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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Resonance Room - Untouchable Failure

Much like their inspirations from the sounds of; Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Katatonia, and Opeth, up-and-coming band Resonance Room are one of the newest bands to come out of the Prog Metal scene in Italy.  With a dosage of Gothic and Doom rolled up into one as well as a nightmarish view of what the world has become, Untouchable Failure is an opus dealing with emotional, sonorities and feelings of decadent and suffering a mental breakdown like no other.

The band considers Alessando Consoli on lead vocals, Riccardo Failla on guitar, Alfio Timoniere on bass, and Sando Galati on drums.  While they follow into the footsteps of the bands they grew up listening to, the music itself is passionate, emotional, powerful, and staggering. Opener, The Great Insomnia begins with a thunderous roaring eruption as it represents the Crack the Skye-era of Mastodon by paying homage to the group while No Precious is touching piece starting with a grand piano intro before seguing into an harder ballad as Failla creates some mysterious passages on his guitar as Alessandro just nails it on his vocals as if Mikael Akerfeldt is watching in awe.

There’s also the doomier side of Resonance Room.  The terrifying Outside the Maze, grows like a flaming fire burning bright with punches of Tool’s Lateralus-era as Alessandro pays homage to Maynard James Keenan on his voice as the band go through vicious touches into a soothing movement before going into a soaring piece with a symphonic touch that will have your jaws dropped as Naivety and Oblivion grows like a rapid machine gun.

Riccardo just makes his guitar sweat bullets by firing on the rhythm and lead and where his fingers go on the riffs as Galati helps him reload on the drums with a rapid beat while Aleesandro goes through soft into a growling moment as they keep going to work as a team before going into a spacey atmospheric turned Power Metal finale. The nightmare continues on with the thrashing and in-your-face attitude of Unending Loss.

It goes into this pummeling drum work that is like a train going 600 miles per hour chugging and then moves from a tear-dropping movement that Alessandro is almost fighting back tears singing this piece before getting back into the Thrash Metal sound that closes with a dead silence. The gentle acoustic rocker, Prometheus, sees the band going into a quiet mode for a chance to relax and calm down by going into a soaring ballad featuring keyboard strings, jazzy meets classical bass lines that Timoniere brings to the table.

Resonance Room hopefully is soon going to be one of the most amazing Prog-Gothic-Metal bands to come out of Italy. Untouchable Failure is one hell of an album from start to finish and it’s almost the soundtrack to a sci-fi film for the 21st century with a provocative touch. Let’s hope they get some recognition in the Metal community and the festivals as well in the years to come in the future. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Radiance - Undying Diabolyca

There’s something coming out of the world and voyages in the city of Italy. That group is called Radiance that has embarked the sounds of Fantasy, Opera, Power Metal, Story-telling, and the views of life, death, and rebirth. Their debut album, Undying Diabolyca, is almost a mini concept album about a feminine figure who is a time traveler as she is both from heaven and hell dealing with issues on life and death, witch and healer, and salvation. The band considers Federica Viola on guitar, Fabio Accardo on Bass and Synth, Elio Lao on Drums, and Karin Baldanza on lead vocals.

Combining with the sounds of Prog Metal that comes out with a heavy eruptive crunching sound that thunderous between the inspirations of Tool, King Crimson, Amberian Dawn, Hammerfall, and Nightwish rolled up into one, but there is some real mind-blowing machine-gun sounds from the guitar and drums as they revved up their riffing and pummeling stomping like a tidal wave that is ready for a full on battle. Haunting, Driven, and Explosive, Radiance are the real deal when it comes to bring two of the genres of metal both Power and Prog rolled up into one.

The gentle turned heavy opener, Towards Doom starts out with roaring guitar lines between rhythm and lead that Federica does as it segues into the thunderous and sinister rumble, Another Way. Here, Karin challenges both Heidi Parviainen and Sharon Den Adel on her vocalization as the band creates this militant yet metallic opera that would set the Metal Festivals up a storm and whip up into a huge frenzy. Behind the Light is a train-driven yet charging roar for Radiance to go full speed ahead and going into the rumbling lines that sends shivers down your spine as Federica nails it by paying tribute to Yngwie Malmsteen, Brian May, and Kirk Hammett.

Sounding like the Kill ‘Em All-era of Metallica and the Powerslave-era of Iron Maiden, Storm is a tour de force. It has nice touches of Thrash and bits of NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), at times the music is very dramatic yet with a lot of action as the group work as a team while Resonance sees the band go into a quiet and calm mode for the band to give a chance for the louder side a small break as they break into an acoustic and folky surroundings with a lot of ambient and soothing atmospherics.

The mind-blowing Whirl’s Criterion and La Poison a La Mode are transformed into whirling, thrill-seeking, and staggering marvelous compositions as the title track offers a lot of explosive counterweights to have your jaws dropped including a thumping bass line that Fabio brings as we head to the closer, Pulse of Awakening. Features both Synth and Bass going into this ‘80s futuristic atmosphere, it has this ambient/atmospheric surroundings that feels as if they had done the score to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. 

If you love the Female Symphonic and Power Metal bands, then Radiance is one of the bands to check out and dig Undying Diabolyca. A heart-stopping album that is worth checking out.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spontaneous Combustion - Spontaneous Combustion / Triad

When you have a band that carries the sounds of Deep Purple and Pink Floyd rolled up into one, you know you might be worth checking out. One of the bands was a trio from Dorset, who could have been bigger than the two bands and taken their name from increase temperature, just proves how heavy and hard they were. Spontaneous Combustion consists of the Margrett brothers, Gray (guitar, VCS3) and Tristian (Bass), along with Tony Brock on drums. Their first two albums (Spontaneous Combustion and Triad) has finally been given the reissue treatment done by the good people at Esoteric Recordings and this one of the unsung hidden treasures of a band that were obscure and ahead of their time.

They started out as a singles band, but it wasn’t until Greg Lake of King Crimson and ELP fame heard about what they did and he produced their sole self-titled debut album released on the Harvest label in 1972. And while the cover done by Paul May has this nice wonderful tribute to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko design from the Marvel Universe, the music itself packs a punch and the sound can show how much talent they have brought was almost a fast production.

Opener, Speed of Light, is a thumping and thunderous roaring introduction rocker with Gray and Tristian’s guitar and bass riffs with an attitude that almost feels like an on-the-road or motorcycle song that is out of this world and not to mention a shrieking VCS3 finale to get you ready for more of what’s left to come. The mellowing Listen to the Wind has bits of catchy and relaxation which is a perfect trick they pulled into this composition. At times it has this combination of Wishbone Ash, but then goes into this movement that is straight from the Benefit-era of Jethro Tull that is almost an awe experience.

Meanwhile, the haunting Leaving starts off as an acoustic melody, but then the tension level builds up into a climatic-climax sequence between acoustic, electric, and pumping drum work done by Brock while 200 Lives feels like a moving ballad into a swinging-rock out melody as Tristian comes up with some wonderful fast bass lines while Gray comes up with some bluesy guitar licks to help him out. The magic and darkness comes into the light of the band with Down with the Moon that at first it’s going to be spiritual, but then the uplifting tempo comes in full swing with vocal and guitar setting the tone and vibration.

At about 10 minutes and 35 seconds, is the epic track, Reminder. This composition is out of this world featuring various changes and twisted time changes and you would never know what kind of trick would have up their sleeves going from Fast, Hard, Country Rock, Slow, and in your face that will have your jaws dropped. While their first album didn’t do well, it is still a knockout and some of the people were just not ready for a Heavy Prog band to come in full swing.

Their second album, Triad, sees the band learning from their ideas and their lessons from their previous debut and takes into a heavier approach. Songs like the rumbling touches of the solar system on Spaceship and Brainstorm, sees the band go into a thrilling bluesy yet atmospheric rocking adventure into the milky way while the piano ballad Child Life, is a touching composition on becoming a father and spending more time being a family instead of going on the road.

Then on Pan, it becomes this combination of Yes meets the Welsh Rockers Man as the guitar has this Peter Banks-like style riff on the guitar along with Love and Laughter with a ‘60s psych twist. Then, everything becomes a folky enjoyment with Rainy Day and not to mention the Bluesy sounds of staying home and watch the rain pouring down and laid-back. Then everything becomes a full-throttle finale with the 3-parts of Monolith. Along with their previous epic, this has mixtures and craziness combined featuring Heavy Prog, Jazz Rock with a combination of The Doors meets Locomotive, then back into the fast-driven roaring engine to close the album up with a bang!

The bonus tracks, features the A and B sides of the singles when they were a part of the Harvest label. And listening to pieces like the punchy Lonely Singer, the spacey-pop synth and organ touches on Gay Time Night, and their own touch of Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, is a swirling knockout guitar layered eruption with a constant enthusiasm and not to mention the slowed-down version with an ambient sound featuring some keyboards to go along with the track.

It’s a shame they called it a day and went different directions and the liner notes done by Classic Rock and Metal Hammer writer, Malcolm Dome shows a lot excellent information and this is a must have for any obscure prog fan to discover the lost bands who never saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kayak - Royal Bed Bouncer

Now could Kayak have been bigger than Styx and Boston? Could they have paved the wave of the AOR (Album Orientated Rock) movement? Or could they have been the pioneers of Arena Rock? Who knows, but with the band’s music Kayak were very different from the way they played and were overlooked, but had a huge cult fan base in their hometown in the Netherlands. After releasing their first two albums, it was time to go into the outer limits and much Prog-Pop as well on their third album, Royal Bed Bouncer.

Originally released on the Harvest label and reissued by the good people at Esoteric Recordings, it’s still a power-driven-gentle Prog album that will take you into different places. According to the liner notes done by Wouter Bessels, the title came from King Henry VIII, who would have his bed checked every night if he had a pitfall. Ton Scherpenzeel’s keyboard playing is like a jet engine that is ready to go and is up for full speed to go 500 miles per hour that has this touch of Classical and Symphonic structures as Max Werner’s sings beautifully on the whimsical opening track that unfolds the sounds of Kayak’s music.

There is also a romantic side as well that sees the band paying homage to Electric Light Orchestra’s Out of the Blue-era. The uplifting Bury The World is Kayak’s chance to give it a moment to go into this swirling yet spacey ballad featuring Johan Slager’s impressive guitar work as he challenges Jeff Lynne and Brian May while Ton goes into this ambient/atmospheric solar system outer space music that is a mind-blowing adventure like you’ve never seen before.

The catchy sing-along melodic structures of (You’re So) Bizarre has this Broadway inspired sound with a walking driven line in the music featuring thumping bass, Rhodes, organ, and ballet-like dances on the drums to make it fun and exciting.  Then there’s If This Is Your Welcome in which Ton channels his Elton John chops on the piano to capture the essence of the early sound of the golden era of Glam Rock along with the soothing emotional touches of Life of Gold that feels like it was taken out of the sessions for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Queen II.

Then they go into light speed with a lot of exuberance on Chance for a Lifetime. It has thunderous Piano work, Sax, rumbling guitar riffs in the rhythm section, and going into Heavy and Orchestral/Renaissance rock, as the song deals with Noah’s Ark, but instead of animals, they are fans in the ship to sail towards a rock concert to get the best seat in the house to watch a full-explosive show from start to finish. Patricia Anglaia is a wonderful yet mellowing instrumental piece.

Featuring Patricia Paay with her gentle and soothing vocalization, Ton helps her out by going through various chord progressions to follow her melodic voice on the keyboard and the accordion by almost taking this piece into an operatic format that is completely spellbound. Meanwhile on Said No Word comes at you by giving you a big jump out of the listener’s chair with another fast-driven rock out voyage as Bert Veldkamp just nails it out with his Bass by paying tribute to Chris Squire as the closer, My Heart Never Changed takes it into a calm-like sound with a jazzy feel that closes the curtain on the album.

The band went through various line-ups and moved into the AOR sound in the 1980s, but Royal Bed Bouncer is one of the band’s finest work to come out. Let’s hope Esoteric Recordings reissues the other Kayak albums from The Last Encore into Merlin. But if you want to get into Kayak’s music, the first three albums are a must have for any Prog fan to sink their ears into listening and understand why they were ahead of their time.

Soft Machine Legacy - Burden of Proof

The sounds of British Jazz Rock, just makes you feel comfortable and make you sit down to relax, calm yourself, and feel the coolness to relieve the stress. And at times it feels like the soundtrack to your life or makes you go into a Jazz club in the streets of England or in New York to catch some of the old and new guards of the genre and it is quite obvious that something twisted and inconceivable that will take the audience and listeners by surprise.

Since their formation in 2004, Soft Machine Legacy has been carrying the sound and the remembrance of the band’s music and staying true to the Machine’s music like a tidal wave that is waiting to happen. The band considers John Etheridge on Guitar, Theo Travis who replaced the late Elton Dean on Sax, Roy Babbington on Bass, and John Marshall on Drums. The group released five albums (two which are studio and three are live) and their new album, Burden of Proof, is like a time back into the early 1970s and it’s an exuberant exploration from the moment you put it on from start to finish.

They go through various observations from the Canterbury movement, Free Jazz, Ambient, and the sound of the Blues to make you get ready for the jump to light speed at any second. The opening title track which starts off with Theo Travis creating some mysterious passages on the Rhodes before the band comes into the full gear with Roy’s walking bass line, John’s soothing drum patterns, and Theo and Etheridge playing together on the melody that makes it a wowing experience that you just never expect to do something that is magical.

The soothing and haunting touches on Kitto, provides John Etheridge’s chance to shine with a bit of the middle-eastern scenery on his guitar as he goes through various passages that is at times classical and cryptic at the same time as it almost could have been recorded at a dark and cavernous palace along with the spacey Voyage Beyond Seven while the in-your-face attitude of Pie Chart lets the band have an enjoying moment. Here, Etheridge and Travis go into this competition between guitar and keyboards as they would decide which was better and they hammer it like no other.

Everything becomes this Avant-Garde madness with the percussion as Marshall goes over the place with the drums and different instruments to become this nightmare on JSP as it segues into a Psychedelic trance on Kings and Queens. On the track, there are touches of early Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and the Third-era to go along with it. Featuring spooky organ work, Roy’s eerie bass line, and arrangement helps them with surrealism as the flute and guitar just makes it, poignant.

Meanwhile, everything becomes this chaotic homage to the Rock in Opposition scene with the time-changing upbeat tempo into a haywire mass madness on Fallout while the band give a chance for Roy Babbington to have free rein with Etheridge helping out as Roy goes into various bass chords on Going Somewhere Canorous? The relaxation on Black and Crimson and They Landed on a Hill provides a moment for some quiet time between the band members. There is something very strange and almost dreamy at the same time when they go into this atmospheric beauty and as they settle down it is almost like a candle burning bright into the darkness.

The frenzied and wildly madness on the Free Jazz experiment The Brief is John Marshall and Theo Travis go into this fast-driven pound cake between Sax and Drums as each of them channel John Coltrane and Elvin Jones while the bring in the Funk and with a dosage of Zeppelin in there on the impressive vibes on Pump Room. Then it’s back into the Chaotic structures of the Avant-Garde movements into another haywire effect, but its Etheridge going into a mind-blowing guitar work by going all over the frets and just taking it up a notch by paying tribute to Zappa on Green Cubes.

Burden of Proof is an excellent and eruptive Jazz-Rock album that Soft Machine Legacy has unleashed.  And they are something I might look into during this year and Moonjune Records have scored another home run. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tom Slatter - Three Rows of Teeth

Persuading the combination of Science-Fiction and the Steampunk universe in the 19th and early 20th century, Tom Slatter is one of the people who carries both of the genres and makes it a conceptual mini storylines with a Rock Opera feel, and his third album, Three Rows of Teeth released this year, deal with the issues of Murder, Betrayal, Body Parts being replaced with robotic ideas, make-up Spiritualists, and of course an airship with too many teeth. So you can understand this is something out of a weird storyline and it feels like if it's almost straight from the realms of the short stories from the late great Ray Bradbury and the inspirations of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City to set the atmosphere of the 1890s and early 1900s.

The music has this combination of William D. Drake, early Genesis, Radiohead, and Caravan at the same time that is Catchy, Electronic, Haunting, Whimsical, and Adventurous at the same time that can really take you into different directions and locations from the short stories that Tom writes and sings at the same time on how some of the characters went through and how the price they paid for what they have done to themselves.  

For his singing, guitar playing and the instruments that are playing, he’s a one-man band. In the glowing opening title track, the song opens like an overture with different movements between acoustic/electric guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals that has some dramatic and thumping turned soaring structures while showing some touches of the future before it goes into this chaotic circus rock sound with a wildly difficult time signature that is going off the wall as Tom goes off by having a blast and resembling the sounds of King Crimson and a Trick of the Tail-era as well.

Then, he goes into a humorous spooky story-telling complex with a Jazz and the homage of a traditional Jewish folk songs with an attitude on Mother’s Been Talking to Ghosts Again while the acoustic advanced Self Made Man and These Tiny Things Are Haunting Me, offers a deep ambient electronic voyage that will terrify and chill you to the bone. Then, there’s the sinister sing-along crisp acoustic touch of sailor music with a punch that could have been used during the sessions of Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog with a dance-like waltz in ¾ that is emotionally yet stunning touches on The Engine That Played Through Their Honeymoon along with the joyous, enlighten, and jumpy melody on Dance Dance Dance. And then, we come to the three-part suite, The Time Traveler.

It soars with the touches of going into Acid Gothic Folk music for the first few minutes before going into this crazy thumping rock altitude as Tom challenges Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp with his solo work that is wonderous, out of this world, and mesmerizing both rhythm and lead at the same time (What We Say Three Times is True).  And then, it goes into this mourning ‘60s-‘70s psychedelic atmosphere feel and feeling as if the world has now become a nightmarish hell as it segues into a uplifting organ and mellotronic acoustic beauty to rise up and crumble the empire (Rise Another Leaf).

The last part has a melancholic and evocative touch of some layered guitar work and keyboard sound, and bass work as well. It has this touch of a sinister soundtrack on the instruments, stirs up the tension to go in this increasing climax for the finale (Love Letter and Entropy). Slatter knows his way around the bench between Progressive Rock and Stories and he has done his research very well on the album. I have listened to Three Rows of Teeth about four times, and it’s a remarkable album from start to finish. This is a must listen to album for this year.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Inside//Outside - Inside//Outside

Playing almost like a soundtrack to the DC Animated Movie, Batman Year One based on the comic book series by Frank Miller, this New York trio sets the scenery of Rock In Opposition, Jazz, and Krautrock combined into one as if Radiohead, Magma, Miles Davis, and Tangerine Dream had teamed up to create this mind-blowing electronic experimental album like you’ve never experienced before from start to finish. Inside // Outside is one of the most remarkable up-and-coming bands to carry the spirits of the three genres and it’s a knockout with their first sole self-titled debut.

The band considers Adam Neely on Bass, Wim Leysen on keyboards, and Shawn Crowder on Drums and percussion. And their music cast a magic spell with electronic passages filled with Avant-Garde noises and Fender Rhodes with Moog Synths carrying the reminiscent of the early ‘70s and ‘80s 8-bit video game music and Bass guitar lines creating some thumping and touching workout like a jet engine flying over you 600 miles per hour. Wim Leysen is creating some beautiful layered sound on his keyboard to capture the sounds of Herbie Hancock, Dave Stewart of Egg, Mike Ratledge, and Thelonious Monk as well.

Thunderous Bass work along with some Fuzz tone structures to create a heavy metallic razor sharp noise that comes out of nowhere, Neely soars into the skies as he goes along for the ride and drummer Shawn Crowder percussion work is a wowing experience that goes from fusion into electronic beats that sets the dystopian nightmare. And adding the sounds of the string quartet, soprano saxophone, trumpet, and guitar, you have embarked on a strange, surreal, nightmarish and amazing journey that will take you into the distant cosmic voyages of time and space.

With alarming loud noises, gadgets, and experiments to go along with Inside // Outside’s inspirational influence in their music, it is quite clear that this group are hopefully going to receive word of mouth from the underground scene and the Jazz Rock community, which is quite understandable into ambient beauty, moving and soothe compositions into a wildly enjoying pleasure. I have listened to this three times already, and I have to say I’m completely impressed of what I’m hearing and they make the music an amusing yet exciting experience that I can’t wait to see what will they will have next up their sleeves for the near future.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Spriguns - Revel, Weird and Wild / Time Will Pass

Perhaps one of the most overlooked and obscure bands to come out of the Folk Rock scene in the 1970s that were way ahead of their time. Formed in 1972, they were originally Spriguns of Tolgus which had a mysterious and mythical sound in their music before shortening it to Spriguns and carrying the sounds of the first five albums of Steeleye Span in their music to capture the spirit and essence of the inspiration of the homage and staying true to the band’s sound.

And their two albums (Revel Weird and Wild, Time Will Pass) have finally received the Esoteric treatment this year and it features an interview with Mandy Morton done by Marco Rossi who does the Prog Nosis on SHINDIG Magazine. Now while Mandy’s voice resembles Maddy Prior’s voice as if she could have been her younger sister, gives an insight on how Spriguns came to be and how their albums were released at the wrong time at the wrong place when Punk was unleashing its fury in 1976 and ’77.

The band considers alongside Mandy Morton on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Wayne Morrison on Guitar, Dick Powell on Guitar and Keyboards, Tom Ling on violin, Mandy’s wife Mike on Bass Guitar, Chris Woodcock and Dennis Dunstan on drums. Their third album, Revel, Weird and Wild, originally released on the Decca label in 1976, has the touches of British Folk sound with a huge punch and some catchy melodies that are perfect for a dance and sing-along songs to sing to your children.

You have some perfect touches of Country and Folk combined into one as Tom’s violin sets the scenery on the swinging Laily Worm, Nothing Else To Do and Hasberry Howard. The gentle and emotional introduction homage to Fairport Convention on Trysting Tree, is beautiful and soft as Mandy’s voice comes at you as if she’s right behind you to calm you down whether you had a bad day while the dark-psychedelic sound of Lord Lovell, featuring a catchy melody and Tom’s wah-wah solo on the violin and the acoustic guitar setting the adventures about the character who’s leaving his wife to go on this spiritual journey, but will return in seven years, will take you by surprise.

Time Will Pass, their fourth album, sees the band going into a rock orientated sound and still carrying the Folk sound with a vengeance as they move away from the country folk rock sound as they wanted to break loose and come out like a tidal wave and to give five centerpieces. The evidence is the eruptive opener, Dead Man’s Eyes which sees the band going into harder/crunchy sound as they pay homage to String Driven Thing with a thunderous beat as Mandy just nails it of the final days of the man’s life towards death.

The thumping mourning beauty yet dynamic beauty of the title track has this emotional structure featuring a synth playing different chord changes, guitar layered sound, and the spookiness of Mandy’s voice setting a sail for adventure while the symphonic string section comes in for the sun to rise for a beautiful morning on the magical fairy tales to tell on the White Witch. But then, Mandy gives the band a chance to go into darker territories and give it a gothic atmosphere on Blackwaterside. The synths and guitars help out in the melody as Mandy just nails it with her voice as it goes from soft and gentle in to a thunderous rocking solo done by Wayne Morrison that goes into his Gilmour-like solo to give the listener chills like no other as well as the mellowing You’re Not There.

Spriguns could have been bigger than Fairport Convention and it would have been amazing to see where the yellow brick road could have taken them and its really interesting hearing the band’s music from start to finish. A highly recommended obscure folk rock group that were ahead, overlooked, and out of this world to make you understand the band’s music is a hidden treasure.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yagull - Films

Touches of Acid Folk, Flamenco, and Classical Guitar work are evidential in the mind of Sasha Markovic and his group Yagull that were inspired by the three genres including Jazz as the inspirations come to mind of Miles Davis, Comus, Tudor Lodge, Ottmar Liebert, and Trees that makes perfect sense. And the album, Films is a somber yet beautiful guitar-layered instrumental album that is a dark, haunting, beautiful yet structured piece of compositions including two covers by Cream and Black Sabbath, takes the sound into various locations that you haven’t seen before.

With its acoustic crisp guitar sound, and with a cover of two children holding hands in the park to go and play in a black-and-white scenery, Films is more of a love-letter to the music Sasha adored growing up and the tracks come at you and will be taken aback from the way he writes and understands about the love of how his guitar and the music isn’t dead, but taking the listener to open their eyes and understanding the nature of Markovic himself. Summerdreamer has this wonderful gentle homage to Barclay James Harvest’s Mockingbird as if Sasha wrote this as a sequel to where the pastoral composition left off as he’s playing both the rhythm and the fingerpicking touches on the guitar and making it sound like a warm and lovely day in the summer.

Pulse is a mourning and emotional yet touching piece as Markovic and flautist Lori Reddy comes up with these folk-like tearful sounds on her flute to set up the atmosphere while the flamenco comes in full strength of Cream’s White Room and the opening of the album, the dramatic yet symphonic Dark, could imagine Sasha writing the pieces for Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi trilogy for some mind-blowing action scenes.  Then there are the psychedelic touches on April as Sasha goes into a tribute to the city of Brazil and homage to Tropicalian scene during that time period while the gothic and sombering East, takes you into the 1950s smoky night clubs in New York as if Sasha was with Coltrane and some background vocals helping him out with this astonishing composition.

Los Pajaros (The Birds), has some wonderful Folky touches as you imagine the creatures flying to their nest and helping their young ones to sleep and feeding them by letting them know everything’s okay and then everything becomes another mourning featuring a dooming bell and almost a moving dance composition on the Renaissance turned Psych-Prog late ‘60s/’70s sound on Distance as the instruments come in for this beautiful montage to go into a slow ballad. All in all, Films is a breathtaking album that Yagull has unleashed into the sounds of the guitar and classical music combined into one.

Moonjune Records, have finally unleashed something strange yet beautiful at the same time. I’ve played this about five times already and I’m completely hooked into Sasha’s guitar work and I can’t wait to hear what he will have up his sleeves with the group and hopefully he’ll probably do a score for an independent film sometime in the future.

Skin Alley - Big Brother Is Watching You: The CBS Recordings Anthology

Ladbroke Grove, located in the west side of London and crossed between the Westway from Notting Hill and into Kensal Green, became a movement in that area during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. And it was also an underground scenery as well for the up-and-coming psychedelic bands like; The Deviants, Here and Now, High Tide, Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, and Skin Alley. Yes, Skin Alley was one of the most overlooked bands to come out of Ladbroke with touches of Swing, Soul, Jazz, Avant-Garde, and Folk.

Formed in 1968, this British Rock combo were taking the listeners into different areas with their music and this 2-CD set, reissued by the good people at Esoteric Recordings, is a wonderful gem covering the band’s first two albums (Skin Alley and To Pagham & Beyond) and it also is researched very well with the liner notes done by Mark Powell, giving a clear history of Skin Alley’s work and how they came to be and why they were completely overlooked and ahead of their time.

And it also features some of the unreleased material of the soundtrack to the film Stop Veruschka, which has never been released, was about the infamous German model of the late ‘60s who would later have a five minute cameo in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic, Blow-Up. To Skin Alley, as I’ve mentioned before, had the sounds of the five genres and it can really pack a punch when you listen to the albums from start to finish and you can imagine what it was like in the underground scene and receiving word-of-mouth about the band’s music.

The rumbling flute, percussion and organ-driven beats on Living in Sin which kicks off the anthology set, is a powerful force of nature that is out of this world and just hits you right in the gut with its Psych Jazz-Soul touches on the opening track.  And that is a perfect way to open the compilation off and understanding how a combo can really be powerful and give you an understanding that the Prog genre isn’t just a dirty word.

You have some wonderful pieces including the mellotron and organ spookiness homage to the Moody Blues on Tell Me, the dooming waltz meets droning vocalizations on Mother, Please Help Your Child, the wildly sax exercise with a Coltrane-sque touches on Marsha, and the folky thump comes back into the groove with Night Time. Then, To Pagham and Beyond which was released in the same year as their follow up to their self-titled debut album in 1970, has a relaxing and laid-back jazz rocking sound, but still carry the influences of their previous work.

There’s the soul-blues organ shuffle with some punchy vocalizations on Walking in the Park that resembles Booker and the MG’s along with the harmonica brass rocker turned spaced out adventure, Big Brother Is Watching You while the Swinging Avant-Jazz Rock comes at you like it’s the 1940s all over again with Easy to Lie. Then there’s the raga-rock inspirational 9-minute touches of Take Me To Your Leader’s Daughter that has a bit of the Orwell concept in there and not to mention the exercise passage works of flute, acoustic guitar, and percussion that makes it a mind-blowing enjoyment.

Now, the Stop Veruschka sessions are a real treat which cover the two-disc set on the anthology. It’s a lost and rare treat hearing these unheard compositions including the uplifting harpsichord brass punches on Russian Boogaloo while the Free Jazz musique concrete comes into a haywire effect on Cemetery Scene and First Drug Scene as if Lol Coxhill came in and did some sessions with his sax with the band including a wailing female vocal going off the wall.

But it’s Snow Music that is really interesting as they go into the classical routine of the 17th century that is quirky and fun as Sofa, Taxi, and Sand Themes that becomes this nightmarish ride into the dark and seeing where the road is going to take them and finding out what life really is. Big Brother Is Watching You: The CBS Recordings Anthology is a must have for anyone for wants to sink into the obscure gems of the Progressive Rock and the going into the realms of the Ladbroke Grove scene as well.

So if you love Hawkwind, Heron, High Tide, and Trees to name a few, then Skin Alley’s anthology set is the one you’ll enjoy and understand the meanings of hidden treasures and lost gems of the Prog/Psych underground scene.

Dewa Budjana - Dawai in Paradise

Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana is soon going to hit the Jazz-Rock scene like no other. He has been around in the Jazz scene since the ‘90s and there is no one there to stop him. His fifth solo album, Dawai in Paradise, released by the good people at Moonjune Records, is a spiritual retreat and calm-like guitar instrumental album that is very atmospheric, ambient, rock, psych, pop, and will take you to different universes that you haven’t seen before with his work, progression, and solo styles that will have your jaws dropped from beginning, middle, right until the very end.

Compositions like Back Home in which it has this lukewarm beauty with some electronics, sitar, and a exercising bass work done by the late Dave Carpenter as Dewa challenges Steve Hackett as if it was 1973 all over again to pay tribute to the Selling England By the Pound-era of Genesis for the last few minutes as Indra Lesmana does his Tony Banks synth work to stay true to the vision of the Prog sound. Then there’s the opener, Lalu Lintas in which it goes into the Gentle Giant-like intro before it kicks into full gear of a full throttle Fusion-Swing-Metallic resemblance that comes out of nowhere to give it the Funky flavor and not to mention a nice homage to Frank Zappa and Brian May.

On Masa Kecil, it’s has this Middle-Eastern flavor as the Electric Sitar comes in handy for a moving and uplifting piece as he goes through various improvisations while the band members just fly into the soaring sky with the directions that Dewa wants the band members to go into some laid-back motions of the driven beats. Elsewhere, he’s back into the full time-signature Swinging Jazz turned moving sounds with the electronic groove into the mix with Kromatik Lagi as the bass line becomes walking dance beat as the drums take a wonderful moving river flowing sound.

Meanwhile on Malacca Bay, Ade Irawan does this George Gershwin concerto introduction on the Piano before it becomes an acoustic classical walking dance move as this female vocalization comes to create some mythic and haunting touches to the piece while Caka 1922 has this emotional and soothing classical beauty that is an homage to Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor featuring some beautiful strings and cello to set the tone and scenery of that era.

Then, everything becomes calm after the storm with a Folk-like sound with an Asian Electronic beat to the mix as Indra Lesmana creates some perfect touches on his keyboard and synth as Dewa helps him out with the melody to On The Way Home as he goes back again into the swinging free-jazz rock sound with a mellowing beat on Dancing Tears before it becomes some crazy funk-vibe settings as Indra challenges Keith Emerson with his piano work.

I have listened to Dawai in Paradise about three times now, and it’s a real treat of hearing some of the recordings he did thirteen years ago and its almost a trip through memory lane for Dewa to cherish and relive those sessions. This is perhaps one of the best Jazz-Rock/Fusion albums I have enjoyed listening to and Moonjune have scored a home run with this and I can’t wait to see what the label will have up their sleeves.

Dennis Rea - Views From Chicheng Precipice

Taking inspiration from the traditional scenes of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, virtuoso guitarist Dennis Rea, lived in different locations in the late ‘80s into the early ‘90s and discovered world music from the four places he went to in East Asia. The album, Views from Chicheng Precipice, is Dennis’ love letter to Asia and can really be a nice tribute to the city and taking the ideas of the views from the inspiration is really a tribute and homage to the four place he adore and loves in his heart and soul.

There are touches of the Musique Concrete, Avant-Rock and RIO sound in there with touches of Dennis guitar playing in the style of George Harrison’s Revolver-era, John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, and Andy Latimer. He’s not trying to rip them off, but pay homage with a chance to lay loose and give a chance for some of instrumentalist including Stuart Dempster on Trombone and Elizabeth Falconer on Koto to name a few to give it a style that is astonishing and mind-blowing at the same time.

Since I’ve mentioned Musique Concrete, the 6-minute eerie and surreal twist of Aviariations on “A Hundred Birds Serenade the Phoenix” is a perfect example. It goes into this electronic, nightmarish tension between Caterina De Re’s improvisation on her voice as if she is locked up in an asylum coming up with some screeching and shrieking vocals as if she crying out for help while Dennis goes into this haywire effect on his guitar as the instruments go into some pounding and thundering evil movement that feels as if it was left off during the sessions for Egg’s The Polite Force and Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and the same goes for the 15-minute piece, Tangabata.

The calming introduction on Three Views from Chicheng Precipice (after Bai Juyi) features Dennis doing this middle-eastern yet psychedelic guitar layered sound as cellist Ruth Davidson helps him out with the melody by creating the scenery and atmosphere that makes it a perfect opening while the dancing vibes keep the tempos flowing on Kan Hai De Re Zi (Days by the Sea). It has this Acid Folk early ‘70s vibe as Dennis goes into the soaring sky with his guitar and plays this wonderful solo that is breathtaking and at times gentle and not to mention Ruth’s homage to Darryl Way as well.

Bagua (Eight Trigrams), is an homage to the Taiko drumming of Japan as Greg Campbell, Will Dowd, and Paul Kikuchi go straight into town for this thunderous pump on their percussion instruments as Elizabeth and Dennis do this howling call between Guitar and Koto, and it’s a perfect match made in heaven. You can imagine the group performing this wonderful piece of music at a Kabuki theatre in Japan and for the dance they would do and would do these wonderful step dances during that time period.

Then, it becomes this aftermath movement as the scenery becomes a gentle calm after the storm through slow and fast tempo to really set the tone and close the curtain with a high experimental note. All in all, this is one of the most world music/avant-rock albums I’ve listened to and Dennis has really shown a lot of talent with his work with his solo and with Moraine. Views from a Chicheng Precipice, is a must listen to album for anyone who loves the two genres.