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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kevin Kastning - A Connection of Secrets

It’s been a good while since I’ve listened to Kevin Kastning’s music. I have been so busy listening to some amazing music both old and new. I’ve always wanted to delve into the pool with Kevin’s music, and now I have with the release of his 24th studio album released on the Greydisc label entitled, A Connection of Secrets. He has never disappointed me with his sound. And with a title like that, it fits well with its themes. Alongside of the collaborations between working with Mark Wingfield, Sandor Szabo and Carl Clements to name a few, he's never done me wrong.

The themes which have ten compositions he wrote, deal with finding the deep and darker side of someone’s personal life on what they are going through their dark and troubling times. What Kastning does, is going through an ominous journey that takes us towards to which is not a pleasant scenario, but knowing it is a connection of what the person has become. The tones is a combination of neo-classical, surrealism, and avant-garde classical music. Believe me, it is a heavier atmosphere.

And with the instruments by using the contra-guitar, contra-alto guitar, piano, and the 15-string extended classical guitar. He’s been a very, very busy man. The album was recorded in three days at Studio Traumwald in Northern Massachusetts. And you can feel the pin drops in the different moments as if something terrible has just happen with its harsh chords, bright sounds, and mysterious atmosphere.

You can imagine walking through the looking glass and imagine going into this parallel universe of what was, has now become an eerie twilight zone scenario. Understand, Kevin’s music is not easy to get into, but the way he uses these themes, you can imagine him doing a score for one of either Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick or Luis Bunuel’s films, it’s quite an astonishing and at times scary piece of music I’ve listened to.

A Connection of Secrets is another mind-boggling release that Kastning himself has unleashed this year and I hope he will continue to release more and more music to come in the years to come.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Fierce and the Dead - Field Recordings

Recorded on July 24th last year at the Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone, England, sees The Fierce and the Dead giving their amazement, creativity, and eruptive/volcanic performance in their new live mini-album that the quartet did entitled, Field Recordings on the Bad Elephant Music label. They were on the same bill with Hawkwind, IOEarth, Von Hertzen Brothers, Procol Harum and Whitesnake to name a few as the quartet give audiences with the sounds between the genres of; Post-Rock, Post-Punk, and Electronic Rock at their finest.

The artwork which is done by comic book artist Mark Buckingham (Fables, The Sandman, Miracleman) based on the photo by Kevin Nixon, captures a very sci-fi artistry that Buckingham brought with a sci-fi futuristic feel of The Fierce and the Dead’s performance. For the four-piece, they have come a long way. From performing in clubs to be in a gigantic stage outdoors, it’s a long and winding road for them and they have made it.

The live recordings is very dynamic yet an eruptive release they have done this year. Not to mention they will be performing the first here in the States in May at RosFest at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For me, with the Fierce and the Dead, that’s like (using sports analogy) winning the Super Bowl for them. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, they have come a long, long, long way.

Listening to the mini live-album, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at the Ramblin Man’s Festival and being there by showing your full support and knowing that Matt, Kev, Steve, and Stuart, deliver a volcanic performance. It’s almost as if my arm-hairs went up at 100.  The audience shows approval and applaud after they finish their compositions. Not to mention I think that it might be Matt Stevens’ sense of humor when he speaks, to show the band’s relaxation and having a blast.

There are moments on here which at times have a melody duel between the bass and guitars as the quartet take you on a journey with a mysterious, deep, futuristic ride that will put you on the edge of your seat. Again after listening to this twice now, this is for me…a Holy Shit performance I’ve listened to! While this was a short performance, I wish they could have done more to give the audience another ride to hurtle through the cosmos.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth 1946-2017

Allan Holdsworth was considered perhaps one of the most innovative, influential, overlooked, and virtuosic guitar players that was brought to life. He passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 70. His death was announced on Facebook by his daughter, Louise. It’s a sad loss for a man who took the guitar and the SynthAxe to a whole new level. And with supporters including; Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen, Alex Lifeson, and Robben Ford who considers him to be “The John Coltrane of the Guitar.”

Holdsworth started out back in the late ‘60s with the band, ‘Igginbottom when they released their debut album, ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench on the DERAM label in 1969 which included one of the co-producers Mott the Hoople’s Morgan Fisher. Then he would embark on other bands and artists including Soft Machine, Pierre Morelen’s Gong, Nucleus’ Ian Carr, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tempest, and Bill Bruford. It wasn’t until the late ‘70s when he joined up with the late great John Wetton, Bruford, and Eddie Jobson with the super group, U.K. in 1978 in which they released their sole self-titled debut album on the E.G. label as the band would release one more album, four live albums, two video releases, and the 14-CD/4 Blu-ray release of the Ultimate Collector's Edition.

Allan left the band due to creative difference after it was released while he embarked on a solo career. He released 11 studio albums from 1976 to 2001. I can remember when I was in College discovering Holdsworth’s music with his time with Tempest on their sole self-titled release back in 1973 on the Bronze label which featured Colosseum’s Jon Hiseman, Paul Williams on Vocals, and Bassist Mark Clarke.

It is perhaps one of my favorites. Not just because of the essence of Progressive and Hard Rock, but the musicianship on there is eruptive, powerful, and mesmerizing. It’s like this mid-cannon blast from the moment the song Gorgon kicks into high gear as Paul Williams delves into his soulful voice resembling Paul Rodgers of Free/Bad Company.

Holdsworth can bring the heavy roars through the complex guitars and it’s staggering along with the rising track, Up and On, the Cream-sque touch on Foyers of Fun, and riding down the highways shuffle blues rock on Strangeher.  Allan left the band due to differences which I believe he didn't want to have a second guitar player which was Patto's Ollie Halsall on the second album, Living in Fear in 1974. The band broke up after their second album was released as Jon Hiseman went to reform Colosseum (Part II). But I'm off-topic.

The loss of Holdsworth shows how much he was ahead of his time, pushing the boundaries, and always looking to see where the road will take him next. He was working on a next album which was announced two years ago entitled Tales from the Vault by launching a pledge campaign to crowdfund his album. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this difficult time. He was and will always be the Man Who Changed Guitar Forever.

If you want to delve or if you are new to the world of Allan’s music, here’s some recommendations I picked:

Tempest – Tempest (Bronze/Esoteric Recordings)
‘Igginbottom – ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench (Deram/Esoteric Recordings)
Allan Holdsworth – Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (Manifesto)
Pierre Moerlen’s Gong – Gazuese! (Virgin Records)
Soft Machine – Bundles (Harvest/Esoteric Recordings)
U.K. – U.K. (E.G. Records)
The New Tony Williams Lifetime – Believe It (Columbia)

Or the 12-CD Box Set, The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever 

And if you want to show support for Allan's family for a family memorial service, please go to their GoFundMe and give your love and help which is up to $65,768.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tohpati Bertiga - Faces

Tohpati is and will always be; a very, very busy man. With his time as a solo artist, Ethnomission, Bertiga, and SimakDialog. There is not a single stop sign for him. For me, I’ve always wanted to see what he will do next. Now, it’s been five years since we’ve heard from Bertiga since the release of the 2012 release, Riot. This year they have unleashed their new album entitled, Faces. This is an Indonesian-release only on the label, deMajors. And it’s a welcoming return for the three piece to come back with more music.

The album is dedicated to the late great keyboardist Riza Arshad from SimakDialog. For me, this is Tohpati honoring his best friend and keeping both his legacy and spirit alive by making sure the fires will never burn out. Tohpati, Bassist Indro Jarjodikoro, and Drummer Aditiyo Wibowo (Bowie), have a diverse sound on here. And the five enduring centerpieces show that they still got it and keep the sounds between Funk, Jazz, Blues, and the Progressive elements thrown into the blender and mixing it into an interesting groove.

The opening track, Conviction sees Tohpati channel his riffs and leads into the waters of a Zappa-sque sound before he transforms his guitar as a synthesizer as he makes it sound to pay tribute to the ‘70s Italian Progressive Rock sound of Banco’s first two albums and Morgan’s Nova Solis-era. The style of the piece has this Gershwin suite almost in the midsection as if the trio are channeling Rhapsody in Blue with a twist before ending with the Zappa groove.

With Bluesphoria, you can imagine Tohpati going down the Texas highway for a boogie complex blues rock with him on top of ZZ Top’s Eliminator car through the night sky honoring the Tres Hombres-era by going into the riff of La Grange in a shuffling tone with a bit of Zeppelin to the cooking pot. The first 45 seconds of Extraordinary begins with an ambient introduction before he goes into a virtuosic complex melody.

Classical and Jazz alike with a slight touch of Fusion, he and Indro’s bass do a friendly duel as if they are playing both the riff and channeling each other on who has some killer grooves while Absolute sees Tohpati going into some twists and turns between a cross-over with Primus and The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame. Indro does some incredible yet brief slap-and-pop bass sounds as if he’s mastering the legendary Bootsy Collins for brief moment in the Funk section as if he brought Indro into the Mothership for an out of sight galaxy adventure.

The closer, Intense features this latin-groove introduction with the early ‘90s sound of Rush between Presto and Counterparts-era. Tohpati himself near the end of the piece honors both Alex Lifeson and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing before ending on a high note.

I’ve listened to this about five times now and it shows the amazement of listening to Faces. This shows that not only they’re back, but they haven’t forgotten the flaming fires to keep it going. And with the honor of Riza’s legacy, they got it right and another worth checking out if you love the Riot album or either Ethnomission or SimakDialog. 

Omega - Anthology: 1968-1979

This 2-CD set consists one of the most amazing successful bands to come out of Hungary, Omega. Since their formation in 1962 they were sort of Hungarian’s answer to the Beatles. They achieved success in many parts of the country in Eastern Europe. It contains 31 tracks that is a mind-blowing adventure with essence of symphonic, psychedelic, eruptive, space, and prog-rock at its finest. The entire album is sung in English except for two tracks sung in German on disc one. It also includes their hit single, Pearls in Her Hair (Gyongyhaju lany).

The hit single would later be covered by The Scorpions and sampled by Kanye West for his outro song from his sixth album in 2013, Yeezus (New Slaves). It also appeared in the 2014 trailer for the video game, This War of Mine which was inspired by the 1992-1996 Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. Disc one and two have names which are The Beaty Sixties and The Spacey Seventies.

Released by Purple Pyramid Records in which they have a very good job on the Nektar catalog, and is also a division of Cleopatra Records, makes this a very good introduction to discover the band’s music and why they were so ahead of their time. Disc one covers parts of the late ‘60s and bits of the early ‘70s which showed their influences of the psychedelic period.

The Jester’s Daily Bread begins with some lifting organ work and a narrative tale about the character with good rewards for living and getting their spirits back after laughing at him with it’s acoustic-psychedelic ballad while the opener, Petroleum Lantern reminisces of ELP’s Tiger in a Spotlight. With its boogie-woogie piano, clapping rhythm section, it is a soaring composition.

Suddenly, Omega delve into the waters of MKII’s Deep Purple section of Machine Head-era with some snarling organ work by honoring Jon Lord’s textures with You Don’’t Know as the 20th Century Town Dweller with its galloping bass and drums, dystopian lyrics, and the haunting melodies followed by some incredible moving sections, it makes you feel that you are walking into an eerie ghost town by imaging something has gone wrong as the pin drops at the exact moment.

200 Years After the Last War is Omega honoring the styles of the Strawbs. Sliding bluesy guitars along with the organ and mellotron not to mention the acoustic guitar and mournful drum sections, it brings to mind the Bursting at the Seams-era. Disc two which covers the golden-era of the 1970s in The Spacey Seventies sees the band moving away from the psychedelic and pop sound, into a progressive and spacey voyage.

Late Night Show starts off with this watery drippy effect from the keyboards as the alarming synths come at you out of nowhere followed by some fuzz tone sounds of the Bass. It deals with the success and pleasing your fans by getting gigantic reactions from them and knowing you’ve come a long way with its moments of The Beatles’ swan song album, Abbey Road.

The Nektar-sque vibes delves Omega into the Space Rock stratosphere with Don’t Keep Me Waiting. The last 3 minutes and 56 seconds in the song and instrumental part is this chilling scenario of knowing that their time is coming to an end. The guitars are crying out for help along with the synths capturing the melody to the sound. It is a chilling composition that made my arm hairs go up at the right moment.

The suites, House of Cards Parts 1 and 2 along with Timerobber, is Omega writing almost a mini-rock opera with its Yes-like atmospheres and Aphrodite’s Child textures dealing with a person who goes through parallel universes by destroying people’s lives and it is up to one person to set things right and getting down to the bottom of this to find out why the time robber is hurling through infinite worlds. The music itself is brilliant! Blaring synths, heavier organ riffs, and epic guitar lines, it’s the movie inside your head.

The synthesized electronic intro Invitation, makes you as a listener, get ready for lift-off! Omega have an amazing blast taking you towards our solar system by galloping drums, rockin’ guitar chords, and the loops of the synths along with some stop-and-go moments near the end. Elsewhere, Skyrover shows some inspiration of Walter Tevis’ novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Beginning with a Tchaikovsky-sque intro on the piano, it has this ominous piece followed by a spoken-word section as the composition becomes emotional of this creature from another part of the universe, living on Earth, without a chance to go home to see his loved one, knowing that he’s doomed and he’ll die. And Purple Lady has these major/minor chords on the guitar delving into a Floydian style piece and female vocalizations as if it was part of the sessions for Wish You Were Here.

This is a wonderful 2-CD release of a band I’ve never even heard of. But after listening to this five or six times, I’m hooked into the music of Omega’s music. The only disappointment I have is I wish there was some liner notes about this band. I hope Purple Pyramid delves even more into the catalog and reissue them because it is about time to show how much they were as I’ve mentioned ahead of their time and hopefully opening the doors to see why they were so successful.

Monday, April 10, 2017

EchoTest - From Two Balconies

Back in the fall of 2005 during the fall semester at Houston Community College, I can remember going to the defunct Blockbuster Video and renting one of the films was the documentary Rock School which covers the Paul Green School of Rock Music. One of the students was Julie Slick. Now at the time, I didn’t know much about Slick since watching the Don Argott film. She been busy working on her solo work, and with bands with Crimson alumni’s including; Adrian Belew Power Trio and The Crimson ProjeKCt.

And from the moment I’ve listened to The Crimson ProjeKCt’s Live in Tokyo which at the time Anglagard opened for them at the Club Citta in March of 2013, I realized needed to discover Julie’s music. Until this year, I received a package in the mail which is EchoTest’s new album entitled, From Two Balconies. The formation of EchoTest began in 2011 when Marco Machera and Julie Slick met at the Three of a Music Pair Music Camp.

They have released two instrumental releases from 2014 to 2015. With their new album, it’s a step-forward and featuring lead vocals on seven tracks. Not to mention some amazing guests including; Drummer Pat Mastoletto, Tim Motzer on Guitar, Vocalists Mike Visser and Ali Wadsworth, and violinist Sarah Anderson to name a few. Described by Julie herself, it is a conceptual texture on a contemporary tragedy as their lives are in limbo and in a tempestuous tormented limbo.

Derek Riggs’ artwork of the front cover, details the essence of an abandoned house guarded by two people as if it’s in the middle of a stormy weather that almost brings to mind of Stephen King’s The Shining. While it’s this mixture of modern-progressive, electronic, and post-rock music, EchoTest’s new album is an interesting experience from beginning to end.

Supercell begins with this alarming introduction done by Julie's Bass VI making it sound like an alarm clock going off as Visser’s voice delve into both Gazpacho’s Jan-Henrik Ohme and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke-sque textures. With a mysterious realm between Psychedelic-post-rock and electronic music, it is a bright dystopian chasing composition to find the inner self with a laid-back sound.

The spacey voyages on The Mystical Connected Us, at first begins with a spacey voyage as the lyrics deal with someone calling back to come home before delving into an echoing reverb/delay effect of the pop-and-slap sounds of the Bass. Suddenly, it transforms into this chaotic scenario that Tim does as he crosses between the Crimson sound and Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come before the electronic drums end on a fading loop.

Confirmation Bias is a very interesting track. EchoTest delve into the waters as they take an approach of the doom metal genre. With it’s Red-era fuzz-tone shriek and Peter Hammill approach, the song deals with a split-personality whilst dealing with the nightmares and confronting your own worst enemy. The opening will make you leap out of your chair and giving you as a listener, a terrifying jolt.

 The Plight deals with the struggle to survive, but knowing that the end is near. Sarah’s violin sets the scenery of what is happening right now in the character’s mind as you could his/her struggle and the pain of what they’re going through as the music resembles Gazpacho’s Demon-era while Radio Sayonara channels the Space Rock masters, Hawkwind.

This is my third time listening to From Two Balconies. And whilst I’m very new to both Julie Slick and EchoTest’s music, this is a real blessing that they bring to us. Now I need to delve more into her sound and vision she brings to her music and in the footsteps of Crimson’s music and also, the Progressive and Experimental approach she will bring next to the table with more brainstorming ideas she will come up with.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Levin Brothers - Levin Brothers

Tony and Pete Levin are like the flames that bring the music to life in the sound of Jazz. They have both work with some of the most amazing artists and bands. Tony has played with; John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, and of course, King Crimson. His older brother, Pete, worked with; The Brubeck Brothers, Miles Davis, Bryan Ferry, Annie Lennox, Paul Simon, and Jaco Pastorius. That is a big combination for the two brothers to be working with some of the greats.

And with the release of Levin Brothers unleashed three years ago on the Lazy Bones Recordings label, it’s a trip down memory lane for them as they grew up listening to Bebop Jazz (Cool Jazz) in the 1950s. It’s a great release for them to bring helping hands including; Drummer Jeff Siegel, Guitarist David Spinozza, Saxophonist Erik Lawrence, and guest drummer who plays two of the tracks, Steve Gadd.

The booklet contains the liner notes and interviews with the Levin Brothers done by Anil Parsad (Music Without Borders: Innerviews). Anil knows his history very well and he has done his homework very well. It contains photos during the making of the album, portrait shots of Tony and Peter including the back cover of them as kids. They know they have a brotherhood together by family and honor between the two of them by giving each other a pat on the back.

I picked a few highlights on here that I was on a journey with both of the masters themselves. I Got Your Bach is their take of the first movement of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. You can imagine Tony is walking his lines on the upright bass like a dancer walking carefully on a tightrope whilst Pete channels his organ in the styles of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue-era.

The lukewarm take of the mellowing beauty of King Crimson’s Matte Kudasai which is from their eighth studio album, Discipline, the poignant beauty feels the vibrations as it blends well by taking a nice stroll through a snowy garden as Pete honors Vince Guaraldi. The opening track Bassics and Ostropolya, has a Monk-sque groove done in a Well You Needn’t-sque punch. It sounds as if Tony makes his bass sound like both Jimmy Garrison and Paul Chambers.

You can close your eyes and imagine yourself being in the original Birdland Jazz Club in 1950s New York at West 52nd Street in Manhattan, and seeing the greats performing this and giving a big roaring applause with a gigantic stamp of approval. Brothers shows Pete diving into his Organ of the ‘50s a-la Fats Waller style as he and Tony share the melody together with Spinozza’s Jazz chords and improve.

Havana features the Tango/Mambo sections done by drummer Jeff Siegel whilst Tony scats his vocals in a bit of his take of Tom Waits. Spinozza plays some of the melodies carrying the Latin-Jazz sound, but making it very relaxed and bluesy in his sound. I can imagine that they are having a great time creating magic. I had this vision of the group performing in the hottest part of the night at the Isla de la Juventud as the crowd dances to the sound.

This is a great release they have unleashed back in 2014. They will be performing on May 20th at The Falcon in Marlboro, New York this year. If you love the sound of the ‘50s Jazz and Bebop, this is worth picking up.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Allan Holdsworth - Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection

Allan Holdsworth, is a name you probably may or may not recognize. He is one of the most innovative, overlooked, adventurous, and virtuoso guitar players. He has performed in bands/artists such as ‘Igginbottom, Tempest, Soft Machine, U.K., Nucleus' Ian Carr, and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. Using complex chord progressions and the usage of the guitar synthesizer known as the SynthAxe, he surprises both audience, musicians, and listeners through his techniques.

Among supporters including Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, and course, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave's own Tom Morello. That and the 2-CD set released by Manifesto Records are selected by Holdsworth entitled, Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection.

Now I’ve been aware of Holdsworth with his time between ‘Igginbottom and Tempest from the late ‘60s and the golden-era of the 1970s when I was at Houston Community College during my time as a student working on my Associate’s Degree for Jazz Studies from 2005 to 2014. His solo work, I didn’t know about until hearing his two albums; Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie and None Too Soon.

And knowing there was something I was missing, the 2-CD release of Eidolon, made me realized that I was on an adventure with a master who has been around from day one. There’s no stop sign for Holdsworth. Not to mention his collaborations between Chad Wackerman, Tempest’s Paul Williams, Gordon Beck, and Jimmy Haslip to name a few. But I’m off-topic. I’ve picked a few highlights on the 2-CD set that shows how much he opened the doors and why he’s keep the wheels on the train running.

The Sixteen Men of Tain showed that softer side to him. He takes his SynthAxe on an atmospheric approach as he channels Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue while during the climatic segment as he, Novak, and Carpenter take you towards the heavenly skies. Road Games delves into honoring the Grand Wazoo himself as it delves towards a Zappasque (Over-nite Sensation-era). Allan sees himself almost a conductor as he brings some intense time signatures.

The late great Jack Bruce shines on through the vocals as if he’s letting Allan know that he’s got his back in the cross between the Blues and Prog-Rock while the take of Django Reinheardt’s Nuages honors the master by taking it into a traditional jazz sound. He also channels the listener to unbelievable results.

With Against the Odds, which features some beautiful vocal arrangements done by Naomi Star, the SynthAxe takes the listener to unbelievable landscapes while Vinnie Colaiuta’s incredible drum work brings some killer improve with Hunt’s mysterious keyboard work to create some dynamics and solo. He also brings a sense of humor in the song featuring Tempest’s Paul Williams on Metal Fatigue.

In the song it deals with success, explosives, fame, and how long will this thing will last because there come's a point where you'll fade into nothingness. There are times where Holdsworth himself goes from a clean sound to a crunchy, note-taking extravaganza in the piece as The 4.15 Bradford Executive goes into a fast-tempo midsection of electronic music’s time signatures as you can imagine being at work 24 hours at hyper-speed. The title feels something straight out of a film collaboration between Jacques Tati, Martin Scorsese, and Terry Gilliam.

The compilation of the title, Eidolon, comes from Greek Mythology. It means a spirit-image of a living or a dead person or an image of the ideal. Holdsworth’s compilation set is a perfect introduction who wants to discover more of his music and understand why he will keep the train going on more, more, and more. This is a great to get on his Train by listening to virtuosic guitar playing and electronic sounds from the SynthAxe.

The 20-page booklet contains liner notes by Chris Hoard and an interview with Allan himself about his career along with photos, discography, and the AH logo also on the back. Again if you want to delve into the waters of Holdsworth, this one is worth exploring. Or if you to delve more, the 12-CD box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever: The Allan Holdsworth Collection might be up your alley.

The 2-CD release will be again, an introduction for you to tag along on the journey and adventure for his creativity. And he is still going strong and as I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s no stop sign for him.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nick Prol & The Proletarians - Loon Attic

Formed last year, Nick Prol and the Proletarians’ debut album released this year entitled, Loon Attic is this cross between Psychedelic, Avant-Pop, Musique-Concrete, and the Rock In Opposition movement. Following in the footsteps of Knifeworld, Henry Cow, XTC, The Residents, and William D. Drake and with the productions of Prog Rock Deep Cuts’ Ian Beabout and Ben Spees from the Mercury Tree, it shows Nick following in the footsteps of the bands.

Alongside Nick who plays Guitar, Sax, and does Lead Vocals, it contains Dave Newhouse (The Muffins) on Woodwind, along with Ben Spees and Connor Reilly on Bass and Drums. There’s also guest appearances to name a few by lending Nick a helping hand by knowing they’ve got his back including Bent Knee’s Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth, Knifeworld’s Charlie Cawood, Cheer Accident’s Thymme Jones, Bob Drake, Stop Motion Orchestra’s Mo Ha Dev, and Muffins own Paul Sears to name a few.

There are nine highlights on the album that not just took me by surprise, but kept me guessing near the very end. You have pieces like Shiny & Round and Another Groan. Both of the pieces have this Crimson-sque vibe as the previous track has reminiscent as if Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks was taken to an insane asylum as if he’s gone berserk with some wacky vibrations with an intense finale. Elsewhere, 8th Wonder, is this dystopian 3/4 waltz that is something straight out of bad dream from Pee-Wee's Playhouse as the characters become terrifying to make Pee-Wee himself scared out of his wits.

The Madame Spider which features Carla Diratz with her shivering vocal arrangements, you could feel her presence as if she is hypnotizing the listener through her voice. At first the piece sounds almost as if the piano was being dismantled through an echo chamber of auto-destructive art in the styles of the late great Gustav Metzger, but it has this haunting drone done through the minds of Univers Zero.

One of the most insane tracks from Loon Attic is Marry Annette. It has this Post-Punk/Post-Rock late ‘70s drive between Devo, Cardiacs, and Max Webster with some wacky signatures while Reprise pays tribute to the late ‘60s spy thrillers which in my opinion of the Italian cinema of Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik. With snapping fingers, Dave chilling sax, and Ben’s psychedelic guitar, sets into of what the main character is going to do next.

Under the Bed is a quirky little short melodic twisted number done in the styles of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica while Beekeeper’s Suit delves into some chaotic, moody, scatting, vocalization of a haywire composition as Nick and R. Stevie Moore honor The Faust Tapes. But it’s Carvings on the Wall that is a special treat. It has this Knifeworld feel as Charlie appears on the track by doing his fuzztone bass.

It has a nightmarish world of something gone horribly wrong as the piece is Psych Avant-Pop at it’s best. You can almost imagine Nick following in Kavus’ footsteps to pay tribute to the band’s music and honoring it.  I hope Nick will continue to do more with The Proletarians for years and years to come. I can imagine as I’ve mentioned in my reviews, there’s no stop sign for him. This is another highlight for 2017. Not to mention his amazing artwork he did for the debut.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kuhn Fu - Kuhnspiracy

Picture the scenario a cross between the Rock In Opposition movement, Jazz-Rock, and throw in a huge dosage of the Avant-Rock genre, you’ve got yourself a strange dosage to make sure you add a bit of humor into the music. That and one of the most strangest and insane bands I’ve listened to called Kuhn Fu. They formed five years ago in the Netherlands and carrying the torches between Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Magma, Univers Zero, and King Crimson.

They have toured seven countries and performed 100 countries over. They don’t want to take themselves too seriously. The music and the band describe that their music deals with failure, death and humanity. Their second album, Kuhnspiracy is not just one of the maddest and scariest albums I’ve listened to, but for me, a Holy Shit album! The band recorded the album in about two days last year at the Clouds Hill Studios in Hamburg.

And from the moment I put the CD on, I was hooked right from the get-go. I can imagine they are continuing where Don Van Vliet had left off during the continuation of the Trout Mask Replica sessions. The band considers Christian Achim Kuhn who is not just a guitarist, but also a composer who wrote the material on the album. Alongside Christian himself, Ziv Taubenfeld on Bass Clarinet, Esat Ekincioglu on Double Bass, and Lav Kovac on Drums.

Featuring the odd signatures, blaring noises, operatic vocals, and snarling noises from the double bass and bass clarinet, it feels that it reminded me of something straight out of a short silent film directed by the late great Luis Bunuel as if they recorded a score for either Un Chien Andalou or L’Age d’Or. The screeching sounds from Taubenfeld’s Clarinet, growling yet roaring guitars and late ‘60s vibration at times done by Kuhn himself, along with Esat and Lav’s droning and jazzier double Bass and Drumming, they create this mind-blowing work at times it’s weird, raw, and insane.

I will admit, Kuhnspiracy is not an easy album to listen to, but since I'm very new to the music of Kuhn Fu, they have blown me away. They took everything in the kitchen sink and made it powerful, mind-boggling, and in your face. However, be prepare to turn this up very loud and you will be ready to be surprised when it make you leap at certain moments and terrifying sounds like a volcanic eruption ready to explode at any minute.