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Friday, May 21, 2021

Srdjan Ivanovic's Blazin' Quartet - Sleeping Beauty


Led by Bosnian born and French based drummer, composer, educator, and arranger Srdjan Ivanovic and his Blazin’ Quartet, they have taken my ears to a whole new level of respect on how much the sounds of beauty, romantic, and poetic sights that is on the band’s fourth studio album from the MoonJune label, Sleeping Beauty. Recorded nearly two years ago for two days in November at Studio Aeronef in Paris, Sleeping Beauty is Ivanovic’s story brought to life.

Alongside Srdjvan’s drumming and piano work, the band considers; Andreas Polyzogopoulos on Trumpet, Federico Casagrande on Guitar, Mihail Ivanov on Upright Bass, and special guest flautist Magic Malik. Listening to this album, is like looking through your old scrapbook and remembering the good and rough times that your families from the past and present had to struggle to make it to survive and not giving up.

And the five centerpieces on here, gives you some insight on how damn good they really are. The tribute to the late great film composer Ennio Morricone fills the spaces between honor and legacy. Listening to The Man with the Harmonica which is something straight out the Italian Spaghetti Western 1968 classic, Once Upon a Time in the West, it's transformed into a dooming finale.

You hear Federico channeling these Tony Iommi-sque guitar structures that he had done on Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan at the end by capturing some of those blistering hot moments for the final showdown on who is going to be the last man standing with some mariachi fanfare trumpets done by Andreas himself.

From the 1970 movie by filmmaker Giluliano Montaldo starring Richard Johnson and Franco Nero which deals a German deserter execution in a Canadian-run P.O.W. camp in Amsterdam on May 13th, 1945, A L’aube du Cinquieme Jour (Gott Mit Uns) is a mournful composition for both Federico and Andreas setting the sun-rising sequence over the horizon as Casagrande makes his guitar sound like the string section while Mihail and Sedjan follow his passageways to bring some sort of peace with these Wes Montgomery textures.

The title-track and its solo guitar features the quartet going into these dark alleyways between the heart of Italy and Paris. With a romantic dance thrown in, Andreas’ trumpet cries out into the nightly sky as Srd’s drumming goes into this chaotic mode as he gives Federico and Andreas into the reverbing crescendo.

But then Federico comes back for the reprising guitar solo and waking the princess up from a deep, deep sleep. As you can imagine she had slept for a long time for nearly 200 years, you can imagine some of those jazz chord improvisations that he throws in, hopefully to have new up-and-coming students trying to tackle one of his compositions in the near future.

Rue Des Balkans is their nod to Watermelon Man from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. Continuing where he left off with Malik’s flute taking the high ground, Srdjan gives him a whole amount of ammunition to give the quartet an insane tango-like finale to knock the doors down with a giant battering ram. But it’s Andreas which takes Srdjan moving from the drums to the piano as he plays some of those minor chord that I can believe they are both polyphonic and diminished sequences to give Andreas a chance to be free once again with a lukewarm smoky atmosphere.

Sleeping Beauty is the blooming flower that is ready to burst open. And from the moment you put this album on, it is something deliciously good that the Srdjan Ivanovic Blazin’ Quartet have unleashed out of MoonJune’s kitchen with a delicious Roma!



Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mythopoeic Mind - Mythology

 

I don’t know how long since I had listened to Panzerpappa for, but saxophonist Steinar Børve who is also a founding member of the group, wanted to go beyond the Progressive Rock genre with his Symphonic project, Mythopoeic Mind. The genesis behind this new album Mythopoetry, goes back 22 years ago.

Steinar used music and stories from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, Lord of the Rings in Songs from the Red Book of Westmarch which he performed at the second Nordic Tolkien Festival. It also featured Trond Gjellum on drums the pair forming Panzerpappa with Knut Tore Abrahamsen and Jorgen Sklulstad the following year.

For his solo release, Steinar wanted to put aside the RIO influences of Panzerpappa and try more story-based ideas. This year with Mythopoetry, he brought that project to life. Featuring in Mythopoeic Mind are; Gentle Knife’s Pal Selsjord Bjørseth on keyboards and trumpet, Pymlico’s Arild Brøter on Drums, Kjetil Laumann of ‘90s Avant-Metal Band Dodsvek, and Glutton & Artiofredag’s Bassist Ola Mile Bruland, and all of the members from Panzerpappa.

The recordings took place last year from various locations from January to May and mixed by Trond at Rislum Studios from May to July as White Willow’s own Jacob Holm-Lupo did the mastering in July that same year. Released on the Apollon label, Mythopoetry is like a journey between the land and the myths and legends from the Tolkien stories with some mind-blowing highlights that would keep you guessing until the end.

The trippy sounds of sax, guitar, and keyboard work on Prey shows the listener some of these mysterious sequences Bjorseth sets sail on his framework. Kjetil handles a cool reverb effects on his vocal arrangements. Steinar had listened to some of the compositions that Van Der Graaf Generator wrote as he embarks with David Jackson’s sax as Brøter’s drums and Anders Krabberød’s chapman stick going into a walking up and down sequences from the spiral staircases on Mount Doom.

With cowbell in one hand, Mythopoeic Mind understand the history of the RPI (Rock Progresivo Italiano) genre very well. And it gets very dark from the electric piano as they head backwards as they head back into the caves and discover this flaming fire that is ascending down the mountain tops.

Sailor’s Disguise clocks in at 13 minutes and 40 seconds. You can hear the sound of these wind-generated waves from the ocean and the echoing call from Bjørseth. It then begins to show that there is some sign of dry land in the horizon’s before Ktjetil’s vocals, and Jarle’s acoustic waltz sets up the notion that the anchor is about to drop at any moment for some time signatures that can be quite the challenge. Ola’s bass sets sail to search for dry land throughout the storms that makes it intense and rough.

This here was a very interesting album that almost didn’t grab me at first. But after a few listens, it was worth the wait to hear what Steinar had come up with. And I hope that he continues to do more adventures with Mythopoeic Mind in the roaring '20s.




Monday, May 17, 2021

Be-Bop Deluxe - Axe Victim (Super Deluxe Edition)

You came to watch the band/to see us play our parts/We hoped you’d lend an ear/You hope we dress like tarts.” The opening lines of the title-track gives us an insight of the introduction of Bill Nelson’s lyrical structurers on having the girls screaming their hearts out with their make-up and performing the hell out of either at the Lyceum or at Newcastle City Hall to a grand slam. That and this incredible 3-CD/1-DVD box set done by the good people at Esoteric Recordings of Be-Bop Deluxe’s Axe Victim which was reissued last year, showcases that it’s time to give the band the proper recognition it deserves.

Championed by Julian Cope in his August 2004 album of the month from his Head Heritage website as he describes it as a “conundrum at the time, and still today mystifies almost everyone. Here was a guitar hero guy from up north on his first LP presumptuous/naïve enough to be quoting Cocteau in untranslated French.” Originally released on the Harvest label which was home to Pink Floyd, The Greatest Show on Earth, Third Ear Band, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Deep Purple, Be-Bop Deluxe were sort of the odd-ball that belonged to the label.

You have these lyrical textures delving not just into the Bowie-sque vibes, but more of a crossover between Ray Davies and Paul Jones’ Crucifix in a Horseshoe-era. And with an amazing stereo and 5.1 mix done by Stephen W. Tayler who had done the remixes for the previous Be-Bop albums including Futurama, Drastic Plastic, Modern Music, and one of my favorites, Sunburst Finish. Axe Victim as I’ve mentioned earlier, is the recognition it is time to bow down over.

With the crossover vibes between Grand Funk Railroad and Boston’s Tom Schulz on the heavy riffs that Nelson does on Third Floor Heaven, he describes the story of a shy person falling in love a middle-age woman on the third floor of Heaven’s hotel, who doesn’t take shit from anybody and will stand up to this person who had been pushed around and bullied.

Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus is Bill’s answer to the fantasy take of Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes, but taking an intensive midsection approach with some heavy acoustic guitars, backing vocals with a Beatle-sque vibe, soaring arrangements, and walking bass touches followed by a virtuosic guitar finale that ends in feedback. When you listen to Rocket Cathedrals which sounds amazing in Tayler’s remix, you can almost imagine Bill’s nod to Delia Derbyshire for a couple of seconds.

But then it’s a ‘50s adventure into the unknown of space and time with some proto-punk vibes as Robert Bryan takes centerstage on the sixth track. He just takes it up a notch as Bill gives him a chance to take the limelight on here. Between Bill and Ian Parkin, it’s a duel between the two guitarists as they make it to the finish line as the reminiscing of childhood in post-world war II baby boom of a mournful yet touching sweetness to look back with love and passion for the Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape and leaving very early morning for the acoustic singer-songwriter composition for the Jets at Dawn.

No Trains to Heaven become this big giant party for Be-Bop Deluxe to have a big celebration in the afterlife with some heavy guitar lines and a fast-driven sequence that would make you pop the champagnes and knowing that the pain and suffering they went through down below, is free from all of the badness that’s going on of the planet Earth.

Now onto the second and third discs. The second disc is Tayler’s new stereo mixes of the debut album which I really got a kick out of. Taken from the original multi-track tapes, Stephen takes a whole new approach to make sure that Be-Bop’s debut is giving the full shaft of light brought to the surface with some incredible instruments that come into the forefront where he brings up parts of the vocals and instruments to make sure they come in at the right moment.

But there is a moment where you hear a spoken word version of the song Night Creatures. Listening to this mellowing Floyd-like spacey approach, Bill is speaking through the minds of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. The third and final disc are two performances that the band did for the late great John Peel who was a champion of the band and an audition recording for the Decca label in the winter of 1973. Two from recordings include a New York Dolls-like rocker Bluesy Ruby and the throbbing Halloween touch of Dracula’s neck for blood on I’ll Be Your Vampire

The super deluxe edition contains a 68-page booklet with liner notes by Bill Nelson about the making of the debut album, unseen photographs, postcards, and a Record Store poster. This was quite the trip to revisit the album again I haven’t heard in a long, long time. So it’s time to put on your platform boots and play your guitar to be a part of Be-Bop Deluxe’s Axe Victim.



Sunday, May 9, 2021

Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari - The First Realm

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve listened to Kevin’s music recently. Maybe a few years or more. I’m not sure. So it’s time for to delve my toes into the water to see what I had been missing. While we’re living in tricky times since everything came to a screeching halt in March of last year when both COVID-19 and the Pandemic hit, Kastning has always given us a chance to lift our spirits.

His collaboration with Iranian clarinet player Soheil Peyghambari are brought together with the release on the Greydisc label, The First Realm. This album takes you into the smoky, heavy evenings around midnight that can make your skin crawl. Kevin and Soheil can take the listener into these deep, dark atmospheres that can send chills down your spine.

This here is a perfect combination. Between Kevin’s 36-string double contraguitar, 17-string hybrid classical guitar, and Peyghambari’s Bass and B-flat clarinet is like thunder and lightning that would hit at the right moment. When you listen to The First Realm you can almost feel a pin drop as Soheil plays his clarinet by channeling the late Lol Coxhill and some of the arrangements that David Bedford would have written for him.

It’s almost going into the dark secrets that Alice had left behind during her time in Wonderland and thru the Looking glass, but it is the nightmarish quality of going into the heavy forests. And it is a place that you do not want to go near. If you do, it can bring out these horrifying visions. But Kevin and Soheil are here to take the listener into that area to help them confront their demons once and for all.

This was another challenge for Kevin to tackle. And with The First Realm, it is part middle-eastern, free-jazz, neo-classical, and a movie inside our heads. I hope that he continues to give us more brainstorming ideas in the roaring ‘20s and hopefully once everything is back to normal, we will one day see him perform again in front of a live audience.