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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kevin Kastning, Sandor Szabo, Balazs Major - Ethereal II

Kastning still continues to surprise me instead more and more throughout his releases on the Greydisc label. The usage of both the 30-string contra-alto guitar and 36-string double contraguitar would make you question and answer more of the clues and evidential moments that he would help you solve the case. Kevin’s follow up to Kismaros is called, Ethereal II.

He brought along two people who previously worked with Kevin are now teaming up with him for his new album. With percussionist Balazs Major and Baritone guitarist Sandor Szabo, Ethereal II is embarking more mysterious adventures to see and hear what the trio would come up with next and going beyond our solar systems.

What Sandor would create on his baritone guitar is to go through by not just taking a rocket to outer space, but landing in through various cities that were once the brightest of the future, have now turned into a menacing and very deserted location. And throughout some of the compositions that are on the new album, you can hear some of these ominous cries throughout the cold wintery mountains throughout the landscapes of Antarctica where the sun never, ever sets.

Balazs’ percussion helps both Kastning and Szabo out by encountering deeper into those areas in the blue glaciers of those mountains that are snowy and filled with mystery with some spiritual guidance whilst making the music with a soundscaping atmosphere and would have made founder of ECM Records, Manfred Eicher very happy on what he’s hearing from start to finish.

Ethereal II is Kastning’s achievement and I hope there will be more for him to continue in 2019 and seeing where Kevin will take his instruments next into the nearest future. And in the words of Fairport Convention, “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Claudio Scolari, Daniele Cavalca & Simone Scolari - Natural Impulse

I don’t know how many years since I’ve listened to some Jazz albums after delving into the waters of Franco Baggiani’s 2014 gem, Memories of Always. But this time, I’m putting some of my toes back into the water once more. And this one, is a very interesting combination between electronic jazz from the minds of Claudio and Simone Scolari and Daniele Cavalca’s Natural Impulse.

This is their third studio album released this year via Principal Records and their follow-up to their 2015 release, South Hemisphere and 2012’s Synthesis. While I’m very new to the Scolari’s and Cavalca’s music, Natural Impulse is for me opening up the gates to witness something mysterious, spiritual, and fascinating ideas that are combined into one.

It has this combination between Tribal, Bebop, Experimental, small twists of the Canterbury sound, and free-jazz. When you listen to Natural Impulse, you have this door-opening vibe between Terry Riley, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner as if the four of them had done a session together in 1969 and creating these visual ideas and try something different that is beyond the realm of Jazz with some creative moments that are out of this world.

The music sometimes would go into weird tunnels that take you through some unexpected territories that the Scolari’s and Cavalca would walk right into with the nods of a Coltrane-sque Piano nod to A Love Supreme, but in a cat-and-mouse walk that make you feel as if you are a detective searching for more evidential clues to pick up the pieces once more.

It also these film-noir-sque vibe that the trio would create with a futuristic atmosphere. The usages of percussion, synthesizers, and trumpet, adds some of the tense moments on when the killer would strike again. Not only that, but the architectural landscapes to see the beauty of what the cities were back in the day were beautiful, have now become struggle and loss with abandonment.

Natrual Impulse is a small challenge to embark on, but what is one here is very, very intriguing. Would I delve deeper into their music to see what I was missing? Perhaps. But I would recommend it to go back into the detective’s offices and help them more to get the puzzle pieces back together again and solve the case right.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores - The Opposite

It’s been six years since Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores have released a new album after the release of their 2012 release with Sister Death. I was introduced to their music thanks to Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout in 2014 which was after I had graduated from Houston Community College. 

It was back I believe in October of that year when I first heard them on Ian’s show. And I was immediately hooked right from the get go as he played tracks from the album. It felt like something that was straight out of the stories between Richard Corben and Alejandro Jodorowsky from the adult illustrated fantasy magazine, Heavy Metal.

Since their formation 20 years ago in their hometown state of Providence, Rhode Island, Redfearn’s music challenges you by walking inside his own version of the Rubik’s cube that can be quite the task. It is compelling, minimal, avant-rock, gypsy music, folk, psychedelic, post-rock, and some elements of the Krautrock genre rolled into one.

This year, Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores has released their new studio album via Cuneiform Records entitled, The Opposite. Recorded and mixed by Seth Manchester at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket and Mastered by Udi Koomran at The Pergola in Tel Aviv, Israel, The Opposite is inspired by Redfearn’s readings from the esoteric by a periodic theme whether it’s a shadow, or something that balances, haunt, or reflects it proprietor.

Everything from Crowley, Kabbalah, Gnostics, and George Costanza. It’s also named after from the fifth season episode of Seinfeld. Now their eight studio album is a daring yet terrifying and chugging releases that I’ve encountered from start to finish. And it’s a welcoming hand-shaken return from this incredible band that will give you some of the centerpieces and the shivers for The Opposite.

From the moment I listened to their opening track, Soft Motors, it begins with a ringing bell before Alec and McLaren drive into this revving motorcycle into the lost and dangerous night of the Mojave Desert. Kind of a cross between the fuzztone drives and wah-wah pedals to make his accordion going into some uncharted waters with some snarling like essences of early Hawkwind and CAN’s Tago Mago-era, but with a crunch to make it for lift-off between space and the infinite worlds that is ready for the doors to be opened.

Alec lays down some pummeling drives along with Ann Schattle’s horn to go into those darker clanking-clicking sections from the woods on Tramadoliday. It goes towards some stop-and-go moments before this blaring alarm goes off in the middle of nowhere and you can hear the horn, contrabass, and this snarling fuzzy keyboard heading towards some nightmarish yet territorial atmosphere.

The title-track continues more of the pulsive accordion work as Sadlers drives up to the ladder for some distinctive walks of different locations. McLaren sets up more of those effects he does on the drums for a dooming scenario to make sure showing the person’s good or evil side and perhaps bringing out their skeletons in the closet.

With Carnivore and Pteradactyl, you can imagine an Egyptian belly dancer getting into the groove of these two compositions as the heat level increases more and more thanks to the rhythm that Redfearn does to take you through those secret closed doors that is behind the Tarot Cards. Listening to Bat Living in my Room, I can hear some of this cat-and-mouse chase with some frantic nightmares that tackle the subjects between paranoia and hallucinations.

I can imagine this song being used as an alternate score to Robert Clampett’s 1942 animated classic, Falling Hare starring Bugs Bunny. The temperature level goes up and you can imagine Bugs losing his cool by trying to catch the gremlin inside the bomber. The drums, bass, and accordion go into this Twilight Zone-sque yet insane nightmare that might keep you going near the end as Alec creates this tension-like scenario throughout the end as Bugs begins to panic near the end of the short.

I have now listened to The Opposite at least 5 to 10 times. And let me just say that this here is an incredible release from Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores. The Opposite has this creative intensity that can make your skin crawl even more. Mysterious, scary, and hypnotic, The Opposite is an album that will make you search for more clues and pieces of the puzzle to find out what will happen next.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sanguine Hum - Now We Have Power

It’s been two years since I’ve listened to Sanguine Hum’s music. And they’ve never let me down. Since I discovered their sound thanks to Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room, they always would come up with something fantastic from the essence of experimental, progressive and alternative rock sounds in their music. This year, on the Bad Elephant label, they’ve released their new album, Now We Have Power which continues the story of Don from the 2015 album, Now We Have Light.

Now this review is going to be filled with some spoilers. So if you haven’t listened to Don’s story on those two albums, you might want to leave the blog……….now. Okay, now we are back (Anyway to the Bad Elephant label, how’s the weather outside?) So now onto the story. After Don finds this time bubble in his Drastic Attic, he goes backwards nearly 50 years ago as he is seen by 100,000 people as the news helicopters hover over him and he is completely aghast on where he was.

The music tells his story. You can imagine yourself being in Don’s shoes to realize that this isn’t just a dream, but reality coming to life. Sanguine Hum go beyond the levels and take you through the conclusion of his story. And bringing original drummer Paul Mallyon as a special guest to conclude the adventures, makes Don’s story coming full circle. So here we go on the review.

Speak to Us is this crossover between Gentle Giant and Rush’s Permanent Waves-era. Matt Baber himself takes his medieval melodies on his keyboard to follow suit by Wonks and Waissman as they enter this psychedelic corridor before heading back into some odd time changes as Baber takes over the controls to reach the soaring skies with some incredible synths.

Pen! Paper! Pen! Paper! Winks and Baber create the tension as Don himself begins to shout those words for Nurse Millie by giving him both the pen and a piece of tissue to write something. Sanguine show you the opened doors on what is really happening to the characterization of this man’s attempt to take his life by raising the levels up while Flying Bridge is Baber’s ‘80s atmospheric Tangerine Dream-like voyages as Don’s witness by chatting with this strange creature before the noise becomes static near the end.

Wonks narration on the acoustic ballad, Quiet Rejoicing gives now that Don has lost his memory due to amnesia, helps brings some of the puzzle pieces together as the hearts are lifted for a clear awakening. The moment you listen to Speech Day, you begin to realize that Don is about to deliver one of the most awkward speeches that is the mother lode.

Like something straight out of Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi classic, The Man Who Fell to Earth, the music begins to rise more and more as he begins to speak. Once he begins his speech, the audience begins to realize that it doesn’t make sense as he’s saying gibberish and the other half want to pummel him one way or another. The tension in Tall Tale is where all hell begins to break loose.

Joff’s guitar sounds like a harder crunch. And he knows that through his instrument that Don himself can’t come back from the mess that he created and now his followers turn his back on him. Now We Have Power is a bittersweet story to Don’s story. One of these days I hope Sanguine Hum turns his story into either as a graphic novel or a 2D animated movie and bring it to life. Worth exploring? Yes.

Tone Masseve - Amp L'etude

Now this took me a little bit of a surprise for me listening to an artist name Tone Masseve. He had been playing guitar since he was six years old. Not only he was listening to the sounds of Classical music, but in the footsteps of guitarists including Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Robert Fripp, and early Eric Clapton.

The debut album released this year entitled, Amp L’etude took more than 20 years to complete. The collaboration between him and Jethro Tull’s drummer Doane Perry, is a very interesting combination, but when I was listening to the debut, it is not only bringing his music to life, but the vision and ideas that Tone brought to the table.

He tips his hat through the classical interpretations in the inspirations that it took from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, and Procol Harum to name a few. And it makes it something very special to go with it. Tone recorded his guitar parts that took two years to record. Now unfortunately in 1997, while Amp Letude was still in the works, Tone had pneumonia and passed away on November 27th.

Back in 2016, a group of musicians have come together to complete Tone’s vision for Amp Letude. Not only Doane Perry is involved, but Bassist “Willy” Sam Pell, percussionist Garry Kvistad, a Choir, and El Hectro Plait on Drums that he did on Track 7 (Prelude #4 (To The Grave)). For me listening to Tone’s debut, I could feel his presence throughout the entire album from start to finish.

And the musicians on here are bringing Masseve’s creation to life and releasing it and knowing he would have been very thrilled to know that Amp L’etude has finally been unleashed. And the fires are still burning and it will never ever burn out for Tone Masseve. The Moonlight Sonata (On the Hill of the Skull) you can hear the combination between Beethoven and Satriani, creates a darker beauty as Tone combines his two guitars into one as he plays the sonata and Joe’s virtuostic playing to show his appreciation.

With the styles of Schubert and the Beatles on Maria (She’s So) Ave, it brings together those essences to life as the choir honors the fab four’s legacy and the sounds bringing up to the ascending heavens by showing gratitude and warmth farewells to say goodbye to your loved ones. On Prelude #6 (It Tolls For Thee), there are some aspects between Queen’s second album and a little of Purson’s The Circle and the Blue Door-era on the track called Rocking Horse. It's almost as if the lullaby has become this mournful howling at the moors with no turning back.

The opener, Aire on a G String (A Whiter Shade) are Tone’s tip of the hat to both Bach and Procol Harum. He and Doane’s drums take you outside of the church and into a warm-like resurrection for some new chapters that will await you. Perhaps one of my favorite tracks on Amp L’etude is The Sunken Cathedral (Turns the Tide Gently, Gently Away).

I can imagine both Brian May and the late great Jimi Hendrix are in awe of Tone’s creativity of his playing by opening more of the floodgates as he is now the new captain of the ship to search for more hidden treasures that have been sunken over millions and millions of years ago. And now he’s bringing it to life. There are some incredible moments on here between the bells tolling for the arrival of this Cathedral to see for the first time and being in awe of the legendary castle and the tribal percussion's that make it come up to the surface.

This is now my second time listening to Amp L’etude. I have to say this, I was really impressed of Tone’s brilliance of what he has done to combine classical music and progressive and virtuoso music into one. As I’ve mentioned before earlier, if he were now, I think he would really appreciate and be thrilled to hear his debut album come to life for 2018.