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Friday, June 27, 2014

Pinnick Gales Pridgen - PGP 2

Since I was blown away by Pinnick Gales Pridgen’s sole self-titled debut album last year by the good people from Magna Carta Records, I could never know what to expect from this amazing supergroup trio to see what they would have next up their sleeves for the road of theirs to come. Well, this year, they are back again and this time, they have finally unleashed the cage for the follow up to their debut and let me just say that it is a heart stopping, mellowing, and mind-blowing albums that the trio have unleashed in 2014.

PGP 2 is the moment where dUg Pinnick (King’s X), Eric Gales (The Eric Gales Band), and Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Suicidal Tendencies), all three of them went back into the studio and returned where they left off from their debut and give it a dosage of more of the heavier sounds of; Psychedelic Soul, ‘70s Funk, Hard Rock, and Heavy Blues.  And they really have brought more of the compositions onto the table and having a complete blast by really going back into town again while embracing eight centerpieces on here.

Songs like Have You Cried? Begins with gospel-like choir vocals between Pinnick and Gales to find what happens when your love has gone wrong before they go into the shuffling roaring rock thanks to Eric Gales thunderous guitar introduction and he, Pinnick, and Pridgen go into town with some soulful heaviness to the core. It is haunting, emotional, raw, and in your face on how you can help stop being a selfish jerk and bring the love back into the light.

Psychofunkadelic Blues is eruptive yet an explosive track to see the trio get into work. There are some elements of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe of Hendrix, Cream, and Sabbath’s Master of Reality-era rolled up in there as one and it really shows them they have a lot of electrical voltage coming out of the speakers and they are into town by blistering your ears into a mind-blowing perception that the solos and Pridgen’s drumming just goes into jaw-dropping momentum.

Elsewhere the opening tracks, Every Step of the Way and It’s Not My Time To Die is Eric Gales guitar style both rhythm and lead along with his riffs as Dug just nails his vocals on being there when you feel that you are waiting for that miracle along with the vocal harmonization’s between the two of them are just astonishing. And Eric himself, challenges his style of playing it the mind of Tony Iommi and of course Hendrix himself with some ominous touches on the second track and its emotional, but strong as it deals with how can I survive without sacrificing myself because this is not the right time to do it.

Then, they lay down the Soul-Funk-Rock groove that almost has this dance-like rhythm section sounds with the alternative rock vibe on Like You Used to Do while Gales come back into the circuit on two pieces. Ladonna is very much of an ambient-like lukewarm morning sunrise for it to come up as Gales just pours his heart out on his solo for 53 seconds that is almost like something straight out of the sessions for Axis: Bold as Love before seguing into the corruption and learning that paying back is now the time with the throttling I Ain’t Got No Money as the closing instrumental track, Jambiance is the band getting a chance to have a relaxation.

Beginning with Guitar, Bass, the hi-hat, it goes into a spacey voyage with some moody and edgier guitar lines along with Pinnick’s bass and smooth drum work as they take their rocket ship into another universe with some energetic results. At times, its Soul mixed in with some Space Rock, but it is a perfect way to close the album off.

Pinnick Gales Pridgen are for me, one of the most amazing supergroup’s I have listened to. And their follow up, is like a flaming fire that won’t burn away. So if you are ready for another adventure of the trio, fasten your seatbelts, because it is going to be a roller-coaster ride that you will never forget the moment you put it on from beginning, middle, and right into the very end.

Here is the band performing Every Step of the Way off their second album .

Monday, June 9, 2014

Colloquio - Io E L'Altro

Much like a score or the soundtrack for composing of David Lynch’s Eraserhead or the short-lived TV cult classic series, Twin Peaks, Colloquio’s Io e L’Altro (The Self and the Other) was recorded back in 1995 on cassette and the sounds came from the different personalities that before and after the attacks and now it is finally re-mastered this year. There is a lot of spoken word poetry that Gianni Pedretti does on each of the compositions and bizarre yet twisted instrumentation's that he plays throughout the entire album and its almost that you are inside the mind of a person locked up in the mental institution and seeing what is going on inside their mind.

At times, there are moments that reminded me of David Bowie’s Outside-era, Klaus Schulze, The Residents, later-era of Tangerine Dream (late '70s), Vangelis' score to Blade Runner, and Kraftwerk rolled up into one and you can imagine Gianni listening to those different types of the electronic sound of that period to get the perfect view of the different version of the person’s self. And the result is the touches of the Avant-Electronic ominous sounds at times futuristic and bits of new age/atmospheric sounds that Gianni brings to the keyboards and electronic drum kit.

There are sounds that have and ideas of; tapping your toes and get into the groove, midnight sounds of mourning featuring a keyboard sax in the wee small hours of the morning, ominous/sinister environment backgrounds, underwater scenery to find a hidden world. And bits of Trip-Hop flowing in different directions, roaring Moog’s, robotic voices, haywire effects from the instruments that at times comes out of nowhere from the Synthesizer’s, and Pedretti’s spoken dialogue help out the disturbing situations that creates intensity and variation movements as if the world that the listener is noticing, is not what they are expecting inside the person’s mind.

What Gianni does is creating different random moments of the sounds and visions in structures. And there at times is in the styles of the Krautrock genre from the ‘70s. This really just took me by surprise after listening to this album seven times now, Colloquio has opened my eyes on the views of infinite universes between time and space and he knows the score and the spoken-word poetry very well.

I’ll admit, Io E L’Altro, is not an easy album to listen to from start to finish. And while the album was released nineteen years later, it is ahead of its time and it is such a mysterious, disturbing, and at times ambient, this is something that might be worth checking out. So, again as I’ve mentioned in the introduction, if you love bands/artists like; Klaus Schulze, Kraftwerk, the Outside-era of David Bowie, David Lynch, and bits of The Residents, then Colloquio’s music is for you. Just be prepare to expect the unexpected of Io E L’Altro.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Top 16 albums of 2014...So Far

Well here we are in the hottest part of the summer and again criticism is always welcome. Wait until the end of late November/early December for my top 30 albums of 2014. So here it is;

The Top 16 albums of 2014 so far…

1. Matt Stevens – Lucid [Esoteric Antenna]
2. Susan Clynes – Life Is… [Moonjune]
3. Bigelf – Into the Maelstrom [Inside Out Records]
4. Motorpsycho – Behind the Sun [Rune Grammofon]
5. Led Bib – The People In Your Neighborhood [Cuneiform Records]
6. Univers Zero – Phosphorescent Dreams [Arcangelo Records]
7. Krokofant – Krokofant [Rune Grammofon]
8. Proud Peasant – Flight [Basement Avatar Records]
9. Syndone – Odysseas [Synpress44/Fading Records]
10. Syd Arthur – Sound Mirror [Harvest Records]
11. Machine Mass – Anti [Moonjune]
12. Anglagard – Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan [Anglagard Records]
13. Tusmorke – Riset Bak Speilet [Svart]
14. Anton Roolaart – The Plight of Lady Oona [Self-Released]
15. Tohpati – Tribal Dance [Moonjune]
16. Spleen Arcana – The Light Beyond the Shades [Self-Released]

Friday, June 6, 2014

Proud Peasant - Flight

Every year, there are some up-and-coming bands that are carrying the Prog torch to the Olympic Stadium who want to stay true and making sure it’s not dead, but more of a resurrection that it’s alive and fresh. And who could carry it and how they can honor the sound and vision of the music? Playing Progressive music can be at times hard to do with difficult time changes, various movements, compositions, and stories to tell and you have a lot of practice and understanding on what the next notes are coming next.

But, this new band from Austin named Proud Peasant which is founded by Xander Rapstine three years ago, are one of the most promising bands to check out. Alongside Rapstine who performs Guitar, Mandolin, Melodica, Glockenspiel, and Percussion, the band considers; Jay Allen on Keyboards and Piano, David Hobizal on Drums, and Kyle Robarge on Bass Guitar. Their debut album, Flight, is more of a storytelling album told in an instrumental format with suites that clock in for 12, 18, and 13-minutes which gets you ready to enjoy an album filled with sounds of Renaissance, Medieval, Symphonic, and bits of Italian Prog music in the sound.

There are hints of; Mike Oldfield, Le Orme, and King Crimson to go in there and the instrumentations are astonishing and at times compelling on what the band does next in the note and where either the quarter note, eighth note, or sixteenth note will take them into. Opener, The Prisoner, begins with an acoustic folk melody for the first minute and forty-five seconds before it goes into an electrical atmosphere. It moves into an uplifting moog and guitar improvisation as it gives the sun to rise for a chance to see a glimpse of dawn breaking in while going back into the styles of Tom Newman’s Faerie Symphony-era that is unexpected for Xander to create something special as a tribute to both Oldfield and Newman as if they are watching him with approval before going into the militant styles of a Spaghetti Western score in the styles of Ennio Morricone as a finale.

Awakenings, in which it has an mourning introduction as it segues into a fast-driven rhythm guitar section before it goes into a fanfare mode and gentle soothing sound as it goes into a catchy melody between keyboard and the guitar going up and down the frets on the improvisation. And then, the vocal soloists of Brian Kremer, Jamie Moellenhoff, and Greg Smith do this wonderful touch of the Jane Relf-era of Renaissance and elements of Gentle Giant for the last four minutes as they take turns and go into a wonderful solo work on their voices as the instruments go into a higher note to meet the Jester King for a chance of relaxation.

Then, the closer, The Precipice, is where everything to starts to combine as one. The first couple of minutes is bass drum and snare along with rhythm/lead guitar, moog doing a ¾ waltz time signature (The Gauntlet) before it segues into a tender beauty of the flute on the Mellotron for a folk-like dance (Therenody for the Forlorn), then it becomes an emotional and breathtaking heavier sound in the style of Crimson.

You could tell that the band along with the musicians, and the Proud Peasant Choir, are doing a superb job on this midsection to create this dark and dystopian futuristic atmosphere. Then, the band go back into this spacey sounds that almost reminded me of Eloy at times and then it’s back into the climatic ending as they are now as one. It’s almost like an ending to a movie with everything is okay, the war is finally over and people are now starting a new beginning, a new chapter, and a new life, or being reborn to start over before ending on a disturbing note and fading out on what would happen next that leaves the listener almost on a cliffhanger as to find out what happens next.

After listening to Flight about six times now, I have to say that Proud Peasant are one of the most mind-blowing bands I’ve listened to and there’s something amazing on what will happen next for them. Who knows what the future will hold for them in Austin, but if you admire the sounds of Ennio Morricone, Tom Newman, King Crimson, and Le Orme, then Flight and Proud Peasant are worth checking out. And worth your appetite to check out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Copernicus - Immediate Eternity II

Listening to Copernicus’ Immediate Eternity II, I can imagine that Joseph Smalkowski carries the inspirations of Allen Ginsberg and Robert Calvert in his sleeves from his spoken-word views on the upcoming future and the political boundaries what is to come in the Avant-Garde, Jazz, Classical, Art, and Experimental sounds, that is in on this album. And it really shows how he takes the listener into the galaxy with his voice that is at times mellow, screaming, and agony on how he takes to a whole new level and it’s almost like watching a one-man show featuring some mind-blowing music to go along with it.

With this, he mentions in the liner notes on the introduction to the album, that it deals with the subatomic discoveries of the 20th century and beginning right into the 21st century. Because pop culture has used recordings that is trying to exploit the universe of the planet’s view of listening and what Copernicus himself has found is not so well going up against the situation and it isn’t a pretty situation. But on here, he points out to the paths that would happen in the next years to come. And throughout the 10 compositions that he wrote, it is a strange, disturbing, and powerful situation of what is to come for the listener to decide what he or she will do next.

I have to understand, Copernicus’ music is very hard to get into, but since I’ve enjoyed Worthless!, Ciper and Decipher, and Nothing Exists to name a few, I have to admit I am completely blown away and enjoyed what he has done so far. And this album is a work of a mastermind and the performers including Freddy Auz who sadly passed away last year, shines through with his bass work. And at times the music goes through the sounds of the Stranded-era of Roxy Music, early Santana, Frank Zappa, Stanley Clarke, Thelonious Monk, and Hawkwind.

There have been different versions of Immediate Eternity in French and in Spanish to name a few since 2001 along with two books of it as well. And they went back and re-recorded the whole thing in English and you could tell that the band and Joseph himself are having a blast making this album and three centerpieces. Highlights include; Absolute Truth is Possible starts off with a jazz improvisation between the styles of Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, and George Gershwin for an introduction on the Newton Velasquez’s piano work before laying down the Fusion Funk and Freddy’s jazz touches on the bass work while the opener, Beautiful Humanity is done in the style and homage to as I've mentioned before, Roxy Music’s A Song for Europe that hits your heart with a beat away.

The ultimate cosmic voyager with a shuttling throttle into the stars and the solar systems on the 10-minute, The Stick, seems to see Aragundi going into uncharted territories with his rhythm and lead guitar solo as Copernicus shouts out in his voice followed by Velasquez’s haywire keyboard effect and chords and it is like going through the tunnels and getting ready for light speed. Now this is my 4th time listening to Immediate Eternity II, and every time you put on his work, you don’t know what to expect from the sound and mind of Joseph “Copernicus” Smalkowski.

And from beginning, middle, and end, I am now a fan of Copernicus’ music and there’s something about listening to this and while it can be hard to get into and seeing where Smalkowski is going to next in the near future, it is such a powerful, hypnotic to a compelling yet evocative album.