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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blackmore's Night - Dancer and the Moon

Now here’s something you don’t see or hear everyday. Touches of Renaissance Music mixed in with Folk Rock and Medieval fairy tales rolled up into one and add Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow along with his wife Candice Night, you’ve got yourself a wonderful bliss of enjoyment with sing-along songs, dancing into the night, it’s a brilliant combination of the mind of Blackmore’s Night.

The husband-and-wife duo has been around since forming in 1997 and they started performing in festivals in the Renaissance circuit and Castles in different parts in Europe and receiving cult status. They have released seven albums along with two live ones and a holiday release as well, and with their new album, Dancer and the Moon, is more of a spiritual journey and an exciting experience with a lot of textures and fantasy to make it an amazing adventure from start to finish.

Alongside the three covers from a folky chugging version take of Randy Newman’s I Think It’s Going to Rain Today, an electronic rock dance like versions of Uriah Heep’s Lady in Black and the mellowing Celtic lukewarm crisp of Rainbow’s Temple of the King, You have the stomping movements to get you ready for the party as Candice’s voice takes you into different areas with Troika in which it means ‘a set of three’ in Russian.

It begins with Ritchie playing a classical guitar introduction and Candice singing about the scenery with a lot of story-telling narration before it becomes a joyous experience to make stomp your feet and clap your hands to get you into a happy mood.  Then they do the stomping mode again on the title track, which you can imagine being played during your Bar/Bat Mitzvah party for a traditional Israeli folk-dancing with thunderous percussion, clapping, guitar, and vocals to have the night of your life.

Then, you have a relaxation and calming structures as Candice calms from her enjoyment to go into this wonderous balladry scenery on the soft turned orchestral string quartet beauty and pennywhistles setting the atmosphere with The Last Leaf, The Spinner’s Tale and the dazzling Somewhere Over the Sea (The Moon is Shining) while The Ashgrove pays homage to the obscure acid folk brother-sister duo, The Sallyangie that featured Mike and Sally Oldfield and it almost feels as if it was written during the sessions for Children of the Sun.

Then they are back into the Electro mode turned Power Metal with The Moon is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea). At first it begins with a new wave ‘80s synth for a couple of minutes done by Blackmore’s ambient guitar lines and Cadence’s echoing vocalization before going into full gear. Not to mention the Church Organ, Metallic Riffs and Primitive tales to get your jaws dropped with exciting momentum.

While Candice’s voice sends a shiver down the listener’s side myself included, it’s Ritchie Blackmore who takes control on three instrumental compositions. There’s Minstrels in the Hall, which has this Bach-sque homage to Bouree as he does this concerto acoustic lukewarm touch with virtuosity to show he’s still got it.  The symphonic waltz Galliard has this 3/4 time signature that is laid-back and yet it has the orchestral flavor that makes it very special as the closing and emotional track, Carry On…Jon is dedicated to the late great organist of Deep Purple, Jon Lord who passed away last year.

Ritchie carries the spirit of the Purple sound as his guitar is in tears and emotion through the loss of Lord’s amazing talents. There’s a lot of the ‘70s Rock feel with a bit of Hard Rock, Soul, Bluesy, and Gilmour-sque structures that Blackmore is playing and hearing the homage to Jon’s sound of the Organ in the background and the symphonic sounds shows that he is watching over.

I have listened to Dancer and the Moon about seven times already and I’m hooked into Blackmore Night’s music. And while this is my introduction to the band’s music, they are really something. So if you love Medieval Folk Rock music, this is a must have album for this year. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Copernicus - Worthless!

In the words of Alex DeLarge, “So What’s It Going to be then, eh?” before he starts his speech for the ultra-violence in A Clockwork Orange. But it’s quite an interesting experience when you have the combination of spoken-word dialogue of poetry, experimental music, and avant-rock madness that makes you wonder what is going on here. Well,, the ride that you are to embark on is from a man who knows his poetry and dialog very well by the name of Copernicus (Joseph Smalkowski)

Copernicus has been around since the mid ‘60s in the New York poetry scene and almost as if he’s following in the footsteps of Gil-Scott Heron, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsburg while performing in some of the clubs that were part of the punk scene including Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s to name a few and performed in Europe as well.  And while this is my introduction to his work in the sounds of poetry and music combined into one, this is something that is beyond the beyond of strange beauty.

Worthless! Has this weird combination of; Aphrodite’s Child’s 666-era, Captain Beefheart, The Last Poets, Amon Duul II, Faust, Gong, and Lol Coxhill. Plus it also goes alongside the avant-rock sounds by following into the minds of ‘70s Krautrock, Neo-Classical and Free Jazz where everyone goes haywire and do whatever it goes from various improvisations as Copernicus goes through a spiritual turned evil-minded views of the dystopian universe and he knows it very well and knows the atmosphere of the world very well.

And what he’s telling the listener is “this world that we’re living in, is not what you think. Everything is an illusion and when you go inside the darker hole, pull out one piece of the truth and shout to let everyone know that we are living in the massive crime of the century. And shout out for freedom to stop the machine!” You have to understand its opening the door and seeing what the massive corporations aren’t what they seem to be and it isn’t a pretty scene when you have it opened.

His voice goes through various improvisations when he speaks from wide ranges of soft, screaming, shouting, and calmness that he brings. The music at times in which helps Copernicus out, shifts from these laid-back into tension noises with psychedelia grooved out raga-rock movements (Quantum Mechanics, Everlasting Freedom), Rock in Opposition atmosphere’s with the forces of Zeuhl (You are not your Body), Jazz Rock chaotic structures with the bebop genre of Funk (You are the Subatomic), Country-Blues (What is Existence?), and Concerto Piano with uplifting surroundings of a ballad (You are the Illusion that I perceive).

Then, everything becomes twisted with the instruments now going into chaotic mode along with a horn section, background vocalizations, and instruments going haywire (A Hundred Trillion Years!) and then the calm after the storm where its almost a score to the ending of David Lynch’s Eraserhead on the closing 12-minute title track with a symphonic string quartet and sliding guitar as you can imagine the man giving the last rite to the listener as a tragic hero to give its final speech.

It’s not an easy album to listen to, but this is for me, one of the most strangest yet beautiful, darkness, and mind-boggling albums I’ve listened to. So if you admired the bands and poets I’ve mentioned, then check out Worthless! A must have, but be aware, once you’ve listened to it from start to finish, there’s no stop sign to embark on Copernicus roller-coaster ride.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dialeto - The Last Tribe

Haunting and Improvising music can come at you out of nowhere as if it was to give you a big leap out of your comfy listener’s chair. And this Brazilian trio, know the sounds very well when it comes to Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion combined together like a steamroller as if it to take you into different areas for wonderous amazement for what you are about to sink your little ear buds in for a fantastic cosmic voyage to expect the unexpected.

With Dialeto’s music, you have this mixed bag of alongside the two genres, a dosage of experimental music, virtuosity which takes both the three instruments from various movements whether its Rock, Ambient, and Atmospheric music and not to mention the sounds of the Discipline-era from King Crimson’s peak where they moved from Prog into New Wave with unbelievable results. Guitarist Nelson Coelho, is perhaps one of the most mind-boggling guitarists I’ve heard. He has these influential sounds of Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, and Frank Zappa and takes his virtuosity with amazement as he would take the listener to killer results.

Then there’s Jorge Pescara who plays the Touch Guitar, which is a fret board tapping style of the instrument in the realms of the Chapman Stick and Warr Guitar. He plays in the style of Tony Levin and Trey Gunn and provides thumping bass work on the frets with fierce and blazing results during Nelson’s compositions. There are amazing compositions that he wrote, and not to mention with some of the most centerpieces of five of the tracks throughout The Last Tribe.

Drummer, Miguel Angel who helps out with the rhythm stick on his drums, carries a lot of the energy and is the driving force to keep the train chugging with the beats he carries with the sounds on the percussion. Most of the time, his drumming reminds me of Bill Bruford and Billy Cobham with some thunderous, eruptive, and energetic forces to capture where his bandmates would go into a different time signature, he follows them wherever they go into.

The swirling Tarde Demais (Too Late) mixed with a flamenco bluesy guitar layered surroundings and featuring a grooved out exercise between the guitar and bass which it has a rhythm and lead upbeat for the first few minutes before the drums kick in and it becomes a whole new level to do the tango. More into the heavier side is Dorian Grey, featuring Jorge’s fretted bass work that goes into a fuzztone beat while Coelho goes into a vibrating mode and you could almost feel the reminiscent of Tool’s 10,000 Days period.

Vintitreis features a vibraphone introduction and then Jorge’s bass, crescendo introduction from Miguel and then going into a hyper mellowing ¾ time signature turned sinister with a heavy waltzy attitude featuring Nelson going to the core by doing some heavy power riffs as if he’s doing homages to the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) scene and John McLaughlin’s style as well while the opener, Windblaster has this very dreamland escapade that is daring, enthralling, and compelling that begins with an amazing adventure into different dimensions in our solar system.

Yet one of the most exhilarating of the music is the knock-out Sand Horses, which begins with a Stop-and-go movement from the instruments before it becomes a racing yet thunderous ambitious turned compelling piece as they go move from Jazz Fusion into a Heavy-Metal excitement as they challenge The Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Iron Maiden with an interesting and roaring results that would get you ready to headbang at the right moment at the right time.

I have listened to The Last Tribe about five times already and I’m getting hooked into see where they would go into next. Moonjune Records have scored big when it comes to Prog and Jazz. It is a knowledge, stunning album from start to finish and it’s a must have for this year. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Wrong Object - After the Exhibition

It’s been a good while since I’ve heard some materials from Belgian guitarist virtuoso, Michel Delville from his solo projects with Doubt and Machine Mass Trio to name and helping the tribute to Soft Machine's and Matching Mole's drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt with Comicoperando featuring two members from Henry Cow and a few members including; double bassist John Edwards, Keyboardist Karen Mantler, and Annie Whitehead on trombone to honor and respect Wyatt's music in Amsterdam on May 19, 2011. But its been six years since his group, The Wrong Object have released an album. And while this is my introduction to the band’s music, I have to tell you I’m completely hooked with their sound and surreal beauty they would come up with.

That and their new album, After the Exhibition, released this year by the good people at Moonjune Records, has come in full circle. It has this voyage of Jazz Rock, Free-Jazz, Avant-Rock, Ambient noises, Chamber Music, and bits of Rock in Opposition to fill in the influences of The Wrong Object’s inspiration. Originally, they started out as a Frank Zappa tribute band and performed in Zappanale, which is the festival and honor the genius of the composer and various Jazz Festivals in Europe as well.

But, let’s get straight to the music. The blistering Detox Gruel starts the album off with a bang featuring Francois Lourtie and Marti Melia’s Sax work and Michel’s guitar line that begins with a soothing race before going into uncharted nightmares as Antoine Guenet of SH.TG.N layers the fuzz keyboard sound as they resemble a heavier version of Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three meets Black Sabbath with a droning attitude and not to mention the stop-and-go reference from bassist Pierre Mottet.

But Pierre comes in shining with his Jazz Funk surroundings as he takes center stage on the wah-wah and Pastorious-lines on Spanish Fly as the band goes into an astonishing yet balls out time-changing experience as Yantra goes straight in the waters of middle-eastern late ‘60s early ‘70s vibe with the Saxes wailing through the beat and tempo to capture and raise the notes to see where both Lourtie and Melia go from their instruments.

Frank Nuts is heavy hard jazz-rock like no other. Featuring Michel and Pierre’s intro playing the melody between guitar and bass as Antoine goes into this Dave Stewart of Egg haywire effect on the organ as it go into this alarming effect that is almost post-apocalyptic and cooled down for the last few minutes. Then there’s the unthinkable 3-part suite of Jungle Cow.

There are surroundings as I’ve mentioned, Chamber Music, Ambient-noises, animal-like effect noises, Atmospheric effects, and a dramatic RIO fast-driven turned dooming finale that comes with unbelievable results by nodding to Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma-era, Tangerine Dream, Magma, Univers Zero, King Crimson, and the Pawn Hearts-era of Van Der Graaf Generator.

The 8-minute Glass Cubes featuring Susan Clynes and Antoine Guenet, which is the only track to feature vocals, goes through a concerto into various moods and soars into the sky. It has elements of early Gentle Giant as Antoine’s voice resembles Paul Shulman as Susan herself cools it down to share her voice with Guenet before he goes into this wonderful improvisation on the piano.

Then it’s back into the Jazz-Rock vibe on Wrong But Not False where Michel discovers his influential guitar sound as he takes it into different worlds with his solo with going into different frets on the instrument. At times it’s very bluesy, hard, and fusion to the core while Flashlight into Black Hole is a calm turned into a hypnotic ecstatic workout.

The closer, Stammtisch (Regulars’ Table), features Benoit Moerlen going into wonderous momentum on the vibraphone as he pays homage to Ruth Underwood as it becomes this wonderful tribute not just to Frank Zappa, but the way he would take a different approach into something humorous and fun in a dance-like way before Antoine and Michel go into this waltz-like beauty to close the album off for the curtain to drop.

After The Exhibition is a welcoming handshake for The Wrong Object’s return. This is a wacky, joyous, and ready to enjoy the rollercoaster ride to have fun. The band is in full swing to see what they had up their sleeves.

Pinnick Gales Pridgen - Pinnick Gales Pridgen

When you think of a supergroup, you think of; ELP, Bad Company, Cream, CSNY, and Ginger Baker’s Air Force, you know you are going into some amazing music that will take you by surprise from artists who had been in various bands whom people known and love. But if it’s an African-American power trio that are in the realms of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, there is absolute magic coming from three members who really take the score of Blues, Prog, and Hard Rock into a different area in a whole new level.

Pinnick Gales Pridgen (PGP to be more precise) is bassist dUg Pinnick of King’s X, guitarist Eric Gales of the Eric Gales Band and worked with Lauryn Hill, and drummer Thomas Pridgen of The Mars Volta, have released their first sole self-titled debut album, three musicians have released a powerful yet volcanic eruption and its worth the trip to unbelievable results. You have Pinnick with a thunderous bass work and takes it to the street while Eric Gales who had been around since the ‘80s as a child prodigy, he is an outstanding guitarist by taking the blues and metal in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kirk Hammett, and his hero Jimi Hendrix into a wowing reception.

Then, there’s Thomas Pridgen, whose drumming is a wildly improvisation with a fast and killing tempo that almost sounds like a machine gun reigning rapid fire, he knows the score with Jazz and Harder edge to it in the realms of Keith Moon, Lars Ulrich, and Billy Cobham. There are thirteen tracks on the album and right from the beginning, middle, and the end, you begin to realize that this is a roller-coaster ride that you’ll never forget and enduring six centerpieces here.

Opener, Collateral Damage, is a crunchy and explosive starter to kick the album off. Featuring heavy riffs and lead guitar driven lines along with energetic drum work and Pinnick and Gales vocals taking center as they share the microphone on the chorus before Gales himself goes into a punchy yet dazzling guitar solo and at times it feels like something straight out of the sessions for Lenny Kravitz’s Let Love Rule, but it has a real eruptive introduction that could be used to start the NASCAR race.

The tuned-down cover version of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love has this haunting yet punchy doom metal vibe as if Black Sabbath had covered it back in 1970, but what PGP has done, is they stay true to the original version that it was meant to be with attitude, fierce, and in your face while they show how much PGP admired the trio that have carried the influential sounds in their blood of the Heavy Blues sound. Hang On, Big Brother is a driven adventure as the band goes straight into town with ‘70s Soul and Metal with a hard-hitting roar thanks Gales and Pridgen going almost like a duel between Guitar solo and drum work while the moody and sinister attitude on Black Jeans has this tour de force unique homage of Tool’s Undertow-era meets King Crimson’s Red-era.

Angels and Aliens becomes this hypnotic spacey adventure as Gales gets a moment to shine in which he Pinnick and Pridge help him out as he goes from rhythm into lead guitar work from solar system voyage to a soaring tempo to get the juice flowing with a psychedelia-metallic feel. The Greatest Love has a catchy funk-rock vibe between the riff mode, Pinnick/Gales vocals, and the quirky upbeat touches with a stop-and-go moment that Eric does as he challenges Frank Zappa on his instrument that at times is layered and back into the groove.

This is a really interesting debut for dUg Pinnick, Eric Gales, and Thomas Pridgen to release a debut album. However, there is a lot of energy and spirit between the three of the members who came from various bands and they kicked it up a notch. This is a must have album for 2013 and it’s a highly recommended album for anyone who’s into Funk, Prog, Heavy Soul, Jazz and Hard Rock.

Friday, June 7, 2013

MoeTar - From These Small Seeds

The Sound of Avant-Prog and Progressive Pop may be an awkward crossover. Let’s say for example if Gentle Giant had teamed up with Supertramp, 10cc, and went on the road with Frank Zappa and the early Genesis period, it would have been an interesting tour. But, when you have a band coming out with one of the most electrifying debuts to come out last year, it is definitely worth listening to and that band is MoeTar and their debut album, From These Small Seeds.

Featuring Moorea Dickason’s soothing and strange yet amazing vocals that are a jaw-dropping reaction along with Charles Heulitt’s virtuosity guitar work that captures the essence of Zappa and Steve Hackett as he goes through various movement and melodic structures to capture Moorea’s voice. Meanwhile, you have the pounding drum work and keyboard surroundings of the Rhodes, Piano, and Organ work between David Flores and Matt Lebofsky while bassist Traik Ragab comes up with these jazzy fusion lines on his bass is a predicting experience to carry the torch of Jaco Pastorious and Chris Squire.

Imagine a groovy boundary with some soul and psych, and it becomes a blistering yet exhilarating difficult time-changing sing-along song on Butchers of Baghdad, it has a lot of catchy melodies as vocals/guitar sing the parts as Moorea sings her heart out to give the band a chance to get train rolling. Meanwhile, Random Tandem has this late ‘70s Pronk (Prog-Punk) sound between the combinations of New Traditionalists-era of Devo meets the Cardiacs as if to pay tribute to the great Tim Smith.

Opener, Dichotomy has this soaring and dancing upbeat tempo. Featuring Concerto-like piano introduction along with a laid-back groove evolves into bits of a symphonic movement. Coming out with Fender Rhodes and Moog-like fusion-like exercise, thumping bass, and guitars doing a stop-and-go by going through the clouds into unbelievable worlds that the listener goes into different dimensions.

As catchy as their third track, Infinitesimal Sky, they dive into the deeper waters of Genesis’ Selling England By The Pound-era. With heavy power chord and Hackett-like guitar lines, Charlie just goes at it by going through hard and prog combining into one as Moorea sings it out while Flores creates some synth-like work capturing the essence of Tony Banks.

The haunting militant yet marching beauty on Ist Or An Ism is very wacky and fun before it becomes a calming yet relaxing before getting back into the heavy mode for the ending while Morning Person and the title track is back into the difficult time changes resembling the sounds of Roxy Music’s 2HB and Frank Zappa’s The Dog Breath Variations. New World Chaos carries the marching sounds on the fifth composition, but it has this dreamy yet adventurous soaring story featuring crazy guitar work and the double-tracking vocalizations of Moorea as she takes your hand into this amazing fairy-tale surroundings.

The haunting Screed, possesses of taking a magic carpet ride off into the clouds and encountering thunderstorms before going into a day-like mode. There’s a lot of dramatic structures that is very much like a mini rock opera with pounding piano chords, dazzling drum work, and emotional structures between the vocals and guitar lines while the lyrics deals with a person struggling to breakthrough his past by suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and getting away to find out who they really are by moving forward into the future.

The soothing Never Home is a love-letter to New York City that has some cool Rhodes-like work and Piano surroundings as Lebofsky challenges Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. Closer, Friction captivates the climatic climax as it kicks into full gear with soaring turned gentle into a fast-driven complex. As the lyrics, “Flawed with contradiction/Pass along the friction/Villains are Altrustic/Heroes Narcisstic.” You can tell that Moorea was almost challenging the mind of Peter Hammill with a view on how the heroes and villains are what you think from the TV, News, and Comics.

I have listened to From These Small Seeds about 13 times and I just couldn’t get enough of this fine album. I can’t wait to see what MoeTar will have tricks up their sleeves for the follow-up and the group is one of the most daring bands I’ve listened to. So if you admire the bands and artists like; Gentle Giant, 10cc, Supertramp, Genesis, Yugen, Hamster Theatre, Frank Zappa, and Thinking Plague, this is one of the them.