Folllow Me on Twitter

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gazpacho - Molok

Last year, during my final semester at Houston Community College for my associate’s degree in Jazz Studies, I was completely blown away by a band from Norway that launched nineteen years ago by childhood friends Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen and followed by Jan-Henrik Ohme and then teamed up with Lars Erik Asp, Kristian Torp, and Mikael Kromer. That band is Gazpacho.

One of the albums in which it was their eighth album, Demon on the Kscope label in which its home to Steven Wilson, Anathema, Ulver, Anekdoten, and Lunatic Soul to name a few just made my day during that I listened to it from beginning to end. It was almost as if it was taken me on a ride I will never, ever forget. I can hear the essences of Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Anathema, and Pink Floyd.

And when you put those four together in a blender, it works very well to create the emotional beauty and haunting sounds that Gazpacho put together. This year, they have a new album in which it is their ninth, is called, Molok. Let me just say that it’s their finest to day. Mind you, I’m new to the band’s music since last year. It’s also a concept album dealing with the issue on religious themes, new theories, and science ideas.

The story takes place in the year of 1920. The man decides anyone that worships a God, may be devoting to the stones up in Stonehenge, Grand Cathedral, or the Mecca, may find their followers transformed into stone and not being able to return. So what the man does, is to build a machine named “Molok” in which it’s named after the biblical demon who would jaw up the children’s sacrifices because that is what his machine does to crunch the numbers up.

And then, on solstice day, he turns the machine on as it gains very quickly to forms of intelligence as it goes through the history of time. Now the story is strange and may confuse listeners, but the music itself is a supreme outstanding piece of work that I’ve listened to. The five highlights on here, give it a real inside view on the storyline.

Algorithm in which it appears as an additional instrumental track on CD, brings the middle-eastern presence to a chilling vibration. There’s elements between Peter Gabriel’s third album, Goblin, and World Music thrown into as if they were doing the score for Scorsese’s controversial 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ. Bela Kiss brings the catchy waltz to unexpected results with an accordion and a violin that has the fast beat in the Hungarian musical traditions that will have the jaws drop at the right moment to dance in those unexpected fast time signatures that it would bring.

Choir of Ancestors almost made me teary-eyed. It’s got an amazing choir, an ascending rhythm, thumping percussions, and the essence of Kate Bush’s music in the background vocals along with Jan-Henrik Ohme’s vocals just hits the notes at the right momentum before Jon-Arne Vilbo’s guitar playing sends into a goose bump momentum in his solo. You can hear the essence of the Floyd’s work in there and Jon goes for the power in his instrument.

The Dystopian-Gothic composition of Alarm begins with a droning church organ and it sends shivers as Jan-Henrik’s vocals brings the idea of being alone and not one person to help save someone’s life in the nightmarish world that has gone into hell. It has an eerie atmosphere with Thomas Andersen’s keyboards setting the scenery of the post-apocalyptic world and Lars’ drumming has a calmer and moodier sound.

The closing 9-minute piece, Molok Rising is almost a cliffhanger on what is hoping to come next in the story. With dooming/stirring guitars by Jon-Arne, ambient and unexpected synths along with thumping percussions, each of the sounds give it a twisted tale of the demon itself taking the children’s surrender before the sounds of the bells, clocks ticking and screeching noises, create the tension before abruptly ending with a silent beep.

Gazpacho have scored another home run and a year after the release of Demon. It’s almost of what would they think of next in the brainstorming room. I hope they do a sequel to this to find out what happens next in the strange and surreal story of Molok. I’ve been a fan of the Kscope label. And Gazpacho are back in full swing for the adventures, experience, art, and magnum opus they have unleashed this year. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Gentle Giant - Octopus

Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson shows no signs of stopping when it comes to both his solo career and his brilliant work on creating classic Prog gems in getting in the 5.1 mixing. And he has done it again this time this year of Gentle Giant’s 4th studio album released in 1972, Octopus in the CD/Blu-Ray release. Originally released on Vertigo Records in the UK and on Columbia Records in the States, and released on the Alucard label, 43 years later, it is Gentle Giant’s finest masterpiece.

On the Blu-Ray release of the album, it includes the original 1972 mix in a flat transfer, the instrumental mix, and the 5.1 mix that Steven Wilson has done. Now the master reels for the remaining tracks including: The Advent of Panurge, The Boys in the Band, and Raconteur, Troubadour, were lost. Steven remastered the original mixes and upgraded them into a surround mixing in which it is by using the Penteo Software for 5.1 surround sound on the Blu-Ray.

The visual in which it’s done by filmmaker Yael Shulman, it’s a film of an Octopus. Yes, it’s a real Octopus floating in an aquarium with text commentary by the band members about the making of the album. The 16-page booklet features liner notes done by Innerviews’ Anil Prasad which includes interviews with the band, lyrics, and it shows the band at their peak and having drummer John Weathers (Eyes of Blue, Man) joining the group after Malcolm Mortimore was involved in a Motorcycle Accident.

And pictures of the group and the late engineer Martin Rushent who did the laugh and dropping the coin as it rattles. There’s also the issue on the artwork design which features Roger Dean’s design of the album in the U.K. and the Octopus in a jar which was the American release. Both of those covers are okay, but I digress, let’s get to the music.

The other five tracks that Wilson remixed, sees the Wizard of 5.1’s taking his magical wand and bringing it up a notch. A Cry for Everyone still sounds heavy and upgraded from Steven. I love the interaction between the Kerry Minnear’s Organ and Gary Green’s guitar as do a repeated melody with each other. Not to mention a reminiscent of the Scorpions sound of Rudolf Schenker’s rhythm guitar riffs that Green does.

Phil Shulman, who would later leave the group to be with his family, shines on Dog’s Life. The Medieval-Classical-Folk-Zappa bluesy twist gives it a beautiful tribute to their roadies with a sense of humor and then moving into the bass, synths, and echo-layered vocals, shows how much the band were having a great time doing this piece. The hands-down killer of Knots, the homage to R.D. Laing’s self-titled book, a cappella vocals in a different independent line with difficult time signatures featuring a powerful rock arrangement.

Gentle Giant also show their softer side as Kerry Minnear comes in with his vocals to an emotional beauty with Think of Me with Kindness. The piano beauty and having the bass in front makes your heart touched with his voice that just sends a thought of hope, bringing the memories of sorrow and knowing there is no tomorrow. It's a goodbye song. Dealing with the hopes of remembering them with warmth and humanity.

And with xylophones into the mix and throwing in the piano on the midsection, the ingredients are mixed together in a dramatic and driven beat that still makes it powerful, unexpected, and mind-blowing at the same time that the original six-piece did as a team. Gary Green himself brings into the Blues Rock voyages into a full speed ahead. On River, he brings a lot of energy in his Guitar as he rises up and up into the heavens as the band increases the rhythm before heading into a spacey adventure followed by the wah-wah melodic intro riff between him and Ray Shulman’s violin.

There’s also a bonus track in which it is clear and sounds amazing of the live performance at the Calderone Theater on July 3, 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration of it’s 200th birthday of the Declaration of Independence in a dazzling performance of Excerpts from Octopus.

Here, Steven upgraded to a better sound quality and it’s astoundingly breathtaking. The band was now a five-piece, and hearing this new mix of the live recording is much clearer from the previous bootleg and the original release last year. The sounds, the power, and the glory of Octopus have shown Giant’s sound at their best and understanding how they were ahead of their time and transcending the music through creative ideas and undertaking tasks in difficult time signatures.

Steven Wilson has done it again. I hope he continues to do more of Gentle Giant’s catalog in the next years to come. So delve over into the Charaton Bridge by meeting the Raconteur Troubadour’s and meet the boys in the band for the sounds of a classic that will be played for time and time again.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Dreaming Tree - Silverfade

The Dreaming Tree are an Alternative/Progressive Rock group from the UK that launched back in the early 2000’s. They have released so far three albums and an EP. This year, they have released their fourth album entitled, Silverfade which was released on May the 4th. The band considers Chris Buckler on Lead Vocals, Dan Jones on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Neil Simpson on Bass, Stephen Barratt on Keyboards, and Neil Ablard on Drums.

The music on here, I have to admit, I’m not really crazy about it, but the quintet really have a lot of energy and power in their sound. They really got something in their sound to carry both the essence of Alternative and Progressive Rock with a huge energetic force. At times, it’s both hard, aggressive, and melodic on Silverfade. And they switch it back and forth on the fourteen tracks that is on here.

And the five highlights on here, shows they have some potential. And mind you, again, I’m new into the Dreaming Tree’s music and I love the name of the band’s name. It’s very catchy and spiritual that fits the atmosphere of the group’s sound. I love the energetic sounds and synth sounds that Barratt does on his keyboards to create a driving rhythm beat with a thumping beat through the roads on Forever Not Ever.

But then, he brings a Hancock-like jazzier symphonic sound that reminisce of Ray Manzarek’s organ sounds through the wonders of time with an upbeat groove on Cherry Winters as Dan Jones lays onto the leading solos on his guitar that have a Floydian twist to it to see the trees blossom into the Fall weather that makes it a cooling beat. The two opening tracks (Yesterday’s Flowers, Heart Shaped Bodies) bring a combination of both the Progressive and Hard Rock sound with a driven, melodic, thumping attitude thanks to the adventurous beats of Dan Jones’ guitar.

The second track, brings the powers of Rush’s Moving Pictures-era as Dan carries the torch of Alex Lifeson’s virtuosic playing to bring a flaming torch and making sure that it doesn’t burn it out and he hits the notes perfectly. Autumn Haze for me, is a bluesy hard-rock in your face composition. It shows The Dreaming Tree go into a powerful force between Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here-era and UFO’s No Heavy Petting-era as if David Gilmour and Michael Schenker did a collaboration together and those two combinations work very well that make it sound like it was 1977 all over again.

This is my third time listening to Silverfade. And I’ll admit there are few hits and a few misses for me, but this is an okay album they have released this year. And even though it needs a little bit of growth and some work, they have done well so far for me. It needs some electrical juice and a bit of power in their music. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Marbin - Aggressive Hippies

If there was someone to describe to me about Marbin’s music. It would be this: Mind-boggling, driven, powerful, and in your face Jazz Rock at their finest. I’ve been a champion of Marbin’s music since 2013 and they have never done me wrong with their music that the label MoonJune Records have unleashed. They have released this year, their fifth album entitled, Aggressive Hippies. Let me just say, they scored another touchdown in their history as if the hot chili ice cream flavors, just got even more spicier with a dosage of jalapeno’s.

The quartet brings the action to a standstill and since the recording was done in four days this year in April at the Stone Soup Studio, you could imagine yourself being at the sessions and being completely jaw-dropped the moment they start playing. Just Music is where it kicks off. Here, Dani himself goes into a style in the midsection on his guitar making it sound like a VOX organ in the styles of the late, great Graham Bond and the sound of Pink Floyd’s Biding my Time with a late ‘60s attitude by using a delay effect with the reverb sounds with a bluesy groove.

Dani and Danny bring the guitar and sax funk with a prestissimo groove and smooth sound between the two of them on Y’all are Good. Danny shines majestically through his sax in the styles of Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane as one as Greg’s drums and John’s bass help them out through their rhythmic solos to get into an incredible improvisation.

Intro delves into the structures of the Gilmour-sque and Steve Howe structured beauty with an atmospheric ocean soaring through the waves while African Shabtay gets into a roller-coaster adventure of your lifetime. Unexpected time signatures, intense beat and fast tempos, this is where Marbin are having a blast as the melodies really go up into a maximum level and Danny is shining brightly.

Then it is time to hit the dance floor as you can imagine yourself in the streets of Paris and feeling the vibrations and the sounds at the Juke Joint and O’l Neckin’. Both of these tracks are in the essence of the ‘70s Zappa-sque styles of the Over-nite Sensation sound. And dare I say Mastodon thrown in? It is almost as if they went back in time at the roaring ‘20s and ‘30s with Swinging Jazz-Hard Rock at their best and imaging Cab Calloway being in awe of them.

John W. Lauler comes into the front on his Bass as he lays down some mellowing bass grooves for a smooth and relaxing ballad and Dani helps him out of a swirling adventure for the dawn to happen for a Morning Star. It’s such a beautiful track that it gives Marbin a chance to relax from their intense compositions and waiting for the sun to rise at the exact moment.

The title track is a driving composition with the bluesy twist following inside the engines to build the muscles up for a ride into the countryside. Dani is doing his Stevie Ray Vaughan touches on the soul-like sounds on the guitar to bring almost a Texas Blues Rock sound that gives it a big crunching punch. The closer, Jambo, is where Marbin release their glory of glories.

Dani knows his chops very well into his guitar into the blues with Fripp, Zappa, and Gilmour into a giant blender and it’s a perfect smoothie to go with this! He is just nailing it down to close it off with a big bang. And the band themselves are having a blast and almost as if he is a conductor and letting them know when the 12-bar structure will reach an end.

MoonJune Records for me, have never disappointed me. And Marbin’s Aggressive Hippies is the album worth having a nice Jalapeno Burger to go with this for a spicy adventure into unbelievable results! I’m very pleased of what I’ve listened to from start to finish. And Marbin have continued to sprinkle fairy dust over my headphones to see what adventures they will go into next for the years and years to come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nadavati - Le Vent De L'esprit Souffle Ou il Veut

Their only debut album, Le Vent De L’esprit Souffle Ou il Veut, released in 1978, proves to be a hidden treasure and an unsung gem that in which I consider for me, “The lost album of Sierra Madre.” That of course is a band from France named Nadavati. It was the brain child of composer Jacques Liot that wrote the music back in the mid ‘70s and it was originally written for a musical background to a play in which it was a spiritual journey with an element of eastern mysticism. Unfortunately, it never happened.

Reissued by Soleil Mutant, it’s hard to understand why this band never got any recognition. The lack of sponsors in the music industry can be a huge crushing blow as if someone slap them away and didn’t want any of the group as the music was changing into the Punk and Disco explosion as the Prog genre was under attack as being considered by the so-called rock critics, “Hippie” and “Dinosaur” music.

But this here, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is a treasure that is unsung and hopefully going to get the recognition it deserves. The music itself resembles the essence of Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, and Return to Forever. What Nadavati have unleashed, they could have gotten The Mahavishnu Orchestra a big run for their money if they had kept going.

L’Espirt Souffle Ou il Veut begins with a Jazz-Funk rock rhythm thanks to the blaring horn section of Richard Raux (Tenor Sax), Jean-Francois Canape (Trumpet), and Joseph Traindl (Trombone). The music ascends with a sun-rising adventure before in the midsection between Jacques guitar playing with a chugging groove and Alain’s bass improvisations resembles Jaco Pastorius while Mico Hissim’s keyboards go into a Canterbury vibe.

La Valse Du Fou is a late ‘70s Zappa’s Joe’s Garage-era with a Brazilian vibe to it as drummer Didier Hauck creates the groove for a dancing vibe as Raux’s sax followed by the insane synths and piano wonders from Mico’s playing as Jacques really delves deep into the Zappa momentum. But Liot and Lecointe do a duel between guitars and bass.

On Wu-Nien, the driven tempos are almost as if you are going in a car that the speed is at 150 miles per hour. Both of the players create some improvisations with amazing results. But it’s not just Liot and Lecointe, it’s also Nissim and Hauck bringing incredible ideas as each of them do a dosage of Hatfield and the North into the mix. Then the band bring the relaxation to give them a chance to take a break and head into a relaxing take as if they were doing a Fusion take of Miles Davis Kind of Blue on Retour.

There are two closing tracks that clock in at both 10-minutes. There is Ananda. I really love this track not just because it’s an homage to Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon, but this is where the band really get down into the funky groove and lay it down as Alain does his Jaco, Jannick Top, and Bootsy Collins lines on his Bass as if they let him come in front to bring a lot of ideas and brainstorm through his instrument.

Le Pays De La Lumiere Doree sees Nadavati going into the Zeuhl adventures in the styles of both King Crimson, Zappa, and Magma. The scatting vocalizations done by Lionel Ledissez and Joel Delamour, really gets you into the patterns. As the sax, bass, keyboards, and drums followed by the guitar help out the vocalized harmonic melodies and it ascends in the midsection to reach to the top of the mountain.

But then Mico goes into his Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum touches on the piano before his concerto helps out to give the band more free rein as the last three minutes fade off into the sunset. The bonus track in which they performed at the Stade des Bruyeres in southwestern suburbs of Paris at Catenay-Malabry entitled, Moksa. It is a rare live performance and it is a very good recording to show the band at their best to wow an audience with a powering sound of funk-jazz!

This comes with a booklet about the history of the band done by Canterbury expert Aymeric Leroy in which it’s a 10-page booklet featuring the liner notes in both French and in English. Nadavati were ahead of the ball game and despite the band’s break-up to do various projects, I wish they could have moved on and I always imagine them performing with Miles Davis.

But this here, is a real treat for Jazz-Fusion and Zeuhl fans to delve into. So open up a bottle of Champagne with some Ice, and enjoy the music and wonders of Nadavati.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies

A couple of weeks ago I tuned into Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout, and discovered one of the most mind-blowing, intense up-and-coming bands that knocked me out of my seat. That band is Boston’s own Bent Knee. They have been around since forming in 2009 as they were students at the Berklee College of Music. 

And they are a six piece that considers; Courtney Swain on Vocals and Keyboards, Ben Levin on Guitar and Vocals, Jessica Klon on Bass and Vocals, Chris Baum on Violin and Vocals, Gavin Wallace-Ainsworth on Drums, and Vince Welch on Synths/Sound Designs. It is a mixture of Baroque, Avant-Pop, Chamber-Art Rock, and Post-Rock rolled into one. And they know the score very, very well. It’s almost as if giving the top 40 radio stations and Ryan Seacrest the big gigantic middle finger and showing how real music is done. 

Their second album Shiny Eyed Babies which was released last year, will have you terrified, jaw-dropped, and blown away from the moment you put the CD on from start to finish. It begins with a lullaby of the title track that has a Randy Newman-sque with a New Orleans vibe on the piano before it segues into the darkness with Way Too Long

This is where Courtney comes in with a powder keg ready to explode as if the mental patients are ready to take over the asylum. The blaring guitars and thumping drums done by Ben and Gavin creates the tension as if the pin is dropped. Courtney’s voice resembles the essence of Tori Amos, Grace Slick, Peter Hammill and Dagmar Krause (Art Bears/Slapp Happy/Henry Cow) as if she is portraying the mental patient as if she is revealing her dark secrets to the listener on the corruptive world that we are living in. 

And she can howl brilliantly well! The chaotic rhythm hits like an eruptive explosion as the double-voices come at you to give shivers down the spine. In God We Trust sees Bent Knee going into a vibration in the essence of The Arcade Fire’s Funeral-era before the finale heads into a tunnel driven rhythm while the dramatic boom of Battle Creek delves into the gothic orchestral beauty of a dystopian society that was once beautiful turned into a post-apocalyptic nightmare and the ominous touches, fits the atmosphere. 

Then the band give a relaxation for 2 minutes. With Untitled, they give Courtney shining through on her vocals on the Piano. It has a touch between Roxy Music’s Chance Meeting meets Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera but its Skin that goes into the style of MoeTar’s music with an attitude. There is the catchy rhythm between Gavin and Jessica Klon doing a jazzier groove and then heading into the Alternative Rocking-out adventure.

The last 2-minutes are like an eerie nightmare with a score-like Lynch before ending almost in the styles of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It is a disturbing yet beautiful way to end the track out into a motivative finale. This is my third time listening to Bent Knee’s second album.

And for me, let me just say this is the album that is a challenging, powerful, and mind-blowing albums that just leaves me excited and wanting to hear more of their music. The experience on here is jaw-dropping. I hope they will do more in the years to come and since this is crowning achievement, just be prepare to embark on a journey, that will you take to a universe you haven’t seen before.

Monday, October 19, 2015

John Wetton and the Les Paul Trio - New York Minute

John Wetton, is a name you can’t forget. His work with Family, Mogul Thrash, King Crimson, U.K., and Asia to name a few, he has been around in the music industry from day one. Not to mention his work as a solo artist also which will be talked about later on with his 2-CD set, The Studio Recordings Anthology: Volume 1. But let’s get to the live album. This was recorded on October 14th 2013 at the jazz club, The Iridium in which it was home to the late great Les Paul. And listening to this live performance entitled, New York Minute, shows Wetton at his best.

The reason he is performing at the Iridium is raising awareness on prostate and testicular cancer. Alongside John Wetton, the Les Paul trio considers Nikki Parrott on Bass, Rodney Holmes on Piano, and Lou Pallo on Guitar. Listening to these covers along with his work on Asia and one of his compositions from his solo-era, you can imagine yourself being at the club and showing love and support of not just as an artist, but a man who can at times nail these songs in a laid-back and jazzier groove.

The up-tempo moderately take of The Beatles Lady Madonna, shows Rodney his chops very well on the piano to get into the soul-like groove and Wetton nails it well on the vocals, but the vocal harmonies on the “ba-ba-ba-baaa” line, didn’t capture my momentum. It dragged a little bit in the vocalizations in that midsection, but it is a fine take.

Steely Dan’s Do It Again in which it opens the set, brings Holmes to a powder punch on here as Wetton sings amazingly to take it out of the park with a chugging guitar line to go with it. But it is the beautiful take of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On that brings a lukewarm touch to Wetton’s soul-like voice. Lou Pallo brings the power of Wes Montgomery and George Benson on his rhythm and not to mention the background vocals by Nikki Parrott and it is such an uplifting cover that will make your heart melt.

Wetton can nail the harmonies on his vocalizations on the Beach Boys God Only Knows. Nikki and Rodney help out with the ballad-like warmth and relaxing take of the song that shows John’s roots in his musical background. I love the mid-funk driven tempo of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower in which Lou brings a chugging rhythm to the beat and Rodney capturing the drama through his playing.

The ballad comes right back into the swing with a romantic touch of Asia’s Heat of the Moment as you can imagine the audience being moved by this rendition of the classic hit that shows his softer side and the closer, Battle Lines, it has a folkier sound in the acoustical touch on his composition. It is a perfect way to end the live album off with a warm applause to say farewell as before the fade-out you can tell they wanted more of him to sing.

I have to admit, I’m not that crazy on John Wetton’s solo career, but this live album shows me how much appreciation I have for him. While he is under chemotherapy back in August of this year, it shows he will fight it and continue hopefully, to make more music. New York Minute is not a bad live album. Some hits, some misses, but John nails it down well. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Slivovitz - All You Can Eat

There are bands that take Jazz and Progressive Rock to a standstill. And one of those bands is a group from Naples named Slivovitz. Mind you, I’m new to the band’s music, but they have been around since their formation fourteen years ago and having three albums in their sleeves, they really got my attention. This year, they have released their fourth album entitled All You Can Eat on the MoonJune label.

When I first heard their music, I was completely on the edge of my seat just waiting to hear what they have in store for me. And frankly, they got my ears sprinkling like hot and spicy ice cream bars like no other! It’s this combination between Frank Zappa, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gentle Giant, and the fusion sounds between Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. And those five concepts, blend together with a little dosage of the funky vibes as if they recorded it back in 1973.

I can hear alongside the Jazz-Rock influences, but at times the Rock-In-Opposition movement thrown in thanks to the blaring sounds of the trumpet, sax and harmonica harmonies from Ciro Riccardi, Pietro Santangelo, and Derek Di Perri. Almost as if they are the Justice League of Woodwind and Harmonica superhero instruments. Don’t forget violinist Riccardo Villari. He brings the essence of Eddie Jobson, Darryl Way, Jean-Luc Ponty, David Cross (King Crimson), and Richard Aubert (Atoll).

The dooming late-‘60s psychedelic spaghetti western with an Ennio Morricone Rock-In-Opposition taste of Hamster Theatre as guitarist Marcello Giannini comes up with these nightmarish terrors to create the minor tones that make it like a crunching terror through the rhythm and lead section. The track Persian Nights in which it opens the album off with a bang, is evidential to show where Slivovitz are going into. And the four evident's show the wonders and the talent bringing into the opening the door.

It is a perfect introduction to start the engines revving. Elsewhere, Derek’s harmonica goes into a blaring and alarming glory on Passannante. You could cut the tension as if you are walking on a dangerous tightrope and trying not to look down as the music builds that structure and not knowing when someone is going to cut the rope. But the band go into a quirky and a bit of the RIO sound thrown in with a wacky yet quirky touch of the madness.

With Barotrauma (La Zappa sui piedi), there’s a Jazzier flow. Between the beginning and the end, thrown in the midsection as I would call it, the homage to a score to Ren & Stimpy, the band know their vocabulary very well. Very much into the essence of The Inner Mounting Flame sessions, that is very evidential. When I heard Hangover, it reminded me of the French Progressive Rock group, Atoll.

You could tell Riccardo is shining like a flaming fire on his violin in the essence of Aubert’s playing. There’s the sounds of the L’Araignee-Mal and High Tide’s Sea Shanties into the mix with a symphonic jazz rock sound that will send chills and goose bumps to the bone. This here is a beautiful and ascending magical adventure in which you, the listener, will experience the sounds.

I have listened about three times to All You Can Eat. Leonardo Pavkovic is for me, the Bruce Wayne and Sherlock Holmes of finding amazing and interesting bands to be a part of the MoonJune family and my ears have sprinkled very well to Slivovitz’s music. This here, for me, is a crowning achievement that the band have accomplished. If you love Jazz, Symphonic, and Rock-In-Opposition music, then delve into the waters of Slivovitz’s music.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

VAK - Aedividea

Launched back in 2008 by drummer and composer Vladimir Mejstelman, VAK carries the essence of the Zeuhl/Prog genre and following into the footsteps of Magma’s music. Their music is a mix of different time signatures, heavy mutation sounds, Jazz, female vocalizations, and the moments of metal thrown in with an Avant-Garde twist to send the shivers down the spine.

Their debut album entitled, Aedividea, which is released on the Soleil Zeuhl label, was originally going to be released as 2 EP’s (6 long tracks), but it didn’t happen. They recorded the music between 2011 and 2014. And the result is an inyour face jaw-dropping score like no other. Alongside Vladimir who plays the drums on the album, they consider; Thomas Bourgenot on Guitar, Joel Crouzet on Bass, Alex Michaan on Keyboards, Juliette Drigny on Flute, and Aurelle Sainte Croix on Vocals.

Joel’s bass resembles the essence of Jannick Top as Alex Michaan carries a little momentum of Mike Ratledge on the electric piano to go into a full throttle momentum. Which is evidential on the 14-minute title track. He and Juliette do this amazing improvisation in the midsection as if they are creating and increasing yet tense momentum to see who will make it into the finish line.

Most of the sounds on here sound like something out of an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show as if VAK wanted to create something mysterious, hypnotic, and insanity like no other for Ren Hoek to see what he will do next to Stimpy. It’s evidential on the last 3-minutes of Alzh.

After the first seven minutes and forty-five seconds of a blistering metallic interstellar overdrive followed by Aurelle’s vocalizations, it becomes an eerie and sinister atmospheric finale that Alex Michaan does that he brings a shivering yet quiet noise on the keyboard to create that nightmarish terror for the insane asylum.

The space madness opener between bass and guitar from Joel and Thomas, creates an avant-zeuhl metal adventure through time and improve from Michaan as the three of them create some of punching grooves with stop-and-go moments between Vladimir’s drumming and Aurelle’s vocals on IJKL. I can also hear the essence of Tool’s Lateralus and Undertow-era as it shines brightly on Zeom.

Ellien is a wonderful mixture between the motoring roars of the 1974 period of King Crimson’s Red sessions and Henry Cow to go with it as if the two of them did a session together to create a dynamic and ominous fierce sinister sound with a mid-tempo rhythm with some unexpected time changes. The closing 10-minute track, Periscopy is a dystopian nightmare.

This is where VAK go into these haunting structures and it’s like the monster is right behind you ready to attack unexpectedly. VAK got those nailed. The spooky vocals that Aurelle in her vocalizations, are both chilling and ominous, it’s almost as if the soundtrack of a horror/sci-fi film done by either Argento or Cronenberg had used this score to give it a real jolt of shock and electricity.

I have listened to Aedividea about four times now. And I get scared and spellbound every time I listened to VAK’s music. The spirit of Henry Cow and Magma along with King Crimson are in their DNA and in their flesh and blood also. So be prepare to experience the sound and hypnotic beauty of the Progressive-Avant-Garde Rock and Zeuhl Metal sounds of VAK.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Theo Travis' Double Talk - Transgression

British Saxophonist Theo Travis is a busy man when it comes to projects from Gong, Robert Fripp, Soft Machine Legacy, Porcupine Tree, and now on tour with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. This year, he has released his ninth solo album with his band Double Talk released on the Esoteric Antenna album entitled, Transgression. This is Jazz Rock at its finest with a Progressive and Bluesy approach that will surprise listeners to capture the essence of the golden-era of the ‘70s.

Travis sax-playing, is off the wall and mind-blowing. He is like a conductor telling the bandmates to follow him where he wants to take them into the next level whether it’s mid-fast or an increasing tempo for vibrations of a heavier approach to follow the sounds of King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Talk Talk. Theo knows his apples and oranges very well when it comes to bands like that. Not to mention the four highlights on here.

Smokin’ at Klooks has a bluesy bossa-nova 4/4 time signature element to the early sounds of Santana’s Abraxas-era that guitarist Mike Outram takes his instrument to the essence of the master with a bluesy cavernous sound while the smoothing beauty that captures the vibes of Coltrane’s music with a joyful rhythm on Song for Samuel, that shows Theo his chops on the sax for an amazing improvisation. Pete Whittaker goes into a groovier Jazz organ sound as he and Mike do some amazing beauty together.

Both lead and rhythm in a mellowing tone. The opener, Fire Mountain brings the essence of both John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp as Outram brings both the combinations of the two as if it’s a one piece as if both guitarists have worked together created the sounds of Red, Dance of the Maya and a little homage to Nucleus’ We’ll Talk About It Later-era with some amazing fusion-like solos to go with it.

The 12-minute title track goes into a psychedelic-Floyd-sque meets Gong flavored with an ascending tone as it starts off with an oily way introduction between Theo’s Flute and Mike’s Guitar doing a Zappa-sque melody. Pete uses his Organ as a driven climbing melody in a symphonic rock style before Mike comes in with a blistering improve followed by Theo’s sax blaring out of the blue as Nic France helps out for a run-through on his drums to give it that driven flare.

This is my second time listening to Transgression. And I have to say, I’m very impressed of what I’ve listened to from beginning to end. Theo knows exactly what he’s accomplished to bring the Jazz and Prog world to a standstill. And with help with Steven Wilson at the mixing table, you know something special is going to happen. Mark and Vicky Powell have never disappointed me when it comes to the Esoteric label.

So if you are ready for a Psychedelic, Jazz, Experimental/Prog adventure, then enjoy the music of Theo Travis’ Double Talk’s Transgression.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Anglagard - Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan

This 2-CD set contains an incredible performance that Anglagard did two years ago in Japan at the Club Citta as they were sharing the bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. When you listen to the CDs, you can imagine yourself being at the club, and just being in awe and jaw-dropped momentum with Anglagard mesmerizing performance that will send shivers and goosebumps throughout your whole body. They aren’t doing this for the money, they are doing this to show love and support for the music and the fans.

I remember hearing their music few milky-way’s ago (not the candy bar) on both United in Prog with Tony Romero and Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout a couple of times. And I knew I had to check them out. They were my cups of coffee with the essence of King Crimson, the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis, and Bo Hansson. It was sinister, dark, and like something had come out of a horror score that just took me by surprise from the moment I bought all three of their albums and knowing they got a lot of ideas in their head.

But let’s get to the music. The live album entitled, Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan, is brilliant and hypnotic at the same time. And the moment you put the CDs on, you can close your eyes and see them perform in all of their glory. I love Ana Holmgren’s wind instruments that she uses on the tracks. I could feel touches of David Jackson (VDGG), Ray Thomas (Moody Blues), and a dosage of John Coltrane at times whilst Johan Brand brings his Bass to his touch of Squire’s beauty on his Rickenbacker.

Not to mention Tord Lindman’s guitar shining through the Hackett frontier. While the tracks are from their three albums, there’s also a new track entitled, Introvertus Fugu, Part 1. This is perhaps one of the scariest introductions to start the album off. Cavernous sounds between piano, wind, and guitar. It has a jazzier introduction before the rocket ignites of ascending chaos between the forces of Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three, King Crimson and The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other-era of Van Der Graaf Generator.

I love the guitar and the mellotron parts that just come right at you and Anna’s wild sax solo improvisation just nails you to the stomach as if a punch is ready to hit at any moment. Jordok in which it was the opening track from their debut album Hybris back 23 years ago, is still a knock-out. The unexpected time changes, classical and medieval symphonic prog at its best while Langtans Klocka from their comeback in 2012’s Viljans Oga has a Mike Oldfield flavor to it and a Jazzier essence thrown in that gives Ann a chance to shine on her flute solo.

But what I love about that track, it has that wonderful dystopian gypsy jazz with a mixture of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero thrown into the mix as Anglagard descend into chaotic beauty that will give you nightmares at the very end with a sinister finale. This is my fourth, fifth, or seventh time listening to their live album. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish. And I hope they will do more in the years to come.

So if you want to show support for bands like Anglagard, buy Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan to get you on the bandwagon.