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)

More Info here:

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