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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Copernicus - L'Eternite Immediate

One of the most interesting artists that I’ve been discovering is a man named Copernicus (Joseph Smalkowski). What he does is go through a sermon as he speaks like a poet in the styles of Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, and at times, Jack Kerouac. And after hearing Worthless, I was completely transported into another world and his styles of Avant-Garde, Jazz, and at times the Progressive genre, he would grab the three musical sounds and makes this mad, bizarre, and unexpected adventure that would be sudden movement.

His new album, L’Eternite Immedite (Immediate Eternity), in which he has been doing this conceptual piece back in 2001 and he has done this composition, in English and in Spanish. This time, he’s doing this in French. So after a few listens, I knew that he is soon going to become one of my favorite artist. Not to mention seven centerpieces that will get you ready for Copernicus’ adventures.

Poudre is done in the style of Santana’s Soul Sacrifice as Copernicus goes through this sermon that he shouts and speaks while the instruments go through a driven fusion-sque attack thanks to the energetic sounds from Guitarist Cesar Aragundi and drummer Juan Carlos Zuniga Lopez.

Elsewhere, Libre De Moi, begins with a Gershwin-like piano introduction done by Newton Velasquez as he is doing this tribute to the composer as Aragundi goes into an alarming void on his guitar before the mellowing beat comes in full swing while the ominous Reves En Ballons, is a nod to the early ‘70s of French progressive rock group, Ange for a tribute to them.

Sent L’Inexistence is a trip into the outer limits as Copernicus creates this ambient and cavernous atmosphere on the synthesizers as he takes us into the voyages of space into the Milky Way before guest artist Matty Fillou’s sax comes in for a jazzy experience. Then, all of a sudden, one track that goes for 10-minutes, brings a fine touch of Can’s Monster Movie-era with Le Baton as he speaking in the style of Malcolm Mooney as Il N’Y A Pas Difference goes into a Waltz-like orientation in ¾.

But it’s the closing track, Vive Le Nouveau! That is a piece for the spaceship to head back home to Earth for a relaxation on this Avant-Rock finale. Beginning with a banging gong, bass workout by Freddy Auz, percussion hypnotism, Copernicus just nails it as the instruments just takes into uncharted results as Cesar’s guitar work sends it up into a psych-rock experience while Freddy just gives it the Fusion touches on his bass by helping the others out while Juan Lopez challenges Keith Tippett on the piano for a twisted and insane result as the band go into the styles of Aphrodite’s Child and King Crimson’s Lizard-era.

It is insane, mad, hypnotic, and beautiful at the same time for Copernicus to unleash another version of the Immediate Eternity sung in a different language and its  something to expect from the mind of Joseph Smalkowski, and you never know what he would come with next.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Fierce and the Dead - Spooky Action

The Fierce and the Dead have always been one of the most electrifying bands I’ve listened to. And after hearing some of their EP’s and their debut album, If It Carries on Like, This We Are Moving to Morecambe, they create these tension and mysterious boundaries that is jolting and out of the blue when it comes to their music in the genres of Post-Rock, Shoegazing, and the Post-Prog Rock sound of the 21st century. Their new album, Spooky Action, is a raw electrifying roller-coaster ride that works well and it’s almost like a powder keg waiting to explode at the right moment.

Matt Stevens, who’s been doing a lot of solo work from his virtuoso guitar playing, and receiving word-of-mouth from the prog community, has always carried the torch of the three genres as if he’s making sure the music is still alive. And alongside Matt, including, Kev Feazey on Bass Guitar, Steve Cleaton on Guitar, and Stuart Marshall on Drums, you know you’re going to expect something spectacular and beyond your wildest imagination when you listen to their second album from beginning, middle, and end.

The concept behind Spooky Action is basically on darker territories, cults, Quantum physics, and absent friends and throughout the entire compositions behind the arrangements you can see where the direction they are taking their sound and vision with them into unbelievable territories. Part 4 begins with some glowing guitar lines before it becomes a fast-driven sound thanks to Stuart Marshall’s thumping drum works, Kev’s fuzzy bass lines, and Steve and Matt’s guitar layered sound and it almost has a Space Rock sound.

Ark, which has been featured on YouTube of their music video, is very Psychedelia and Post-Punk as well. Uplifting, loud, and hypnotic is all I can think about this track. There are some atmospheric and frenzied moments between both the guitars and the bass coming up with the roaring notes that respects the Larks Tongues in Aspic-era of King Crimson. Let’s Start a Cult, almost reminded me a shuffle that the guitarists are doing in the melody before the wildly sax and Kev’s workout come kicking the door out with a big bang while Pyramid Hat, has this weird combination between the Kid A sound of Radiohead and The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame as if the two groups had teamed up to create a mad and insane album that’ll knock the sock out of the Music Business.

I Like It, I’m Into It, sees the band go into a hyper killer groove as the temperature level increases between the instruments as it reaches a higher mark on the rhythm section as they go into the Alternative / Art Rock sound as if they could have done a score for one of the Sci-Fi films as it goes a Spacey mode as they get the Starship Enterprise ready for warp speed. Intermission 3, gets the band a chance to relax as the piece goes into a dark and cavernous place of ‘70s Krautrock tribute to Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze’s earlier work as the clapping yet kick-back turned gentle and uplifting tempos of the title track, gives a shining moment to reach for the heavens.

And The Bandit, which reminded me of an underrated post-rock group from England called, Elastica, gives Kev a chance to come in front with his Bass work and featuring a bit of the string quartet to go into a classical yet electronic moment before the catchy rhythms come in as Entropy captures the essence of the Surf Rock sound of the ‘60s as the mood changes with some thunderous results of haywire sound of post-prog-punk chords and ending with a haywire guitar feedback sound. Unexpected and brilliant at the right moment, to give a surprise twist.

Part 5 is almost a reprise to the opening track of the fourth part, featuring guitars and sax doing the melodies as the woodwinds do a stop and go motion when they hit the notes at the exact moment. I’s very Rock in Opposition as it pays homage to the genre as the closing track, Chief, is a calm-turned-nightmarish finale. You can hear the instruments going into a dreamland atmosphere before the Crimson mode comes in for heavy screams and then back into the calm after the storm.

It’s a back-and-forth message between relax and evil thunderstorms that lure ahead, and it’s a wonderful yet sinister ending to close the album off with a Fripp-like alarm that is waiting for the beast to awake and start reigning terror. Spooky Action is a heart-stopping album that is insane and mad for the Fierce and the Dead to unleash. They have taken their music into a mind-boggling journey that you would never expect. A must listen to album that is highly recommended.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Michael Lee Firkins - Yep

Nebraskan native and guitarist, Michael Lee Firkins has been making music since the release of his first sole self-titled debut album in 1990 and he has released six albums and has also done some guest appearances from tribute compilations for Hendrix, the Blues, and Cream, and not to mention an instructional video for Hot Licks on mastering the lead guitar. Now it’s 2013 and after an 8-year long hiatus, he’s back and better than ever.

His eight solo album released this year, simply called, Yep, fills the sound of the Blues-Southern Rock sounds along with the Roots and the Swamp Rock genres to get the flow going which is a perfect strategy. Alongside Firkins’ electrifying guitar work, he brought along some guests including Keyboardist Chuck Leavell, touring musician for the Rolling Stones and also two members from Govt Mule, Andy Hess on Bass and Matt Abts on Drums.

At first, its almost a supergroup that Firkins has brought in, but its an excellent combination of three people with a perfect sound and a perfect electricity that sets the flow on what is about to come. Opener, Golden Oldie Jam, sets the rocket for take off. It begins with Chuck doing a tribute to the late Jon Lord by doing a tribute to him on the Organ before Firkins comes with some sliding rhythms to get into the vibe.

As the song is more fun, exciting and dancing to the rhythm of the beat, a real kicking percussion workout done by Abts helps out as Leavell lays down the soul on the organ before Michael goes into Country and Bluegrass town on his guitar before going into the highway that is delivered well and each of them just having a grand old time.  And everything is fitted well at the right time at the right place for each of the members, having a blast recording, talking about music and enjoying the fun and seeing what they would do next.

Then, there’s more of the excitement. From the down south of Louisiana and the Physical Graffiti-era of Led Zeppelin flowing in of the raunchy Cajun Boogie, with its elevating rhythms and Firkins paying tribute to Jimmy Page to capture the essence of the ‘70s rock sound to get the task done right, to the ‘50s sound of the Rockabilly genre with a shuffling groove about success and sensation on Standing Ovation, where the 12-bar sound of going back to both New Orleans and Memphis that makes you feel right at home.

He also gets into a soulful ballad dealing with lying and knowing that it isn’t easy trying to keep a low profile on Long Day. Firkins gives Chuck his chance to shine with Organ and the Piano as he does some laid-back beauty and comes with some soaring results that is emotional and uplifting. (And you can imagine this being performed in a Church and learning what right is right and what’s wrong is wrong)

Elsewhere, Wearin’ Black, is a Country Waltz that has a lot of strength and vitality and you can imagine this being performed in the bar and just giving the audience a big jaw-dropping moment on being cool while Take Me Back is another soulful piece with an acoustic turned rockin’ attitude as the song deals with a last and final chance to bring a person back and not going back to his or her demons and getting the errors of their ways behind them. The spirit of the Rolling Stones is a kindled tribute from their days of Exile on Main St., but with a Psychedelic Bluesy kick to it on Last Call, as the two-part composition, No More Angry Man is soon going to become a live favorite.

The first part has a cool yet battering rhythm while the second part of the composition, is into the shuffling rock mode, with an eruptive yet volcanic mode and what Michael does is that he switches from the coolness into an explosive arrangement and just takes it down the road and seeing where he would take it and just hits every note.

The Cane, which closes the album off, is done in the style of Blues Saraceno. With Matt Abts thumping sound to get the tempo right on the drums, sliding fuzztone guitar licks and Firkins singing through an echo phase in the song, is a haunting and beautiful. And can he really take it up a notch or what? He takes his instrument through various motions and goes through the frets that is an alarming motion to give the guitar a huge wake-up call.

Hypnotic, beautiful, emotional, and raw, Michael Lee Firkins delivers with an amazingly handshake to let the listener know, he’s back and he’s going to give the voltage, a huge run by taking it with him, no matter where goes. Yep is a warm welcoming and return for Firkins.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Marco De Angelis - The River: Both Sides of the Story

Many inspirations can come into different areas at a different time that pours through the various aspects of life and dualism between good, evil, male, female, and the ways we travel and look at ourselves to find out what is it like living in the two different areas of the Waters themselves. And for Marco De Angelis, he made it exactly like that to tell a story about the issues in, The River: Both Sides of the Story. It’s more of this darker and spiritual album that could have been released in the 1980s.

Incomes the radio static for an introduction before it kicks into thunderous percussion work, organ, and Gilmour-sque guitar lines while the harmonizing vocals come into the composition, Tell Me Why as it goes into a soothing calming relaxing nature of the piece to raise your hand up into the heavens for a chance to find out who you really are. The electronic vibes shown on Black Stare, has an emotional and sadness of a ballad on a person’s life through the mistakes and the errors of their ways, shows how they can correct it and learn to walk forward and forget about the past.

There are the spirits of the late ‘80s/’90s vibe of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and of course Marillion, not to mention Genesis as well that fits the atmosphere of the storyline and you could tell that Marco had done a lot of research by listening to them by getting the vibe and understand how they wrote music and how they would do it. The bluesy edgy crunchy riff sounds of Never Look Back, has a lot of soul and a lot of energy while Regrets he channels Roger Waters’ lyrical context as if it was left off during the sessions for The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking, and you could imagine Marco almost writing a prequel for Waters solo album that has heart and strong will power.

The haunting melodic turned floating boundary on What Do You Feel Now?  Goes into the homage of Obscured by Clouds movement as it has some ‘70s vibes that is unexpected as the rhythm is very laid-back and uplifting at times as the guitar slides through various frets, bass line is calm, along with the drum patterns. Closer, Fly High, is a node to Genesis and Elton John. What’s really exciting is that he is doing a node to Afterglow and Rocket Man, and its more of a tribute and showing how much Marco admires this music so much as it goes back through his childhood from the moment he picked up an instrument.

I have listened to The River three times already and Marco is truly a virtuoso musician along with Marcello Catalano's beautiful vocals, and Cristiano Micalizzi's drumming is staggering as well. And when he puts his toes in the water to see where he would take the music into, is quite interesting and he would take the band members with him to see where the yellow brick road will take them into. But all in all, this is an awe-inspiring and transcendent concept album that will take listeners to a journey they never dreamed of.