Monday, May 31, 2010

Synesthesia (David Martone & Navid Nikbakht) - Synesthesia (Canada/England 2000) [Fusion] @256

"Synesthesia", the album, is an acoustic instrumental project combining the guitar artistry of Navid Nikbakht and David Martone to create a unique and individual recording. Nikbakht and Martone each bring their own individual set of influences to this group, which also includes producer/percussionist Christoph Bracher. Using elements of Latin, Asian, Jazz and Rock, "Synesthesia"'s self-titled album has already found many fans worldwide. Canadian born David Martone has been heavily influenced by Classical and Progressive Rock music and has two electric instrumental projects out "Shut Up 'N Listen" and "Zone". Iranian born Nikbakht defines his music as "world fusion". Concentrating on acoustic instruments, Navid's varied musical background is apparent in all that he does. Elements of Latin, Moorish, Jazz, Gypsy as well as his native Persian music can be heard through out this project. Nikbakht and Martone met in 1992 while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and quickly found a common platform to launch their own unique version of world music. On this project they are joined by top musicians from India, Jamaica, Germany, UK and Iran.

01 - Inquisitive Heart
02 - Shatki
03 - Conference of the Birds Part II (for A.F.)
04 - Blue
05 - Intersense
06 - Prelude in C# minor
07 - Sultan Ghalbam
08 - Abadan
09 - Voluptuous Vulcan

Navid Nikbakht: Guitars
David Martone: Guitars
B.K.Chandrashekhar: Violin
Gary Crosby: Bass
Farnoosh Behzad: Keyboards
Hossain Farjami: Vocals
Christoph Bracher: Percussions


Friday, May 21, 2010

Le Silo - 8.8 (Japan 2004) [AvantProg] @320

Le Silo, are a 3-piece band from Japan, that play a widely influenced blend of demanding prog rock, which mostly takes the form of RIO and avant-jazz, with punk-rock stylistics, which is not only captivating, but  well played. By no means is their sound entirely original, but the musicianship is of a high quality and they do indeed have some very excellent and surprising moments too. Their punk stylistics are evident and with Miyako's links to Yoshida Tatsuya, then it is obvious they are influenced by Ruins and Koenjihyakkei and most likely Boredoms and Happy Family as well. Non-Japanese bands they are likely influenced by, include Univers Zéro, Present, French TV, Samla Mammas Manna and Miriodor. Originally starting life as Miyako (presumably named after Miyako Kanazawa), a punk orientated band; they eventually changed their style and their name to Le Silo, (some of their tracks have French titles too), presumably in honour of the French and Belgian bands that most likely influenced them. The members of the band - Yoshiharu Izutsu (guitar and voice); Michiaki Suganuma (drums and voice) and Miyako Kanizawa (piano) - released their debut album "8.8" in 2004 on the Tutinoko label in Japan. Miyako is also a member of Koenjihyakkei (keyboards and voice) alongside Ruins and Daimonji drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, who also produced "8.8".

If you enjoy the Japanese avant-prog scene and bands such as Ruins and Koenjihyakkei, you'll enjoy Le Silo. If you enjoy bands such as Univers Zero, Present, Sammla Mannas Manna, Guapo, Ahvak and Absolute Zero, you'll also likely enjoy Le Silo. Also liking zeuhl will help you with your chances of liking them also. They are definitely recommended for those who want something different to the norm.

01. Le Soleil (3.54)
02. Enormous Trees With the Holy Spirits #1 (2:23)
03. Oiseaux (9:41)
04. The Doctor's Helicopter (3:12)
05. Le Silo (6:40)
06. Numazapa (1:43)
07. On a Magic Carpet Ride (4:08)
08. The Hard Metallic Pigeon (9:35)
09. Turkish... (5.27)
10. Enormous Trees With the Holy Spirits #2 (1:56)
11. Twisting Waist (5:42)
12. Pendule de la Vie (5:41)

Le Soleil

Miyako Kanazawa: piano / Voice
Yoshiharu Izutsu: Guitar/ Voice
Michiaki Suganuma: Drums / Voice
Tatsuya Yoshida: Voice (5 & 11)


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ballroomquartet - Surfing Sufi (Belgium 2004) [AvantProg] @320

Ballroomquartet is a unique Belgian band with an exceptional sound and unusual instrumentation. The eccentric combination of classical and traditional instruments with electronics and effects creates a dancy, original and filmic atmosphere. On stage, they're always in for musical experimentation. Energy, virtuosity and sensitivity are the key words. Their two full-albums, Surfing Sufi (2004) and Soundmanifest (2007), got some very good press reviews. End of November 2009 they will release their new full-album in a production of Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten. This band has an exceptional live reputation! You should check them out!

01 - Thera Mina
02 - (B)eat This!
03 - Doppelganger.flac
04 - The Return Of The Gyronef In Suburban London
05 - Lydic Train
06 - Escape From Perk
07 - A Night In Venice
08 - Lucinda
09 - Mighty Mouse
10 - Exit
11 - Jan Mijne Man (Ballroom remix)
12 - Surfing Sufi

Andries Boone: Mandoline, Violon
Rony Deprins: Accordéon
Jasper Hautekiet: Contrebasse, Guitare basse
David Vertongen: Drums, Percussion
P. Van Sant: Spoken word
Tom Theuns: Sitar
Drika Boone: Violon
Paul Van Bruystegem: Guitare
Hanne Raport-Hautekiet: Backing vocals
Barbara Struys: Backing vocals
Katrien Verstreken: Backing vocals
Katrien Peeters: Violon
Aag Dereymaeker: Violon
Els Smedts: Viola
Lieve Van Look: Violoncelle
Inne Spelmans: Backing vocals

Monday, May 3, 2010

Adrian Belew - e (USA 2009) [ProgRock] @320

It's been a while since we had another King Crimson album. During this time Adrian Belew has managed to release quite a few albums and this completely instrumental 2009-offering came right after the completion of the Side-series.
Unlike the previous albums e features a steady lineup of Adrian Belew on guitar, Julie Slick on bass while her brother Eric Slick handles the drums. According to Julie Slick's myspace website the band formed in March of 2006 when they took the stage at the Knitting Factory in New York City for a performance of Frank Zappa's City of Tiny Lites. After that performance the Adrian Belew Power Trio went on a long tour which they then followed by recording this album.

e or Planet e, as it was originally titled, is roughly divided into five different sections where each one, except for c, is split into one or more sub-sections. According to Adrian Belew the compositions can be listened to as individual pieces of music, but they do interact through the overall theme that binds them together. Musically this is as close as Belew has ever managed to capture the sound of the two latest King Crimson releases on his solo album. Although unlike the cold and mechanical-sounding King Crimson compositions this release actually manages to maintain the human element which most likely has to do with the excellent rhythmic section!

The whole album is packed with some of the most elaborate playing that I've heard from Belew and I'm quite surprised to be the only one reviewing this album since it has been out since July 2009! Granted that there are a few sections that make me think that Belew is just sliding around in different scales there are always other elements of the sound that capture my attention besides the guitar work.

Rune2000 - Prog Archives

01. a (0:30)
02. a2 (3:37)
03. a3 (3:07)
04. b (6:12)
05. b2 (3:36)
06. b3 (1:21)
07. c (6:19)
08. d (6:00)
09. d2 (2:50)
10. e (0:55)
11. e2 (7:57)

Adrian Belew: guitars
Julie Slick: bass
Eric Slick: drums


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Von Zamla - No Make Up! (Sweden 1983) [AvantProg] @320

Founded in 1981 by keyboardist Lars Hollmer and guitarist Eino Haapala this zany band was an off-shoot of Sweden's Samlas Mammas Manna whose brand of RIO made them popular in Sweden in the 1970's but kept them relatively obscure elsewhere.
Von Zamla released two studio albums in their short career; Zamlaranama (1981) and No Make Up (1983). Brimming with Nordic Folk Melodies,thanks toHollmer's amazing accordion work the albums feature much less improvisational work than their earlier Sammlas work. One of the defining qualities of the band is their sense of theatre,comic theatre to be precise and this shines through both their albums.
This band represents a fascinating link to some of today's more creative bands such as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Miriodor.

Perfect vinyl rip. Not released in CD.

01. Forge Etude (4:19)
02. Soon Series (7:36)
03. Für Munju/Indojazz (6:08)
04. Gilmit (4:37)
05. Hopeful (4:41)
06. Endango (3:52)
07. Piece of Antsong (2:45)
08. Voice Improvisation (3:52)
09. After SMRT (5:22)
10. Cancion De Bi-Mi-Mela (3:26)

Michel Berckmans: bassoon, oboe
Eino Haapala: guitar, vocals
Lars Hollmer: keyboards, accordion
Hans Louhelainen: keyboards, melodica
Wolfgang Salomon: bass, guitaron
Mårten Tiselius: drums
Additional musician:
Kalle Eriksson: trumpet (4), percussion


Solo albums:
XII Sibiriska Cyklar (1981)
Vill Du Höra Mer (1982)
Från Natt Idag (1983)
Joggingcharleston Singel (1984)
Tonöga (1985)
Vendeltid (1987)
The Siberian Circus (compilation, 1992)
Vandelmässa (1993)
Andetag (1998)
Utsikter (2000)
Autokomp A(nd)more (2001)
SOLA: Lars Hollmer's Global Home Project (2002)
Viandra (2007)

With Samla Mammas Manna:
Samla Mammas Manna (1971)
Måltid (1973)
Klossa Knapitatet (1974)
Snorungarnas Symfoni (1975)
Kaka (1999)
Dear Mamma (2002)

With Zamla Mammaz Manna:
Schlagerns Mystik / För Äldre Nybegynnare (1978)
Familjesprickor (1980)

With von Zamla:
Zamlaranamma (1982)
No Make Up (1983)
1983 (1999, rec. live 1983)  

With Ramlösa Kvällar:
Ramlösa Kvällar (Nights Without Frames) (1977)

With Fem Söker En Skatt:
Fem Söker En Skatt (1995)

With Looping Home Orchestra:
Vendeltid (1987)
Door Floor Something Window (live, 1993)

With Accordion Tribe:
Accordion Tribe (live, 1998)
Sea of Reeds (2002)
Lunghorn Twist (2006)

With Fanfare Pourpour:
Karusell musik (2007)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wavemaker - Where Are We Captain? (England 1975) [ProgRock] @320

 Vinyl Rip - Not released in CD

Quite an excellent and unique take on electronic music from this somewhat obscure British duo. Brian Hodgson is far less well-known for this than for his work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (he’s probably most famous for devising the devilish Dalek voices for TV’s Doctor Who). The two Wavemaker lads perform on the mammoth Electrophon synthesizer (essentially an EMS Synthi 100 with a bunch of custom modules  hooked into it) and invited a couple of guests to sit in on drums and “timpanii” (their spelling).

The result is one of the most rockin’ synth-only records I’ve ever heard. The first time I heard the raucous fuzz-tone at the start of “Double Helix,” I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Why didn’t someone TELL me a synth could do that? The A-side is a near-classic, with some unbelievably up-front synth-prog closing with the breathtaking “Syren’s Song.” The B-side is more low-key and contemplative, but no less high-quality. For fans of electronic music that are looking for something a bit different.

01. Lodestar   5:06
02. Double Helix   10:13
03. Syren‘s Song   5:55
04. Wavemaker   6:42
05. Oracle   8:13
06. Enter the Eldil   7:43

John Lewis:
Brian Hodgson: Synthesizer
Jon Keliehor
Anthony McVey

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gatto Marte - Sogni di Bimba (Italy 2008) [AvantProg] @320

Another fine release from this Italian 'chamber music' quartet. Recalling the Belgian group Julverne, Gatto Marte are a percussion-less group that really focus on classical chamber sounds rather than 'rock' but have an appeal to 'rock' fans for the clarity and tunefulness of their compositions. If Univers Zero are rock's version of Stravinsky and Art Zoyd are rock's version of Varese and Wappasou rock's version of Debussy and ZNR rock's Satie, then Gatto Marte are certainly rock music's answer to Prokofiev! Delicate and beautiful music from violin, bassoon, piano & doublebass.
When you go to Gatto Marte's site, you are greeted with the following sentence: "Gatto Marte is an italian quartet performing original compositions with classical influence and jazz improvisation." That, dear readers, is a mighty fine and accurate sentence. I'll write more now, but do keep that sentence in mind! This is the band's seventh album and the musicians are Nino Cotone: Violin, Hang and Percussion, Giuseppe Brancaccio: Bassoon, Maximilian Brooks: Piano and Percussion, Pietro Lusvardi: Double Bass, Banjo, Harmonica and Percussion.

"Gatto Marte is a chamber ensemble of classical background with an attitude close to jazz and a twist of folk music, from Eastern Europe through the Mediterranean towards the North. Piano, double bass, violin and bassoon are the protagonists of this musical journey."

01. Puer
02. Puella
03. Povera gente valse
04. Tango luna
05. Carnevale sopra le nuvole
06. Il bosco di Marte
07. La Tugazza
08. Prima volta
09. Tin tin
10. Rosa
11. Lily
12. Luca
13. Pique nique
14. L'armata di Picio
15. Rosa del deserto

05. Carnevale sopra le nuvole

Nino Cotone
: violin, hang & percussion
Giuseppe Brancaccio: bassoon
Maximilian Brooks: piano & percussion
Pietro Lusvardi: double bass, banjo, harmonica & percussion

Guest musicians:
Doug Tones: tom tom & crash cymbal (1)
Rosa Lusvardi: castanets (8)
Lily Lusvardi assisted by Sara Lusvardi: maracas (8) 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Calomito - Inaudito (Italy 2005) [Jazz Rock Avant] @320

Calomito, from Genoa, Italy, wild sextet (double bass, guitar, drums, sax soprano, violin and Fender Rhodes), masters of candied jazz, chose to not deny themselves any way. That is total music, fusion of arab, tzigan, klezmer tastes on a solid progjazz base, remembering Doctor Nerve, Gong, Zappa… with a crackling and genuine creativity, which dilutes the astounding talent of the musicians and avoids any algid virtuoso wanking.
"...... the sound is a mix of progressive, r.i.o., Canterbury and jazz touch with a mediterranean influence that sometimes reminds of the fantastic Area, Gong, or Zappa … complex compositions, skilled musicians, a really good debut album!"

1. Collante
2. Nautilus
3. Am Ha'Aretz
4. Ebetus
5. Dal Buffo Buio
6. Rutz
7. Nascosto
8. Kaizer

Marco Ravera / electric guitar
Kai Kundratice / Rhodes, organ, synthesizer
Filippo Cantarella / viola and violin
Federico Barrai / alto sax, soprano sax, percussion
Tommaso Rolando / bass, electric bass
Paolo Piccardo / drums, samples

with guest musicians:
Matteo Ammirati / guitars
Marco Tindiglia / trumpet

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yügen - Labirinto d'Acqua (Italy 2006) [AvantProg] @VBR224

This is a brilliant debut album from an Italian band which revolves around guitarist/composer Francesco Zago's and producer Marcello Marinone's singular vision of a fusion of chamber music, symphonic prog and RIO/Avant prog. The name of the band is Japanese; it has no easy translation, but an approximation would be an awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep for words (according to the book The Meaning of Tingo). The sleeve contains quotations from Erik Satie (2 of whose compositions are included), Wittgenstein, Umberto Fiori, Liebniz and Jorge Luis Borges, among others. This is a band that is ambitious in scale and scope, and it is to the credit of all concerned that the music more than lives up to the ideals which inform it.

The album starts with a lovely, rippling piano piece by Satie before the first composition proper arrives in the shape of Catacresi. This sets the tone for what is to follow; woodwinds and tuned percussion that recall the austere modernism of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, washes of keyboards that recall Gentle Giant and Genesis and guitar that touches base with Zappa, Frith and Fripp, the whole sounding totally fresh and contemporary. Rather like some of Univers Zero's recent albums, the 14 musicians involved play in different permutations on different pieces, which makes for a highly varied sonic palette but which also means that it doesn't always feel like the work of a band in the traditional sense of the word. The standard of writing, arranging and playing is astonishingly high throughout, and credit must be given to Udi Koorman for his mixing skills. A particular highlight is Corale Metallurgico, a percussion driven piece featuring Dave Kermann of 5UUs fame, with the manic twists and turns of Zappa's 'serious' music and a truly fabulous percussion arrangement. Later on, Quando La Morte Mi Colse Nel Sonno opens and closes with a synthesiser line that PFM would have been proud to use on one of their early albums, although they would probably not have included the ghostly shakuhachi part which leads into the rather darker middle section of the piece, and the mellotron quartet Skellotron is a wonderful fragment that could be explored further on subsequent recordings.
RIO/Avant prog sometimes distances itself from 70s symphonic prog, although the two genres share some common roots and emerged from the same scene. Yugen draw successfully on both styles in a similar manner to Japanese bands like Koenjihyakkei and Bondage Fruit. This album isn't quite a 5 star masterpiece but it comes close - there will be high expectations for their next recording. Recommended to anybody with a taste for the adventurous, and especially to those who usually find avant prog heavy going. Splendid stuff. (Syzygy - ProGGnosis)01 - Sévére Réprimande02 - Catacresi03 - Omelette Norvegese04 - Corale Metallurgico05 - Danse Cuirassée (Periode Grecque)06 - Brachiologia07 - La Mosca Stregata08 - Quando La Morte Mi Colse Nel Sonno09 - Skellotron 00310 - Le Rovine Circolari11 - Anastomosi12 - Danze Corazzate13 - Labirinto D'acqua14 - Incubi Concentrici

Paolo Botta
: E-Piano, Mellotron, Organ, Moog

Stephan Brunner
: Bass

Maurizio Fasoli
: Piano

Dave Kerman
: Drums on Track 4

Tommaso Leddi
: Mandolin, Lute

Massimo Mazza
: Vibraphone, Marimba, Glockenspiel

Elia Mariani
: Violin

Guiseppe A. Olivini
: Cembalo, Percussion, Shakuhachi, Theremin

Peter Schmid
: Bassclarinet, Tubax, Subcontrabass Sax, Bass Flute, Taragot

Mattia Signo
: Drums

Marco Sorge
: Clarinet

Markus Stauss
: Sax

Francesco Zago
: Guitars, Keyboards

Diego Donadio
: Drum Arrangements
Udi Koomran: Sounds, Processing, Mix

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar (1981) + Waiting Paths (2006) (Sweden 2008) [ProgRock] @320

We're always on about '70s prog. Well what about prog in the '80s? Here's a nice example, though it's from the very early in the decade (recorded 1980, released 1981) so it's practically '70s anyway. A rather obscure Swedish outfit called Kultivator, whose sole album Barndomens Stigar (which boasts a b&w engraving on the cover by none other than conceptual artist & experimental musician Leif Elggren) blends the quirky herky jerky of prog complexity with blissful melody, tilting at times towards the twee whilst menacingly muscle-flexing at others. There's sizzling instrumental solo sections, and also much in the way of delightful female vocals (mostly wordless ba-ba-ba's).

Kultivator were a quartet, with lots of Fender Rhodes electric piano, as well as other organ and synth keyboards. Also recorder and/or flute. And on occasional backing vocals, a boy's choir. Yup, very proggy indeed. Armchair prog percussionists are provided with their fair share of air-drumming opportunities, percolating energetically as the drumming here does!
All those keyboards create a moody, slightly jazzistic sound which reminds us a bit of the brilliant Bo Hansson, '70s Swedish prog royalty. There's also a definite Magma influence at work (the thick bass riffing and martial drumming in the middle of "Kara Jord" for instance, leading some to go so far as to label Kultivator a genuine "zeuhl" band), and you'll hear hints of traditional Scandinavian folk music as well. Further reference points: fellow Swedes Samla Mammas Manna and Kebnekajse, also '70s UK prog like Genesis and Gentle Giant, RIO a la Henry Cow, and specifically Canterbury groups like National Health, among others. Guess that's what happens when you make prog in 1980, with a whole previous decade of genius from which to draw inspiration! Although Kultivator, um, certainly cultivated their own unique spin on what came before. We'd also say this is a good one for folks who enjoyed the modern day Swedish prog of Gosta Berlings Saga, reviewed here last year.
This brand-new reissue on the Mellotronen label features three bonus tracks added to the original LP's eight cuts, plus a whole extra bonus disc, called Waiting Paths, featuring four songs recorded by the now-reunited band in 2006. Since they already seemed a bit "out of time" (& we don't mean rhythmically!) even back in '81, it's no surprise that this more recent material sounds like a more modern Kultivator... but not that much more modern. Also included in this nice digipacked reissue, a big booklet with vintage photos and lengthy liner notes.

Barndomens Stigar (1981):
Mellotronen (MELLOCD 024) 2008
01. Hoga Hastar (03:37)
02. Vemod (02:38)
03. Smafolket (05:12)
04. Kara Jord (07:05)
05. Barndomens Stigar (05:13)
06. Grottekvarnen (07:01)
07. Varfol (02:53)
08. Novarest (06:16)
Bonus Tracks:
09. Haxdans (06:36)
10. Tunnelbanan Medley (02:19)
11. Novarest Live (12:23)

Waiting Paths (2006 / bonus CD):
Mellotronen (MELLOCD 025) 2008
01. In The Darkness' Plait (04:39)
02. Bringing Water (05:11)
03. Another Day In Life (03:45)
04. Waiting Paths (07:33)

Stefan Carlsson: bass, bass-pedals
Johan Hedrén: Rhodes, organ, synthesizers
Jonas Linge: guitars, vocals
Ingemo Rylander: vocals, recorders, Rhodes
Johan Svärd: drums, percussion
Hädan sväv boys' choir

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Birds and Buildings - Bantom To Behemoth (USA 2008) [ProgRock] @320

Birds and Buildings is the name of what is arguably the most notable USA's prog surprise for 2008, at least as a particular entity: given the fact that most members come from other interesting prog acts such as Deluge Grander and Cerebus Effect, this surprise of musical excellence and compositional strength shouldn't take us by surprise in an absolute sense. Well, now that I'm through with this pseudo- riddle, let me tell you right away that this "Bantam to Behemoth" album is an amazing exposure of eclectic progressive rock that ranges from Canterbury, space-rock, jazz-fusion, symphonic and avant- prog. All these elements are provided in a series of well defined sonorities linked through a cohesive unity of sounds and atmospheres.
(Cesar Inca - ProGGnosis)

1. Birds Flying Into Buildings (9:13)
2. Terra Fire (3:36)
3. Tunguska (6:33)
4. Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm (10:53)
5. Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone (9:19)
6. Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass (10:35)
7. Chakra Khan (5:59)
8. Battalion (9:55)
9. Sunken City, Sunny Day (3:19)

Dan Britton / keyboards, guitars, vocals
Malcolm McDuffie / drums
Brian Falkowski / saxophones, flute, clarinet
Brett d'Anon / bass, guitars
Megan Wheatley / vocals (5)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Asturias - In Search of the Soul Trees (Japan 2008) [ProgRock] @320

After two acoustic albums (one of which ranks among my all time fav live acoustic albums - Birds Eye View), this very talented band is now back to more electric venues. Yet they really keep the focus on implementing positive vibes and an optimistic attitude in form of instrumental music.
The creation of soft and harmonic symphonic melodies, even if in complex structures where the instruments interplay and complement each other are still the major working tools and techniques of this band. The music simply flows like a crystal clear water river, sometimes in narrowed passages where it accelerates and crisps a bit, but many times in calm and introspective forestall "run-throughs". Meaning that the band, once more, is capable of producing earfriendly tapestries where keyboards take the lead on several occasions, backed by a thoughtful rhythm section and planning acoustic guitars. The use of winds and orchestral instruments, of mellotron and all sorts of percussion instruments add a depth and a level of detail that highly enriches the music while never turning it too complex or invasive.
In fact the great art of this band is exactly maintaining the music in a very enjoyable melodic experience while exploring the possibilities that the chosen driven melodies allow, and working around those guidelines the band constantly amazes with its sympho-prog approach with a deep cinematographic feel.
The music sometimes steps into the boundaries of the epic while always keeping a soft and fragile feel. And this duality is brilliantly achieved with a natural and effortless sensitivity, proving that the musicians simply have that feel and are able to musically interpret it.
As simple uncompromising company music or full attention delight, this album never ceases to provide full enjoyment. It is one of those albums that, while never kept in continuous cd playing, will randomly find its way back to the tray in years to come. And this is what the classics are made of.
(Nuno - ProGGnosis)
01 - Spirits
02 - Revelation
03 - Reincarnation
04 - Fountain
05 - Woods
06 - Pilgrimage
07 - Paradise
08 - Storm
09 - Soul Trees
10 - Dawn

Yoh Ohyama: acoustic guitar,Spanish guitar,electric guitar, bass, mandolin, keybords, glockenspiel, harp, cello, percussions, synthesizer
Haruhiko Tsuda: electric guitar (VI)
Tsutomu Kurihara: electric guitar (V)
Satoshi Hirata: electric guitar (III)
Akira Hanamoto: mellotron (I,III,VIII)
Yoshihiko Kawagoe: piano (II,X)
Kaori Tsutsui: clarinet,recorders (I,II,VII)
Kyoko Itoh: violin (I,V)
Misa Kitatsuji: violin (IX)
Shigeo Sasaki: drums (II,IV,VIII)
Aya Nasuno: percussions
Kanako Itoh: voice
Hassy: voice

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Alamaailman Vasarat - Huuro Kolkko (Finland 2009) [Avant-Prog] @320

The Hammers of Hell (their name translated into English) return for their fifth great album! Their unique, heavy sound, which combines folk forms and RIO complexity and extended instrumenation remain in place and the band consists of Jarno Sarkula-saxes, clarinets, Erno Haukkala-trombone, tuba & piccolo trombone, Miikka Huttunen-pump organ, grand piano & melodica, Tuukka Helminen-cello, Marko Manninen-cello and Teemu Hanninen-drums and percussion. This is a concept album and we'll let the band explain the concept, but anyway, this is another excellent listen from a very dependable ensemble who can always be counted on!
-Wayside Music-

01 - Mielisaurus
02 - Liskopallo
03 - Meressa ei asuta
04 - Natiivit
05 - Luonto tuli lahelle
06 - Tujuhuju
07 - Luola
08 - Omalla ajalla
09 - Lautturin viivat

Jarno Sarkula: saxophones, clarinets, tubax, various ethnic woodwinds
Erno Haukkala: trombone, brass
Miikka Huttunen: pump organ, grand piano
Tuukka Helminen: cello
Marko Manninen: cello, theremin
Teemu Hänninen: drums, percussion

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Il Ruscello - Paesaggio Solare (Estate 1972) (Italy -2009) [Progressive Rock] @VBR

New Italian band based in London. They have done a great album in 2009. In the best tradition of the glorious 70's, their music moves without any hassles or sophistication. A wonderful album, reminiscent of the legendary Italian-prog bands, this album definitely stands out as one of the best revelations of 2009. Must-see!

I agree with the BTF promo on one thing.... when you first play "paesaggio solare" you do feel as if you are hearing a lost RPI album from 1972, albeit one with much better sound. Vintage sounding keys and guitars (acoustic and electric) are skillfully arranged with warm Italian vocals and a good, though not showboating rhythm section. BTF claims Silvio sounds like Gianni Leone but I think he sounds much more like Aldo Tagliapietra of Orme. The album has 6 tracks and is bookended by the two long pieces at 10 and 12 minutes in length. Here we feel the potential of Il Ruscello, with "Il Cielo in un Ruscello's" closing moments oozing dreamy, laid back Orme warmth, lovely keyboard atmospheres, and gentle vocals. It all sounds like a late summer day. The other epic tracks like the two-part "La Grande Citta" and "Orizzonti" features much more boisterous, full-throttle playing blended with lovely eccentricities: occasional pop keyboard runs, keys that mimic the harpsichord sound, delightful pastoral acoustic interludes, and tasteful electric guitar leads. Play by play descriptions are relatively useless because we all know the manic nature of great RPI with everything changing by the second. "La Quiete" is a short acoustic interlude with sweet piano. And there is the title track: beautifully constructed vocals and guitar parts with great keys and my favorite, matching opening and closing piano with that nostalgic, slightly melancholic feel.

1. Il Cielo in un Ruscello
2. La Notte di una Citta
3. Il Risveglio di una Citta
4. La Quiete
5. Paesaggio Solare (Estate 1972)
6. Orizzonti

Silvio Cavallo - (Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Drums)
Luca Harb - (Guitars, Synthesizers, Piano)
Giampaolo Cavallo - (Electric Bass, Orchestrations)

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mats & Morgan Band - Thanks For Flying With Us (Sweden 2005) [Avantprog] @320

"They played unbelievable, just unbelievable." -Frank Zappa"Remarkable technical expertise and playing skills" -Bill Bruford
"Absolutely unbelievable, they drove me right out of my mind, it wasso good. Buy their albums." -Mike Keneally

Mats Oberg (keyboards) and Morgan Agren (drums) first began playing together 25 years ago (!!) when Mats was 11 and Morgan was 15. Originally very influenced by Frank Zappa, they actually played with Zappa in 1988, but while some of the Zappa influence remains, they have long since found their own voices. In the mid 90's, they began releasing CDs on Morgan's UAE label, eventually forming a stable band,which has been amazing audiences in Europe and the United States since 2001, and which consists of Mats and Robert Elovsson-keyboards, Jimmy Agren-guitar, Tommy Thordsson-bass and Morgan-drums. All players with superb playing ability, the quintet plays as a well-honed, cohesive unit, with more developed compositions than in earlier works, showing the band arriving at its own voice in progressive jazz/rock, with a modern-sounding blend of complexity, composition, chops and beats. Thanks For Flying With Us is their seventh album, their first release outside of Sweden and their first studio work since 1997. This is agreat album by an absolutely monster band who await the world's discovery!

01. Sinus
02. Thanks For Flying With Us
03. Adat Dropouts I Love You
04. Not Us
05. Jr`s Tati-Car
06. La Baratte
07. Softma
08. Wounded Bird
09. Proppeller Hast
10. Allan In The Rain
11. Wenjie
12. Please Remain Seated
13. Coco
14. Live Neef
15. Alive In Enskede
16. Ivan

Jimmy Agren: guitar, dobro, bass guitar
Robert Elovsson: clarinet, keyboards
Mats Oberg: piano, keyboards
Morgan Agren: keyboards, drums, programming
Tommy Tordsson: bass

Aranis - Aranis (Belgium 2005) [Avantprog] @320

For a very small country, Belgium certainly has a easily identifiable sounding style of new music, and Aranis, a septet of fantastic young players, fits right into the chamber-rock sound that we all know from fellow country-groups like Louise Avenue, Cro Magnon, Julverne and Univers Zero, as well as other European bands such as DAAU, Noetra, Silence IV, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Gatto Marte. The band consists of 2 violinists, accordion, piano, guitar, flute and double bass, with the flautist and one of the violinists also contributing some vocals. For fans of this sound, this will will thrill and amaze, and as it was self-released on a tiny label in Antwerp, don't delay too long in getting this, if it seems interesting to you. "Aranis is a contemporary band of young musicians. They alternate personal compositions with improvisation and intense solo performances. It's very hard to define the type of music Aranis brings. Acoustic/classic instruments are played in an unusual fashion. Aranis has taken the best parts of contemporary classical music, postrock and folk. Often compositions have a typical repetitive structure, which has a compelling and even flushing effect on the audience. The cinematic nature and strange rhythms of this music create a lasting impression. The atmosphere during the concerts is inimitable: passion, expressiveness and variation always play a key role".
-Wayside Music-

01. Indrigo
02. Jona
03. Vuur
04. Yosu
05. Oyma
06. Zilezi
07. Questosteron
08. Pantra
09. Labyrinth
10. Wespengraf

Joris Vanvinckenroye: Acoustic bass and composer
Linde de Groof: Violin
Liesbeth Lambrecht: Violin
Marjolein Cools: Accordion
Jana Arns: Flute
Axelle Kennes: Piano
Stijn Denys: Guitar

Ratings by outbrain