Friday, April 25, 2014

North Sea Radio Orchestra - Birds (2008 England) @320 [AvantProg]

Let’s start with the name. North Sea Radio Orchestra has to be one of the most evocative monikers in recent years, conjuring up all kinds of images, ideas and emotions - incurably romantic. This romance aims much farther than a pleasing title though. As on their eponymous 2006 debut, the group draw on English poetry for lyrical inspiration. On Birds there are three pieces by William Blake ('The Angel', 'A Poison Tree' and 'The Wound'), one by Chaucer ('Now Welcom Somer') and one by Tennyson ('Move Eastward Happy Earth'). Then there's the music: made up of classical and acoustic guitars, chamber organ, many solo voices, piano, various woodwind instruments, percussion and violin, North Sea Radio Orchestra couldn’t sound more out of time. This is not to say that they feel dated, it's just peculiarly not now. But this isn’t so simple either, as there is a feeling within the music that could only come from now. Despite their entirely non-rockist existence, it’s their ability to bend their compositions into song form that see them being praised to the heavens.

And if there is ever a whiff of austerity, its counterbalanced by the sheer listenability of the music. You could play this to the family on Christmas Day and everyone would probably love it. Equally, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such unforced music - no matter what conceptual considerations might have gone into this, it just sounds so… natural.

But equally, English ‘tradition’ has never been more prominent than now. Ghost Box and the whole Hauntology genre, the newly-reissued Robert Wyatt and a heightened interest in obscure folk make North Sea Radio Orchestra a lot less anachronistic than they might have done a few years ago. Yet tradition is warped a lot more obviously by those mentioned above. The North Sea Radio Orchestra are certainly original, but their twists in England’s fabric are blessed with far more subtle.

1. The Angel (2:13)
2. The Wound (3:55)
3. Copt Gliders (4:49)
4. Move Eastward, Happy Earth (4:08)
5. A Poison Tree (2:16)
6. The Flower (3:54)
7. Harbour Wall (3:58)
8. Guitar Miniature #2 (1:22)
9. Phantom (2:11)
10. Personent Hodie (3:25)
11. Now Welcom Somer (6:15)
12. Golden Cage (2:48)

Nicola Baigent: clarinet
Luke Crooks: bassoon
Ben Davies: piano, chamber organ
Harry Escott: cello
Craig Fortnam: guitars, chamber organ, piano, voice
Sharron Fortnam: lead voice
James Larcombe: monosynth, chamber organ
Sarah Longe: violin
Dug Parker: voice
Geraldine Peach: oboe
Hugh Wilkinson: percussion
Brian Wright: violin

Monday, April 21, 2014

North Sea Radio Orchestra - I A Moon (2011 England) @320 [AvantProg]

North Sea Radio Orchestra are an experimental chamber group whose sound draws heavily on elements of British folk, orchestral music (both classical and contemporary) and art rock. They are primarily a vehicle for the compositions of Craig Fortnam, with his wife Sharron Fortnam on lead vocals (sometimes accompanied by The North Sea Chorus). They are a primarily acoustic ensemble, featuring strings, woodwind, acoustic guitar, organ, piano and percussion as well as prominent use of analog synths.

Often cited influences include Benjamin Britten, Vaughn Williams, Tim Smith (of Cardiacs) and the much-loved British children's television composer Vernon Elliot, whose work NSRO have occasionally played during special concerts. They have also been compared to the likes of Frank Zappa, Henry Cow, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Kate Bush and Neu!.

Lyrically, their first two albums consist mainly of settings of texts by pre-modernist English poets such as Yeats, Blake, Tennyson and Chaucer. Their third album, I a moon, differs from their previous releases by featuring lyrics of a more personal and introspective nature written by Craig and Sharron Fortnam.

North Sea Radio Orchestra are a unique and irrepressibly English force in contemporary music and their carefully balanced blend of folk, chamber and psychedelic sounds ought to enchant any open-minded prog fan.

01. Morpheus Miracle Worker 5:20
02. I A Moon 2:22
03. Guitar Miniature #3 1:43
04. Heavy Weather 8:07
05. Berliner Luft 6:11
06. Morpheus Drone 2:22
07. The Earth Beneath Our Feet 5:31
08. Ring Moonlets 3:16
09. When Things Fall Apart 4:33
10. Mitte Der Welt 6:09

Nicola Baigent / clarinet, bass clarinet
Luke Crooks / bassoon
Ben Davies / piano, organ
Harry Escott / cello
Craig Fortnam / guitar, voice, organ, percussion
Sharron Fortnam / lead voice
James Larcombe / monosynth, organ, hurdy gurdy
Dug Parker / voice
Hugh Wilkinson / percussion
Brian Wright / violin, viola
Guest musicians:
Matt Shmigelsky / extra bells
Sarah Cutts / backing vocals on track 1
Jo Spratley / backing vocals on track 1

Minimum Vital - Capitaines (France 2009) [ProgRock] @320

French outfit Minimum Vital is yet another example of a band that have produced a strong album in 2009. There has been quite a few of those so far. In this case we're served a delightful, beautiful blend of folk music and symphonic progressive rock. Wandering, acoustic guitar motifs and hand drums makes up most of the folk aspects of this production, with some flute soloing as an additional trait. Fluent guitar soloing and lush keyboard textures makes up most of the symphonic aspect of this excursion, with a few examples of dramatic, staccato tangent explorations and rich, multiple layered and epic soundscapes presented on occasion too.

The compositions are mostly freely flowing affairs, light and positive in mood. 
Mellow, subdued passages are blended with pacier energetic ones, and the band comes cross as experts in the art of taking a song from a low key, sparse beginning to a rich, orchestrated ending. And while most of the tracks blends the two stylistic expressions they explore, we're alos served some compositions with an emphasis on either one or the other genre.

These light, fluid ventures might not be to everybody's taste; but personally I found them to be a pleasing and intriguing experience - to be filed under positive progressive rock.

1. She Moves Through The Fair (4:12)
2. Avec Uppsala (6:43)
3. Mauresque (5:48)
4. En Terre Etrangère (4:28)
5. La Croix De Bourghi Bandô (3:30)
6. Le Chant De Gauthier (7:21)
7. En Superbô (5:24)
8. Capitaines (6:53)
9. La Route (7:08)

Jean-Baptiste Ferracci / vocals
Sonia Nedelec / vocals
Didier Ottaviani / drums, percussion
Jean-Luc Payssan / guitars, mandolin, vocals, percussion
Thierry Payssan / organ & synthesizers, vocal, percussions
Eric Rebeyrol / bass

Breznev Fun Club - Onda Vertebrata (ITA 2010) [AvantProg] @320

There are releases that I struggle to come up with adequate words that would somehow be worthy of the music.

Usually after writing these reviews I feel lousy for not being able to match my abstract impressions of the album with the verbal and thought-processing part of my brain which seems to be incapacitated and barely capable of finding the right descriptions and praises.

So in case it’s not clear from this review, know this – I am very impressed with this album. And I find the music on it to be as lovely as it is captivating. But know this, it takes time and concentration to fully absorb all of it. There, a direct and simple way to praise an album, bypassing all the verbose and loquacious long-winded and pompous reviewing I usually aim for.

But I can’t leave it at that, right. You may very well want to know what this sounds like? And perhaps a bit more on what I think of it, what I hear special in the music?
Recorded in 2009, these compositions represent a repertoire of music by Rocco Lomonaco dating back to 1990 until 1997. The music Mr. Lomonaco composes a fascinating fusion of modern classical music with rock, resulting in a “rock-estra” of sorts. There is a magical mix of the orchestra and the rock lineups, including the vocals (female operatic and male speaking/singing). The lyrics are by Mr. Franco Sciscio. In fact, I was reminded of the music of Yugen on Labirinto D’acqua the most while listening to this (obviously this was composed before their time) and at times it brought up even Steve Martland’s Horses Of Instruction (on track 8 – “Inseguito Dai Creditori”). Another point of reference is Nichelodeon’s Il Gioco Del Silenzio (I’ll get back to that at the end of the review).

Most pieces are made up of shorter sections that flow seamlessly. Each one dominated with a theme and atmosphere of its own, at times spilling over to the next part. To me there is a good balance of both musical worlds here, and I guess I should not see it that way anymore, rather I should treat it as one approach or style that happens to draw from both worlds and put emphasis on one when appropriate (“Tre Pezzi Brevi” is a more “classical”-based piece while “Ludiche Ecchimosi” is more rock-oriented.

The music also holds elements of surprise. For instance, just when you don’t expect it, the music turns from a modern classical type, orchestral and peaceful to a blatant avant-progressive rock (still with elements of the orchestra playing along). It also makes sharp turns at times to a new direction and develops a new theme (in the multi-section pieces). I may very well be wrong here, but some of the pieces sound to me atonal in nature (for instance, “Tre Pezzi Brevi”), while most others are tonal-based compositions and are more naturally accessible.

The title track itself is worth the price of admission. Representative of all the styles and ambiances on the album it is comprised of 10 sections that shift from abstract and mellow soundscapes to aggressive and structured rock bit, from a jazzy short theme to a mysterious and eerie sounding organ-lead part, from a rich sounding orchestral portion to a calmer acoustic guitar lead segment. This composition (in particular, “Non Credere Piu”) along with “Il Folletto Di Cera” reminded me of what Nichelodeon does in his latest album, Il Gioco Del Silenzio – a theatrical, vocals-lead emotional, atonal, abstract at times musical show.

The last three tracks are bonus pieces:
“Le Follia Del Mimo Azoto” is a jazzy tune with the vocals being the most playful in the album, very much in tune with the song’s liveliness and slight cheekiness.
The album closes with an instrumental version of the two-segment piece “Il Folletto Di Cera”.

The album comes in a lovely mini-LP packaging with lots of pictures and written text in the booklet, only those are in Italian with no English translation, which is too bad.

If you like a fusion of modern classical composition and avant-prog-rock and if you like Yugen, Nichelodeon or even Steve Martland, do check Breznev Fun Orchestra out.

01 - Ludiche Ecchimosi #0 - Prélude 'butter'.mp3
02 - Ludiche Ecchimosi #1.mp3
03 - Ludiche Ecchimosi #2.mp3
04 - Ludiche Ecchimosi #3.mp3
05 - Ludiche Ecchimosi #4.mp3
06 - Miniatura #1.mp3
07 - Il Folletto Di Cera.mp3
08 - Inseguito Dai Creditori.mp3
09 - Flutter.mp3
10 - In Mezzo.mp3
11 - Snappy.mp3
12 - L'onda Vertrebrata I - Ouverture.mp3
13 - L'onda Vertrebrata Ii - ...Tra Le Gocce Che Verso.mp3
14 - L'onda Vertrebrata Iii - T... Onda Vertebrata.mp3
15 - L'onda Vertrebrata Iv - ...Di Un'ombra....mp3
16 - L'onda Vertrebrata V - Intermezzo.mp3
17 - L'onda Vertrebrata Vi - In Bilico.mp3
18 - L'onda Vertrebrata Vii - Passaggio.mp3
19 - L'onda Vertrebrata Viii - ...Addomestico Il Sogno.mp3
20 - L'onda Vertrebrata Ix - ...Non Credere Piu..mp3
21 - L'onda Vertrebrata X - Coda Con Fanfara.mp3
22 - La Follia Del Mimo Azoto.mp3
23 - Miniatura #1.mp3
24 - Il Folletto Di Cera.mp3

Franco Sciscio – voice, Sprechgesang
Giuliana Di Mitrio – mezzosoprano
Maria Mianulli – flute
Francesco Manfredi – clarinet in B flat
Michele Motola – soprano and alto sax
Gianfranco Menzella – alto, tenor and baritone sax
Francesco Panico – trumpet in B flat
Francesco Tritto – trombone
Tommaso De Vito Francesco – bass guitar, contrabass, oboe
Michele Fracchiolla – drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba
Pino Manfredi – piano, keyboards
Rocco Lomonaco – classical, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, quatro, harmonica
Duilio Maci – violin
Angela Schiralli – cello

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Accordion Tribe - Accordion Tribe (Multinational 1998) [AvantProg] @320

Accordion Tribe were an international accordion group featuring Bratko Bibic (Slovenia), Lars Hollmer (Sweden), Maria Kalaniemi (Finland), Guy Klucevsek (USA/Slovenia) and Otto Lechner (Austria). They have recorded three albums, have toured Europe several times and played in Victoriaville (QC) Canada in 1998.

In Ghent, Belgium in May 1996, five internationally respected accordionists convened to form an ensemble that would explore the use of the instrument in different cultures and musical contexts. They rehearsed for three days and performed in Vooruit, following it with a three-week European tour. Their performances were recorded, and a self-titled album was culled from the results.

In 1998, Klucevsek put together Accordion Tribe II, with Alan Bern, Amy Denio, and Pauline Oliveros, again touring Europe and prompting a reunion of the original ensemble.

On December 25, 2008, member Lars Hollmer died after a brief illness. The group thus performed as a quartet during their already scheduled April 2009 tour, "in memory of their friend and colleague".

In 2010 Klucevsek announced that he had decided to let the group come to an end as an ongoing project but did not rule out the possibility of a reunion concert in the future.

01 - Altered Landscapes: Part One (Klucevsek) 5:05
02 - Wave Hill (Klucevsek) 6:00
03 - The Gunks (Klucevsek) 3:11
04 - Sackamra (Bibic) 5:37
05 - 3/4 Suite (Lechner) 6:57
06 - Dolores (Bibic) 4:18
07 - Netzwerk (Lechner) 3:27
08 - Jane (Bibic) 3:31
09 - Sofia Flykt (Kalaniemi) 2:32
10 - Istunpa Sankys Laitalla  (trad.) 3:34
11 - Mita Sina Laitoit (trad.) 2:38
12 - Ellin Polka (trad.) 2:07
13 - Utflykt M. Damcykel (Hollmer)  4:09
14 - Nidoina/Quirk (The Tribe) 3:47
15 - Cirkus II (Hollmer) 2:01
16 - Fathom (The Tribe) 2:16
17 - Boeves Psalm (Hollmer) 3:06
18 - Cirkus I (Hollmer) 1:53
19 - Mad Cow (The Tribe) 2:38
20 - Inte Quanta (Hollmer) 3:05
21 - Die Wintersonnenwende II (Lechner) 2:52

Bratko Bibic (4,6,7,8,14-21): Hohner Tango piano accordion;
Lars Hollmer (3, 4,9,13-21): Zerosette piano accordion, Suzuki melodica;
Maria Kalaniemi (2-4,9-21): Bugari Etnos 5-row free brass button accordion;
Guy Klucevsek (1-4,13-21): Giuletti Super Continental V piano accordion with 5-row chromatic free bass;
Otto Lechner (5-7,13-21): Hohner Lucia piano accordion.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rondo (Erik Visser & Sylvia Houtzager) - Trigynon (Netherlands 1986) [ProgRock] @320

Flairck Related
Very Rare! Vinyl Rip

Promotional only picture disc LP recorded by Erik Visser and Sylvia Houtzager, both of Flairck, for the dutch pharmaceutical company Schering Nederland BV. The picture disc design is based on the circular packaging of the contraceptive drug Trigynon. Gatefold cover. Promo only, not for sale.

01. Onder Druk        
02. Wandelgang        
03. Pluche        
04. Dans Je        
05. Druppels        
06. Spiegeling        
07. Overgang        
08. Onder Druk (Reprise)

Erik Visser: guitars
Sylvia Houtzager: violin

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mammadeus - Mamadeus (Netherlands 1983) [ProgRock] @192

Very Rare Flairck related work.
The connection with Flairck is the flutist Peter Weekers and the style of this album is very similar to Flairck.
Almost all instrumental album and played with high performance.
I didn't find any review about this album in the NET.
This is my vinyl rip. Not released on CD.

01. Omenom 3:35 
02. Manon 3:54 
03. Shaura 7:15 
04. Atlantis 4:30 
05. Poolijs 13:40 
06. Moira 5:40 
07. De wolkenkrabber 3:22 

Peter Weekers: fluiten, zang, xylofoon, vibrafoon.
Peter Leerdam: bas, klokkenspel.
Rob van der Vlugt: klarinet, bassethoorn, piano, vibrafoon, xylofoon, marimba
Frans Leerdam: mbira, xylofoon, vibrafoon, marimba, klokkenspel
Rob Husmann: gitaar, vibrafoon, maraca's, zang

Herman van Veen: zang 7
Peter Weekers: panfluit 7
Erik van der Wurff: toetsen 7
Chris Lookers: gitaar 7
Cees van der Laarse: bas 7
Jan Hollestelle: bas 7
Louis Debij: drums 7

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jean-Luc Payssan - Pierrots & Arlequins (France 2005) [ProgRock] @320

Together with his twin brother Thierry, Jean-Luc PAYSSAN was a co-founder of MINIMUM VITAL, more than twenty years ago. This band from the Bordeaux area has become popular among Progressive rock connoisseurs especially, as it took part in the movement's revival by the end of the Eighties. It also initiated a new musical language, somewhere between jazz-rock, Progressive rock and medieval music. The first solo album of Jean-Luc PAYSSAN is not that of a solitary man: Thierry's keyboards and Sonia NEDELEC's voice are here, as well as Bernard MILON's violin. The Master of Ceremonies offers in turn beautiful acoustic or nylon guitar parts. But not only: he also plays unusual instruments such as theorbo, ciste, mandolin, mandole and some percussions... These fourteen short and intimist pieces unveil melodies with an absolute splendour, music of total purity, both timeless and personal. Unlike most guitarists' albums, too frequently complacent and demonstrative, the artist here shows a perfect humility, while proving to be an outstanding instrumentist and composer, with an astonishing culture. No song sounds like another one here, both in its arrangements and inspiration. An absolute eclecticism serving a simply marvellous music: a fountain of purity !


01 - La Fontaine (2'53)
02 - Arlequins (2'28)
03 - Pierrots (1'17)
04 - Etats De Joie (5'25)
05 - Danse Vivace Pour Six Cordes (3'02)
06 - Au Bois Variations (4'40)
07 - Le Manège Aux Songes (2'21)
08 - Les Trois Dames De Mantoue (I. Prélude) (1'43)
09 - Les Trois Dames De Mantoue (II. L'Enjôleuse) (1'57)
10 - Les Trois Dames De Mantoue (III. La Rêveuse) (4'35)
11 - Les Trois Dames De Mantoue (IV. La Fougueuse) (1'15)
12 - Gaillarde Napolitaine (3'00)
13 - Larmes Bleues (4'04)
14 - Complainte Ancienne (1'37)

Jean-Luc Payssan - classical & acoustic guitar, mandolas, theorbe, zither, percussion, vocals
Bernard Millon - violin
Sonia Nedelec - vocals
Thierry Payssan - synthesizer, organ

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Esthema - Apart From The Rest (USA 2008) [World Fusion] @VBR224

Esthema, a World Fusion ensemble out of Boston, MA (USA) creates their unique sound by fusing elements from the traditional music of the Eastern European Balkan region and the Near & Middle East with Progressive Rock and various styles of Jazz. The five musicians that shape the sound of Esthema bring together both Western and Eastern influences, instruments, and musical concepts.
"........Joel Simches from Boston’s Noise Magazine stated, “this recording is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music” and John Collinge from Progression Magazine called it “a seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs: Ethnic scales and meters intertwine delightfully with jazz-rock drums and bass beneath jazzy improv and winding melodies.”

01. Consequence
02. For whom? For Me…
03. Distance
04. Erimos
05. Finding my way
06. Apart From the Rest

Andy Milas (guitar)
Tery Lemanis (oud & bouzouki)
Onur Dilisen (violin)
Jack Mason (Bass)
Carl Sorensen (drums)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ibrido Hot Six - Ibrido Hot Six Plays Acquiring The Taste (2010 Italy) [ProgProg] @320

Considered – with Genesis and King Crimson – the most creative group of the seventies, capable to create resonant worlds on horseback between ancient music and contemporary, classic and rock, the Gentle Giant contributed to define a type, the progressive rock, that has given to the some light between the most important works of the popular music of all of the times.  The Gentle Giant, inspiring itself all plot of motive cultured and popular of the renaissance saga of Rabelais, has distinguished thanks all symphonic approach of the poly istrumentism and to the refined songwriting of masterpieces what Funny Ways and Pantagruel's Nativity. 

Studied from a musician of large pertaining to perspective openings like Antonio Apuzzo, the Gentle Giant there come returned from this in all book their artistic parable, leaving from the primordi of fine sixties until the masterpieces of Seventy and to the last, recent apparitions of the group Three Friends, born from the union of three historical components of the band (two of which collaborated to this hover releasing a interview). The analysis of all of the pieces of their repertory offers a indispensable leader all listening, and to the deep understanding, the ambitious aesthetics and fascinating of Gentle Giant.

The cd cited, Hybrid Hot Six Plays Acquiring The Taste, proposes the rereading in instrumental key of eight unforgettable compositions of the second album of the Gentle Giant. The faithful approach to the original material surprises for the exaltation of its matrix chamber and the transparency timbrica of the ensemble, formed from two basses, oboe, flutes, fails and reeds. 

Saxophone player, clarinet player, composer and teacher of music, Antonio Apuzzo is profitable since 1975 nell' àmbito of the jazz and of the contemporary music.  Besides to realize numerous record engravings (on everything, those with the trio Orselli Apuzzo Lalla) has composed (with Mauro Thistles) the opera Luz for trio jazz and settetto from room, produced from Italian broadcasting corporation RAI Radio3, and finalist was all' International Songwriting Competition 2007.  Before this hover it wrote, in collaboration with Luigi you Honor, The jazz in the afroamerican tradition. 

01. Pantagruel's Nativity
02. Edge Of Twilight
03. Giant Links: Echoes
04. The House, The Street, The Room
05. Giant Links: The City
06. Acquiring The Taste
07. Giant Links: Before The Wreck
08. Wreck
09. The Moon Is Down
10. Black Cat
11. Giant Links: Blues For Martin
12. Plain Truth

Antonio Apuzzo - Tenor and alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet, descant recorder
Pino Capomolla - flute, tenor recorder
Francesco Fratini - trumpet
Gianni Di Ruzza - oboe
Gianluca Taddei - bass
Sandro Lalla - bass

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