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Monday, July 26, 2021

Dewa Budjana - Naurora


It’s been three years since Dewa Budjana has made another album after the release of Mahadini. He’s been quite the busy man. Collaborating with Tohpati, Tony Levin, Jack DeJohnette, and Peter Erskine, he has shown no sign of stopping to bring his spiritual textures to life. With the release of Naurora, he’s bringing the circle in full.

Released on the Mehsada label from Indonesia on the MoonJune label internationally, the album was recorded remotely during the Pandemic. Naurora takes you away from the craziness of the outside world into the unknown. With help from Simon Phillips, Joey Alexander, Jimmy Johnson, Gary Husband, and Carlitos Del Puerto, they’re just band members, but a band of brothers lending Dewa a helping hand to bring his latest creation to life.

The opening title-track features Imee Ooi’s vocalizations to bring the curtains to rise with snarling guitar sections. Featuring Goblin-sque atmospheres with its Epic sounding vibrations, it becomes a duel between Dewa and Mateus Asato before they go into an exhilarating bossa-nova metallic groove! As Puerto’s bass sets in the grooves, Joey takes center stage by laying down some piano vibrations of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Swarna Jigga has these spiral staircasing improvisation as Dewa and Mateus share a duel by duking it out a Zappa-sque midsection. Soaring arrangements thanks to Philips’ helicopter like drum work, the landscaping textures go for some time changing melodies while walking towards these mystical forests to see what the future will have in store for us on Kmalasana.

Sliding acoustic double-tracking guitars from Dewa, we as listeners are waiting for the sun to shine as he turns this composition into crossover combination of ambient electrical rain power to cry out in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm. When you listen to Sabana Shanti, at first, Dewa tips his hat for a brief second to Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel.

But then, McCandless’ sax gives an insight of a spectacular beauty while Dewa and Dave Weckl go for a samba segment. It gives Paul a chance to relieve the stress that people are going throughout the pandemic before Joey returns for another Gershwin showdown by sending us into the clear blue sky.

Blue Mansion closes the album with an ominous Indian tribe. With its Magma-like riffs, it becomes a celebration before Husband lays down some Mars Volta-like grooves as Carlito’s upright bass becomes a cat-and-mouse chase.

Naurora is Dewa’s message for a chance of relaxation. While everything came to a screeching halt last year in March, this album is definitely a sign of hope. It makes us go through the tricky times during the pandemic that would make you want to dance, punch, and sooth yourself throughout the situations that we're going through.



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Molesome - Are You There?

 

Whenever Roth-Handle Studios cooks up something strange inside their laboratories, you know that Dr. Mattias Olsson’s experiments are out there when it comes to Molesome. He’s very much like a mad scientist by creating more strange inventions that is waiting to be unleashed. And he’s pretty much done that with the latest release, Are You There?

Listening to this album is like going through the structures of Hardcore Devo, Post-Punk, Chamber Music, Tori Amos, Bill Fay, The Faust Tapes, The Residents, and the independent music production library, De Wolfe Music. Mattias has followed Zappa’s advice by throwing the rule book into the fire. While we might abide by them, it doesn’t mean we have to follow them. For Mattias, he broke the rules, one by one.

Sometimes the grooves are trapped in this dystopian house that is trapped between the 1950s and the futuristic ‘70s. For Olsson, it’s almost that he had written the alternate score for the German Sci-Fi miniseries from Fassbinder’s 1973 classic, World on a Wire. You have the surreal Cinevox Italian Psych lounge take of Long Island, Booji Boy returning to the post-apocalyptic sequel from Tunnel of Love with Naturales while Mattias channels the Faerie Symphony-era from Tom Newman on Vernon.

Meanwhile Tanaka is speaking through the intercom in the styles of Laurie Anderson between Spacestation Funeral and Spirits before Molesome raises the roof on Tim (Original Soundtrack). And then, the nod to Delia Derbyshire flows in the string quartet in the melodic textures of Ziwzih Ziwih (OO-OO-OO) on Blues Soaked Hope before the string section takes us to our home planet with our Boxes.

Molesome’s latest release this year may not be everyone’s cup of Joe, but Olsson is always opening doors to see what the 22nd century might be waiting for us. Challenging and insanely beautiful, Olsson is quite the mad scientist that we really need for many years to come in the near future.



Saturday, June 26, 2021

Quel Che Disse il Tuono - il Velo Dei Riflessi

Quel Che Disse il Tuono are an Italian progressive rock quartet that considers members of Unreal City and Cellar Noise. Last year, they released their debut album on the AMS label entitled, il Velo Dei Riflessi. Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poetry The Wasteland which was originally published in 1922, the poem tackles themes on religion. Not only that, but how the modern world itself is not impacted from the landscape as it was before.

Francesca Zanetta, Roberto “Berna” Bernasconi, Niccolo Gallani, and Alessio Del Ben are keeping the spirit of the Rock Progressivo Italano genre alive. You can hear aspects of Camel, il Paese dei Balocchi, Celeste, La Coscienza Di Zeno, Phideaux, and il Balletto di Bronzo’s YS.

The opening track il Paradigma Dello Specchio, fires up their engines with mellotron, guitar, and flute. By the moments the clouds are parting, we are driving in a deserted highway with the four members channeling the Mirage-era from Camel with its organ fanfare by travelling into the unknown as Zanetta channels the Marquee Moon-sque vibes from Television’s Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine.

As the call-and-response comes crawling out the soil, Figlio Dell‘Uomo is a terrifying nightmare for Zanetta and Gallani adding more fuel to the fire. Featuring some lyrical textures of Jacques Brel’s Port of Amsterdam and My Death, it has some Murple-sque textures for Quel to rescue the penguin to being free from being a sideshow performer and going back to his home land in the North Pole.

Moog snarling monsters coming in to terrorize the city, we are in the battlefields to go into aspects between Van der Graaf Generator and Le Orme as it segues into this post-apocalyptic Twilight Zone atmosphere that Rod Serling had envisioned right before our very eyes.  

Il Bastone e il Serpente goes into The Mars Volta’s territory while Francesca channels her vision of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Bernasconi slaps some funky bass introduction to honor Bootsy Collins as we head into the city with no chance of escaping with some swirling synths and car revving percussion works by Alessio Del Ben.

Zennetta hammers those frets down with unexpected changes before travelling into space and time of Phideaux’s Snowtorch-era while the final duel between good and evil on Loro Sono Me has some of the most intensive battle sequences for the quartet to head out into the battlefield for honor and bravery.

Il Velo Dei Riflessi may not be everyone’s cup of coffee per se, but while this Quel Che Disse il Tuono’s debut, they really done their homework very well during the pandemic while everything came to a screeching halt last year. So I will be on the look-out for this incredible band to see what they will come up with next.

Friday, June 25, 2021

SKE - Insolubilia

It’s been ten years since Paolo “SKE” Botta, best known for his partnership between Yugen and Not a Good Sign has released a follow-up to his 2011 debut 1000 Autunni released on the AltrOck/Fading Records label. It received critical acclaim and then went out-of-print until 2018 when it was reprinted as 1001 Autunni as a double CD set featuring an additional live recording.

Now in 2021, SKE has released a follow-up entitled Insolubilia. Produced by Marcello Marinone, the second album is a return to the melodic waters once more by following in the footsteps of Gryphon, Latte E Miele, Gentle Giant, Present, Wojciech Kilar, Univers Zero, and Le Orme’s Felona E Sorona, Paolo’s follow-up is like a flaming fire that simply won’t burn out.

And to be allowed to have 25 musicians from Stormy Six, Wobbler, Ciccada, Isildurs Bane, Loomings, and Shamblemaths to name a few, they aren’t just band members lending Paolo a helping hand, but a band of brothers working together both as a team, and as a family. Not only have we had the five-part opus of the title-track, but some of the most incredible highlights that SKE has taken their listeners close to the edge.

Opening track Sudo features an intensive organ and synth exercise with melodic horn arrangements. Martino Malacrida’s climatic drum patterns takes us into a tidal-waving climax featuring a spine-tingling folk background done by Tommaso’s mandolin. Insolubilia II has Evangelia Kozoni’s angelic voice soars through the skies as we hear Airport announcements throughout the building ready for another plane flying to another city.

Jacopo’s mallet percussions has some complex time changes while Francesco’s heavy guitar lines go through a RPI (Rock Progressivo Italiano) momentum with an arrangement done in the styles of Van der Graaf Generator. Lo Stagno del Proverbio takes place in the aftermath of a mob riot gone horribly wrong. Luca’s trumpet takes us into the bloody streets by crying out to the gods above the heavenly skies with some fanfare arrangements.

La Nona Onda is a heavy, nightmarish, and brutal composition. Paolo channels the Pawn Hearts period by continuing where A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers had left off. As the snarling textures of the guitar and mellotron lifts-off into outer space, it continues of the reprise for the final battle on Sudo.  

Insolubilia IV at first begins with some 8-bit video game synthesizers, but goes in depth of the RIO movement. Camembert’s Melanie Gerber is giving the sermon inside a gothic cathedral as she channels the vocal styles of North Sea Radio Orchestra’s Sharron Fortnam with some Wyatt-sque vibes as a mournful arrangement.

Scogli 4 feels at times like a Univers Zero composition. Honoring the late great Roger Trigaux with some late ‘60s Giallo themes from Mario Bava’s Blood & Black Lace, the dooming harpsichord, clarinet, and rain pouring effects leaves us on a cliffhanger not knowing when the killer will strike again.

The operatic choirs and horror themes on Insolubilia V comes at you with an eruptive explosion for the shocking finale. Almost making an alternate score to the 1975 unsung gem of Day of the Locust, the bell tolls with some ghostly synths before Fabio’s bass brings the fuse to explode at any second by going into a crossover between the first two albums of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath rolled into one.

Insolubilia is quite an adventure from the complexing stories by Paolo “SKE” Botta. He has a headstrong view on where he wants to take the next logical step by following into a dangerous tightrope. But for Paolo, he’s brought a lot of ammunition and brutal textures to life on his second release during the pandemic.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Gentle Giant - Free Hand


In 2012, during the time at the beginning of promotions for Prog Magazine’s compilation of Prog Rocks! Ray Shulman describes the origins on their seventh studio album Free Hand. “The idea was to kind of get back to our roots. We lost my brother Phil. He left for the fourth album. And so it was an idea to get back to our roots and go back to the kind of writing style in our earlier albums.”

There’s no denying that Free Hand is quite a leap forward for Gentle Giant to take it a step further by having all the creativity they had done. From the swirling label of the Vertigo label to signing with Chrysalis Records, Free Hand was also one of their most successful releases. Reaching the top 50 in the Billboard album charts, this shows how much they have come a long way.

Now in a new reissue from the Alucard label and remixed by Steven Wilson who had done their previous work including Octopus, The Power and the Glory, and the Three Piece Suite, it is time to take a trip down memory lane by focusing on why this band are deserving more recognition and were often under the radar in the Progressive Rock genre.

From the moment you listen to groovy introduction of Just The Same you feel the synthesizer solo work done by Kerry Minnear taking it a step further by channeling his Herbie Hancock approach before the vibrations of the clapping rhythm going back and forth, it is quite a swinging tune that Derek sings in that style as if it was returning to the 1930s of vaudeville and a bit of Leonard Bernstein to kick things off.

On Reflection starts with the introduction of the vocals going back and forth between Ray, Derek, Gary, and Kerry going into this complicated approach on the acapella sequence as if they were returning to their Octopus-era before the melodic piano, glockenspiel, and vibraphones done by Kerry, gives some insight to honor the grand wazoo himself, Frank Zappa.

The first two minutes gives you an insight on a trip to the medieval period for Kerry reflecting the good memories of school friends, and the best parts of your child hood as if Minnear himself has become a multiplicity version of himself that Wilson goes for the jugular to bring the two versions of Kerry singing a duet before the heavier rocking approach done by Gary and Ray go into a duel with his keyboards.

The title-track becomes a cat-and-mouse introduction between Kerry laddering effect and Ray’s climbing upwards and downwards on his bass before it transforms a dueling clavinet battle to be free from the torture and learning how to fight back once and for all. I can tell throughout on the new mixes on the third composition shows the guitars, drums, and bass are really cooking as it goes into a hot boiling temperature by giving Gentle Giant’s way of cooking, a hot and spicy flavor with some renaissance-like twists for the lemon that is pouring into the soup!

Time To Kill features I believe the first video game with the sound effects of Atari’s PONG before the sinister nightmares of the pounding piano, thunderous drums and guitars setting up the crime scene on what just happened. Derek is our detective lending our help with his Mundy partner on foot, seeing where the criminal has left some clues and mysteries to solve the case by bringing the killer with some complexing justice in an operatic approach. As Gary brings some of the most brutal arrangements into the forefront, Weathers and Minnear make their instruments sound like a gun battle between the police and the criminal in a final showdown.

His Last Voyage gives Steven a chance to have Kerry come into the forefront in his mixing. With a bit of the reverbing effects, it is a journey into the man’s life as he goes on his last journey into finding his inner self. He and Ray blend well in this mournful waltz-like sequence, knowing that there’s no turning back once he leaves his country to one day find peace with some unexpected changes throughout Gary and John’s motif throughout the song.

And then it becomes a Miles David-sque ending for the band to come out swinging with a Kind of Blue finale channeling the introduction of All Blues. Gary knows how to nail those wah-wah bluesy effects by nailing the hammers down as he makes his guitar cry out to the gods at the end as it becomes a climatic finale with a fanfare vibration.

Talybont. Now this is where the medieval vibrations come into the center. Channeling the styles of Gryphon’s Red Queen to Gryphon Three, Gentle Giant haven’t forgotten their renaissance roots from their first two albums as it comes out swinging. Between Clavinet, recorder, and violin goes from medieval, classical, and heavy rocking vibrations that gives the band a lot of team work.

Mobile is a nod to the Celtic Rock influences that has a Folk-Rock arrangement. You can imagine Derek is dancing the jig town to town. With a nod to Steeleye Span and Horslips, they have a way to show respect to the genre by taking it a whole new level of moving forwards into the future.

Steven’s mixes on this album are quite intriguing. I loved how he would bring the instruments and vocals through various locations on the EQ by honoring the band’s legacy. There will be a dividing line in the sand on whether they will accept Steven’s new mix on the album or not, but here, Free Hand is the real deal.



Sunday, June 6, 2021

A Sweet Niche - WIRES


A Sweet Niche is the work of Keir Cooper and Olly Sellwood. Like a cross between Jazz, Alternative, and Intensive Rock, Keir and Olly have known each other since childhood. Olly has played with several artists from the Bad Elephant label including active members of Knifeworld’s own Charlie Cawood and Chrome Hoof’s Emmett Elvin. Not only that but he’s also played with Necro Deathmort and Vodun while Keir performs with the London-based band Yossarian and Chris Brett Bailey’s guitar sextet TMWKFBIMGYL.

They have started out as Eye Music. The first output for Baritone Sax, Guitar, and Drums. And then Eye Music 2. Joining A Sweet Niche is drummer Tim Doyle. WIRES is a knock-out release from 2019. It is like a powder keg ready to erupt at any second. From the influences between Faust, WorldService Project, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Henry Cow, Captain Beefheart, and the first three Soft Machine albums with a fuzztone aspect by honoring Mike Ratledge.

There are moments where we are living in the nightmarish dystopian landscape after everything came to a screeching halt in March of last year when the pandemic and COVID-19 hit. And A Sweet Niche carries some of those expertise. As a listener, you can imagine yourself walking on a dangerous tightrope. And from beginning to end, you may never know if Keir and Olly might cut the rope at any second.

Crossed over between the Rock In Opposition movement, Punk, Poetry, and Avant-Rock, they have cooked something hot and spicy inside their kitchen by giving Gordon Ramsay the big giant middle finger. Olly’s sax at times channels Lol Coxhill, David Jackson from Van der Graaf Generator, Lindsay Cooper, John Coltrane, and Univers Zero’s bassoonist Michel Berkmans.

I always imagine that not only A Sweet Niche transfuse Punk and Jazz, but listening to some of the legends of RIO bands while preparing WIRES. There’s Art Zoyd, Guapo, Magma, and honoring the late great Roger Trigaux of Present. I loved the two-part epic on Don Quijote. It becomes sort of like the last stand for the noble to envision his knightly story.

Chaotic, complex, alarming, and tensed, they bring the tragic hero of La Mancha with these haunting background themes on how much Quijote has become his own worst enemy. Vocals add more boiling temperatures that makes Sweet Niche’s arrangements even hotter!

Chantal Brown’s soulful take on The Art of Cultivation, tips her hat with a swinging attack honoring the late great Nina Simone while Eleanor Sikorski’s poetic mind of Allen Ginsberg adds the danger that is coming from the outside world for the Hungerstrike. But once Luke Toms challenging combination between vocals and the instruments on What Pulls You Back, gives Sweet Niche more ammunition than ever!

WIRES is a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it is a challenging debut that A Sweet Niche have unleashed, but holy shit in a fucking handbag! They are out of this world!



Saturday, June 5, 2021

Potter's Daughter - Casually Containing Rage


Formed in New York City as Dyanne Potter Voegtlin was a student at the Manhattan School of Music studying classical piano performance, Potter’s Daughter not only do performances in the Big Apple but in the northeastern side of Pennsylvania. They have released their 2018 studio debut on the Melodic Revolution label entitled, The Blind Side. And now they have a new album in the works coming out this fall called, Close to Nearby with guest drummer, Simon Philips.

Last year during the pandemic, they released an EP called, Casually Containing Rage. Three songs that includes a Warren Zevon cover, this was my introduction to the music of Dyanne and Jan-Christian’s music. For me, it was quite an experience since it’s been many years I listened to something from Nick Katona’s label. For me, to open the door to the Melodic label once more, it’s putting one foot into another.

The opening track of To My Love which is a re-arrangement of the sixth track from The Blind Side, it starts off with a middle-eastern mellowing take from The Savage Rose’s two studio albums between the sole self-titled debut and In The Plain in the late ‘60s, Dyanne pours her heart and soul singing to the gods once more.

And all of a sudden, it transforms into a laid-back groove with Patrick’s drum work and Jan’s calming Bass lines while Dyanne tips her hat to the late great Freddie Mercury by channeling the reverbing vocal works on Queen’s The Prophet’s Song from A Night at the Opera. Once Amit’s oceanic guitars fill the salty waters, it cuts to an abandoned area of an art deco movie theater that has now becomes a ghost town.

The cover of Warren Zevon’s Accidentally Like a Martyr from his third 1978 studio album, Excitable Boy, is a heartfelt tribute to the singer-songwriter. While I’m not the biggest fan of Warren’s music, it fits well with Dyanne’s vocals as she looks up to the angelic skies knowing that Warren is watching her, carrying that beautiful arrangement of the song throughout the EP thanks to Jan’s bluesy textures.

The closing track might be one of Potter’s Daughter’s controversial piece called, We Could Be. It tackles the news reports from NPR’s David Greene on the death of George Floyd who was murdered by Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, is a haunting composition. Whether you agree with this piece or not, you have to give Dyanne a huge amount of credit for tackling this subject.

With its electro-jazz arrangement, the struggle to bringing peace and understanding without violence, is a big, big challenge as Jan has a little split second on the Guitar Synthesizers honoring the late great Allan Holdsworth. Casually Containing Rage is sort of the peak on what is to come for Potter’s Daughter’s next studio album this coming fall.

It will be quite a revelation to see and understand Dyanne’s wings have finally spread by flying over the clouds and seeing the good and bad situations from the outside world on Earth. She might one day bring peace and happiness to our home planet. And with their EP released last year, it will get you going to see what Potter's Daughter will have in store for us on Close to Nearby.




Wax Mekanix - Mobocracy


Wax Mekanix is a name you probably may or may not recognize. One of the founding members of cult rockers Nitro, Mekanix has been writing and recording music for forty years, his music can be both raw and bold. And his latest release on the Electric Talon label entitled Mobocracy, is a pure brutal machine gun metallic release last year.

From the opening track of Blood In Your Eyes, there are some fanfare midsections with blistering guitars and drums that take us into some spacey outer limit reverb effects, followed by rising sequences to raise a lot of hell. Victorious has a dooming post-apocalyptic vibe tackling the theme for survival of the fittest.

Part Budgie and part Dee Snider, it is an epic battle with a metal operatic roar to be a part of a fight club with knocked down brawl with some heavier solo sections while All Freaks has a ‘70s rising Glam Rock stomper. The introduction has this Hendrix-sque intro as Wax channels a sing-along type style of Budgie’s Homicidal Suicidal at times.

With the ignition for lift-off, Mad World has this nod to Peter Hammill’s lyrical textures as if he’s channeling Van der Graaf Generator’s Killer with a booming fast-sped action sequence of thrashing guitars that becomes a climatic duel between good and evil. Ghostland tackles the subject by facing your own demons. Tidal drumming that makes you go surfing at the right momentum, it’s a neo-psychedelia atmosphere as it goes into a deep, dark area as the victims confront the abusers and knowing that there’s no turning back now.

Closer, Black sees Wax honoring the late great Ennio Morricone on The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. With a dark spaghetti western theme and flamenco vibes of Ottmar Liebert with some hand-clapping rhythm section, it becomes an intense tango with some difficult sceneries that can keep you guessing until the end.

Mobocracy will take some time to get into. But for Wax, he got me intrigued to see what he cooked inside the kitchen. And it is a combination between Doom, Power, Thrash, and Avant-Metal. It is all here!



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, 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.




Monday, April 19, 2021

A Tribute to MoonJune Records - 20 Years Later

How would I describe MoonJune Music? Brilliant? Superb? Amazing? Mind-blowing? Or Surreal? If the answer is all of the above, you probably might be on the right track. It’s been 20 years since Leonardo Pavkovic had launched the label which covers Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion, Avant-Garde, and World Music. Alongside Esoteric Recordings, ECM, Harvest Records, Island Records (the Pink Years), and the swirling Vertigo label from 1969 to 1973 in its golden era, MoonJune Records is still going strong.

I first became aware of the MoonJune label back in the 2010s when I was a student in Houston Community College when I bought Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder’s first of the documentary series, Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga. It was where I first heard D.F.A. and I was hooked. It was this mixture of Italian Prog, Canterbury, and Jazz Fusion rolled into one. And during the summer of 2010, I joined the social media world with Facebook.

That was where I believe I became friends with Leo. If it wasn’t for social media, the blog would’ve been done and dusted. I decided to messaged him during that time by letting him know how much I enjoyed some of the music what he was unleashing and he sent me an envelope of MoonJune releases from Machine Mass Trio, Tohpati, SimakDialog, SH.TG.N, and Mahogany Frog to name a few.

And it’s been an amazing ride to see what Leo will send over. Whether it’s Dwiki Dharmawan, Soft Machine Legacy, Mark Wingfield, Slivovitz, Dewa Budjana, Stick Men, or Markus Reuter, Leo always has a good ear to bringing the world of music to life. For me who has been a supporter of MoonJune since 2010 after watching the Romantic Warriors documentary, I can imagine my ears would be perking to see what Pavkovic will think of next.

In an interview last year with Cedric Hendrix on the amazing CirdecSongs website on June 27th, Cedric asked Leo on how he defined his place in the Music Industry; “I believe I’ve been fairly successful in exposing a lot of great, deserving talents to a much wider segment of audiences. I believe fans of progressive music weren’t afforded the opportunity to become acquainted with so many great, deserving artists and their unique art – from these and other countries prior to the impact of MoonJune.”

“I do not feel the need to address questions as to why I did this or that, or why I am still running the label in such a non-conformist fashion since 2001. My approach to MoonJune has never been framed in any conventional manner. Initially, it just happened. And it’s still happening, and will continue to happen.”

And who knows where the future will be for MoonJune Records. Despite the world coming to a screeching halt last year in March due to the pandemic and COVID-19, the music of MoonJune has always lift our spirits up to make sure not just to mope and groan and be couch potatoes, but music will keep us alive during these tricky times.

To Leonardo Pavkovic, thank you for 20 years of unleashing incredible music from the label. Let’s see where the next 10 years will be in the 2030s to see what you will have in store for us in the near future.

And to top all off, here’s my top 20 MoonJune favorites:

1. I Know You Well Miss Clara – Chapter One
2. Stick Men – Prog Noir
3. SH.TG.N – SH.TG.N
4. Stephan Thelen – Fractal Guitar
5. simakDialog – Demi Masa
6. D.F.A. – 4th
7. Tohpati Ethnomission – Save the Planet
8. Machine Mass Trio – As Real As Thinking
9. Slivovitz – All You Can Eat
10. Yagull – Kai
11. Susan Clynes – Life Is…
12. Ligro – Dictionary 2
13. Zhongyu – Zhongyu
14. Stratus Luna – Stratus Luna
15. Mark Wingfield – Proof of Light
16. Mahogany Frog – DO5
17. Moraine – Groundswell
18. The Wrong Object – After the Exhibition
19. Markus Reuter – Truce
20. Dewa Budjana – Dawai in Paradise

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jethro Tull - A (A La Mode): The 40th Anniversary Edition


This 3-CD/3-DVD set consists of Jethro Tull’s departure from their Progressive roots into an electronic rocking voyage with their 13th studio album, A. Originally released on the Chrysalis label on August 29th in the UK and on September 1st in the States in 1980, the album was originally going to be an Ian Anderson solo album, but the label decided to be credited to the band instead. While there were two original members – Ian Anderson and Martin Barre – from previous line-up changes, the album did well.

Recorded during the summer of 1980 at Maison Rouge Mobile and Maison Rouge Studios featuring bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Mark Craney along with guest musician from Roxy Music, violinist and keyboardist Eddie Jobson, A is getting the recognition it deserving entitled A (A La Mode): The 40th Anniversary Edition. And with Steven Wilson returning to the mixing table once more for the Tull reissues, it’s time to see what has the maestro has done to Tull’s underrated gem.

Gone are the storytelling structures from Thick as a Brick, Aqualung, A Passion Play, and the Folk-Rock trilogy, into soaring adventures from the Fylingdale Flyer. You can hear Barre’s guitar and Eddie’s synths into the forefront as the doubling-vocal tracks from Ian as he sings “Through clear skies tracking lightly from far down the line/No fanfare, just a blip on the screen/No quick conclusions now everything will be fine.

It does have a little bit of Rush in there as if they were honoring a bit of the 2112-era, but checking the channels on the plane’s coordination to make sure it makes a soft landing with some galloping grooves. Batteries Not Included becomes this intensive synth-rocking explosion into the danger zone thanks to Eddie, Martin, Mark, and Ian’s improvisation on the intro.

With its nod to this incredible strange toy from the Land of the Rising Sun, the question where are the batteries for it to work? Not only Tull can rock, but show some humor in search of the one thing to make it turn the lights on and make the wheels run. Eddie takes us in a darker turn with his electric violin into the working-class Uniforms as he helps Ian on his melodic vocal styles by going upwards and downwards.

But once he returns to the folk-rock roots with some synths leading the way on Working John, Working Joe, Ian doesn’t shy away from Tull’s golden-era for a brief 3 minutes as he goes back the Premiata Forneria Marconi-sque vibrations of a medieval folk turned heavy rock dance for The Pine Martens Jig.

Closing number, And Further On starts off with a nod to the unsung British jazz group Gilgamesh from their Another Fine Tune You’ve Got Us Into period for a minute before Jobson takes us into the deep, dark forest as Ian sings about the pollution level has gotten worse; “We saw the heavens break/And all the world go down to sleep/And rocks on mossy banks/Drip acid rain from craggy steeps.

And the state on Earth has now entered the O-Zone level, but then the dynamics from Barre’s guitar comes crashing in for Craney bringing hopefully a small glimpse of the sunlight to perch through the dark clouds. The situation ends on a cliffhanger on what is going to happen next. And who knows where the next hope for peace will be and will they be there for us?

The bonus tracks on the first disc on contains Barre’s guitar introduction for the extended version of Crossfire. It feels almost like this overture-sque scenario before it goes straight into the original take. For me, I always felt Martin’s guitar on the opener, should have been on the album because it gives us a take on what the danger is to come and how we must prevent it.

Coruisk starts with Ian’s flute by taking us into a darker atmosphere with Jobson’s echoing piano filling up the halls before the bass, dooming guitar, and drums sends the listener into at first these abandoned halls before the unexpected eruptive time changes come charging in with some heavy conga grooves. Since I’ve mentioned about Rush earlier, this is probably their take of an earlier vibe of YYZ from the Moving Pictures period by taking it up a notch a-la Tull style!

The second and third disc is their live performance which had been previously “bootlegged” at the Los Angeles Sports Arena during the A tour on November 12, 1980. I can remember watching the footage of their stunning performance of Aqualung which was on VH1 classic when I got back into the re-introduction world of Jethro Tull in the fall of 2005.

Now with the Slipstream available on the A box set on DVD in Steven’s mix and the Sports Arena’s recording, it makes you feel like you have a front row ticket to watch the band’s performance at their best. From the moment they take the stage with the blistering take of Black Sunday as Ian becomes the storyteller, you can feel they are a part of the journey before Jobson goes into some heavy classical concerto to be flying into a far-away land.

I can hear Dave Pegg laying down the funk on his Bass on Crossfire as he and Martin follow Ian’s pleading on the scene of the crime and portraying his innocence while laying down heavier militant rock vibes to Protect and Survive. This gives Eddie a lot of ammunition he needs during the performance between his violin and Ian’s flute solo. You can feel his appreciation during the times he plays the synths by following Martin’s arrangements.

He is really going light-speed on his violin as he plays nonstop to take center stage for the audience to keep going. I could feel the intensity of Curved Air’s Darryl Way and Mahavishnu’s Jerry Goodman. The band members are following him in hot pursuit to see where Eddie is going into next before Barre lays down some hammering improvisations to give Jobson more ammunition he needs for his keyboard solo.

Now if you think he’s doing a symphonic composition, think again. Eddie’s keyboard solo becomes dark and gothic. He adds enough charges to bring the reverbing effects inside the arena as they cheer him on to add some classical vibrations of Liszt’s last symphony. They also perform two tracks from the War Child album; the dancing sing-along for joy on Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day and the powering punch of Bungle in the Jungle.

But when it comes to the late Mark Craney during the drum solo break on Uniform, he’s almost like a conductor taking the drum exercises to a larger scale. He plays at times between Buddy Rich, Bill Bruford, and Neil Peart. He’s really going into a killer solo on the kit. Jazzy, Rocking, and in your face, Mark deserves a lot of recognition on this number.

The verdict? While it’s not one of my favorite Tull albums, The A La Mode box set is worth the wait. And made me appreciate the album a bit more thanks to Steven’s incredible mixing to show that he may have one more Tull reissue up his sleeve. So who knows what will happen next. But it’s time to fly again once more to delve back into the A album, and finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Remembering Michael Nathanson (1947 - 2021)

I lost my Mom Saturday morning, April 3, 2021. She had been ill for a few years. She was not only Mom, but a teacher, book-reader, writer, editor, watching TV game shows, and loved to shop!

The past five days since her passing have been rough for me, my Dad, and my sister. We not only lost our Mom, but also a friend, someone who listened, understood, helpful, special, witty, and fun. We loved her very, very much.

When I was starting the second semester in the fall of 2005 as a student in Houston Community College after going through a rough beginning in the first semester, I learned how to keep going. I took a course in Commercial Music Forum from Joe LoCascio who became one of my mentors and teacher to go from filmmaking to Jazz Studies. The course of Commercial Music Forum was that you had to write five concert reviews.

And that was where the light bulb lit up inside my head. I have been writing reviews since 2008. If it wasn’t for both Joe and my Mom, I don’t know what I would be doing right now. Since starting my blogsite, Music from the Other Side of the Room, and then writing for Echoes and Dust, and a 2-year ride with The Progressive Aspect, my Mom was always supportive for me to follow my dream in writing.

I know that she would want me to continue writing. And I’m following that dream to keep going.

I remember when the late great film critic Roger Ebert dedicated a special to his partner Gene Siskel from the Chicago Tribune who passed away in 1999 entitled Remembering Gene Siskel for the TV show Siskel & Ebert. In the final segment of the tribute, Roger talked about Gene asking the final question to either an actor or a director, “What do you know for sure?”

Okay Mom, what do I know for sure about you, well you were one of the smartest, polite, amazing, and funny person I got to know and an amazing editor. To quote Ebert, It was almost impossible to tell you anything you already didn’t know. Whether you were watching a movie marathon of the Harry Potter series, Bette Davis, Casablanca, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or watching either Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune when it come on in the afternoon and evening.

And I know for sure that going to movies as a family seeing The Birdcage or Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, it was an amazing time to go. Seeing some R-rated movies like South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut was an extra bonus!

And I know for sure that a book you finished reading whether it was good or bad, your spirit was still high. I know it’s going to be a long and winding road without you, being here, but your spirit and your legacy will never die. Thank you Mom for being a part of our lives. And God bless.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Jethro Tull - Stormwatch: The 40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition


This 4-CD and 2-DVD set consists of the continuing reissues of Jethro Tull’s catalog. This one is twelfth studio album, Stormwatch. Originally released on the Chrysalis Records label, this was the final chapter of their Folk-Rock trilogy which started out with Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch. Here in this amazing set entitled; The 40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition, sees the band at their best, but also the last real Jethro Tull album which marked the end for the classic line-up of the 1970s.

The theme of the subject matter behind Stormwatch deals with the problems with the environment, oil, and money. By this time, bassist John Glascock who joined the band in 1976 replacing Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, with Too Old To Rock & Roll; Too Young to Die!, was in bad health due to his lifestyle with drugs and alcohol, missed out on the sessions for the album as he appeared three on the tracks, as Ian helped out on the bass during the recording sessions.

While there was tension behind the scenes and soon Dee Palmer, Barriemore Barlow, and John Evan would leave during the end of the Stormwatch tour, this was also the last real Jethro Tull album as well. So how did Steven Wilson do with the new mixing of the album? Well, let’s delve into it.

When you listen to the fanfare of Warm Sporran, you get a feeling that the marching drum beats, bass riffs, flutes and vocalizations are coming right in front of you. Ian’s flute goes into this jazz-like groove before the sound delves into this Italian-like renaissance as if they’re marching into their final battle, knowing that this is the end of their run, but knowing they died as heroes.

I love how Barre’s guitar goes right into the punch for Something’s On the Move. It gives this characterization of the story on the danger of the polluted wasteland has now transformed into a nightmarish ice storm. The brutal yet heavier arrangements, sees that there’s no sign of the sunlight happening and the death warrant has just been signed of the mysterious ladies curse upon the frozen landscapes.

Orion becomes this epic movie inside your head. At times it rises up with the string section, romantic piano and acoustic guitars, and the question on how that the city of once was, has now become this sad place with no sign of happiness while the medieval rocking opener, North Sea Oil tackles with the oiling business and the prices going up, it is going to be a very heavy time for that sign of jackpot in the oil drilling business to get that big money, but coming with a heavy price.

Dun Ringill is Ian’s return to both Wond’ring Aloud and Jack-in-the-Green. It’s about the Isle of Skye as he sings through this echoing effect and playing intensively on his guitar. It feels like a waltz at times as he’s feels the thunderstorm and the waves crashing right in front of him by crying out to the gods at times as Evan’s thunderous piano work on Flying Dutchman which was inspired by a legendary ghost ship that was doomed to set sail the oceans, goes into a sign of warning to be on the look-out for this mysterious ship.

John’s bass line on the bonus track for Crossword on the second disc, sets up a cat-and-mouse chase through various obstacles with Barre’s riffs before rising up to the mountains in the midsection on trying to understand that living the grind of working, can be put a strain between you, your family, and how do you want your future to be in the years to come?

A Stitch in Time is Ian’s response to Frank Zappa’s Over-Nite Sensation with female singers to a mid-tempo heavy rock song while returning to the medieval roots honoring Gentle Giant with these odd time changes for Palmer’s arrangements based on an English Folk song that was written by King Henry VIII, King Henry’s Madrigal. I love how Tull can create this traditional composition and take it up a notch by making not just heavier, but proggier at its peak with some twists to honor the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre at times.

Evan strikes again on Urban Apocalypse as he goes from piano to an attack mode on the organ at times. This deals with the big corporations have taken over the enterprise and it is not a pretty scenario as Palmer’s lyrics showcases the dark side of greed and corruptive leaders have a huge amount of skeletons in the closet they don’t want the public to know.

The eerie synths set up the nightmare that is about to come for the Sweet Dream Fanfare as Tull goes into this ambient moody feel to a fanfare approach, xylophones, heavier guitars, and channeling The Moody Blues’ Procession before getting the crowd to stand up with a brutal take of Sweet Dream. Now on Discs Three and Four contains the full concert at Den Haag on March 16th during the Stormwatch tour at the Nederlands Congresgebouw, which would be later known as the World Forum.

It starts off with a dooming laden for the Prelude to a Storm for the synths setting up the thunder and dark clouds appearing out of nowhere like an overture-sque intro before setting up the dangerous sail into the unknown before the mournful ride towards Home becomes this question on where do we go from here after an exhausting day at work as Elegy fills the halls with an emotional renaissance ride into the Grey Heavens.

As the classics with Aqualung, Heavy Horses, Minstrel in the Gallery, Too Young To Rock & Roll; Too Young to Die!, and the excerpts from Thick as a Brick, it shows that Tull haven’t forgotten the fan favorites along with an intensive guitar solo that Barre does to bring out this brutal reverbing effect that is like a race-car drive into the finish line with some killer improvisations.

But I wished there was some clapping to the rhythm on Old Ghosts that would’ve followed Tull’s groove as Ian becomes this storyteller by describing the structures of the garden at Kilmarie House. Ian isn’t just a flute player, but letting the audience be a part of the journey from the Stormwatch tour before the alarm of danger goes off for the dangerous live take with Evan’s organ taking the ‘60s vibe on Something’s On the Move.

The deluxe edition contains a 97-page booklet containing liner notes by Martin Webb about the making of the album, interviews from Ian, Dee, and Dave while Barre was interviewed by David Rees along with a quote from Barlow courtesy of A New Day magazine. It also includes photos of the tour, multi-track tapes, 45 RPM’s, tour dates, promo posters for the album, and the time they did music for the Scottish Ballet in February, 1981 and one for the Theatre Royal Glasgow on March 7th, 1979.

When the album was released on September 14, 1979, it got mixed reviews in the UK. The NME considered North Sea Oil, the worst record of the week including the Record Mirror who gave it a disheartened review, followed by Sounds. But it got some good reviews from the late Karl Dallas of the Melody Maker. While this album was ahead of its time, and Steven’s mix giving Stormwatch the recognition it deserves, and giving John Glascock the recognition he deserves. Not just his time with The Gods, Carmen, and Head Machine, but the swan song farewell it deserves.

But Stormwatch while it may take time to get into. And whether you get it or not, you have to understand that this closes the book on Jethro Tull’s amazing run they had from 1968 to 1979. And that’s where the ‘80s begins for the group in a different period.




Saturday, March 13, 2021

Rosalie Cunningham - Number 149 / Fossil Song



It’s been nearly two years since Rosalie Cunningham has released her follow-up sole self-titled debut album which was my album of the year in 2019. While it’s also been a year since going into lockdown mode due to the pandemic and COVID-19, music has always kept my spirits up and running. But Rosalie shows no sign of stopping as she’s released her single on the Esoteric Antenna label, Number 149 and the B-Side, Fossil Song.

The first track, Number 149, which was named after the house that she grew up in that still photograph, is a trip down memory lane for Rosalie to remember the childhood memories she had as a kid. There’s a bit of course, The Beatles, but with the Mellotron-sque dreamy landscapes that she and Rosco’s drumming brings, it opens the doors up into this twilight zone-sque parallel universe.

I think of the Syd Barrett approaches that are on here while Rosalie channels her brutal riffs in some of the midsections as if she is crying out to the gods up into the mountains of Asgard by raising Thor’s hammer with a battle cry. There’s also the finale where they stomp into the Slade groove thanks to Rosco’s drum patterns, clapping rhythms, and dancing to the beat that Rosalie does by taking the listener into the unknown.

Fossil Song is Rosalie’s tip of her Mad Hatter’s hat to both comic book writer Neil Gaiman and Van Der Graaf's Peter Hammill. I feel this tug towards Marc Bolan’s lyrical arrangements as she does this cat-and-mouse texture between her and Rosco. But while the Beatles inspirations are there, there is the Saucerful of Secrets-era of Pink Floyd in there as the midsection sees her delving into Richard Wright’s See-Saw with some wah-wah effects at the end that is like the finale of a psych-prog take version of Alice Cooper’s Hello Hooray.

While it’s a single, it’s sort of what’s to come on her second album that she’s been working on since last year. Esoteric has been one of my favorite labels since 2008 and for her to be a part of the Cherry Red family, it must be a dream come true for her to see what she has in store with her follow-up for 2021.