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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top 30 Albums of 2013

Well, here we are. The Top 30 albums of 2013. It's been a magical year in the world of Progressive Rock/Metal, Jazz Rock, and Symphonic Metal as well. There will be some criticisms over the list, but I digress. Here we go:

1. La Coscienza Di Ceno – Sensitivitia [AltrOck / Fading]
2. Guapo – History of the Visitation [Cuneiform]
3. The Fierce and the Dead – Spooky Action [Bad Elephant]
4. Chrome Hoof – Chrome Black Gold [Cuneiform]
5. I Know You Well Miss Clara – Chapter One [Moonjune]
6. Simakdialog – The 6th Story [Moonjune]
7. Blood Ceremony – The Eldrtich Dark [Rise Above Records]
8. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) [Kscope]
9. La Maschera Di Cera – Le Porte Del Domani [AMS]
10. Magenta – The Twenty-Seven Club [Tigermoth]
11. Soft Machine Legacy – Burden of Proof [Moonjune / Esoteric Antenna]
12. Touchstone – Oceans of Time [Hear No Evil]
13. Marbin – Last Chapter of Dreaming [Moonjune]
14. The Wrong Object – After the Exhibition [Moonjune]
15. Edenbridge – The Bonding [SPV / Steamhammer]
16. Sanguine Hum – The Weight of the World [Esoteric Antenna]
17. Anathema – Universal [Kscope]
18. Half Past Four – Good Things [Paper Plane Music]
19. Raving Season – Amnio [My Kingdom Music]
20. Violent Silence – A Broken Truce [Progress Records]
21. Blackmore’s Night – Dancer and the Moon [Frontiers]
22. Unreal City – La Crudelta di Aprile [Mirror Records]
23. Not a Good Sign – Not a Good Sign [AltrOck / Fading]
24. Pandora – Alibi Filosofico [AMS]
25. Purson – The Circle and the Blue Door [Rise Above Music]
26. Ingranaggi Della Valle – In Hoc Signo [Black Widow Records]
27. Active Heed –Visions from Realities [Self-Released]
28. Yagull – Films [Moonjune]
29. Dialeto – The Last Tribe [Moonjune]
30. Henry Fool – Men Signing [Kscope]

Australasia - Vertebra

Time to get the stockings and Christmas wish list settled for Santa Claus to see if you want to get ready for an adventure into the world of Post-Rock. Alongside bands from that genre I admired from Joy Division, Magazine, and The Fierce and the Dead, who I championed years ago, this next one is going to take me by surprise. Australasia is one of the most up-and-coming bands from Italy that is led by multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto.

The sound of their debut album, Vertebra, is almost a trip down memory into the underground scene in a time machine heading back into the late ‘70s/early ‘80s with a touch of electronica, ominous chord tones, and a futuristic world gone from beautiful into a dystopian universe as if they were doing the score for Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner.  The band had also released an EP called, Sin4tr4 last year and while this is their debut album, it is a stunning, powerful, and eruptive debut, like you’ve never expected before in your wildest dreams.

So how is it? Well, let’s get down to business and fasten your seatbelts and prepare to hurtle through the cosmos by sublight speed:  Aura and Apnea have these sounds resurrecting the new wave genre between melancholic vocals, electronic drum patterns, soothing guitar melodies, and atmospheric synth patterns while Deficit, which is a reprise to the opener, Aorta,  goes into the touches of Fugazi meets Joy Division’s guitar haywire effect of post-punk before settling into the voyages of Krautrock at the last couple of seconds by paying homage to NEU!

The rumbling drum patterns and pinging noises that make it almost sound like a lullaby which is evidential on Zero. It’s a driven composition that goes from soft into a driven rocking adventure that Gian creates to get the tempos flowing and vibrated, but Volume goes back into the post-punk techniques before heading into the synths as the title track has a peaceful guitar line between a classical and distinctive surround sound that is a perfect instrumental composition of walking into the woods by getting away from the pain and suffering by listening to the birds chirping to make you feel at home.

Everything starts to calm down on the closing track, Cinema. You can always imagine the soundtrack to your movie with an independent background as seeing the couple starting a new life and a new beginning by going off into the sunset and seeing where the next piece of the puzzle will take them into a new direction as the credits start to roll. And I could imagine this during Sofia Coppola’s 1999 classic, The Virgin Suicides.

After listening to this about three times already, I have to say, I am impressed of what I was hearing from beginning, middle, and end. Even though this is their debut album, Australasia has a long way to go. Ambient, Atmospheric, Shoegazing, and Poignant, Vertebra, is an experience you’ll never forget. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dewa Budjana - Joged Kahyangan

One of the things I love of hearing great music in the world of Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock, is that I would always get a funny feeling that something magical and special is about to happen. And one of those people that I’m blown away by is Indonesian guitarist virtuoso, Dewa Budjana. After hearing his first album, Dawai in Paradise from the Moonjune label, he has this wonderful gift that just takes you into various worlds that is awestruck.

Now he’s back with his follow up, Joged Kahyangan, which means “Dancing Heaven” is Dewa’s own interpretation of beauty from his roots in his hometown of Waikabuba. And this is almost a coming back home album and revisiting the places where he grew up and set to a smooth and uplifting tempo. Dewa is not alone, he’s brought along some friends to help him out including; Larry Goldings on Keyboards, Bob Mintzer on Sax and Clarinet, Jimmy Johnson on Bass, Peter Erskine on Drums, and special guest Janis Siegel on vocals.

Erksoman, in which is Peter’s nickname, has this soul-jazz rock flavor in the styles of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s as Dewa, Peter, and Larry Goldings in which he is playing in the styles of Thelonious Monk, Bo Hansson, and Steve Winwood, he just going into town with his Hammond Organ on the road for some wonderful solo work as Dewa lays down on the groove while Peter keeps the waltz tempo flowing in the ¾ time signature.

Majik Blue starts off at first with a calming relaxation for the first two minutes and fifty seconds as it goes into darker territories as Dewa goes at it with heavy related work before Larry captures his Monk and Keith Tippett piano styles before Bob Mintzer is wailing on the sax as Johnson’s bass has some Pastorius licks as they come back in the easygoing finale while Dang Hyang Story, captures the essence of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame-era rolled up into one with an ominous and elevating feel.

Elsewhere, the title track, has this wonderful resemblance of King Crimson’s In The Wake of Poseidon-era as its done in the style of Cadence and Cascade with the acoustic folky background as Dewa challenges Robert Fripp’s chord progressions. Then there’s the lovely song dealing with growing up and moving forward to start a new chapter in your life, As You Leave My Nest, featuring Janis Siegel. She has this soothing and comforting sound on her voice as the band go into a beautiful ballad to give Janis a chance to get into the song as its used as a reprise for an instrumental style on the closer, Borra’s Ballad.

Guru Mandala, has this cool riff between guitar and sax and vocalizations scatting the melody, goes into this atmospheric funk-rock with an Indonesian kick to it and you can tell they are having a blast on this piece as Dewa goes from funk-jazz into classical movement as you can imagine walking on the sandy beach and seeing the sun going down while the opener, Foggy Cloud, just takes your breath away as it goes into the Bebop Fusion resemblance of Vince Guaraldi as if Dewa was recording a score in honor of Vince's work doing one of the Charlie Brown specials.

Joged Kahyangan shows that not only Dewa Budjana is back, but he is soon going to have a name for himself in the Jazz community and give the sound a big warm welcome that is take everyone by surprise. Moonjune Records have really scored a home run with this!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dusan Jevtovic - Am I Walking Wrong?

The sound of Jazz Rock, Hard Rock, and Progressive Rock, has really come a long way since the late ‘60s and into the future. And it’s a great chance for a huge revival to receive that big jolt of electrical voltage in the musicians’ life and body to show that the three genres aren’t dead, they come with an excellent taste and the power trio can come in handy.

One of the performers that I am completely blown away by is a man from Serbia named, Dusan Jevtovic. His guitar playing is intense, powerful, captivating, and thunderous as well. And with help from Bernat Hernandez on Bass Guitar and Marko Djordjevic on Drums, I knew that this was something I would later expect the unexpected. Am I Walking Wrong? His follow up to On the Edge, is a creative stroke of genius.

Capturing the essence of Jimi Hendrix, King Crimson, and Elephant9, Dusan shows his love of the three genres by giving it an ominous and magnetic atmosphere to go into the voyages of space with his music along with his fellow space cadets to hurtle through the cosmos through five centerpieces. Pieces like In the Last Moment II and Embracing Simplicity,  goes through darker passages as the intensity starts to raise up a bit more before going into your car and headed down a long and winding road to focus into the future and what will lie ahead for them.

Dusan changes various moods by going into those territories by increasing it that is a jawdropping moment as he along with Marko and Bernat go through a time machine as if it was 1974 all over again by paying tribute the Red-era of Crimson’s masterpiece while seeing Robert Fripp himself being blown away by them and receiving the hand shake from the maestro. The title track is a psych-fuzz composition with a post-jazz rock and at times middle-eastern twist thanks to Bernat’s walking bass lines, the band goes into that mode while the bluesy Zeppelin-sque rock flavored touches with One on One and the rockabilly sound of the ‘50s on Bluesracho gives the band a chance to relax from their moody and darker passages and have a blast.

The doom of the waltz on Drumer’s Dance comes in handy for the first few minutes before Bernat comes up with this beautiful solo on the bass as Marko is laying down the surroundings while Dusan is going through various chord progressions. Am I Walking Wrong? Is soon going to become the Christmas / Hanukkah gift for any jazz or prog fan to sink into. I have listen to this three times already and when you put this on, you will embark on for an amazing journey with the power trio. So if you love Jazz and Prog with a dosage of Red-era Crimson and Elephant9, you have come to the right place.