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Monday, December 30, 2013

Agony Face - CLX Stormy Quibblings

Inside the dark and cavernous cave, lies an unexpected quintet from Milan that play extreme sounds of Progressive and Death Metal that will soon knock your socks off with some crazy philosophic ideas that is surreal. Agony Face (Salt Merchants in which is their nickname) have been around for about nine years now and their music is a touch of growling vocals, rapid fire drumming that sounds like a machine gun going off with bullets ricocheting, heavy guitar riffs, and a lot of aggression that is brutal, forceful, and strong to get the heads banging. The band considers; Davide Guarinoni on Lead Vocals, Mirko Montrasio on Bass, Alessandro Bassi on Drums, and guitarists Riccardo Ricotti and Alessandro Uberti.

Their third album, CLX Stormy Quibblings, is one of those albums that have the touch of three genres. And it has the views with these extreme and disturbing concepts and it’s almost like walking into the mind of an insane person and seeing what kind of suffering he or she has been done into them and making themselves their own worst enemy. Vocalist Davide Guarinoni shows a lot of energy in his monster-like vocals that as I’ve mention before with a growling and snarling sound as if the beast has been unleashed out of its cage to reign chaos and terror in the town by creating pandemonium.

Duo guitarists Riccardo Ricotti and Alessandro Uberti have a touch of the classical/flamenco and heavy sounds by surpassing Kirk Hammett, Dave Murray, Dimebag Darrell, and Ottmar Liebert rolled up into one, but they carry the Prog-Death-Metal flavor to the core like no other and a little help from the powder keg explosion of drummer, Alessandro Bassi who is like a jet engine going for take-off to keep the fast-tempos and rapid changes from his drum kit to get the juice electrified with a lot of high voltage.

At times it goes through the sounds of Nocturnus, Cynic, Morbid Angel, and the Dillinger Escape Plan, but then goes into some layered and calming lines on some of the compositions to give the band a chance to relax before going back into the pummeling driven mode, and going into some of the futuristic voyages as well and it shows that Agony Face can do different variations on their sound to capture and grab it and making sure it doesn’t fall off the cliff. I have listened to CLX Stormy Quibblings about three times now and while I’m not crazy about the Death Metal sound, I think this is an amazing band that really can take it to a whole new level.

For me, this is an explosive, challenging, and vigorous album I’ve listened to from beginning, middle, and right into the very end. So if you are ready to be challenged for the sound and brutal force of Agony Face, be prepared and expect the unexpected for a roller-coaster ride you’ll never forget.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dragonhammer - The X Experiment

Dragonhammer have been around since their formation in 1999 originally as a trio and they have released along with a demo, two albums and their new album released this year is a concept album called, The X Experiment. The setting of the story takes place during after the post-apocalyptic nuclear world where all hell has broken loose.  And the music itself is a touch of the Prog-Rock sound, but the sound of Power Metal comes kicking the door down. And the sounds of Metallica, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, and Iron Maiden are evidential in their music that shows that they have done their homework very well.

At times, I get the feeling that it is almost a Sci-Fi Metal Opera of a dystopian futuristic world gone wrong and the music is epic, mind-blowing, appealing, and energetic.  The band considers; Max Aguzzi on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Gar Amodio on Bass Guitar, Giulio Cattivera on Keyboards, and Giuseppe De Paolo on Guitars. And featuring special guests: Roberto Tiranti and Titta Tani doing vocals on two of the tracks on the album, Francesco Fareri on Guitar, David Folchitto on the Drums, and the Female Vocals done by Marinella Pichierri and Lara Bertoli.  

And the result of the concept is theatrical, vivid, and gripping as the band go for a ride you’ll never forget on five centerpieces. For example, The End of the World has a sing-along kick to it with a lot of heavy guitar rhythms and riffs, and moog-like solo done by Cattivera as he challenges the sounds of Keith Emerson and Jens Johansson as the drums have a militant rapid patterns to keep the tempo going and it shows how the group can take these ideas into unbelievable results.

Escape is a dramatic keyboard-organ-piano driven beat that starts off for the first few minutes that at times is a tribute to Jon Lord and then goes back into the classical mode from the keyboard as the guitar and drums go rapidly to get that vibe before it mellows down as the vocals come in to set the vibes going as the increase level goes up thanks to the solo and drums come kicking in full gear near the last two minutes of the song that is raw and eruptive.

Elsewhere, Seek in the Ice and the title track, in which its almost straight out of a short story from Philip K. Dick, has a lot of ominous overtones because of the structures of the storyline in which the atmosphere is a nightmarish view on what has happened after the nuclear disaster and the sound is almost like an epic film score on those two tracks, have a riveting and mesmeric value on the instruments.  And then, there’s Follow Your Star.

It begins with a lullaby gone wrong on the keyboards before the percussion and bass comes in while the rhythm set on the acoustic guitar opens up with a folky crisp. However it has a classical and symphonic beauty to it and not to mention the vocals done by Pichierri and Bertoli that really sends shivers down my spine when I listen to this piece and at times along with the second track, it is soon going to be a sing-along song that will soon get the headbangers using their lighters and singing to the words. 

I have listened to The X Experiment about eight times already and I have to say it is a captivating and fascinating album from start to finish. And while this is my introduction to Dragonhammer’s music, I might explore some of their work in the future and if you love the idea of storytelling, concept albums, and Power Metal, this is right in your alley to get your seat buckled to a journey you’ll never ever forget. The most important thing, after a nine-year hiatus, they are back and its an impressive album they have released this year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ilvcia - In The Nature of Reason

Coming from a Post-Progressive and Post-Rock sound, this quintet launched back three years ago in their hometown in Barcelona. Ilvcia have released their debut album this year called In the Nature of Reason. The band recorded the entire album themselves and it’s very much a story-telling album throughout their compositions along with a suite and from beginning to end, it seems they have something up their sleeves.

The band considers; Santiago Arderiu on Drums/Percussion, Ricard Rius on Bass/Backing Vocals, Victor Gil on Guitar, Gerard Marrugat on Guitar/Vocals, and Guillem Laborda on Keyboards. The moment I’ve put my headphones on, I knew I was about to experience something that Ilvcia were about to walk into the light. And throughout the arranging and compositions, I could tell they want to stay true to their roots of the two genres by making sure they carry the sound and the concept they bring to the table.

The title of the album comes through their origins and the inspirations. There are only six tracks on the album and it shows it is almost like going on a spiritual journey to find out who the real person is behind themselves. Opener, The Safe, featuring a soaring flying sound along with an atmospheric chord progression on the keyboards, the band go into a relax yet layered melodic lines between guitar and bass. It has a touch of early Floyd meets Yes with a vitalizing feel. There are some excellent riffs, calming vocals, balladry finale, classical guitar lines, and mellotron’s soaring with a psychedelic twist.

One of the most touching pieces that has a haunting and lament structured value on the debut is, Universe of Fields. It is deep, militant, moving, and passionate as Laborda creates these darker elements on his instrument while Gil goes into some heavier passages on his Guitar to give it that strength and poignant beauties. Then, we come to the 3-part suite, Baghdad, with a lot of various backgrounds that just takes it to a different level.

From the Middle-Eastern, Flamenco styles of Ottmar Liebert, and Classical backgrounds (The Gates) to the symphonic flourishing adventure that Guillem Laborda and Victor Gil do together that has some spacey technique in their rhythm and the vocalizations as well setting the uplifting thrust  (The Market) and into Laborda’s moment to shine as he goes through a touch of Major and Minor progressions on the Piano as if it’s going through a Leslie Speaker before the Synths come in to set through the starry skies as the band come in with a Post-Rock Psych finale. (The Suburbs)

The closer, Sir T. Waever, is back into the glorious days of the ‘70s Prog sounds of Genesis Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era featuring some wonderful synthesizer exercise and excellent rhythm / lead guitar work out and Arderiu’s drumming to keep the tempo flowing and calm. And it shows that while In the Nature of Reason may be their debut album, it’ll show that while they have a long way to go, it is an enjoyable album that Ilvcia have released this year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fungus - The Face of Evil

Since their formation launched eleven years ago in their hometown in Genoa, in which it’s the sixth largest city in Italy, Fungus has released three albums from 2004 to 2010. And they have this influential sound of Psychedelic and Heavy Progressive Music they have in their background that inspired the Fungus’ roots to bring the genre alive. Their new album, The Face of Evil, which is released under the Bloodrock Records label (which is a distribution under Black Widow Records), is a fine gem they have released this year and it’s a knockout.

The band considers; Alejandro J. Blissett on Guitar, Carlo Barreca on Bass, Claudio Ferreri on Keyboards, Dorian Deminstrel on Lead Vocals, and Cajo on Drums.  The opening title track begins with this ambient / atmospheric keyboard, fretless bass line and layered guitar rhythm to set the curtains to go up as it heads into the outer limits of the solar system for the first few minutes before the energy starts to kick into a hard space rock adventure with a lot of powerful vocals, heavy organ and piano work as it rises up into unexpected moments.

Gentle Season has this wonderful touch of the Acid Folk sound resembling Rush’s Hemispheres-era in the style of The Trees and not to mention an earlier sound of Pink Floyd thanks to Blissett’s sliding guitar sound as he pays homage to David Gilmour as the swarming keyboards that Ferrer comes in with a mourning style on the chords as The Great Deceit goes into the Symphonic Emotional Rock treatment. Lukewarm guitar melodies along with the uplifting structures, it carries a touch of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe into the composition as Blissett’s goes up a notch while Dorian screams his heart out and you can tell he can go into soft and hard roads with his vocals to give it that mighty touch.

The Key of the Garden is another folky-psych touch that has this wonderful combination between Love’s Forever Changes and the Rolling Stones Child of the Moon as Rain goes back into the elevating momentum from the previous tracks before Ferreri does this stop-and-go workout on the organ as Cajo helps him out by doing some exhilarating drum work as more of the guitar lines help the group out to make sure the band is in a perfect and excellent mood.

Share Your Suicide Part III has a spooky and haunting atmospheric delay between Carlo’s bass, Guitar, and the sound of the Theremin and Keyboards sets the tension on your personal demons and how far can you go to stop them before taking your life while Angel With No Pain & Better Than Jesus carries the touches of Bigelf with a lot of Synth, Organ and Guitar driven forces. Meanwhile, Requiem, in which it has a walking Guitar/Bass line with a spacey feel, carries the spirit of Eloy and a Saucerful of Secrets-era of Pink Floyd.

It has a dooming beat and then goes into the frenzy structures for a quick second and all of a sudden its headed straight into the cosmos a rumbling force before relaxing and back into light speed that is surprising and calmed for the last few minutes. Then, it becomes a swirling beat between Psychedelic, Surf, and Garage Music through the instruments adding a sudden piano concerto, militant drum patterns, and the haywire effects starting to kick in along with a jazzy flute solo to combine the watery drops inside the cavernous cave on The Sun.

The closing, Bkk, has a nice Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra-sque short second finale that closes the album off into heading home with the Curtains dropped. This is a very interesting band and The Face of Evil, is an exceptionally good album. I might plan to check out their other material sometime in the future, but I guess they really got something up their sleeves to carry the genre into different voyages on where they will take their music next. So far, this will get the rocket ships ready for lift-off!

Monday, December 16, 2013

R-Evolution Band - The Dark Side of the Wall

Since their formation back in 2010, from the mind of Jazz composer and instrumentalist Vittorio Sabelli, R-Evolution Band released two albums, (One Way and Versus) and then, they decided to do something that was crazy and peculiar. By re-working and re-telling the story of Pink Floyd’s 1979 epic masterpiece, The Wall by making it insane, weird, and chaotic. And it’s a crazy combination of Avant-Jazz, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Blues, Swing, Ambient / Atmospheric, and Classical at the same time. Alongside Vittorio Sabelli, the band considers on this album; Marcello Malatesta on keyboards, Gabriele Tardiolo on Guitar, Bouzouki, and Lap Steel, Graziano Brufani on Bass, and Dreste Sbarra on Drums.

It’s complex, difficult, and interesting at times. Not to mention seven centerpieces to get you ready and have your seat-buckled for the adventures of the avant-sounds of R-Evolution Band. Their take on Mother, has this sliding wah-wah guitar blues in the styles of Ry Cooder featuring a heartbeat and Ilaria Bucci’s voice resembling Merry Clayton as if she’s singing in a church to give a mourning that sends chill down your spine before it goes into this stop-and-go atmospheric bebop jazz sound between Vittorio’s woodwind solo and Sbarra’s drum keeping the patterns for a moody walk into the streets in the evening. 

Then, all of a sudden on Requiem: Funeral of Queen Mary II (Don’t Leave Me Now) has a spoken-word related sound before going into the operatic vision for a quick second on the lyrics and the gothic church organ as it plays the classical Purcell piece while Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) goes into the sneering hard fast-driven Black Metal with growling vocals done by Angel C. Malak. Meanwhile, Hey You (Intermede) becomes this electronic upbeat tempo with a lot of driven patterns, along with the violin going into the middle-eastern sounds of Egypt and the woodwind done by Vittorio setting the scenery into a whole new level and paying tribute to Olivier Messiaen. You get the idea, they take the sound of the Floyd’s work into uncharted territories.

Nobody is done in the style composer Ennio Morricone. It has that symphonic structured beauty as if he had done the score for Terry Gilliam’s 1985 Sci-Fi classic, Brazil as the militant dancing upbeat fanfare on Bring the Boys Back Home, segues into a soft-gentle electronic jazz waltz in ¾ time signature featuring the synth and beautiful vocals and guitar lines on Comfortably Numb. And then they pay homage to the Physical Graffiti-era of Led Zeppelin and Rick Wakeman that has been rolled up into one with some heavy riffs and wonderful moog solo’s on Another Rock in the Wall.

And they do something very wacky and interesting. They do their take of The Trial into a 1930’s and early 1940’s swinging Jazz sound before the growling nightmarish experimental tension comes into full swing for The Wall to collapse as each of the instruments go into a chaotic climatic finale with a big crescendo that is mind-boggling and unexpected.

I have listened to R-Evolution Band’s The Dark Side of the Wall about four times already and It’s very interesting and difficult to listen to from start to finish. It’s not an easy album to listen, however they got something up their sleeve and its okay. Not good, but okay. So if you are ready to go into the world of Vittorio Sabelli and the R-Evolution Band, remember to set the controls for the heart of the Dark Side of the Wall.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sonata Islands - Sonata Islands Meets Mahler

Now, on my blog site, I do reviews on; Progressive Rock, Jazz Rock, Doom and Symphonic Metal. But this album has completely taken me by surprise that stretches into the world of both Jazz and Classical music that has suddenly rolled up into one. With a twist of the two genres along with Rock in Opposition and Avant-Garde, you know something strange and twisted is about to happen at the right time to get you ready for an Ensemble line-up.

I first became aware of Sonata Islands last year on an episode from Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room after hearing one of their tracks from the Altrock Chamber Quartet in which Emilio Galante founded, where they did an homage to the RIO genre called, Brachilogia 7 and it took me by surprise of hearing this. Hearing this bizarre surroundings of the string quartet, flute, and woodwind going through this resemblance of Frank Zappa and Ron Geesin, was something that had my eyes wide open and knowing this would take me into unexplored specialties.

And now they are going into the world of the late romantic period of Austrian composer, Gustav Mahler. He was controversial, a visionary, a creator, and an autocrat along with the forces that would come with it. He wrote 10 symphonies back from 1884 to 1910 in four major chords and six minors as well along with Lieder und Gesange, Das Klagende Lied, Ruckert Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder to name a few. And for Sonata Islands to challenge the music of Mahler, is a challenge and a big leap for them to walk on the tightrope on the composer’s arranging and composition that are demanding and intense. In this one, they take on Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth).

Now while I’m not crazy about Gustav Mahler’s work, this album is complex and compelling from what Sonata Islands has unleashed from beginning, middle, and right into the very end. The Ensemble considers; Giovanni Faizone on Trumpet, Emilio Galante on Flute and Piccolo, Achille Succi on Woodwind and Sax, Simone Zanchini on Accordion, Stefano Senni on Double Bass, Francesco Cusa on Drums, and Tommaso Lonardi on voice.

Kind of Earth starts with this ominous sound between Accordion, Alto Sax, and Piccolo as if you are walking alone in the lonely nights in the streets of Paris as it goes into the ¾ Jazz-Waltz while they go into various tempos as Achille Succi challenges Mel Collins and Lol Coxhill while the dramatic tension between Stefano Senni and Francesco Cusa goes into a climatic banging and crash as Senni creates this insane bass solo. And then, it goes back into the Waltzy dance with some different changes in the tempo as Succi just wails it out and then heads back into the darkness to close it off.

Von Der Schonheit is very much in the styles of the Rock in Opposition feel as if they are traveling back in time that begins with a joyous walk into the park done by Zanchini, Galante, Senni, and Cusa as if the setting is very relaxing and calm for the first two minutes before going into a chaotic mode with stop-and-go mode in different time signatures. It has this weird combination of Magma and Samla Mammas Manna while the opener, Das Trinklied, is very sensational and vibrant as the Ensemble just have a grand old time taking the sounds of both Avant-Jazz and Classical Music that just completely took me by surprise.

Non Mahler goes from different variations. From the insane, off the wall and free jazz experimentations for the first four minutes into a late ‘30s/’40s sound of the swing-era for a couple of seconds, the dualistic between Faizone’s homage to Miles Davis on the Trumpet and Achille’s insane solo on the sax and they would come up with some wonderful melody to get the rhythm of the beat going into the Brazilian bossa nova sound to close it out for a wonderful dance into the sunset.

The twisted Around Mahler, is back into the difficult time changes with some wonderful bass solo that is Senni is doing this in the style of Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison as a tribute to the two Jazz bassists before they go into this jaw-dropping tribute to the Bitches Brew-era while the ensemble gives Francesco Cusa a chance to shine as he goes into town on the drums by doing this crazy and brilliant drum solo. He is over the place and doesn’t stop a beat when hits the patterns as the band go into a frenzy as a finale.

Commiato, which closes the album off, has a mourning middle-eastern introduction before the woodwinds go into a frantic screeching noise from low to high as if they reached the highest note between Galante and Succi and they just go through various melodies. And then it goes from the trumpet and accordion solo done in the bluesy style before Zanchini’s Accordion going up the spiral staircase to go up as reaches and stops to take a break and then reaching the highest crescendo up to the top of the flights of stairs.

And then, it’s a trip to different parts of Italy as you walk through various monuments for the last three minutes as Tommaso Londari’s narration sets the tone for a wonderful trip into the dream and laid-back adventure that is a calming and relaxing end. I have listened to Sonata Islands Meets Mahler about nine times now and I just can’t put into words, but it’s one of the most mind-blowing, stimulating albums I’ve listened to. It’s accomplishes the music of both Jazz, Avant-Garde music, and Classical that is rolled up into one.

So if you are ready to travel into the world of Sonata Islands, be prepared and fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be a journey you will never expect.

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.

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.