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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opensight - The Voice of Nothing

Did I just catch another sound in the roaring sound of Progressive Metal? Coming from Colombia, Opensight is carrying the sounds of: Dream Theater, Tool, and the Blackwater Park-era of Opeth. But their debut album, The Voice of Nothing, is definitely worth checking out. This illustrates their fierce guitar work, progressive sounds in their footsteps, and almost could have been recorded in the ’80s while recording next door with Metallica as if they were Symphonic Metal.

So while they pay homage to their Prog Metal heroes, including the Prog-Psych sound as well, and the militant guitar sounds of Iron Maiden. And of course, the singer sounds like Maynard James Keenan, the sound is spot on. This album goes for the energetic level and comes up like a flying magnetic machine going for the kill.

From the ferocious opening of Only When, is a real volcanic track. In their Tool-like sound momentum, Opensight become aggressive with this number but with this dramatic number, it is very futuristic and post-apocalyptic, along with their homage to the Math Rock dosage. Probably one of the most time changed signature of the debut album, Former Heroes goes for the kill between a guitar duo and driven pounding drum section along with a moody new age guitar solo in the midsection. This is the real treat that could be for an opening number for a horror film.

While Opensight have the Prog flavor to the mix, they lead us into jazz-psych-metal territorial waters in Deleted Scene, a terrifying roller-coaster ride that is very much a reminiscent of Symph Psych Metal sound of Ayreon. After the shattering three tracks that would have Oversight open for Within Temptation and give the audience a jaw dropping performance, Opensight go 500 miles per hour again with the fast-sped turned ‘70s rock sound of eclectic prog with Absolute Truth while the closing track, Skeptic’s Creed could have been a sequel to Madder Mortem’s Where Dream and Day Collide as the inject more of the Prog Metal sound and gives a prime kick-ass debut that is out of this world.

If Within Temptation held a secret conference room in Colombia, Opensight would open for them to welcome them with a huge amount of respect. The point is that this album is a mind-boggling debut for any Progressive Metal fan to put in their Prog collection. The evidence is here in the flesh.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Semiramis - Dedicato A Frazz

When you have a minor band from the Italian Rock scene, with only one album to come in handy, you might want to consider this lost gem. Semiramis recorded this album at a very young age, Leader, Vocalist, and guitarist, Michele Zarillo, who was 16 years old when he made this album, and the other band members were a different age from Michele. When you listen to Dedicato A Frazz, originally released in 1973, there is not a single bad track on this album from start to finish. The band was an opening band in Villa Pamphilli at the Open Air Festival for another Italian Prog band, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, they soon took notice and got a record contract from the Italian label, Trident Records.

The Album is very weird, classical, and very representative of Frank Zappa meets Gentle Giant in an Italian way. Most of the time, the band do a lot of weird time signatures , but that doesn’t stop the band creating a wonderful magnetic album. It’s like it was recorded for an epic TV series, for mature audiences, yet breathtaking. For starters who are getting into this album, you really have to fasten your seat belts, because the roller coaster ride has just begun for you.

At 36 minutes, it’s almost like a mad scientist working on his material, but a magnificent one. Beginning with La Bottega Del Rigattiere, it has a carousel rock sound and is very driven to be a prog classic as you are expecting to hear with its guitar driven nature, the keyboard sounding like an accordion, and heavy drum work as well while the complex structures of Luna Park manages to keep you on the edge of your seat with its baroque classical heavy metal sound to add the structures of Italian dance music that is giving the Tango the middle finger. Amazingly, it’s followed by one of the most twisted tracks that makes it a perfect vibe for Halloween. Un Zoo Di Vetro, which features a haunting keyboard section and disturbing King Crimson-like guitar sound to stir up the drama and tension of a view of the post-apocalyptic world of hell that goes up like a volcanic eruption that remains in the world of Avant-Garde Rock.

The track is very frightening that makes it perfect for the usage to scare the shit out of frat boys in a Horror flick alongside with Per Una Strada Affollata, a pastoral flourished tempo as Michele’s brother Maurizio goes for an homage to Keith Emerson rather than Rick Wakeman while guitarist Giampiero Artegiani does a majestic renaissance classical guitar sound to soothe the calmness for Maurizio as he takes a break and then BAM! The band comes back in for another free-for-all as an homage to the Vaudeville scene of the ‘20s that is militant and in your face prog attitude. As if to say ‘Let’s go out with a bang!’ to give the listener goose bumps, Dietro Una Porta Di Carta, takes the Zarrillo brothers and the band into an ambient dreamland moodiness, with wild moog sounds, heavy bass lines, Gilmour-esque Guitar licks, and calm-like drum sounds before going apeshit for the last two minutes of the number that represents the Pawn Hearts-era of Van Der Graaf Generator.

Frazz is back to the fast-sped time changes and this is probably one of the band’s amazing yet breathtaking tracks on Dedicato A Frazz. It sounds like a pre-Ottmar Liebert number that has been recorded on the studio boat and he’s teamed up with the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and would be a cult hit among the underground scene for a sheer dramatic sonic sound and get you to ready to be into a strict assembly. While they are going crazy and mad for more insane music, the closing Clown takes Zarrillo with it’s Gentle Giant predecessor with a sinister video game rock sound that could have been the score for Castlevania if it was released in the early ‘70s and bone-chilling shrieking keyboard and guitar driven magnitude bringing the drums and Marcello Reddavide bass to a run to the finish to a calm after the storm done by Giampiero’s acoustic finale.

Dedicato A Frazz to the process, is a wild and crazy album that knows their chops in the Progressive Rock scene and takes the explosives in a Pastoral and Dangerous adventure. Whether you love or hate the music genre, this is a must have for Italian Prog lovers to ascend. You might want to turn it up a notch

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pictures of The Ugly Beats performance at Cactus Records Friday Night

Hey everybody! Sorry for the delay. I just got back from Cactus Records last night to check out one of the most surprising bands that is bringing the Garage Rock revival back to the core. They are called The Ugly Beats and to me they are one of the most amazing Psychedelic/Garage Punk bands to come out of Austin, TX. I have some pictures I took from the gig and here they are above. I hope Little Steven will get a real kick out of them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Man - Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In?

This was the album that put Man on the map. They are Welsh’s answer to the Grateful Dead while they found their sound and appreciation. The follow up to their third album, Man in 1970, finds the group getting a cognitive condition that was well-informed and perceptive. While they are one of the most underrated cult bands to come out of Wales, Do You Like It Here Now Are You Settling In? Released in 1971 is a perfect combination of bringing: Pub Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Country and Blues sound to the mix throughout the six tracks that you’ll hear from start to finish.

Starting the album off is the country rocker Angel Easy, a raunchy down home upbeat groove that the listener would enjoy dancing to rather than The Eagles Lyin’ Eyes. The chugging rhythm section along with the late Micky Jones bluesy riffs that he brings to the band as Deke Leonard does his Bob Weir vocalization on the track. You can tell that they are a team working together creating magic as it segues into the quirky progressive/psychedelic cartoon homage to the Robert Clampett-era of All Good Clean Fun which sounds perfect blasting from the stereo and synchronizing to an old Bugs Bunny cartoon from the ‘40s.

The instruments are having a quirky sense of humor including a wah-wah guitar sound that is a bouncy lift and the time changes is a home run, but what follows next is more of the psych sound that takes a jump from their first two albums. We’re Only Children, is very much a swirling 8-minute composition that goes right into the moody 12-bar psych waltz and Hendrix-esque sound. It takes us to a new dimension in the ambient prog atmosphere that realms of the first two minutes into a soaring instrumental and then turned into an early session of Yes’ Time and a Word-era for the last 4-minutes as Micky goes into a warp speed sound on the guitar solo.

The guitar sounds very emotional and sometimes heavy at first as he goes leads like if he’s leading the listener to the world of dreams and then it becomes a militant folk chugging sound that closes the album. How good can Man really be? Then it becomes very well organized on the fan and live favorite from their set, Many Are Called, But Few Get Up. They bring the Dead sound on the number which even though the prog compositions are thrown in very well, it makes the listener’s fly through the sky and jam with the group for a groovy session.

As you are reaching to throttle through the cosmos of space acoustic pub blues of Manillo, includes an eerie lyrical background while the guitar is going through a leslie speaker that makes it sound very dark and very disturbing as the piano and shattering electric guitar go through a dramatic role as they take turns to solo and making it sound like Pink Floyd’s Fat Old Sun. Do You Like It Here concludes with the 9-minute Love Your Life, a twisted prog rock avant-garde African tribe sound at first with the backward tapes going faster and then turned into a wild experiment by turning it into jam session of John McLaughlin meets Jerry Garcia as they duke it out in the ring to have a crazy freak-out guitar jam session in the mind of Jones and Leonard.

Listening to this album, Do You Like It Here, Are You Settling In is a twisted yet magnificent album that always wanted to take a mind-control tripped out journey that will take you to a wonderous adventure. This is one hell of an album that you need to buy if you are interesting hearing Man’s music. The bonus tracks feature three live versions of Many Are Called But Few Get Up, Angel Easy, and the dazzling live version homage to a country bluesy rock metal sound of Led Zeppelin for 18-minutes of Romain. Esoteric Recordings deserve a lot of credit to go through Man’s catalogue and they did one hell of a job reissuing the album from all of it’s glory for the Man freaks to listen to.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 16 Deadly Improvs - The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs

With the kind of Arranging and Composition’s that we should take one of the new Progressive Rock bands to come out of New Jersey, The 16 Deadly Improvs are one of the most exquisite bands to come out of the states. Whether you love it or not, it’s extremely an understatement to take note that The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs is not just one of their breathtaking albums of this year, but that everyone in the Prog scene should really take notice of, as one of the new bands to come out of the woodwork of the band’s talent, part fusion, and alternative rock like you’ve never heard it before. This is a beautiful, terrifying, and an unbelievable album as it is a masterpiece.

From instruments turning into a robotic sci-fi opener that recalls the King Crimson Red-era, Sand Palm IV is a great way to introduce the band’s eruption like a volcano that’s about to explode. Guitars and Drums going off like crazy and the keyboards flourishing synth wah-wah crescendo territory, it’s all part of the strength and a celebration that has never been done before. Spirit or Matter: an eerie number that builds the post rock sound off the wall in a mysterious layered rhythm section, ghost-like vocals in the mind of John Wetton, and the guitar solo is as strange than you’ll never know, but brilliant. Pounding drum section and a magnetic bass line by the Vapor Trails-era of Rush meets the Thrak-era of King Crimson of Torpedo in a real upbeat instrumental.

The guitar sounds very much like the Frippertronics and the Alex Lifeson sound as if they had a love child together that hits like a ton of bricks with the Moog itself letting the instruments create a moody and dark atmospheric sound to the composition. For those who are into an experimental blues improvisation, the 3-minute guitar solo and rhythm guitar work on Bugbear Blues is the Improv’s chance to rip with some fierce work and get down to business and not to play and behave like rock stars showing their tongue to see who’s god or not. Invincible Pole Fighters is another terrifying magnum opus that could have been recorded during the Moving Pictures sessions which features excerpts from the documentary, Shall We Protest as if the band had recorded the soundtrack to the movie with a high voltage sound that is one of their best works ever.

On Into Another Time, the vocals have a split personality double tracked style with more guitar synths, bringing into mind of Radiohead meets Pierre Henry, it’s very schizophrenic , but it soon transforms into a middle-eastern avant-garde reverb rein and then it’s the bass and the keyboards setting this ambient new age sound with plot twists and send the listener into a frenzy with a disturbing ending. Rise of the Septopi is a vehicle for the disturbing rumbling guitar work. It’s has an Ash Ra Tempel Egyptian Rock sound, but it’s a fucking tour de force!

Even though it sounds like a Japanese Horror Film and Godzilla’s love child, Gargantua is a fusionesque rocker with the guitar become a funk turned a shrieking psychedelic scream while the bass line is very down to earth and the drums flow the section to give it a disturbing session from Mogwai’s The Hawk is Howling, but it’s a proper structure for dynamic proportions. Sand Palm V is back to the crescendo’s as the Synth’s go haywire while the drums and guitar go apeshit as if they are paying tribute to Zappa and Krautrocker’s Amon Duul II.

The jarring charged electrifying Dear Me gives you some faster time changes to get your blood pumping into sci-fi effects that makes it disturbing yet oddly normal. All of the twist and turns makes the quirky jazz fusion sound of the ‘70s, You’d Make a Lot of Money, makes it very much a catchy instrumental dance beat with a lot of the wah-wah guitar going into interstellar overdrive while the middle finger number against house music of Death To Disco collides with the Mars Volta sound chugging bass riffs and shrieking guitar work along with the synth and cowbell adding the tension to the production techniques.

Then everything gets back to normal. Mag 3 is a representation of Porcupine Tree’s early days layered and Steven Wilson’s production material as if he wrote a disturbing film score for one of Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso with the child-like sound on the keyboards, drums sounding like a train chugging, and bass and guitar taking turns for a twisted ride into the twisted world of hell, as The Burrowers Beneath builds on atmospheric rhythm, synths raging in the mind of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream’s early days float along the ambient nightmarish chorus along with the Harmonia meets Manuel Gottsching sound of middle-eastern references. It’s these moments that make Fading of my Memories a calm after the storm.

It feels like someone is mourning a loss one and playing the music at the gravesite, the next you want to dance because he/she feels that there shouldn’t be anyone mourning, but a celebration of the dreams and remembrances you have. The closing Sand Palm VI is soaked into the climatic climax as if they are paying homage to Metallica that it’s impossible to describe and fill the rumbling roar into the open road. The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs is an explosive album with Prog, Metal, Post Rock and forward to bring the Avant-Garde Rock sound into a magnetic dreamland sound.

No Bullshit here, believe me, The 16 Deadly Improvs are the next King Crimson.

Feed Your Head - Essential Progressive Rock: The Mind Expanding Sounds of Esoteric Recordings

The unheard gems of Progressive Rock, Electronic Music, and British Folk is really an interesting nature to escort the listener to uncharted territory to make it explosive and impossible to describe about the genre, not because they are familiar with ELP, Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson, but to see there are other bands that were obscure, weird, and brilliant. Compiled by the People at Esoteric Recordings, This digital downloadable compilation is a tribute to the label in which to me is considered, The Criterion Collection of Progressive Rock. Feed Your Head – An Essential Progressive Rock may be one of the best compilations in a line of obscure Prog bands and artists, but this puts the icing on the cake that is almost like a best of album to ensure the essence of this magnificent and bewildered musical babylon.

While the tracks may get you interested and inspire the disagreements, delight, and scratching your head in some bewildered moments, but what it is, it is. Since you admire the music and go into the lake for bands that never made a dent in the states, then this is the starting point and not directly a moving target for you. Even though you admire the four bands along with Rush, which I do, but such is the evidence here that most of the bands are not on the compilation and may see that there is a different world out there, however, Feed Your Head takes the listener on a magnificent journey through the underground scene of Progressive beauty from the experimental, space rock heroes, folk, obscure, and cult heroes in the mind of Esoteric Recordings.

Kicking off the compilation is Hawkwind’s full extended version of Space Punk sound of their homage to the 1930’s cult classic of mass madness, Reefer Madness. It is a hidden gem that is unexpected and hardly a song that could have been used for the opening credits for the movie about the dangers of Marijuana. Mind you, if you think the first track is a number for you take LSD and go on a drug frenzy, think again, Krautrockers Brainticket bring a psychedelic avant-garde territory with hallucination with There’s A Shadow Watching You, this band could have written the score for Logan’s Run starring Michael York while German trio Schike, Fuhrs, and Frohling bring electronic music for a magnificent train ride with Explorer, a piece that could have been written for the pioneers of electronic rock, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.

Elsewhere, Web featuring Keyboardist and vocalist Dave Lawson bring Jazz Fusion to the table as if to pay tribute to the Bitches Brew-era and In A Silent Way homage of Miles Davis on the 8-minute epic, I Spider as Space Ritual bring Space and Heavy Metal to a new voyage thanks to the Jazzy sax solo sound done by Nik Turner with Sonic Savages. But it’s the Fusion of a Flaming fire from the Canterbury gods, The Soft Machine’s 9-minute rocker, Hazard Profile (Part I) featuring a dazzling guitar work done by Allan Holdsworth that he’ll take your breath away and knock John McLaughlin out his seat while King Crimson and ELP lyricist, Pete Sinfield brings New Orleans Jazz and funk with a psychedelic ambient dream section like no other on The Night People.

Jan Schelhaas, keyboardist of Caravan and Camel, brings his Dennis Wilson style vocalization on the atmospheric new age sound on The Coast of Peru. The track is so beautiful, that you almost couldn’t stop the compilation because of the song’s majestic beauty and almost could have been a part of the Pacific Ocean Blue sessions. The second half of the compilation, gets much better than this and serves a dinner special of mass quantities. John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest live recording at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2006 of The Poet / After The Day.

At first it starts off with a symphonic sound done by Woolly Wolstenholme as he does a lukewarm forest-like soundtrack as John Lees sings like an angelic mastermind as it kicks in the Genesis Steve Hackett sound with After The Day as the band go into the layered and virtuosity that you’ve never heard before that is emotional and will take your breath away. And then, we are inside the mind of Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come. His homage to the Krautrock scene with Time Captives which could have been recorded in 1982, makes it a mind boggling composition to NEU! David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, and Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express.

Claire Hamill, who’s one of the most exquisite voices in the Folk scene, brings a middle-eastern and Kate Bush representation on the eerie classic, Trees while Italian Prog kings, PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi), brings a English version of Impressioni Di Settmbre (The World Became the World) to a soaring symphonic rock sound to the skies. Then we go into the psychedelic blues with Eddie Hardin and Pete York, who was a part of the Spencer Davis Group which featured Steve Winwood, bring a sinister live version of Everyone I Know at De Lane Lea Studios to a smaller audience that is one hell of a track featuring the two members bringing soul that is beautiful yet an explosive track that is out of this world.

If you are ready for Texas Rock, well get your cowboy hat and boots on for Stray Dog for heavy blues rock with Tramp (How It Is) which features guitarist and now composer, W.G. Snuffy Walden (The West Wing, The Wonder Years, and Friday Night Lights) brings his Jimmy Page and Billy Gibbons homage on his guitar and vocalization on his raunchy sound and makes Stray Dog a cult name. The last number closes with Maestoso featuring Woolly Wostenholme, Blood and Bones is a moody post-apocalyptic number and shows how progressive music does not have to be a dirty word anymore. That is the beauty of Esoteric Recordings.

It doesn’t have to be the kings of the genre of the music, but shows there are other bands that you really need to check out. It’s not drawing a line in the sand to see who’s prog or not prog, but bringing a romantic affair of independent ‘70s prog bands that never saw the light at the end of the tunnel. For the rest of the Prog geeks, this is a truly tribute to the indie prog label, and to see what Esoteric have up in their sleeves for the future.