Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pikapika TeArt - Moonberry (2010 Russia) [AvantProg] @320

PikaPika Teart is an absolute novelty for RIO fans. Explicitly following the tradition of great groups from the ’70, such as
Henry Cow, these guys from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, are proposing an original blend of acoustic and electric sounds, rock features and structured note-by-note written music. For AltrOck is an occasion to release a really interesting band coming from an «exotic» area of the world, unless forgotten, or forced to silence; for Pikapika, the chance to come out of Siberia and instantly go «into the world». Significantly, their music matches a modern musical language and the traditional music of their region, following the teachings of Russian masters like Stravinskij and Schostakovich: a good way to preserve local treasures and global visibility.

Influences: Henry Cow, Rational Diet, Stravinskij, Schostakovich, Anekdoten, King Crimson.

01 - Slavyanskaya 1
02 - Shifting Sands of Time
03 - Endless Chant of the Sliding Bridge in the Declining Day Twilight
04 - Rekrutskaya
05 - Slavyanskaya 3
06 - Project X
07 - For Glass
08 - Svadebnaya
09 - Slavyanskaya 5
10 - ProeMen. Glare of Sunlight
11 - Moonberry
12 - Plyasovaya
13 - Slavyanskaya Prazdnichnaya

Bulatov Maxim: Bass
Nikitin Roman: Guitar
Bushev Pavel: Guitar
Kryazhev Evgeniy: Drums
Amelkov Sergey: Clarinet, Bass clarinet
Bulatova Marina: Vocal
Shapovalova Nastya: Violin (1,2,6,9,10)
Ziborova Olga: Viola (3,5,7,11,13)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Peter Banks - Two Sides Of Peter Banks (1973 England) 2010 Remaster SHM-CD [ProgRock] @320

Talk about an eclectic album! Ex-Yes and Flash guitarzan Peter Banks really spilled his beans here, putting together a VERY original album with his mates from Flash (no Yes members invited, ah, such bitterness!!!) and a few choice guests: the fuzzy bass of John Wetton, the rythmic gymnastics of "Uncle" Phil Collins (back in the days when he was a gloriously talented drummer) and, last but not least, the unique guitar styles of Steve Hackett and Focus' Jan Akkerman (back in the days when he was a gloriously talented guitarist). With all this supremo talent, Banks sort of takes a back seat. "The White House Vale", "Knights" and mostly the full tilt improvised gem/jam "Stop That"are the highlights here, giving the guests a chance and a platform to let down their fairly long hair and just rip! Yeah, this is not your "perfect prog produced to perfection master opus" but it has a charm that has stood the test of time and still ellicits smiles, cheers and the occasional goose bumps. 

In many ways, the album's black, white and grey cover really sets the mood as this is no technicolor masterpiece! It's raw, slutty, dirty, visceral, angry, moody and My, my, that Akkerman could certainly play a mean guitar! Perhaps not a classic but definitely a showpiece for some inspired playing and a rare glimpse into Banks' rather odd career.

1. Visions Of The King (1:23)
2. The White House Vale (7:13)
- a. On The Hill
- b. Lord Of The Dragon
3. Knights (6:14)
- a. The Falcon
- b. The Bear
4. Battles (1:38)
5. Knights (Reprise) (2:11)
6. Last Eclipse (2:25)
7. Beyond The Loneliest Sea (3:06)
8. Stop That! (13:47)
9. Get Out Of My Fridge (3:20)

Peter Banks: electric and acoustic guitar, ARP, Minimoog, and Fender piano
Jan Akkerman: electric guitar (1,4,6,8,9), acoustic guitar (7)
Ray Bennett: bass guitar (3-5,8,9)
Phil Collins: drums (4,5,8,9)
Steve Hackett: electric guitar (5)
Mike Hough: drums (3)
John Whetton: bass guitar (5)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flash - Out Of Our Hands (1973 England) 2010 Remaster SHM-CD [ProgRock] @320

What do chess and an interstellar messenger of peace have in common? Nothing, I'd venture, but it didn't stop Ray Bennett from laboring on this stellar concept album all the same. Like any FLASH album, the comparisons to early YES are invited and no doubt appreciated. There are plenty of moments here that'll transport you to strange new places, provided you're willing to put in the same amount of effort you did on "Tales of Topographic Oceans".

Bennett and Peter Banks in particular connect on some passages that click as well as Chris Squire and Steve Howe. It occurs to me when I listen to "Out of Our Hands" that this might be the lost YES album I've been looking for. Certainly it's closer to the mark than Steve Howe's Beginnings, In The Can or Two Sides of Peter Banks. Almost every song on here has some redeeming moment of magic, from the opening of "The Bishop" (which prefigures Gang of Four by at least a few years) to the tripping guitar lines on "Dead Ahead". Maybe I've grown used to Colin Carter's voice by now but he does seem better suited to the music this time, suggesting Jon Anderson's voice with clipped wings. Where Anderson soared, Carter is entrenched, holding steadfast in the midst of Banks' acrobatic leads and Bennett's bold bass lines.

The result is a style that produces some fine moments, including "Man of Honour", "Shadows" and delightful "Psychosync". As busy as Bennett is with writing most of the material and playing bass, his keyboard contributions are cursory, which results in some missing music. If sections feel like they need to be fleshed out on occasion, it's to be expected with FLASH. Their purpose was never to replace YES, but rather to build something different from the same foundation. Sadly, "Out of Our Hands" was their last album, and another avenue to nirvana was closed. This record (and, in fact the entire FLASH catalog) are well worth rediscovery -- the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Yesstory, in a manner of speaking.

01. Open sky (0:40)
02. None the wiser (King) (3:17)
03. Farewell number one (Pawn) (1:37)
04. Man of honnor (Knight) (4:45)
05. Dead ahead (Queen) (4:38)
06. The Bishop (4:21)
07. Psychosync (Escape) (4:50)
08. Manhattan morning (Christmas '72) (6:24)
09. Shadows (It's you) (3:20)

Peter Banks: Peter Banks / guitars, Moog & Arp synths, banjo, backing vocals
Ray Bennett: bass, piano, clavinet, Mellotron, Arp synth, accoustic guitar, banjo, backing vocals
Colin Carter: lead vocals
Micheal Hough: drums, congas, tablas

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flash - In The Can (1972 England) 2010 Remaster SHM-CD [ProgRock] @320

This second FLASH`s album was recorded as a quartet. Keyboard player Tony Kaye, who never was an official member of the band and who was only a guest on their first album, didn`t participate in this album and went to form his own band called BADGER. So, this album has a lot of guitars and very few parts on which Peter Banks plays the ARP synthesizer.

I think that it is unfair to underrate Peter Banks as a guitarist, because in this album he also shows that he is a very good guitarist with his very own style. Bassist Ray Bennett, who also was the main composer of the songs in this album, also shows that he is a very good bassist, and there are some similarities between his sytle of playing the bass with the styles of John Entwistle and Chris Squire. Singer Colin Carter is also good, and there are some very good vocals arrangements done with Banks and Bennett. Drummer Michael Hough is a more "Rocker" drummer, but he also plays some interesting things.

"Lifetime" and "Monday Morning Eyes" are, IMO, the best songs in this album. I think that FLASH deserves more respect as a band, because this album, despite the lack of a keyboard player, shows them as a very good Progressive Rock band.

01. Lifetime (10:05)
02. Monday morning eyes (5:03)
03. Black and white (12:04)
04. Stop that banging (1:50)
05. There no more (11:35)

Peter Banks: acoustic electric & Spanish guitars, Hooter, ARP synth, backing vocals
Ray Bennett: bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (2)
Colin Carter: vocals, percussion
Mike Hough: drums, percussion, cymbals, badinage

Flash - Flash (1972 England) 2010 Remaster SHM-CD [ProgRock] @320

This is an album clearly made in the shadow of that great progressive rock band Yes. However, unlike Starcastle and other such followers, Flash have a genuine excuse. The band was founded by Peter Banks and Tony Kaye, both of whom were unceremoniously ditched by Yes despite also being founder members of that esteemed group. While it's hard to dispute the fact that both Banks and Kaye were replaced by superior musicians (Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman respectively), neither deserved to be treated with such disrespect, and this album is an excellent riposte to their critics.
Flash preserves that sound of 60s Yes which somewhat ironically reached its zenith on 1971's The Yes Album. Small Beginnings in particular is an epic track which could have slipped quite comfortably onto that masterful album. It has all the hallmarks, with storming riffs (with some of Banks's best ever playing), an inventive rhythm section (bassist Ray Bennett and drummer Mike Hough), and even a nice organ solo from Kaye, while vocalist Colin Carter sounds very much like Yes frontman Jon Anderson.

01 - Small Beginnings
02 - Morning Haze
03 - Children Of The Universe
04 - Dreams Of Heaven
05 - The Time It Takes

Peter Banks: acoustic electric & Spanish guitars, Hooter, ARP synth, backing vocals
Ray Bennett: bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (2)
Colin Carter: vocals, percussion
Mike Hough: drums, percussion, cymbals, badinage
Tony Kaye: organ, piano, ARP synth

Ratings by outbrain