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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre

Purson have never disappointed me. This year they have released their second album on the Spinefarm Records label entitled, Desire’s Magic Theatre. Inspired by the Rock Operas of Sgt. Pepper and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Rosalie Cunningham and her fellow comrades show no sign of stopping.

From hearing them on the Rise Above Records sampler, Poisoned Apples along with their 2013 debut The Circle and the Blue Door, the new album is a real spine-tingling yet amazing follow-up to show that the band have the power and the glory to keep the train going.

The opening title track begins with train horns and audience applauding before the band kick into gear with an essence of Roxy Music meets Alice Cooper with a shuffling groove a-la ‘70s Glam Rock style! It then all of a sudden delves into the psych folk in 3/4 time signature of a dooming and dreamy waltz and then Rosalie sings her heart out in the lines “Down in a spiral/Where start meets the end/Tongue tied/I just comprehend/Language that mainlines to the brain/BABBLE ON BABYLON!”

I nearly cried because I was thinking to myself, “This is the music I’ve been expecting to hear something really good!” And I was right! I love the twist between the essence of Sonja Kristina meets Peter Hammill in her vocal styles in the way she sings in that section. The instrumental part has an eruptive keg from ‘60s organ, powerful guitar lines, and the improving jazz section finale of the cross between the Moody Blues and Jethro Tull, gives it a surreal end before seguing into Electric Landlady.

It is a nod to Jimi Hendrix and of course the Canterbury group, Caravan which mention the line “In the Land of Grey and the Groan.” it erupts with blaring guitar rhythm and riffs with spooky keyboards, ghost-like vocals, dreamy midsections, and crosses between the Beatles, Sabbath, and the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd thrown into the mix with a hypnotic wah-wah guitar solo that Rosalie does.

Dead Dodo Down deals with the corruption and the deal with the devil and not trusting a word they say on TV and not knowing the truth and not buying a single word they say. The music again features the nightmarish and dystopian atmosphere on what is to come while The Sky Parade channels the mind of the Abbey Road-era, Fairport Convention, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, and the Atom Heart Mother Sessions thrown in.

I love the dooming militant acoustic intro and featuring ascending melodies with an intense rhythm section that has a swirling punch into heaven before ending with an abrupt silence. The Mellotron comes in with a dreamy pop and the essence of Barrett is in there as Rosalie goes inside the mind of the Madcap genius and pulls the brainstorming ideas with The Window Cleaner.

The stomping rhythms and horn sections for The Way It Is, captures the time of the golden-era of the 1970s and the late ‘60s with more adventurous tones as they back into the voyages of Space as to meet Mr. Howard with a captivating section filled with drama, excitement, and on the edge of your seat on what this character is going through with the crimes he committed. It is like something straight out of Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play and The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow as the character witness what he has done and the music nails it down to a punch on what the penalty will be for him.

I Know is back into the styles of the early Beatles with the 3/4 waltz acoustic ballad in the styles of This Boy and you can feel the chills and beauty to take a break from the hard rock sounds and into soaring clouds to a dance. Then, we come to the 7-minute epic, The Bitter Suite.

This is where you turn this up to maximum volume on your headset. And you can close your eyes and picture an underground theater with three acts and seeing where these characters singing through the pieces. It’s almost as if both Terry Gilliam and Alejandro Jodorowsky had worked together to create this story with the band telling the music in where they would go forwards to and closes the curtain for the Theatre.

The bonus tracks feature two acoustic versions of I Know and a gothic acid-folk version of The Sky Parade followed by Unsure Overture. This time George Hudson takes over on the vocals and he and Rosalie share the vocals between each other and this gives George a chance to shine. I always imagine Rosalie will one day give the band members a chance to write their own material one day. Spooky organ intro, stomping drum section by Raphael Mura, and the haunting cello section by Anna Scott, it is a driven down the highway sing-along song. 

This is my fifth time listening to Desire’s Magic Theatre. It is another return of the band’s music and they know they have accomplished another job well done. And enjoy the adventure as the late great Bette Davis from the film All About Eve says, “Fasten your seat belts, It’s going to be a bumpy night!”    

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Robert Wyatt - '68

My love of the Canterbury scene thanks to the Romantic Warriors documentary series, just made me open the door up more to see what the bands and artists were doing. Robert Wyatt is one of them. In 1968, the Soft Machine had completed their second tour in the United States after supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience. When the tour was done, Wyatt headed into the one of the studios in both T.T.G Studios and Record Plant studios to record in both Hollywood, California and in New York City from October to November of that year.

Cuneiform Records released this unearthed material back in 2013 and it’s a real gem of hearing Wyatt not just playing drums, but playing Piano, Organ, Bass, and Electric Piano. When you listen to the ’68 recordings, even though there is some surface noise on here, you can close your eyes and being at those sessions and watching Wyatt improvise with help from people such as Hugh Hopper and Mike Ratledge, and the late great Jimi Hendrix who plays Bass on one of the tracks on the album.

Slow Walkin’ Talk which features Hendrix’s Bass thumping and car-driven lines, carries a bit of the shuffling Blues between Piano and Drums whilst in the styles of a jazzier version of Highway Chile that gives it a catchy groove. I could imagine both Wyatt and Hendrix were smiling and having a great time recording this composition.

Chelsa which he and Soft Machine alumni Kevin Ayers wrote, features Ratledge’s soulful Hammond Organ as Wyatt sings through wonderfully and would one day revisit the track with his group Matching Mole as it would be reincarnated as Signed Curtain on their first sole self-titled debut album in 1972 after his departure with the Soft Machine on the album, Fourth.

The 18-minute Rivmic Melodies are sections of the first side of The Soft Machine’s second album. Featuring drum patterns, double-tracking vocals, spoken dialog, and piano reverb with a delay effect. It feels like Wyatt was doing a score for one of the paintings for Salvador Dali, Hannah Hoch, and Oskar Fischinger with elements of the Avant-Garde sound and Musique Concrete with a structured and chaotic blare.

The closing 20-minute Moon in June is an earlier version of what would later be on the Soft Machine’s Third album. The second half of the piece was recorded in mid-1969 in England as he, Hopper, and Ratledge take this version into experimentation, walking blues, confession singing, and then heading back into the psychedelic twist thanks to the fuzz-tone switch for the last 11-minutes.

Wyatt improvises with his vocal arrangements and the intense drum patterns and the screeching effect from both Hugh and Mike is like a work-out that increases the volume level. The crescendo section comes into place and then it changes into a smooth and haunting movement as the Organ goes into an ambient cavernous section that will send chills down the spine.

Experimental, Canterbury, Avant-Garde, Musique Concrete, Pop, and Jazz, it’s all here. Wyatt really delves into the ocean of unbelievable results that will give you an understanding on what he would bring to the tables for interesting and mind-boggling results. For any fan of Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt, this is a must have to sink into and Cuneiform Records have unleashed an amazing hidden treasure.   

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eyes of Blue - In Fields of Ardath

This is Eyes of Blue’s second album released on the Mercury label in 1969 and reissued by Esoteric Recordings last year. After the release of their debut, Crossroads of Time in that same year, the Welsh group got recognition for Lou Reizner and composer Quincy Jones as they got to work with the composer who would later do film scores such as In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, and The Italian Job whilst getting recognition with his work with Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson.

Eyes of Blue worked with Quincy on a film in 1970 called Toy Grabbers which had different names including Mother, The Seduction of a Nerd, or Up Your Teddy Bear which is released on Something Weird video and on Troma Entertainment Films back in 2005. It is often considered the worse film starring Julie Newmar, Wally Cox and Victor Buono. One of the songs that was featured in the film is the lullaby, militant, dream-like mellotron beauty Merry Go Round.

It has this acoustic-organ melody and background vocalization with a heavenly choir atmosphere before John Weathers’ galloping drums set the tone of the carousel of dreaming into this child’s dream of riding into the spinning wonders. There’s the homage to Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Expereinced?-era with backward tapes, swirling grooves on The Light We See while their tribute to Django Reinhardt of the classical jazz beauty of Souvenirs.

It goes through various intersections that Ritchie Francis does. From the scratchy record effect as it heads to the acoustic melodies before the clean electric guitar improvisations and then organist Phil Ryan and Ritchie fade off into the sunset for a wonderful send-off. But their homage to Graham Bond, is still growing strong with the Cream effect for a haunting Blues Rock voyage of their dazzling cover of Bond’s composition, Spanish Blues. Phil is having the Bond effect in him to head into town that gives him complete free-rein.

The blaring yet shuffling take of an earlier version of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane-era meets Family’s Music in a Doll’s House-era twist comes kicking the door down with a bulldozer at the right momentum thanks to the intense Harmonica punch with an dooming midsection of Mellotron, Organ, and Guitar like something terrible is happening before back into the roar of After the War.

After the release of In Fields of Ardath, Mercury dropped the band as Lou got them a new deal with the Pegasus label and recorded their third album entitled, Bluebell Wood. But they didn’t use the Eyes of Blue name because Lou originally wanted to call them Bloody Welsh, but stuck with Big Sleep instead. The band broke up and they went on to various bands from Wild Turkey to Gentle Giant.

I have listened to In Fields of Ardath five times now. It is a perfect understanding on where the band could have continued on if they had moved forward. The 16-page booklet features interviews with Ritchie Francis and John Weathers about the making of the album with liner notes done by Malcolm Dome. It includes the single bonus track, the soul-blues rock groove of Apache ’69. It did receive a few radio airplays but disappeared without a trace.

Even though Lou thought it would be a hit, which for me, it could have received some recognition but I think the marketing was not done properly. The band recorded the album in about five days and while it did well, you could understand why they were ahead of their time and the label never gave them another chance.

The booklet also features pictures of the band, promos including the Speakeasy, Langland Bay Hotel, the movie poster of Up Your Teddy Bear, screencap of their appearance of the movie, Connecting Rooms, Middle Earth, and a 45 RPM’s of their singles. Not to mention the original foreword notes by Quincy Jones. If you love Gentle Giant, The Graham Bond Organization, Cream, and Wild Turkey, you will delve into more of Eyes of Blue’s music with this amazing reissue Esoteric have put out.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Maglev - Overwrite the Sin

I’ve always have a soft spot for the Netherlands in the history of the Progressive Rock/Metal scene with bands such as Supersister, Within Temptation, Earth & Fire, Trace, Ayreon, Focus, and Golden Earring. They always have my ears lit up when it comes to both Jazz, Hard Rock, Orchestral, Story-telling, and Adventurous rock as they take me to other worlds on where they would take the Progressive genre and head into those journey’s that is like opening a new book and seeing what is about to happen.

One of the artist from the Netherlands that completely blew me away is an artist name Joost Maglev. He has been writing music when he was a young man and throughout out his grammar school years whilst playing Bass Guitar in various projects. About 14 years ago, he started to record his own music and released his first mini CD entitled, Prelude in which he wrote, sing and played various instruments.

He played not just Bass, but Guitar, Keyboards, and Drums. A virtuoso in the making since he got the ball rolling and then he released his first full-length album back in 2005 entitled Voluntary, and then another mini-album Undeaded Blood in 2008. His influence range from Tim Smith of the Cardiacs, Valensia Clarkson, and Yono Kanno. He is a very busy man when it comes to projects. This year in 2016, he released his first full-length progressive rock album called, Overwrite the Sin.

I’ve always wanted to discover more of the Prog genre. So I remember watching the Album trailer on YouTube and I was on the edge of my seat. I ordered the album straight away from the Kinesis Progressive Rock store website. There are five tracks that clock in between 8 and 9 minutes, and with one clocking in at 12 minutes. I remember putting the album on my little old portable CD player and then, my eyebrows and jaw dropped right to the floor.

It’s this combination of late ‘70s/early ‘80s Album Orientated Rock (AOR), Symphonic, Prog-Pop, Electronic Dance, and Metal thrown into the mix. It’s a strange mix, but it works well to blend it in together and closing your eyes and imagine it is 1975 all over again. Alongside Joost, he brought along Pianist Robby Valentine, Violinist Myrthe van de Weetering, Guitarist Sebas Honing, and backing vocalists Emmy Van Gemert and Scarlet Penta.

Confined starts off with a gentle acoustic/string quartet ballad in the styles of Kansas’ Point of Know Return-era for the first 4-minutes before kicking into overdrive with the elements of Power Metal thrown in and it’s a speeding rhythm punch that Sebas heads into intense riffs and soon to be sing-along sections in the chorus. The lyrics hit with what they have done and the damage they cost in themselves by making them their own worst enemy and the music itself hits like an eruptive bang with an explosion at the right time!

The electrifying and dance-like yet thumping and pounding melodies of Judith, which I think is the character on the front cover of the album done by Emmy herself. Electronic Rock and a cross between ABBA meets Queen’s golden-era from 1974-1976 period, shows Joost writing a mini-opera about her on her obsession with her looks and how she controls and the love of the person’s feelings for her, is disturbing, but it can rock like a shining diamond.

Not to mention that Operatic movement and then back into the forefront to close it off. You gotta love the lyrics of “Thunder strikes! Radioactive Sky!/An arrow through my head/We mourn the fallen 2-14/It betrays! But what does it betray?/A trace of care or love/I’m looking at the smile on your face/But after a second or two: disappear!” You could tell that the guy is really in love with this woman.

Opener, Play the Game starts off with the ‘80s futuristic dystopian atmosphere with synths setting the heavier and melodic ascending tones before delving into the styles of Kayak meets Styx’s Pieces of Eight-era meeting a modern version of Electric Light Orchestra’s Eldorado in the chorus and you could imagine the AOR sound blends well to capture the eruptive way to start it off. Joost knows his influences spot on and he is not messing around, he’s got the chops down!

Song of a Dead Bard begins with a waltz-like acoustic intro before heading into the balladry momentum featuring a Mellotron and the movement through three people into the mini-opera format, features gentle piano and guitar with soaring melodies that you can imagine essence of The Beatles thrown in. And Scarlet Penta’s vocals as the first person, is like a flower ready to burst.

The way she sings is chilling and emotional and I was really amazed of how she nailed the part in the suite and not just the she sings, but getting inside the character’s head and she’s asking the person to sing about as a spirit and thanking them for everything they have done. The closing 12-minute, The Hand of Time is a bitter-sweet finale to close the album off.

The Queen influences along with City Boy, flow in as Sebas goes into the mind of Brian May and feature calming ballad structure followed by more of the climbing rhythm movements that it’s a way to end it up climatic curtain call to a roaring applause before delving into effects of people talking, helicopter noise, and steam pumps. Overwrite the Sin is almost like the mini-Rock Opera style that Joost has written on here.

He is also with the Prog-Metal band Equisa which features Sebas Honing also. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It is soon going to be one of my favorite albums of 2016 and there’s going to be a lot of competition on what will be album of the year for the end of the year. It captures the power and the glory that Joost brings into his songwriting and I hope he continues to do more.

If you love bands like Queen, City Boy, ABBA, Ayreon, and Kansas to name a few, then buckle your seat-belts and enjoy the album adventure of Maglev’s Overwrite the Sin.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ampledeed - Byob

Ampledeed are one of the most mind-blowing Progressive Rock trio’s to come out of California that released their second album this year entitled Byob. I’ve always wanted to check their music out for a good while and I’ve heard some samples of their music and was completely blown away right from the very start. From the moment that my earbuds went into my ears, I knew straight away I had to buy some of the music right from the get-go.

The band formed back in 2011 that would perform late night jam sessions at Cal Arts College in Southern California which consider Aaron Goldich, Max Taylor, and Luis Flores. They would perform in various sections between the practice rooms, dance studios, art studios, or the main gallery in where the trio would get away to play obscene loud music and work on their skills. They released their debut album back in 2013 entitled A is for Ampledeed.

And soon, they received word-of-mouth and attention the prog community here in the States and around the world in different regions. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve heard some of the samples of the music and I ordered it straight away from the Kinesis website. There are 11 tracks on here and it clocks in at 58 minutes. And from the moment I put the CD on for Byob on my old portable CD player, I knew it this was going to be one of my favorite bands right from the get-go. The album’s title means Bring Your Own Booze (BYOB)

Canterbury, Prog-Pop, Ascending Melodies, and at times Symphonic, it’s all there! And man can Ampledeed bring the music to a standstill. I can hear the twist between early Genesis, early Floyd, and Harry Nilsson through flowing beauty structure on Garden Gnomes. I love what Luis Flores brings into his guitar as he gives the soundscapes in the midsection in the realms of Dark Side of the Moon that comes to mind with a hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Opener, Triple Cancer Moon is a combination between male and female vocal arrangements in the styles of MoeTar’s music as tempos get mid-fast thanks to the keyboard styles between Organ and Synth. It changes as they go into time-changing rapid yet fierce midsection instrumental part as it goes through a speeding various momentum on where they would head into next.

It feels like we are inside the patient’s mind on what they are going through and the music and lyrics sets the tone of what is happening to them. At the end, it gets darker with heavy guitar riffs and synths setting to see what will happen next through the difficult time signatures in an ominous tone.  

My Plane sounds like a thumping piano rock up tempo groove in the styles of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper-era while I Wil Not Wait which features Ally Taylor on vocals, nailing those beautiful arrangements as the piece has some of the Canterbury elements thrown in there in the style of Egg’s Dave Stewart in which both Taylor and Goldich pay homage to.

But it’s On My Mind the Gap for Kids in the Hall of Fame by Fame in which Max Taylor goes into this soundscape on the Rhodes with a surreal eerie atmosphere. The closer Muffin Man, in which they pay tribute to John Howard’s Kid in a Big World-era with it’s late ‘60s psychedelic-pop and glam-like intro before delving into an orchestral adventure that show gentle and wonderful brainstorming ideas with the pop approach that nail down on what is on here.

I love what is on here. They bring onto the Kitchen table with the Progressive and Psychedelic approaches very well and I highly recommend checking their music. If you love bands like the Beatles, Genesis, Harry Nilsson, and MoeTar, Ampledeed is the band to explore through the cosmos.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Golden Void - Golden Void

Golden Void are from the San Francisco Bay Area that launched back in 2010 by Earthless guitarist/vocalist Isaiah Mitchell. Alongside Isaiah, the band considers Camilla Saufley-Mitchell on Keyboards and Vocals, Aaron Morgan on Bass, and Justin Pinerton on Drums. The band carry the psychedelic, spacey, and doom approach with a hypnotic bliss that will send take you into different areas that will make the eyebrows go up. So be prepare to experience a sonic adventure that will make you engage a jump to sub-light speed.

I first became aware of Golden Void’s music when Sid Smith, mastermind and expert of King Crimson who does the blogsite, Postcards from the Yellow Room and Podcasts from the Yellow Room did a review on them (their second album, Berkana) for the Going Weird website last year. And I’ve heard some samples of the band’s music, and I was very impressed of what I was hearing. It was like this a combination between of the band doing a score for the Ren & Stimpy short, Space Madness and something straight out of the mind of comic book artist, Jean-Giraud Moebius.

Their sole self-titled debut album released in 2012 on the Thrill Jockey Records label, is a mastermind journey into the infinite. The ascending Shady Grove sees Golden Void delving into the mind of Hawkwind’s Hall of the Mountain Grill-era meets Ash Ra Tempel meets Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath-era while the blaring shuffle road adventure gives it a sensational punch and delving into a bluesy workout by Isaiah himself in the style of early Floyd for The Curve.

He channels the styles of Manuel Gottsching, David Gilmour, and Tony Iommi. He is nailing those twist and turns to give it that heavier approach and he nails it each time he goes through the rhythm and lead improvisations on his guitar and knowing there is no stop sign. The 3/4 time signature psychedelic waltz for the Art of Invading, shows the Jazz and roaring Organ punches that Camilla does followed by Justin’s jazz-like drumming to really head into see and where Isaiah goes and follows in those areas.

Jetsun Dolma has an eerie yet dreamy and mysterious tones between Isaiah’s wah-wah voyages followed by Camilla created the spooky atmosphere on her keyboards. Morgan and Pinkerton create the styles between early Pink Floyd from the More and A Saucerful of Secrets-era that shine through the Post-Barrett period that channels their underrated period from 1968 to 1971 before hitting the big time with Dark Side of the Moon.

The galloping rhythm comes at you with a brutal kicking energetic level for Badlands. Justin nails those drum chains like a Rabbit hopping at 600 miles per hour from here to the stars. I can hear the touches of The Man with No Name trilogy as if Golden Void had done a score for one of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western films, but with a killer soundtrack.

Overall, this is an amazing debut from the band they launched back four years ago. And it is quite astounding on where the band take their journey into the worlds on where they go to. This is the band that are following the Psychedelic, Prog, and Doom torch and making sure it doesn’t burn out and I hope to hear more of them for years and years to come.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Burnin' Red Ivanhoe - Canal Trip: An Anthology 1969-1974

This 2-CD Anthology set consists the history of one of the first Danish Progressive Rock bands called Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe. Championed by people like the late John Peel and Julian Cope of The Teardrop Explodes who wrote an amazing article and history about the Danish Rock scene entitled Danskrocksampler that he compiled 12 years ago on his Head Heritage website on some of the favorite bands he admired from the late ‘60s and in the golden-era of the ‘70s.

Formed in 1967, the band blend in the styles of Jazz, Psychedelic, Blues, and Progressive Rock and it covers compilations from their debut album M144 in 1969 to the Right On album in 1974. This is a real must-have anthology set if you want to delve into more of the rock scene in the Netherlands. And Esoteric Recordings have scored something magical and get your ears perked up to hear and listen why this band were so ahead of their time.

The blaring psychedelic turned improvisation rocking adventure into outer space of Ksilioy, gives the band a hypnotic and swirling voyages from the spooky organs, flute reverbs, and Floyd-sque guitar workouts into the Milky Way. Since I’ve mentioned about the Floyd, you can hear a bit of that on Purple Hearts which has this psych-pop twist as if they were writing a sequel to See Emily Play.

The thumping intro with a freak-out mind-blowing flute solo done by Kim Menzer, Ivanhoe I Brondbyerne buzzes into amazement thanks to incredible guitar work that goes through a wah-wah lead section before ending in a climatic crescendo. But it’s Karsten Vogel that deserves some recognition. His Alto Sax and Keyboards really set the stratosphere for BRI’s music.

You can hear the essence of Coltrane through his blood and sweat as he brings the magic on pieces like; Antique Peppermint, Saxophone Piece 1, the homage to the Rolling Stones on Ivanhoe in the Woods, and the New Orleans Jazz mourning walk for Ida Verlaine. Both Kaj and Tingle Tangelmanden channel the styles of Serge Gainsbourg while the acoustic folk-up tempo beats sets a driven sound into the road on the Canal Trip.

Delving into the blues-jazz rock approach with a blaring harmonica improv and free-jazz midsections for Gong Gong the Elephant Song as the Coltrane inspirations come at you again for the Secret Oyster Service which was on their second sole self-titled release produced by Tony Reeves and Eddie Lee Beppaux, an alias name for John Peel who championed the band.  Then on the second CD, it goes from the WWW album which is based around the story of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe and straight into Right On.

All About All carries the psych-pop surroundings of early David Bowie along with the mid-tempo turned fast-driven finale of I Want the Rest of My Life Surrounded with Money that brings the resemblance of the Space Oddity sessions. The band had split up in 1972 and some of the band members would later to form Secret Oyster. Then, BRI came back in ’74 and did their fifth album, Right On.

The band moved from their Psych-Jazz Rock roots into a heavier territory. You can hear the rumbling and eruptive power for August Suicidal that almost resembles a bit of Uriah Heep in there followed by a gothic/mournful composition of When I Look into Your Eyes. They don’t lose their Jazz influences and they bring the funk-fusion into the punches featuring the wah-wah pedal crunch for the Rockin’ Rambler.

The 12-page booklet features an interview with Karsten Vogel and a history of the band’s music with liner notes done by Malcolm Dome. It is a rare and special occasion on why they are still such an amazing yet overlooked band in the Danish Progressive Rock scene that hopefully will get the recognition they deserve.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stick Men+ featuring David Cross - Midori

This 2-CD set was recorded back last year on April 10th in Tokyo, Japan at the Billboard in which they did two shows with special guest, King Crimson violinist David Cross. Originally the live recordings were released as a double set in Japan only. This year, it is now released via MoonJune Records and produced by Markus Reuter for Unsung Productions with a limited release of 1,000 copies. 

When you put the CDs on, it is for me, imaging yourself being at those shows in Japan being in awe of the trio and Cross himself as they embark in sinister territories that will send shivers down your spine and bringing memories back of the golden-era of King Crimson. Stick Men launched back nine years ago by bassist/stickist Tony Levin, drummer Pat Mastelotto, and Chapman Stick player Michael Bernier in which it was part of Tony’s solo album simply entitled Stick Men. Michael left and Markus Reuter on Touch Guitar, Soundscapes, and Keyboards joined. 

They have released four albums, one EP, an anthology compilation, and now the live album of Midori. This here is a special treat to delve into the waters of the band’s music and honoring the legacy of the Crimson sound. Listening to this album, as I’ve mentioned again earlier in my introduction, makes you feel that you are at the Billboard for those two shows being in awe of Stick Men and Cross himself being completely in awe of what they are giving the audience a big special treat. 

There are moments where it’s ambient/atmospheric, world music, heavier, raw, electronic, and eruptive volcanic beats. Shades of Starless resembles this crossover between the Wish You Were Here-era of Pink Floyd, early Tangerine Dream, and the homage to the Red-era also. It is all combined into one as if it set in a dystopian futuristic wasteland with the soundscapes and violinist Cross do before the haunting melody comes in and he is nailing his improvisation on his instrument as you can the imagine the dry ice setting the eerie vibration on the stage to capture the breeze of you being in the middle of a warzone.

The 12-minute eerie dystopian Industry, sees Reuter going into the darker atmospheres that resembles a wasteland gone horribly wrong of corruption, greed, and inmates running the city as if it the monsters have taken over the city. Reuter adds the effects of gunfire, clicking noises, seagulls, and crashing effects before the militant drums and bass kick in by Mastelotto & Levin. Then, Stick Men go into the jump for light speed with Breathless and the heavier forces to Hide the Trees.

Reuter brings an innovative blast that gives both eerie and eruptive sounds on the touch guitar to a whole new scenario. He, Tony, and Pat go into experimental roars with their instruments that channels the future as if you are skydiving into amazing world of mountains, trees, and landing at the right momentum. And again, there’s a futuristic quality to it also where the ascending haunting melodies fit right into the stratosphere with some unexpected time changes on where they headed into.

Improv: Moon, is a continuation of King Crimson’s spacey jazz voyage of the 12-minute piece, Moonchild but adding the electronic nightmarish scenario’s between Reuter and Cross himself adding the darker tones of the outer limits that sends shivers down the audience’s spines as David Cross carries the mysterious middle-eastern Egyptian sounds to his violin with twilight zone-sque organ on Sartori in Tangier.

This is my twelfth time listening to Midori. I’ve always wanted to delve into the swimming pool of Stick Men’s floating in my ears and enjoy the spirituality and essence of the force of Crimson’s music and staying true to the legacy of the band’s music. I hope to check out more of Stick Men’s sound later on. If you are new to their music or if you are a King Crimson fan, this 2-CD set is worth checking out.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Herd of Instinct - Manifestation

By now, you’re probably familiar of me champion Texan Progressive Rock bands/artist including; Proud Peasant, Stop Motion Orchestra, The Aaron Clift Experiment, Opposite Day, and Eric Roach (Zirque Bois D’Arc). One of the bands that have taken me under the wings of the Texas Prog scene is a group from Arlington called Herd of Instinct.

Formed out of the ashes of 99 Names of God, Herd of Instinct originally started out as a trio, but then moved into a larger ensemble. They have released so far, two albums on Djam Karet’s record label, Firepool Records. And with helping hands including Pat Mastelloto and Gavin Harrison to name a few who are on the road this year with King Crimson, it shows that the Crimson influences run into the band’s music. Their new album released this year entitled, Manifestation is a transitional sound for the group.

Now I first became aware of Herd of Instinct’s music after listening to them on Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout which I championed last year in my article on Music from the Other Side of the Room. And I was hooked into right into their sound from the very beginning. Not only it captures a textured sound, but more of the future the moment you put the CD on from start to finish with six centerpieces to get you’re attention. It can be atmospheric, blaring, hypnotic, and experimental.

Time and Again ranges into the Space Jazz-Rock adventures thanks to the blaring Sax’s by guest musician Bob Fisher and Djam Karet’s Gayle Ellett incredible organ improvisation that channels a futuristic twist of Frank Zappa having hot and spicy BBQ with Hawkwind meets The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The Warr Guitars and Chapman Basses that Mark Cook and Rick Read do add the fuel to the Starship Enterprise for a journey where no man’s gone before.

Part 2 and Part 1 of title track delves into darker themes with ominous overtones, but layered into the skies of reaching up into the heavenly clouds combining them with African music, Jazz, different time signatures, melodic, ascending the outer limits, and should I say Mellotron fulfillments? The band goes through different melodies in the composition that will send chills down to the spines on what will happen next and they hit the homerun into the ball park.

Saddha delves into the styles of King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black-era. Again, the Crimson influences really pack a punch as it pays tribute to the piece, Fracture. The guitars really pack a mean punch heading into evil territories that would have made Robert Fripp blown away by. You know that the danger is always there and something terrifying is about to happen.

Dybbuk feels very mysterious. Very much into the essence for a Science-Fiction Film Noir set in a dystopian universe. I can always imagine this composition with its futuristic overtones with some dosage of the Rock Progresivo Italiano (RPI) scene thrown into the mix, being used in a sequence for Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner while the somber flute/violin touches of Nocturne, gives into the double-layered reverb echo surrealism of a ghost town featuring a jazzier and ambient/atmospheric 1-minute chamber jazz music that make you feel that something has gone wrong.

I really enjoyed listening to Herd of Instinct’s new album. And while I’m getting onto the band wagon of their music, along with a mind-blowing cover done by Angel Stephens who’s been considered by Rupert Truman of Storm Studios “The love child of Storm Thorgerson and Roger Dean.”

Her artwork for this album is amazing. I could tell it’s an homage between Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 cult classic, The Holy Mountain and the adult illustrated fantasy magazine of Heavy Metal. The artwork and the music on here, is a powerful illustration of what Herd of Instinct’s vision brings to the kitchen table. So be prepared for a powerful journey and experience the sound of Manifestation.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Odin's Court - Deathanity (R3)

In 2008, Progressive Metal band Odin’s Court release their third album entitled Deathanity on ProgRock Records. And the album itself was received critical acclaim in the Prog community. Last year, the band decided to fund the album via Kickstarter in order to re-record the album and improve the sound. And with bandleader Matt Brookins doing some improvements on his part on doing the engineering and as a producer, it’s very interesting hearing this.

Now mind you, I haven’t heard the original mix of the album. But for me the R3 edition which is released on Matt Brookins' record label, D2C Studios, it means that not only they revisited and rebooted the album, but they; Re-mixed, Re-mastered, and Re-recorded the whole album from start to finish. For me, I was very impressed from what I’ve listened to of the entire album. And while I’m very new to Odin’s Court’s music, lead vocalist Dimetrius LaFavors. who did guest vocals on Kinetic Element’s Travelog, does a fantastic job on his vocals that makes it very appropriate and giving the style and sound of the band’s sound.

Deathanity (R3) is a spectacular enjoyment between the essence of both Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal rolled into one. With five enduring highlights on the album, it will rattle the house perfectly. Moody opener Terracide begins with spoken nostalgia dealing with the murder of the Earth. Matt Brookins' guitar really shines through his essence of Brian May and David Gilmour that gives it an excellent introduction to start things off.

Their homage to Ludwig Van Beethoven sees Odin’s Court going into the different time changes in their take of Symphonic Metal with a roaring yet eruptive take of Ode to Joy. It’s almost like cannons blasting at the right moment between the bass lines and guitars followed by speeding drum lines. Mammonific has these powder keg explosive riffs/improvisations and guitar melodies as the vocalizations are beautiful and hard that just makes me jump and scream for more. And at times it’s melodic also with beautiful piano touches in the midsection.

Crownet sees Matt doing these speed-arpeggiated guitar introduction before laying down the laid-back grooves before heading towards some cool bass rhythms into a strange twist of a Bossa-Nova groove. And then, all of a sudden, it runs into the styles of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal meets mind-blowing Prog adventures from Guitars and Keyboard improvisations that makes it a real killer! Including different time-signatures that just makes my arm hair go up at the finale.

Cosmosera features this dystopian lullaby-sque scenery in which Brookins does on his guitar that gives it a spooky feeling and has a touch of Queen’s second album in the style of the intro Procession. Featuring peaceful passages and intense thrash with snarling vocals in midsections, it gives it a chilling yet emotional struggle that has sinister and uplifting tones to put you on the edge of your seat.

This is my sixth time listening to Odin’s Court’s Deathanity (R3). And while I’m new to the band’s music, I really got a kick out of this. With the essences again of Progressive, Power, Symphonic, Melodic, and Thrash Metal, this is a real recommendation worth checking out. And if you love bands like King’s X, Queen, Pink Floyd, and Iron Maiden, then delve into the music of Odin’s Court