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Friday, August 29, 2014

Homínido - Estirpe Litica

This 6-piece band from Chile, formed back two years ago out of the ashes of La Desoorden by Bassist Francisco Martin and Drummer/Percussionist Rodrigo Gonzalez Mera. The sound has this combination of Fusion, Ambient, Metal, and World Music, its an album telling through the relationship between humans with stones on the causes on what will come to them in situations of worship elements, temples, houses, and aqueducts to name a few in their debut album, Estirpe Litica.

Alongside Francisco, and Rodrigo, they also consider; Pablo Carcamo on Guitar, Cristopher Hernandez on Trumpet, Benjamin Ruz on Violin, and Lead Vocalist Eliana Valenzuela. It’s not just the music that just moves the listener from one direction to another, but taking it into a different area with the wonderous adventures from what you are about to explore on here. You can tell the band are just having a blast throughout the 12 composition’s as they go through the different melodies of mellow, harder edge rock, ambient/atmosphere, soaring and uplifting touches, and signatures going into different areas.

Aside from their amazing concept of bringing the different genres to the mix and the concept storyline behind the debut album as well, the band’s five highlights from the album, might want the listener to take down notes and understand the vibe and the vision of the group, Homínido. Eterno Retorno (Eternal Return), is Homínido’s homage to Led Zeppelin’s Achilles’ Last Stand as Pablo’s guitar along with Hernandez’s Trumpet, the sound of the whole thing reminded me of something straight out of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western trilogy with a dosage of a compelling film score as if the hero has come back to seek vengeance as two of the instruments and the storming percussion come into play and make it a dueling finish line to see who will the race.

Ciudades de Piedra (Stone Cities) starts off with a moody clean jazzy guitar chord progression introduction and Eliana’s lukewarm voice comes in to give the warmth vibes of the town and the dynamics between her, Pablo, the fusion-bass work from Francisco and the percussions from Gonzalez Mera himself, by giving the dance feels in to make you enjoy the sounds of the different areas of ancient history. The opener, Simun (Sirocco) begins with the droning didgeridoo for an introduction as you can imagine being in the hottest part in Egypt as the bass lines thanks to Francisco. As he gives it a slapping/popping sound to see where he is going with.

This gives him a chance to shine on the introduction track as he goes through a metallic line as the band head into that area as it becomes a sense of walking into the pyramids and seeing how to treasure the memories from Hard Rock, soothing violin sounds from Ruz, and Eliana just sings well magically as the changes go from relaxing into heavy chord riffs to unbelievable territory. But on Shalagram Shila, it sees the band going into the sounds of the warmth and ominous sounds of Indian music.

At times, it almost reminded me of Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s 1989 controversial classic, The Last Temptation of Christ as Ruz himself creates this lukewarm yet haunting atmosphere on his violin creating this gentle and calming adventures into the islands of the city along with Eliana’s vocalization to give it that vibration and the Sitar’s droning captures that essence. Not to mention the Orchestra coming blistering in and Carcamo’s guitar makes it a thunderous finale to set the storm coming in to give you that unexpected moment.

Adoquines Queretanos (Queretanos Pavers) begins with an Ottmar Liebert introduction and then it goes into the Tango lightning mode. Which is really completely unexpected for Carcamo to do and you can imagine Eliana dancing to the rhythm of his playing as he goes through classical and tango related heavy rhythms and adding Gonzalez Mera's percussion and the violin to the mix, you’ve got yourself a wonderful mix of beauty and surrounding touches filled with action and suspense that the final few minutes gives it that closure.

So far, this is my 9th time listening to their debut and I have to say that this is really an amazing debut to come out of Valdivia, Chile and they are something to come out of the Fusion Rock sound. As I’ve mentioned before about up-and-coming bands in which they have a long road ahead of them, Homínido are just getting started and Estripe Liticia is the album to check out this year in 2014.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tom Slatter - Black Water

Almost like a storyteller in the gothic and horror vibe, Tom Slatter is one of the people to go into the darker realms of the characters who have committed horrible crimes and have an evil background and the skeletons in the closet that they don’t want the listener to know what is inside of them. His third EP, Black Water, tells the tale of Seven Bells John who is one of the characters that was mentioned in his first album, Spinning the Compass and the 10-minute piece, The Steam Engine Murders and the trial of Seven Bells John as well for the murders he had done.

He appeared in about four compositions and with the EP, this is more of a background on John’s history and Slatter himself delivers the evil territories like no other. The opening title track begins with a gothic acid-folk atmosphere along with the pow-pow like percussion with two different time signatures that resembles White Willow and Trees with the eerie folk-like acoustic guitar picking and spooky electric lines as well as if we are going inside the mind of the killer that would send shivers down the listener spines.

Combining the haywire effects which starts and ends as if the instruments were going crazy, the guitars come in with a haunting and sinister vibe as Slatter sings “Don’t you know/I’m hungry still/will I ever have to beg?/To be locked up again/Don’t want to wake up asking where am I again.” The instruments and the flute-like mellotron comes in with a soaring sound, the intensity is right at you with the doomy-psychedelic nightmarish feel as if someone in the woods is ready to attack on Nightfall.

The mellotron comes in handy on the moody, Moon in the Water. It has this warmth yet touching late ‘60s psychedelic beauty as Tom sings very relaxing and yet mourning on where the character will do next as he looks at his reflection to feel free. At times, the song has this gentle touching homage to Barclay James Harvest’s Once Again-era and Slatter takes it into almost as if he was a folk hero of the 19th century and singing this at a sermon to a wonderful reception.

Closer, Ghosts in my Dreams, has this dark score as if Tom Slatter was writing, composing an episode and a story for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. You could tell that Tom takes it to a darker area and its very much psychological and the moment Seven Bells John is about to do the unthinkable that would make him the word around town. The keyboard, guitar, and drums passage is very creative and inventive from Slatter’s mind and he creates this dystopian-sque composition for both the intro and outro to pay homage to Serling.

Tom Slatter’s music can be hard to get into, but he knows his influences of stories and influential backgrounds very well. As I’ve mentioned on the final composition, I can imagine Rod Serling has given the torch to Tom Slatter and for him by writing his own stories to capture and staying true to the late 1950s TV series of The Twilight Zone. What I hope that Slatter does, maybe in the future, is to make a Graphic Novel of the complete story and along with the music telling everything from start to finish.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BeHer3 - Fight With Your Best Weapons

From his work with Dusan Jevtovic on Am I Walking Wrong?, Xavi Reija’s Resolution, and also done a score for a video game for the PSP called Invizimals 2: Shadow Zone with GarcyNoise, Bassist Bernat Hernandez displays a lot of his talent by helping some of his friends out to lend a hand on their projects. Taking the sounds of; John Coltrane, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and the German Experimental scene of the early ‘70s to name a few, BeHer3’s Fight With Your Best Weapons sounds at times like it was recorded during the 1970s and he carries the essence of the three influences in his bag and bring it to life as his playing in the styles of Jaco Pastorius, Jimmy Garrison, and Paul Chambers.

The first four tracks (Gotta Shot of Whiskey, Holland 54, Wallander, and Under the Blanket), feels as if you are in the streets of Paris as they are almost like a score for a movie that is almost at Midnight walking through La Seine and the Eiffel Tower and there are some wonderful touches of Bebop Jazz in the late ‘50s. And it reminded me of some sessions that it could have been used between Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane as if they had done an album together that would have been a perfect match to get you in the relaxing mood for a dance.

Almost as if it was the Act one of the story as Act two is where they go into the late ‘60s and into the golden-era of the ‘70s. Bernat and the band go through ‘50s Jazz and straight into the sounds of Jazz Fusion and this is where they go into a fast mode like no other. Through the essence of the Funk-Soul groove on Descend & Mono Moon in which the drums are in the style of Billy Cobham and Bill Bruford at times and the Miles-like Trumpet comes in as the Bass helps in to play the melody before Bernat does his Jaco tribute on the Bass.

Meanwhile, We Try It in the Soundcheck has this wonderful homage that the trumpet goes into the style of the late Nucleus’ Ian Carr and bits of Elton Dean of the Soft Machine as well in there as the Rhodes goes into a soothing ambient atmosphere before Bernat’s workout comes on into the town. But Absolute Zero is Bernat’s ominous bass composition that has this post-apocalyptic nightmarish touch as it segues into the sinister guitar-driven styles of John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp into the void on Hexagonal Panel.

The electronic structures comes in handy as the drums, guitar, and bass go into the space and heading into the milky way of our solar systems for a rocket ship adventure into the stars with Shout With All Ur Might as the band go into this alternative relaxing mode in an acoustic style for Bernat and his friends get a chance to relieve their electric instruments into a lighter yet calming touch on the acoustic version of Staring at the Chrysler. Then, everything goes into Funk town late ‘70s/early ‘80s style with a dosage of the Fusion/Soul groove of Herbie Hancock’s keytar if you will as Bernat and his friends are having a blast away In a Really Good Company.

As the first (Bebop), second (Fusion), come into place, the third and final act on tracks 13 through 16, sees Bernat go into more of a 21st century futuristic adventure if you will. There are elements of an electronic version with shifting time signatures a-la Mahavishnu style with a Hammond organ on the psychedelic-jazz touch with The Dover Man and the droning turned soothing but yet peaceful with a dynamic vibe with Hypothetically Crystal.

Then Bernat takes a breather to relax for one of the guitarists to lay down some avant-garde ideas with a touch of Amon Duul II’s Phallus Dei-era in there with sinister vibes along with the sounds of Phillipe Besombes in the mix on Living in Some Other Frequencies and Don’t Rip the Letter. The effects of backwards tape and laid-back drums make it perfect for this piece as it has some elements for touches of the obscure and musique-concrete at times to fill in the void that makes it in your face and the terror comes right there that is mind-boggling at the same time.

But one of the most creepy and haunting compositions that is on the album is the electronic surroundings homage to Gong, Radiohead, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze with the 9-minute epic, Traffic Jam. The keyboards go into some haywire and moody terrorizing elements that bring back the sounds of the Krautrock movement in there for the first two minutes as the trip-hop boogie goes into place for Bernat to go into Stanley Clarke territory as the effects of the noise that sound like zappers attacking to lay down some funky vibes and the last few minutes sees the guitar going into haywire mode before getting back into the funk.

A Long Way Back to Home reminded me at times sessions that were left off of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and a score to Alejandro Jordorowsky’s abandoned Dune project. The sounds of the effects of sonic-ambient-cosmos, the instruments is letting us the listener know that it is ready to set for light speed to control heading back to Earth for a wonderful and amazing adventure with BeHer3. Bernat really shows the balance of going through those acts of the different genres of Jazz, Fusion, and Electronic Music and parts you can relax, buckle your seatbelt and go beyond the different voyages of different worlds and understanding where he will go next.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

MoeTar - Entropy of the Century

2014 so far has been quite an amazing year of new releases from bands like; Knifeworld, Hedvig Mollestad Trio, Univers Zero, and The Microscopic Septet, to name a few, and you can always imagine what is going to happen next in the Progressive Rock scene in the years to come in the future. And one of the most amazing bands that completely blew me away from the Bay Area is MoeTar and they are back this year with their follow up to From These Small Seeds with Entropy of the Century.

Throughout all the sounds of Psychedelic, Progressive, and Avant-Art-Pop, has really come around since their formation six years ago. MoeTar has received word-of-mouth and recognition. Including opening for Avant-Prog group, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum back in 2011 at the Burning Man Decompression Festival and everything is starting to cook very well with the ingredients they have. It’s hard to describe about their music, but is fun, catchy, difficult time changes that comes out of nowhere on of the compositions, and they have a great time having a blast and let the listener to enjoy and sink into the music.

Throughout all of the 12 compositions that have been written by bassist Tarik Ragab except for one by keyboardist Matt Lebofsky of miRthkon. Opener, Dystopian Fiction, begins with Lebofsky’s star-like intro on the keyboards that is in the style of Supertramp’s Crime of the Century-era as Moorea comes in with her vocals and Matthew Charles Heulitt playing the melody on his Guitar before the Drums come kicking in as the spaceship begins for it's liftoff. Then there is the title track.

I almost cried during this second piece, because it isn’t just beautiful, but moving and stirring that is embracing to join us with a groove and yet, an emotional adventure. As Moorea’s voice just hits you so strong that you almost couldn’t let go of the album, because she sings so touching that it has a dreamlike welcoming into the city as the band places the instruments into shape for the audience to come in and start their new chapter in this new universe.

The creaking yet thumping sounds between Heulitt and Ragab on Regression to the Mean has this eerie/spooky introduction before getting into the reminiscent of Bowie’s Heroes-era that reminded me at times Sons of the Silent Age and the lyrics have an Orwell meets Ayn Rand vibe as Moorea sings “By decree 2+2 is 3/Non-believers dead after curfew/All unwanted freaks shall conform to guidelines right there on the chalkboard/Stand up straight and hate all those not like us on the same team.” Meanwhile, Welcome the Solar Flares, has an ascending crescendo that has a symphonic value as Friday Night Dreams goes into the dance halls as it kindles Half Past Four’s Good Things, but with a laid-back feel as if you are tap-dancing on the sidewalk.

Letting Go of Life has emotional structures on the views on all the damage you have done to yourself and everything has come crashing down, you have to make some sacrifices before you fall towards your doom as they lay down the totalitarian environment on how the machines taking over the city along with no longer being a human and turning into a robot along with going through the puzzle with a Zappa vibe to it on Raze the Maze, the ideas of being used in the corruption of feeding dreams on  the Confectioner’s Curse,  and the lyrics on We Machines, hits you on how the humans can be foolish to be machines; “I do no longer need my arms or either of my legs/Some motorized mechanism will do for me instead/These new eyes replace my old worn out brand new face.”

The piano introduction done by Matt Lebofsky with his composition, Benefits gives Ragab a chance for Matt to write some lyrics and the response is a jazzy and gentle melody that gives MoeTar relaxation as it goes into a ¾ time signature thanks to the guitar solo by Heulitt who just goes not just all the frets, but seeing where his instrument might take him. The dooming metal keyboard intro just comes out of nowhere on Where the Truth Lies and at first it sounds like something out of the sessions of Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play before going into the Crimson-like sounds that Heulitt does to pay tribute to Robert Fripp and then go into the Avant-Pop territory.

We head off into the highway with The Unknowable. It has this soft lullaby for their mother’s singing to their child to sleep and hoping that everything will be fine and knowing that this city was really worth it and how you can understand that this isn’t what you expected and how is it impossible to be of one’s unreal world. I have listened now to Entropy of the Century around nine times now and I have to say that this one of the finest follow-ups that the band has unleashed who can give the listener and the audience an unexpected astonishing adventure.

It is a crowning achievement for MoeTar to bring something remarkable, startling, and mind-boggling which is going to have a lot of competition on the race for the best albums of this year. 

Here is the band performing Regression to the Mean.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Active Heed - Higher Dimensions

Umberto Pagnini, who is the creative drive behind Active Heed, shows no signs of stopping. The band’s debut, Visions From Realities, which was released last year, just blew me away and I always knew that this was a band that was soon going to be one of my favorites. Their follow up, shows that Pagnini and his friends, show no sign of stopping for another roller-coaster ride with Higher Dimensions.

Paginini is like a storyteller throughout his lyrics in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy and he knows where he wants the band to almost do a film score and very much like the soundtrack inside your head for the listener to understand. The throttling The War of Tempos provides the heavy guitar and organ introduction thanks to Micro Ravenoldi and Moongarden’s Cristiano Roversi who does an homage to Jon Lord of Deep Purple and his synths and mellotrons can come in handy as Per Fredrik Asly (PelleK) comes in with his amazing vocals to give it that time changing tempo adventure.

Far Escape which contains the mellotron, guitar, and Gian Maria Roveda’s drum work that has some symphonic melodies that reminded me of early Yes, Genesis, and the Time Stand Still-era of Rush while A Little Bit Expired shows their haunting turned uplifting side with folk surroundings, difficult time changes and goes into a venturing flying into the solar systems. Gaps in Time has the foot-stomping acoustic guitar and beat that Ravenoldi does in the style of Peter Gabriel’s debut album as homage to the composition.

It begins with a folk-crisp sunny morning for the yellow bright circle to rise up for a new day as the organ and Per’s voice comes in and the bass drum does the stomping beat along with the guitar comes in and it’s very magical and relaxing. Multiple Replies has this atmospheric/ambient noise on the keyboards done by Roversi that is very moody and soothing. Then, it transforms into an rocking/relaxing sound as Ravenoldi does his Gilmour and Hackett-sque sound that brings the landscapes into the scenery before Roversi comes in and Per as well to give it that ascending climb finale.

“Here it comes God/Calling anywhere with all the signs you can’t imagine.” Per’s voice gives that chilling introduction as the blistering heavy thrash-power metal resembling Metallica, Deep Purple, and Hammerfall comes in with The Number of God and the ominous No Speed Limit as A Pet Called Prime and Kick-Ass Grammar, echoes the Fish-era of Marillion of their golden-era in the ‘80s as if it was left during their sessions for Script for a Jester’s Tear and Fugazi.

Ternary Level One has some of the choral-like sounds from the background vocals and heads back into the heavenly mellotron, organ, synth lush beauty and the folk-like fingerpicking touches on the acoustic guitar along with the roaring chords with an impressive vibe for the transposition of the symphonic rock sounds. The closer, Not Left and Not Taken, opens with the thunderous drum patterns ahead with the blistering guitar riffs, atmospheric keyboards, and soaring turned hard rock unexpected moments by going from relaxing and into driven heavier mode and to give it that adventurous journey to head back home and maybe going for another ride into the cosmos.

This is my 4th listening on Higher Dimensions and Active Heed have show no sign of stopping and they are one of those bands to give the listener some amazing ideas on what you can expect some amazing ideas and this is soon going to be one of my favorite albums so far of 2014. They have a long way to go, but this (Higher Dimensions) along with their debut album (Visions from Realities) is a good start to see where the band and Umberto Pagnini would go to next.