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Friday, April 24, 2020

David Sancious - Eyes Wide Open

David Sancious has made a name for himself as one of the original members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. But he’s more than just working with Bruce himself. He’s also worked and toured with legendary artists including Stanley Clarke, France Gall, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Jack Bruce, Jon Anderson, and Eric Clapton to name a few.

This year, Sancious has released a new album entitled Eyes Wide Open. Clocking in at 34 minutes, this is David showing us the landscape on what has America become. And you as a listener, whether you agree with him or not, David is showing them that there is a dark side underneath the homemade crust of Apple Pie that isn’t pretty. And believe me, it is a place that you do not want to go near.

And to be allowed to feature musicians that include Vinnie Colaiuta (Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and Tori Amos), Living Colour’s Will Calhoun, and Prince alumni Michael Bland on drums, it’s quite a combination to see these amazing group of people lending David a helping hand. Now before I went ahead and listened to his new album, I had to go back and listen to his previous albums he did between 1975 and 1976.

Both Forest of Feelings and Transformation (The Speed of Love), reissued by Esoteric Recordings in 2014, were kind of like an introduction for me to discover what I was missing behind those rare and unseen treasures that hadn’t been used for a long, long time. Listening to those two albums was showing Sancious to go beyond the Springsteen sound and into the worlds of; Fusion, Soul, Ambient, Classical, Flamenco, and Progressive rock rolled into one big giant burrito.

He took those different styles of music and he put them together by creating this visual style of format on how the pieces should be written and they should be brought to life as if the paintings of the Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci was set to this mind-blowing score. Now onto Eyes Wide Open. As I’ve mentioned earlier, David is taking the listener through the dystopian world of the new America.

However, there is David’s return to the roots of Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion, and Soul as if he’s bringing it to life again with a little touch of a gospel groove thrown into the vocals at times. When you listen to Urban Psalm #3, you can hear the sound of news reporter tackling the issues of racial tension, protesters chanting in the streets, and the voice of Martin Luther King Jr, lifting their spirits to keep fighting the good fight.

The drums, bass, and organ sets up this battle for the prayer on peace for a new tomorrow. And it is only just the beginning. Flip It is David’s answer to Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters-era. He channels the riffs on the opening sequence to Chameleon with a Pastorius and Bluesy tone. But adding the fanfare along with the stop-and-go sections in there, Sancious has it down to a “T”.

And you can tell that he’s having a ball making this track brought to life by bringing down the funk. The opening title-track takes you into the heart of the battle between the peaceful protesters and the police fighting to bring the tension to a halt. Sancious is telling the listener to keep their eyes open on what is happening behind you and be on the look-out for something dangerous that they might throw at you.

The music itself adds the tension between who can you trust on whether they’re telling the truth or they’re wearing a happy-go-lucky mask to reveal their dark secrets on what they’re doing. And Sancious gives his honest idea of what is happening all around the globe.

War in Heaven is this droning yet dooming atmosphere between the drum crescendo’s and then going up to the Heaven’s with a sax keyboard improvisation. Once the pearly gates are closed behind you, turns out that the gods and the political masterminds are butting heads with some heated confrontations than ever before.

Eyes Wide Open is Sancious’ welcoming return to the doors of real good music. It shows that he’s come a long way and there’s not a single stop sign for him. It was quite new to me to discover his music along with his new album. So who knows what David Sancious will think of next, but Eyes Wide Open shows that he is finally coming full circle.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kevin Kastning & Sandor Szabo - Nograd

It’s been a good while since I’ve listened to Kevin Kastning’s music for a long yet overdue time. Well it’s time for me to get back on the horse to ride again to see what I was missing from the man himself. And this time his tenth collaboration with guitarist Sandor Szabo with the release of their new album entitled Nograd on the Greydisc label, shows that he and Sandor have never disappointed me.

Recorded last year in September at the Evangelikus Templom in Nograd, Hungary for one day on September 22nd, Kevin and Sandor return to their intensive roots once more. Between Kastning’s 12-string extended and 12-string alto guitars along with Szabo’s classical and 16-string guitar, you can never tell who is going to roll the dice and take a turn to decide who will win the race.

There are 14 pieces on this album that Kevin and Sandor composed from scratch. They wanted to extend the wider arrangements that go beyond the classical, experimental, neo-classical, and flamenco realms. But adding a little twist of lemon, you can never tell what the duo would think of next.

Adding the tension by creating these dangerous puzzle maps for the listener to walk through step by step, there are times that they combined the elements of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lubos Fiser, Zdenek Liska, Gyorgy Ligeti, King Crimson, and Ottmar Liebert rolled into one. And some of these compositions can make you walk through the paintings of Jackson Pollock or walk through these spiral staircases that can take you into unknown locations.

Nograd is really a big challenge for me. And I always like to see bands and artists like Kevin 
Kastning always taking those risks by pushing the envelope even more. Now it’s been five years since hearing his album Otherworld back in 2015, again as I’ve mentioned earlier, Kastning has never, ever disappointed me. And now it is time to pull both the curtains back and explore the world of Kevin Kastning and Sandor Szabo’s Nograd.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet feat. Magic Malik - Frame & Curiosity

I had no idea what to say about this next group that suddenly landed on my lap. This 11 piece band led by Skopje pianist and Bosnian drummer, Vladimir Nikolov and Srdjan Ivanovic, the Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet are this large ensemble band that can break all the rules by influencing the sounds of Balkan music and challenging their listeners to an intellectual level.

Joining on their latest release entitle Frame & Curiosity is flautist Malik Mezzadri (Magic Malik) who brings this whole new level that is beyond the Jazz genre. Released on the Coolabel from France and distributed by MoonJune Records, Frame & Curiosity gives it a real jolt of the Jazz and Balkan genre like you’ve never heard it before.

Across the Threshold sees Vladimir the opportunity to channel Wynton Kelly’s piano work as they head deeper into the Kind of Blue-era as Clerc’s accordion, Sedan’s drum beats, and the wind instruments go into a laid-back section that is kind of romantic at times. He then goes upwards into this ballet sequence by rising the tables up in various forms that capture this glowing sphere that is ready to shine.

Anonymous is Mihails’ mid-fast walking bass line that gives him a chance to lay down the grooves while Noe, Vladimir, and Srdan go into a fusion state. And it gives Noe to go into an intensive vibe throughout his accordion before the screeching sounds of Malik’s flute. It becomes this unexpected twist that’s like opening up the heart of Jazz that needed to be open and it becomes this intensive magical power the Undectet have unleashed its true form.

Timbre and Prayer sounded like it was recorded in the streets of Paris set in Black & White during the mid-to-late 1950s as if Wes Montgomery had written this as an orchestral piece for his ensemble. The louder the horn section goes, the more powerful that it hits your heart as it tugs towards you on this tight edge.

Sade Sati sees Mihail’s double bass channeling the late Holger Czukay’s bass riff intro of CAN’s Halleluwah as the Gershwin soundscapes become this view of what people do across the streets of New York. And what they do for a living as Malik’s flute improvisation, becomes this very exciting sequence by walking from 42nd street to Madison Avenue. It shows that not only that the 11-piece band work well as a team, but having each other’s back.

Frame & Curiosity took me about three listens. And I have to say this, the Nikolov-Ivanovic Undectet and Magic Malik have taken my response to show my stamp of approval. They know how to bring both of the genres together. As I’ve mentioned earlier in my review, they broke all the rules by taking it a step further. I hope to hear more from them in the next years to come in the roaring ‘20s.

Kanaan - Double Sun

Kanaan is a power trio from Norway that combines the aspects of psychedelia, fuzz tones, atmospheric noises, and post-jazz rock to the core. They alongside other Norway bands including; White Willow, Ring Van Mobius, Gazpacho, and Motorpsycho to name a few, bring the aspects for a spaced-out adventure that you are about to embark on. This year, they’ve unleashed their new album entitled, Double Sun on the El Paraiso record label.

It’s their follow up to their 2018 debut, Windborne. And also a recording session album they did with Casua Sui guitarist Jonas Munk at his studio for a session they did entitle Odense Sessions. Onto the new album, Double Sun. Eskid Myrvoll, Ask Vatn Strom, and Ingvald Andre Vassbo, have stepped up to the plate that is a journey beyond time and space. And believe me, there’s so much sauce they’ve cooked up for a delicious hot and spicy meal.

From the moment you listen to the opening track of Worlds Together, they honor the E minor and A major chord section of Pink Floyd’s Breathe from Dark Side of the Moon while honoring Rosalie Cunningham’s band Purson during the sessions for The Circle and the Blue Door. You can imagine both the band and the artist are in awe to see this trio circling towards the Milky Way.

Clocking in at 12 minutes and 20 seconds, Mountain hurtles the listener through the cosmos as Kanaan into a deep-diving world of Space Madness! You have Eskild’s fuzzy bass sounds going into this deep end of the pool as Ask’s guitar follows him in pursuit with the major and minor improvisations while rising upwards and downwards to the groove.

Ask does his Manuel Gottsching-sque sounds at times, but with an Amon Duul twist channeling the Yeti sessions and crossing over the first two Ash Ra Tempel albums while Worlds Apart becomes this intensive twist of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s race to the finish line. Kanaan gives Ask some dooming guitar structures as Ingvald channels the drumming styles between Bill Bruford and Keith Moon with some rapid firing on his drum kit.

The two-part closer of the title track goes from this Avant-funk swirl as the channel the late great Segre Gainsbourg as if he had recorded this during the session of his classic, Histoire de Melody Nelson with some spaced out scenarios while the second part that features Bjorn Klakegg, delving into some post-punk territory that is a speeding adventure back home to the planet Earth.

This journey is becoming a Space Ritual with some intensive rhythm that makes it worth the ride home. Capturing the essence of Michael Rother’s guitar section from Hero on NEU’s third release of NEU! 75 and Hawkwind’s Spirit of the Age, Kanaan makes it back home safe and sound.

Double Sun is the trip that you’ve been waiting for from Kanaan. The trio have upped their game to get the controls set for the heart of the sun. Now while I’m new to the band’s music, their latest release shows that they’ve done one helluva job. And I hope they continue to do more in the roaring ‘20s.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Railroad Therapy - Railroad Therapy

How would I describe this? Jazz? Fusion? Ambient? Or all of the above? Well if the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. From the outskirts of Indonesia comes a band called, Railroad Therapy. Their music is like a walk through this mystical cave filled with surreal beauty that the quartet have created with their own bare hands. And for me, I had no idea what to expect when I put my earphones on to come across this wonderful structure.

The band considers Adi Wijaya of I Know You Well Miss Clara on Keyboards, Dhimas Baruna on Bass Guitar, Jay Elizando on Sax, and Andar Prabowo on drums. The four of the band members are an amazing match, perfect combination, and a perfect team. And the four highlights that are on here, shows how much they work well together to create some strange mythical powers.

With the fusion-swing in toe, Monkey sees Adi, Andar, and Dhimas go into this walk across the pond by channeling an electronic take of Duke Ellington teaming up with not just Dizzy Gillepsie, but working with the Moving Pictures-era of Rush to create that intensive work out on the Night in Tunisia exercise. But then Adi lends Andar’s percussion a helping hand on Lost.

Here, he takes the listener on a walk towards those long hot summer afternoons into the forest by climbing upwards into these exotic locations that are beyond its true beauty while Andar goes into this drum rolling effect on Reflection. They walk us through some crazy time signatures from the channeling effects of Crimson and into a strange Gershwin concerto.

It is like a ramming speed sequence in the composition. Like walking through New York’s own Giant Endless Staircase nonstop, Adi almost plays it like a crazy mad scientist of a conductor as he lends the band members a chance to follow him in hot pursuit. And then you get to Nocturne which is Railroad Therapy’s tip of the hat to Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom.

At first when you hear Ary Janoe channeling the Wyatting structure, it goes into these ambient voyages of the sounds of airport announcements coming from the speakers to set up the Eno-sque effect that Adi brings to the table with some surreal atmospheres that is completely relaxed. For me, this was a real challenge listening to Railroad Therapy’s self-titled debut that came out last year.

It took me a few listens on whether I was going to accept it or not, and I liked it. It was beyond SimakDialog, I Know You Well Miss Clara, Dwiki Dharmawan, Dewa Budjana, and Ligro. But Railroad Therapy was worth the trip to explore from beginning, middle, and end. I can’t wait to see what the band will think of next in the roaring ‘20s. Because I can imagine this is only just the beginning.