical music raging from Arnold Schoenberg, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, post-rock textures of Violent Femmes, Hans Zimmer, and Wojciech Kilar. He brings all of the ingredients and puts them all together to create this landscaping structure to life that is filled with destruction, horror, and the aftermath of the townsfolk by going to another form of life in the next chapter of the book.

Both of the two tracks, Tremolo and Fading Joni, one of which featured a mournful Hammond organ sound, has some dooming guitar textures, and rising beauty that brings to mind a continuation of the Violent Femmes’ Colour Me Once from the 1994 soundtrack to Brandon Lee’s last film, The Crow. You could tell that Molesome are tipping their hat to the American folk-punk band with a funeral-like composition, knowing that things won’t be the same over the loss of a loved one.

But it’s the cello-like sun rising atmospheres that sets up this sun setting environment knowing that something terrible has happened in the little town in the opening track, The Final Option. This is where Molesome go into the towns of Tomaso Abinoni’s Adagio in G Minor knowing that there is a killer on the loose and we have to keep our eyes on this massive murderer and bring him to justice.

Meanwhile Friction showcases the underwater beauty with classical guitar-like sounds and the dawn of a new day that brings to mind some of the Frippertronics that Olsson channels with a bit of a sun coming over the dark, grey clouds knowing there’s a new day approaching as the vocalizations on Vox Humana goes for the 12-tone technique by walking towards the mountain top during a heavy snow storm.

Something that Webern would have really appreciate what Mattias is doing to conduct the vocalist by walking up, down, high, and low arrangements that would have send chills down his spine over the tones of serialism. And it has send chills down my spine listening to this. I could tell that Olsson has done his homework very, very well and double-checked his work very carefully to honor the masters knowing they have his back.

Closing track Exit takes listeners out of the tunnels and into broad daylight and finally seeing the sun again. There’s a big of hope for the townsfolk, but knowing that they hard work and troubles they had in that once dystopian city will be a giant scar on their backs for the rest of their lives. Knowing that they won’t be the same by reaching towards the surface.

Whether you get it or you don’t, Molesome’s music as I’ve mentioned earlier, is very challenging. They take you on this sombering ride that will make you understand what may happen in the Orwellian and the video game franchise, BioShock like no other. But for Olsson, he created his own video game score to life.

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]