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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cheer-Accident - Putting Off Death


It’s been a good while since I’ve done a review from the Cuneiform label. And it’s about time to do a review for one of the most interesting bands that have peaked my ears more and more since discovering them in the 2010 documentary, Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga. That band is Chicago’s own Cheer-Accident. Since their formation back in 1981 and despite line-up changes, they blew me away right from the moment I watched the documentary and I was hooked right from the get-go.

I have one of their albums which is 2009’s Fear Draws Misfortune. And then they took a six-year hiatus after the release of 2011’s No Ifs, Ands or Dogs. This year, it’s almost to let the listener that they are still here and they have the batteries all charged up and ready to go with the release of their new album entitled, Putting Off Death. The album title suggests that while death is approaching it’s a game of chess with the Grim Reaper.

But for me, it’s almost along with the album cover done by Jeff Libersher’s art deco 1940s look, the idea of Chess feels very much essence of Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 classic, The Seventh Seal. The opening track, Language Is begins with this lovely melodic piano ballad and Thymme Jones’ vocal arrangements. The first 3 minutes and 40 seconds have these lyrical aspects between Robert Wyatt and unsung singer-songwriter John Howard (Kid in a Big World-era) that brings to mind of his classic, Goodbye Suzie.

It suddenly transforms into an aggressive yet alarming movement with a mid-fast ramming speed segment before it changes near the end into a heavenly atmospheric Blade Runner-sque scenario of Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets-era. The Avant-Pop catchy melody featuring the piano and keyboards with some nice percussion sounds as Carmen Armillas’ soothing vocals describe of the scenario and where the lyrics gave the album’s title from on Immanence.

But then Thymme himself brings his essence of the psychedelic-era of The Beatles with some trippy effects between the vibes of Tomorrow Never Knows and Frank Zappa’s The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet. Not to mention the trippy effects on the vocalizations and menacing acoustic guitar sounds with Wishful Breathing while everything goes into an apocalyptic hellish introduction to Falling World.

Guitars go through a mysterious opening door to the essence of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. There’s this crossover essence between David Bowie’s Hallo Spaceboy and Radiohead’s The Bends sessions featuring some mid-operatic vocal arrangements. But then, Jazz Trumpets goes head towards the howling mix improvisation and then ending with an electronica doom finale guitar chords.

Lifetime Guarantee is probably going to be one of Cheer-Accident’s favorites. And it is for me one of my favorites that is on Putting Off Death. It has the ingredients of Prog-Pop, standalone rock anthem, Frank Zappa arrangements of odd-time changes near the closing sequences, memorable grooves with some fanfare trumpet movements, the vocalizations rise for life lasting voyage, and little bits and pieces of the AOR sound (Album Orientated Rock).

Hymn closes the album. The echoing reverb effects of the piano brings to mind a piece of music delving into the pool of a genre into the dreamy pop city. Jones sends you into the sky that there one day might be hope for a new day along with an eerie nightmarish string section for a brief few seconds. It is a gripping way to close the album and fade off into the sunset.

Putting Off Death in which Thymme Jones suggested that it might ask the listener that it will ask you some questions that can be answered through the mind of a receiver. Now for me, I always like a mystery. It is of course, a mysterious album that might give you some clues to the piece of Cheer-Accident’s piece of the puzzle as if they are following in David Lynch's footsteps. I have embarked more rides with album than ever before, and Putting Off Death is one of them. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bent Knee - Land Animal


For me, they are still one of the most mind-blowing and eruptive bands to come out of Boston with a volcanic roar that the lava itself flows rapidly quick of showing no sign of stopping to raise hell. That band is Bent Knee. With three albums in the can, they still keep going for more. And with them being on the road with bands such as Thank You Scientist and with The Dillinger Escape Plan for their farewell tour, they have come a long, long, long way. And the six-piece show that they can take their music higher with their fourth album, Land Animal.

They are on a new label with InsideOut Music. To me, that’s very interesting to be on a label with bands such as Knifeworld, Haken, Karmakanic, Beardfish, and Ayreon. I wouldn’t say it’s like winning the Super Bowl, but it’s a big leap forward from moving from one label to another. But let’s get straight into Land Animal. I’m going to say this right now, but this is one of the most powerful and scariest album I’ve ever listened to. It shows that Bent Knee will keep on going for more of the long and winding roads ahead.

Terror Bird kicks the door open with Gavin’s intensive drumbeats along with Ben’s guitar making it sound like a clock ticking followed by an eerie quick second of the synths going into a lullaby. And then Ben hits you in the gut as he channels the vibes of Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. He then takes you into the heavens with some of his psychedelic moments on Hole.

It is an electronic alternative arrangement with some pumping sounds as Courtney Swain’s vocals go on high alert for a brief second as the lyrics deal of finding the strength to keep going while the stand-out track Holy Ghost gives Baum makes the violin pluck as if the pin has already dropped. This is a very killer composition because Courtney takes you beyond of the reflections of the mirror as if Beauty is showing their dark side by taking the mask off.

The lyrics are raw, tight and front of your face by giving you the facts; “Oh nothing charges me like the night/It is like good god/I was born to write hey, wait/What about my body though?/I got to find a way to get more glitter/more sass/more time/wine and dining/kissing ass.” You can’t write amazing lyrics like that. You just can’t. But now you can. And again, it hits you right in the face as if they are giving you a gigantic reality check.

The mid-section becomes a cat-and-mouse sequence between Ben Levin, Jessica Kion’s Bass, Vince’s ‘80s video games synth, and Gavin setting up the mysterious case of the grizzly crime scene on the drums. Courtney isn’t trying to be center of attention, but she wants to make sure the band are a team and keeping the machine alive. She pours her heart and soul in her vocals as if the character is ready to break out of this madness.

Bent Knee take a break on the first three minutes and fifty-seven seconds on Insides In. This shows their softer side with a mellowing jazz ballad as it has these Tori Amos lyrical structures. The classical string section has this ‘50s romantic sound before the last couple of minutes become a booming nightmare as synths become harp sounds, Ben’s guitar chords are explosive, and it sets up the tone that is happening with an unexpected twist by ending with a chilling drone.

Jessica Kion comes on center stage as her Bass line on Those Hands, sets up the scenario of the character’s life becoming more worried, depressed, being in danger, and all alone. And while they aren’t around to help you, you have to deal with the facts of growing up and facing family life. It is walking towards the deeper tunnels between classical music and alternative post-rock.

The title-track begins with some string sections straight out of the 1960s TV series, The Fugitive that blares out of nowhere as if it was done by the great Bernard Herrmann. It’s almost at times that the lyrics are dealt through the mind of a little mouse sneaking through the house for some crumbs in those sections through Courtney’s vocals. You can absolutely feel the vocals, stirring sections, and the band going on a dangerous tight rope.

Time Deer feels as if it is the third installment of the continuation of the tracks between Way Too Long and Leak Water. It has this Roy Orbison-sque punch of early to mid-‘60s vibe featuring some action-packed/dramatic sequence in the last minute and thirty-two seconds featuring Gavin’s galloping drums. Stomping intro, has this ‘60s girl’s group essence in the sound of going into parallel universes.

And then Courtney almost goes into the vocal arrangements through the Dalek-sque arrangement as the finale Boxes features dooming bass synths and drums as if its straight out of Alex Proyas 1998 film, Dark City featuring a haunting abrupt end as there’s dead silence for the last seven minutes to close the album. The two bonus tracks contain the title track going through a surreal ‘50s house of a dystopian effect going into a haywire effect as if it is all over the place done by the remix of Ben Levin.

The Sylvia Massy mix of Way Too Long which sounds like it was recorded on a tape recorder, is a different take. It’s menacing, punchy, and volcanic than what was on the original version on Shiny Eyed Babies. It may divide a line in the sand whether they will admire Bent Knee’s new album or not, but it grows on you. However, Land Animal is definitely on my soon to be top 25 albums of the year so far.

There’s going to be some gigantic competition on which albums will be on there. This one is definitely going to be on there. Bent Knee never disappoints me. Again, Land Animal is one of the scariest and eruptive albums I’ve listened to. And you need to check it out. Worth recommending.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pixie Ninja - Ultrasound


Whenever something special my ears would come around for a piece of music that might peak my interest, I know it would hit me at the right moment. One of those moments is a band called Pixie Ninja. Now mind you, it sounds like an Anime series or a Video Game, but the title of the band’s name as I’ve mentioned a second ago, peak my interest. They’ve released their debut release this year on the Apollon Records label entitled, Ultrasound.

The band came around with two individuals who have a love of the Scandinavian Progressive scene. Now, again, I admire the Scandinavian scene, and this band is going to be up on my list that is up there with Anglagard, White Willow, Motorpsycho, and Beardfish to name a few. Jostein Haugen and Marius Leiranes started to work on the album back in 2015 and then recorded the album a year later.

And bringing Mattias Olsson to the score by mixing the album and producing it along with the overdubs and drumming, that’s a combination. And throw in people like Johan Hals Jorgensen and guest musician Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (White Willow, Wobbler, and Motorpsycho) to the mix, you’ve got yourself a weekend. But let’s go ahead and get straight to the album.

The album itself has this dark futuristic setting. It always has this reminisce at times as if Pixie Ninja were doing the score for the 2017 video game, Prey. Now for me as a Geek, I would love to see them one day do something like that in the near future. The album with six compositions that both Haugen and Leiranes wrote and arranged, takes you into the darker areas that you've never seen before. It’s almost at times that you can feel as if a pin dropped and knowing that trouble is brewing.

And getting out is the hard part. There are elements between Goblin, Anima Morte and the Sorcerer-era of Tangerine Dream thrown into the mix. Whenever an album I mentioned before as if the movie inside your head, well think of this like an extended director’s cut of a sci-fi dystopian movie. It blends well of the past, present, and future. It’s creepy, deep, and vast, but it is an interesting release this year.

I have listened to Ultrasound five times now. It’s not an easy album to listen to, but I will hope they continue to do more in the years and years and years to come. Ultrasound is one of the scariest and compelling releases I’ve listened to.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gentle Knife - Clock Unwound


Howard Roark, a character from Ayn Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead says to Peter Keating on the way he lives his life is, “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul, would you understand why that’s much harder?” What Roark is saying to Keating is, that while the second-hander fails on the authority, it loses their hope of sensibility.

But it nurtures your own body and soul by freeing the control from the outside by demanding ideas and accomplishments. We are living in a society where something might go horribly wrong and lived in a world one day will be in a dystopian underground. That and Gentle Knife’s second release which is a follow up to their sole self-titled debut release entitled, Clock Unwound released on the Bajkal label shows that the Norway ensemble is back.

The themes deal with the situation I mentioned, was once a paradise that everyone can live in and bring their dreams to life, but it goes awry and the price it comes with it. But there’s hope of a glimpse of beauty underneath the ruins. Gentle Knife themselves have never done me wrong and their second album is a dark, beautiful, and haunting release I’ve listened to.

Opener, Prelude: Incipit starts off with a jazz piano chord in an ominous tone, followed by echoing reverb effects of the Trumpet done in a mournful sound a-la Miles Davis style. And it shows us, the listener, the wasteland that is like something straight out of either Blade Runner or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. And then, it segues into the title track.

With its hard riffs essence to both Procol Harum’s In Held ‘Twas in I and Rush’s Permanent Waves, the synths represent what is about to describe in the story structure as the composition feels almost like a mini-opera as if Arjen “Ayreon” Lucassen conducted and wrote the piece and got it done right. Increasing levels before the vocalizations and metal riffs pour in.

The flutes come pouring in with some Crimson-sque guitar lines as if you are walking through the rubble, hearing some pleas of help, but you can’t hear them and imagine hearing a pin drop in the area followed by a sax improvisation. With Fade Away, it’s almost as if it’s the mellowing pieces turned into volcanic rhythms. The first 2 minutes and 13 seconds start off honoring essences of King Crimson’s THRAK-era.

You can hear mellow guitar structures, mellotrons, flutes, and trumpets rolled together in a gigantic blender. And featuring the roaring horns erupt and wah-wah grooves and flute improvisations and then it heads back in the last 2 minutes of the mellowing arrangements. Plans Askew starts off in the first minute and seven seconds of a Hackett-sque classical guitar intro as the singing kicks in as if they are in an abandoned stage singing folk-like lyrics.

It then boosts up the instruments by coming in knowing hopefully that tomorrow will be a new day. The guitars go through a double-edge sword sharing the same melody with the same lines. It’s almost as if crying to the gods through the rubble with no one to hear as the characters know that death has come upon them.

The closing track, Resignation starts off with some video game haunting chords as if’s through the 16-bit Sega Genesis. And then, eerie Jazz flutes and atmospheric waves come in with the spoken dialogue done by a poet through the minds of between Allen Ginsberg, Jim Morrison and George Orwell. There’s some heavier tones by in a mid-speed journey to the unknown with a church organ behind you.

The characters I can imagine in the finale are letting the listener know, not to follow and not come looking for them. Because they aren’t going to like what they find. I really enjoyed listening to Clock Unwound. This is my fifth time listening to Gentle Knife’s second album. And the mastering done by Stick Men’s Markus Reuter and Benjamin Schafer from Unsung Productions, for me it’s a perfect combination for them to work on this album.

I hope Gentle Knife continues to do more for years and years to come. They are one of my favorite ensembles to come out of the genre. And I hope they won’t stop. The journey has just begun for them with Clock Unwound.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Schnauser - Irritant


It’s been three years since Schnauser released a new album after 2014’s Protein for Everyone. I loved what they have done on their fifth album since it was my introduction to their music. It was wacky, off-the-wall, prog, pop, avant-rock, and in your face. This year they have released their sixth album on a new label with Bad Elephant Music entitled, Irritant. And it proves that have shown no sign of stopping and never giving up on their sense of humor.

For me, it is a “Holy Shit!” release I’ve listened to from start to finish. I can hear the cross-overs between the Cardiacs, Knifeworld, Supersister, XTC, and Gentle Giant rolled up into a big giant smoothie. Alan Strawbridge, who founded the band 12 years ago, still follows in the footsteps of Robert Wyatt, Andy Partridge, Vivan Stanshall, Tim Smith, and the late great maestro of Gong, Daevid Allen.

Listening to this album, is like walking on Schnauser’s tightrope and you have to be very, very, very careful by not looking down. Because you never know if they are going to cut the rope or not. And the tightrope itself has five centerpieces on here that just made me embark on their roller-coaster ride.

The opener, Spiele Mit Katzen is a speed demon introduction between organ, drums, and sax with an intense punky roar and lushful midsections. I can hear the Cardiacs influences everywhere. It’s then followed by and electro-space trippy adventure a-la Chrome Hoof style. Re-Morgating the Nest of Hairs is essence to the Rugrats theme with some nostalgia of growing up to old-school ‘90s Nickelodeon cartoons as it delves into a psych-punk space rock approach.

There are some mysterious movements as if Ren and Stimpy are continuing more of their journey inside the Black Hole before going back into the morning animated TV-sque intro. The Monday Club deals with the 2015-2016 election and run-up to the Brexit referendum. The song deals for a plea to end the scaremongering and spewing of the media.

Schnauser pushes the envelope and they are spot on what was happening. And I can imagine it’s still going strong. The last 2-minutes sees them going for an approach in the essence of Henry Cow’s Nirvana for Mice. Now this is a title that just took me by surprise and would have given Jamie Oliver a chance to shit his pants on.

Chinese Brainworm (Taeria Solium). Now when I first heard this title, I was thinking to myself, “Schnauser really never gives up on a sense of humor.” And believe me it is a wicked sense of humor. I like how they take the approach of William D. Drake’s The Rising of the Lights-era with a moody waltz in the time signature of 3/4. But I get the feeling that Schnauser could have written this as a score for a short featuring Ren and Stimpy.

Fail Better starts with the pouring rain as Dino Christodoulou’s free-jazz Sax improvisation before Duncan’s keyboards go into an eerie wah-wah psychedelia approach. Alan shows his nod to the master of Robert Wyatt with his inspirational lyrics along with some lifting guitar and sax work. 

This is my fourth time listening to Irritant. And it is one of the wackiest, out of this world, and insane albums I’ve listened to this year and prepare more with Schnauser to hurtle through more of the cosmos with them.

The United States of America - The United States of America


49 years ago, something surreal was unearthing through the psychedelic movement, but mixed in political views and electronic music with an avant-garde twist. That band was The United States of America. Formed in 1967 by Joseph Byrd, a Stanford University graduate, and was one of John Cage’s student, and a part of the surreal Dadaism movement, Fluxus. What Byrd wanted to do was to capture the styles and mix of music and electro music that was bold and musical.

Originally released on the CBS label in the UK and on Columbia in the States on March 6, 1968, this was completely off the wall, in your face, dystopian lyrics, musique-concrete, Dixieland jazz, and avant-electronic rock at its peak. It was ahead of its when it came out. It was very diverse than what bands like The Byrds, The Doors, and Cream were doing. It was more of the essence between Silver Apples, Delia Derbyshire, Electric Prunes, and The Velvet Underground.

The opener, The American Metaphysical Circus, starts off with a calliope fanfare, ragtime piano, horn sections, and militant drums going through this insane nightmare before Dorothy Moskowitz’s vocals come in through someone’s brain about dealing the dark side of what America has become. And the lyrics, is the nightmare we are living in the past, present, and today in the 21st century through an experimental nightmare as Dorothy’s voice becomes a dalek-sque scenario.

Hard Coming Love sees the band delving into a proto-punk garage rock attitude with Forbes punching bass, Marron’s violin screeching like a fuzztone guitar before the Derbyshire-sque White Noise vibe in a psychedelia shrieking rocker. The Garden of Earthly Delights I would consider early beginnings of Space Rock about the dangers of what is not you expected to go into this area of the dangerous fruits and hallucinated voyages of what is in this person’s eyes that holds a mystery to them.

Where Is Yesterday is a mournful ominous composition with monk-chanting Latin concept to the Lamb of God, it describes what was once a peaceful land, turned into a hellish world and the question of the song is simple of what happened to the place that was once heavenly sent turned into a wasteland. Love Song for the Dead Che which is about the controversial figure of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara.

This was a risky composition dedicated to the leader. It has a romantic, uplifting, and warmth vibration as Dorothy’s vocals through the reverb and the violin and string section as well as mournful organ and percussion while the 6-minute finale mixed with psych folk rock and musique-concrete of the three-part suite of The American Way of Love is in political satire.

Metaphor for an Older Man is a resemblance to Donovan’s Season of the Witch mixed in with an out-of-the-blue calliope and shrieking violin work that you can imagine the band East of Eden taking inspiration. It then moves into an electronic drone and alarming synths a-la Edgard Varese style before delving into a wah-wah humoristic twist of the West Coast sound of California Good-Time Music and delving in Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out-era of haywire effects of everything coming in a cycle on Love Is All.

There are ten bonus tracks which was originally issued on the Sundazed reissue and on the Esoteric Recordings label three years ago that the band recorded between September and December of 1967 and during the summer of 1968. You have more of the garage avant-rock for No Love to Give along with the first version for a Psych-Pierre Henry-Ragtime effect on I Won’t Leave my Wooden Wife for You, Sugar featuring Dorothy on vocals.

Tailor Man has this David Axelrod effect as the folk-acoustic driving blues in the highway on Do You Follow Me gives The United States of America a chance to take a break away from the electronic sound. The 16-page booklet contains liner notes done by Sid Smith including archive interviews by Byrd about the making of the album including the original lyrics, pictures, and the 45-RPM single release of the A and B-Side that they released on the CBS label.

When the album was released, it didn’t do well. There was also tension between Byrd and the rest of the band members as the band broke up. Joseph would later do a solo album from support by John McLure’s support as he recorded and released The American Metaphysical Circus with and extended group from the West Coast considered as Byrd called them, The Field Hippies in 1969.

Listening to The United States of America’s sole self-titled debut released in 1968, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not an easy album to listen to, but very challenging. It was the same thing for me with Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica and Magma’s Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. It’s one of the albums that grows on you. It’s weird, surreal, and political, but worth delving into the darker side of what America has become.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Discipline - Captives of the Wine Dark Sea


It’s been 30 years since their formation and six years since they have released a new album. One of the bands that have been around from day one in their hometown in Detroit, Michigan and discovering their music on Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout, is Discipline. With four albums in the can, they've released their fifth album on the label, The Laser’s Edge this year entitled, Captives of the Wine Dark Sea.

The themes of the album deal with; disbelief, struggling to write and looking back on what was by achieving success, and the haunting images that will come at you as if it's the elephant in the room. And the themes fit well into the new album. The current line-up is Paul Dzendzel on Drums, Matthew Kennedy on Bass, Tiles guitarist Chris Herin, and vocalist and keyboardist, Matthew Parmenter.

And working with veteran music producer Terry Brown (Rush, Voivod, FM, Max Webster, and Klaatu) in the mixing level who also worked with Matthew’s third solo album, it’s a very interesting combination. Discipline have never disappointed me with the art and theatrical side of their music. With Captives of the Wine Dark Sea, it’s a return to ideas as Parmenter describes it as “an escape to ameliorate the workaday world.

Life Imitates Art deals with the struggle on writing a hit and success while Chris’ lead guitar and Matt’s piano share the introduction and the verses by his vocals. With it’s pounding beats, ‘60s psych-organ, and the lines “That’s why we make pretty songs for all the boys and girls to sing along/in High School and Reunion/I remember that one too and life imitates art.

Matthew is describing to the listener that while a band or an artist writes a successful song and it gets on the radio, they realize the big question that lays ahead of them “What is going to happen now? We’ve come a long way, what is going to happen in the years to come?” It’s a great song and I just can’t get enough of it. But let’s move on. S is a gothic ride of instrumental terror.

The vibes of Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk comes to mind as screeching guitars, ominous string sections go on a dangerous ride towards the rapid rivers and the waterfall that is bound to happen at any moment, at any second for the first 2 minutes and 24 seconds. But then, it goes deeper into the tunnels showing these haunting images as Herin’s guitar digs us towards those moments a tiny between Richard Pinhas and Roger Trigaux as Chris honors the RIO (Rock In Opposition) movement.

Love Songs gives Parmenter to delve in the acoustic folk-blues walking composition. It deals with not wanting to hear the same old “I love you” songs and being alone from the situation. Matthew really digs into these Lennon-sque lyrics that strike a chord before the mid-ragtime piano section with some heavier territory.

With Here There Is No Soul, Discipline delves into the essence of The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter and at times country-sque lines with the Keith Richards touch for the first minute and thirty-eight seconds. But then, it digs deeper and deeper into the soil as the organ and rhythm guitar riffs and soars to a closing end finale on the last 53 seconds.

The closer, Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks is a 14-minute epic that gives Chris Herin a chance to come forward. He goes into the Zeppelin-sque riffs and Beatle-sque styles from the White Album-era throughout his guitar. There is a rising sequence between the mellotron, mellowing drums, and piano. Not to mention some 10cc vocalizations on the first 4 minutes and 9 seconds.

Discipline’s music may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, Captives of the Wine Dark Sea is a return to show that they are not stopping. Mellowing, haunting, and different types of sound alongside from their progressive inspirations. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hedersleben - Orbit


Among supporters including Hawkwind co-founder Nik Turner and Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, Hedersleben are this cross between psychedelic adventures with a space rock expedition. This is a band that just took me by surprise. Not only that it’s very good and very interesting, they have released three albums from 2013 to 2015. This year, they have released their fourth album entitled, Orbit on the Purple Pyramid Records.

The band launched in the outskirts of Quedlinburg, Germany which is a town situated north of the Harz Mountains, located on the district of Harz of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany by UK Subs guitarist, Nicky Garratt. He also worked with Nik Turner on the Space Gypsy album four years ago. The fourth album is a story structure dealing with a great elliptical orbit around our solar system around the sun extending the reach of the Kuiper Belt.

Which is called the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, a circumstellar disc beyond the planets extending Neptune. Now while I’m very new to the band’s music, it can be heard in two films starring Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, The Doors, Species, Dishonored) the action heist film Diamond Cartel and the horror revenge thriller, The Devil’s Domain. The music dives towards the adventures that made me realize, this is a band I’m might be interested in checking out.

Hedersleben with three of their albums released, they featured new singers. This one features vocalist and violinist Alicia Previn who is the daughter to conductor Andre Previn and a member of The Source Family. Keyboardist Jai Young Kim returns from The Fall of Chronopolis returns to the cosmos to bring both the Organ, Mellotron, and the Moog for another adventure with the band.

Also featuring the rhythm section of Drummer, Percussionist John Darren Thomas and Bassist Doc Miller. When I was listening to Orbit, I was completely near the edge of my seat to be a part of their take of the Millennium Falcon to be set and geared up to go into outer space and heading towards other planets through their music.

The epic chord rising intro on History of Light brings essence of Blood Ceremony’s organ roar with a cosmic voyage meeting into psychedelic hard rock atmosphere while the opener, Judas Star has the Bass and Organ ascending the countdown for lift-off as both violin and guitar share the same melody with an alarming sound for the first 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

It’s this cross between String Driven Thing meets the early Moody Blues meets Van Der Graaf Generator’s Pawn Hearts-era while the Mellotron and Moog set the futuristic scenario before Alicia is speaking through a gigantic megaphone as the lyrics are essence to the mind between Michael Moorcock and Blue Oyster Cult’s Eric Bloom as if they’d worked together again since Fire of Unknown Origin.

Rarefied Air is a spacey atmospheric mid-fandango groove. Nicky’s guitar riffs are similar to the opening introduction to Malaguena as the vocalizations are cool, relaxed before the Moog sets the jump to light-speed by heading towards the star system. Apogee is the Organ and the Moog revving up as Nicky, Doc, and John channel the styles between Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Amon Duul II, and Sabbath approaches. 

While the beat is slightly molto, it has a bright energy and it continues with the quest as the closing track, Perigee gives Doc Millar moving from Bass to Classical Guitar. It’s this cold and haunting finale instrumental as Birds chirp through the sunset as the double-tracking on the guitar sees Doc go back and forth through his instrument.

Again, I’m new to the world of Hedersleben’s music, but this shows a very interesting concept by travelling towards the galaxy. Orbit is worth exploring and recommended if you admire the space rock sounds as prepare yourself to hurtle through the cosmos with Hedersleben. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Patto - Hold Your Fire (Expanded Edition)


This 2-CD set consists of Patto’s second album, Hold Your Fire which was originally released in December of 1971 on the Vertigo label, and now reissued by Esoteric Recordings. After the release of their sole self-titled debut album in 1970, the album didn’t do that well and Vertigo wanted the band to do another album as Muff Winwood was brought back to the studio to produce their next album.

The album was recorded at Island Studios in Basing Street as the band decided that it was time to show some improvements of what they could have done on their debut. What that meant was that it gave them time on both of the arrangements and overdubs while it showed a self-confidential side to them and building up their sound with both of the blues, jazz, and soul in their roots.

Ollie channels his improvisations of Jazz Rock to keep the essence flowing of Holdsworth’s technique like a train going at full speed with the Air Raid Shelter while You, You Point Your Finger deals with the struggle with fame and the price that is paid with it. With its haunting melodies and social commentary, Mike pours his soul on the issue for its powerful composition as Ollie’s melodic/harder edge, makes you feel as if he is taking you to the dark side of the music industry.

See You At The Dance Tonight is a mid-tempo piano blues rockin’ number. Not only that, but I could tell it is an essence of Rod Stewart and the Faces almost as if they could have written this song for them during the sessions for Ooh La La as Ollie shreds through the midsection as John Halsey’s drumming follows beside him. The two bonus tracks on the first CD features Beat the Drum which at first starts off with a jazzy improvisation.

The first few minutes gives Clive Griffiths a chance to come forward as his bass line brings it in. As he and John follow Ollie’s vibes, the stop-and-go moments gives Mike’s vocals delve into some of the issues of what was happening during that time period while Bad News shows more of Ollie’s virtuosity. It shows that he’s more than just a guitar player. He and Bernie Holland share together on their instruments in the lead and rhythm guitar structures.

The second CD contains two performances that Patto did for the BBC sessions including BBC Radio One’s In Concert introduced by John Peel and the other three for a summer session for Sounds of the 70s along with alternate mixes of the last three tracks from the sessions at Island Studios. Listening to these sessions, makes you want to close your eyes and imagine yourself being in the audience watching this band going into town to deliver the goods during the time they were promoting their debut album.

When Hold Your Fire was released in December of that year, the album didn’t sell. And Vertigo dropped the band. And soon they were still on the road for supporting acts including Stackridge, Genesis, Bell & Arc, May Blitz, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Genesis for a festival. Listening to their second album, it shows that this was a band that was so far ahead of their time and often overlooked in the history of the progressive rock genre.

The 20-page booklet contains liner notes done by Sid Smith which included an interview with John Halsey about the making of the album. It also contains posters, promos, reviews, including a picture of Centipede which Mike Patto participated with Keith Tippett for the Septober Energy album and performances they did in London and Europe. Pictures of the band, and of course the Lyceum Easter Festival they did with some of the progressive bands they were on the bill with as I’ve mentioned a second ago.

The band would later be with another label on Island Records due to Muff’s connection with them as they would release their next album in 1972 entitled; Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Art Griffin's Sound Chaser - Visions from the Present


Canada has been for me one of my favorite places I’ve always wish to go to. And the bands from that area whether it’s the sounds of Rush, Klaatu, Morse Code, Max Webster, The Musical Box (which I had the great pleasure of seeing them six years ago for their Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour at the House of Blues), Maneige, and FM to name a few. It’s not just me loving these bands, but showing my support and seeing where the next direction will take the genre into.

In one of the projects that are taking those directions is Art Griffin’s Sound Chaser. Hailing from the Blue Mountains in Ontario, which is a town located at the southwestern area in Grey County and where the Beaver River flows into the rocky shores of Nottawasaga Bay by passing over the two dams by reaching its mouth. But it’s also a ski resort including the private Craigleith Ski Club.

But I’m off-topic. When this landed on my lap a few week ago, I didn’t know what to think of it. So I put the album on my portable CD player and for me, it’s not just a great album, but a very interesting release that was unleashed last year on the Velvet Orb label. It considers Art Griffin who is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, lead guitarist Kelly Kereliuk, electric violinist Victoria Yeh, and drummer/mixer Steve Negus of SAGA and Chris DeBurgh.

With a brilliant artwork of the album cover done by Roger Dean who’s done the Yes artwork, Osibisa, the Vertigo swirling logo, and White Willlow’s Future Hopes, he shows no sign of stopping. But let’s straight to the instrumental adventures with a few highlights on here. The alarm goes off on Nomadic Traveller as it delves into an electronic ‘80s voyage essence of the Trip-Hop groove as Art’s bass sets the tempo as the Wurlitzer goes into a wah-wah mode with a floydian-sque feel.

Red Sky at Night features mid-chomping rhythm sections between Art, Victoria, Kelly, and Steve. Ken Baird’s Rhodes takes you into driving across the highway with the fusion-sque beats while crossing between Yes’ Time and a Word-era and Rush’s Moving Pictures-era. It’s a combinational crossover, but the vibes between early ‘70s and ‘80s vibe works interestingly well.

Ascension pays its nod to 10cc’s The Original Soundtrack. Victoria’s beautiful violin work helps to say farewell either to a loved one or a friend as it sends warmth and hope to the stars. Near the mid-climax it has this ambient/atmospheric finale, but it goes back to the end by fading out into the sunset. Supersuit is a dynamic and heavy electro-rock thanks to the drum programming on here.

Both Art and Victoria are doing a dualistic melody between each other as if they are heading towards the solar system with a climatic ending whilst the 10-minute and 31-second epic, Happy Place which is a four-part composition, brings Kelly to the forefront. He takes the listener to his virtuosic improvisations channeling Steve Vai’s presence by going back and forth on the frets as Art gives him carte blanche to see him getting ready to fly with amazement.

Art has really brought a lot of ideas and hopes into his music. Now while I’m not crazy about the album, Visions from the Present, it has some brainstorming moments that just made me realize what he and his team will do next for the years and years to come. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Patto - Patto


Formed out of the ashes of Timebox, Patto brought the combinations between Jazz, Soul, Hard Rock, Blues, and Progressive Rock rolled into one in 1970. It’s a quite an amazing touch between some killer musicians. The late great Mike Patto just kills it on his lead vocals with his soulful arrangements. Then there’s Ollie Halsall who among supporters including XTC’s Andy Partridge, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, and Allan Holdsworth to name a few, is perhaps one of the most overlooked left-handed guitarist who never got the recognition he deserved. Not to mention drummer John Halsey and bassist Clive Griffiths into the foreplay in the rhythm section.

Their sole self-titled debut originally released on the Vertigo label in that same year, the band recorded the album with producer Muff Winwood at Island Studios in Basing Street in London, shows the power, the electricity, and the thunderous beats that Patto brings that is like volcano waiting to erupt at the right moment. You have the opening track, The Man which sounds like the could have been used in a sequence from the 1973 blaxploitation film, Black Caesar featuring Fred “The Hammer” Williamson walking towards the streets of New York as if he’s honored and shows his stamp of approval throughout the section of Harlem.

Money Bag begins with Clive’s bass leading into a winding groove followed by Halsey’s intensive grooves on his kit followed by Ollie’s off-the-wall guitar going up and down through his improvisation while Government Man which Andy Votel sampled on the 2005 Vertigo Mixed compilation, shows him more than just a guitarist, but playing the vibraphones near the end of the last 30 seconds of the piece to give a moody end as Clive’s melodic bass closes it out.

Red Glow sounds at first sounds almost like a session straight out of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Imagine-era, but the engine gets all revved up to go. It begins with a reverb effect by Ollie that channels both of those two albums through his riffs, rhythm, and lead sections. He can take it up a notch whenever he would know where the band was going. It’s not just a powerful composition, but damn, Halsall is like a lightning ready to strike at any moment for the thunder at the right moment.

The three bonus tracks which are a part of a reissue done by Esoteric Recordings contains a 14-minute wildly improvisation turned into a ‘70s hard rock voyage with riffs and leads and done in the style of a heavier version between Allan Holdsworth, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Atlantis featuring Inga Rumpf on Hanging Rope. Then, there’s two live recordings done on BBC Radio One’s Sound of the ‘70s Session they did on November 3, 1970 performing Love Me and Government Man.

The 16-page booklet contains liner notes done by Sid Smith about the history about the making of their debut album, a history of the band’s formation, and an interview with John Halsey. It also contains photographs and live ads of Patto. This is an incredible reissue that just took me by surprise. I first heard about them 12 years ago on the 3-CD set of Time Machine: A Vertigo Retrospective 1969-1973 and of course the sample mix dedicated to the swirling logo done by DJ Andy Votel with Vertigo Mixed.

If you love the gems from the Vertigo releases of the golden-era of the 1970s between Clear Blue Sky, Nucleus, Colosseum, Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three, and Cressida, then dig deeper into the drive of Blues-Soul-Hard Rock sound of Patto.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Led Bib - Umbrella Weather


It’s been three years since I’ve listened to the London based quintet, Led Bib. Since their formation back in 2003, they have released five albums from 2005 to 2014 along with two live releases. They were nominated for the Mercury Prize for their third album, Sensible Shoes and received a 2005 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award for their debut, Arboretum. The quintet have never disappointed me with their essence of Experimental, Modal Jazz, and Punk Rock mixed into a giant blender and it sounds like a snarling beast ready to attack.

I first became aware of Led Bib’s music after hearing some of their music both on Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout and Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room. I can remember buying their fifth album, The People in Your Neighborhood on Wayside Music with my graduation money. And I was hooked. And then all of a sudden I completely forgotten about them....until this year.

They have released their sixth album entitled, Umbrella Weather on a new label with RareNoise Records. This is a Holy Shit release so far this year. It is a volcanic roar. And among one of those supporters is the godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop who played their music on Iggy Confidential on BBC Radio 6. The album is like looking down the barrel of a gun and seeing if it is ready to reign hell and sweating bullets to kill.

Opener, Lobster Terror which sounds like a ‘50s Sci-Fi B-Movie (think Fiend Without a Face), kicks things off with a bang. The band channel Radiohead’s The National Anthem from the Kid A album. With its intense grooves, mid-tempo fast and exhilarating arrangements, Led Bib roars down like a flaming fire as if going into a gigantic blaze of glory. Fields of Forgetfulness is a tidal wave of destruction as if John Coltrane has hypnotized both Chris Williams and Pete Grogan’s alto saxophones while Mark Holub channels Elvin Jones with Too Many Cooks.

Screeching vibrations on one of their shortest compositions, the quintet delve into a haywire effect. On The Roundabout is a Brazilian-Swing Spacey Jazz Rock adventure. Donin’s intriguing bass lines and Toby’s chilling keyboards sets a scenario before Holub’s drums and the alto saxophones delve into the essence of King Crimson’s Lizard-era as the intense pulsating beats reach climax for the last three minutes in a trippy finale.

Toby’s keyboards takes you beyond the stratosphere and through the outer limits with Insect Invasion. This is another spaced and freak-out adventure thanks to the reverb and delay effects that he brings. He shows no sign of stopping. It’s almost as if he’s the new commander of the starship enterprise and telling his bandmates to make the jump to light speed as it ends in the styles of the New Orleans Jazz groove a-la Preservation Hall style!

Led Bib creates maximum volume and unexpected territories they bring to the Umbrella Weather. They are like a battering ram ready to swing down and bring the sever and extreme brilliance to the Jazz sound and I can imagine they are giving Kenny G the big giant middle finger to show real Jazz is supposed to sound. And they delivered it well. Play this bad-boy really, really, really Loud!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Magenta - We Are Legend


It’s been four years since we’ve heard from Magenta after the release of their 2013 album, The Twenty-Seven Club. The band have been very, very, very busy lately. Robert Reed has been doing work with Kompendium and his Sanctuary albums released in 2014 and a new one released last year, Christina Booth has released two solo albums from 2010 to 2015, and both of them appeared together on the Spectral Mornings EP release with Nick Beggs, Adam Hodgson, and Steve Hackett to name a few.

So it’s been a good while since we’ve heard some good music from them. This year, they’ve released their new studio album on the TigerMoth label entitled We Are Legend. There are three songs including one clocking in at 26-minutes! But it is a welcoming return for the trio and letting the fans know they are still here and never giving up on them. And Christina’s voice, will bring you to tears when she sings.

I first became aware of Magenta’s music nine years ago when I watched a live performance of them doing Demons from their Home album on YouTube. And I was completely blown away and I became a fan since then. 49 minutes of amazing music and astounding beauty. And added members including bassist Dan Nelson and drummer Jon Griffiths, you are about to be prepared to embark on a journey with the music of Magenta.

The opening track, Trojan begins with an eerie introduction done by Reed’s keyboards setting this post-apocalyptic wasteland that gives you the background what has happened before Chris Fry’s eruptive lead guitar roar. It reminisces between Steve Hackett’s playing and Muse’s Absolution-era a-la Matt Bellamy style that Chris does with those textures by bringing the two combinations as one.

Christina comes in to give you the story of Robots coming out of the sea as it’s inspired by some of the Japanese animated series. You can imagine this as an episodic rock opera done in the styles between Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, The Vision of Escaflowne, or Galaxy Express 999. It is a powerful and strong composition. Fry delivers well and I was completely surprised how he and Robert, who does his moog-like battle or floating to another scenario.

With orchestral sounds that made my arm-hairs go up, a mid-section haunting background with its Floydian vibe, Christina’s character in the song talks to the robot and knowing that both love and peace will happen one day. I love also that homage to Dark Side of the Moon with both the major and minor chords to honor the album that refuses to die.

Now for me, again I was surprised this piece clocked in at 26-minutes, but listening to this again and again, I fell in love with it and I was completely on the edge of my seat listening to this. Colours begins with an eerie lullaby with a toy piano-sque sound as it volcanically erupts between Reed, Fry, Nelson, and Griffiths. Fry delves into the blues whilst dipping his toe into the water on the delay/reverb effects.

The bluesy sections bring a different side to Magenta. Booth nearly goes into a style for a brief bit of the late great Janis Joplin. I can imagine them honoring the song Ball & Chain from Big Brother & the Holding Company’s second album, Cheap Thrills.

The piece is almost describing the listener of almost letting go of the past and present while moving on. Not to mention that little nod to Marillion’s Clutching at Straws-era in the last 3-minutes of the composition. The closing track, Legend which make listeners jump with that nod to the chilling classical nod to the alarming sound effect of THX, begins with a scenario of a battle that’s coming to an end.

It’s a sombering piece as Booth gives her force and energy by pouring it out as I can imagine her fighting back tears in the song as the piece staggers and shines brightly as you can the survivors are ready to have their own tomorrow’s for a new beginning and a new day. We Are Legend is a thrilling release this year.

And it makes us welcome Magenta back with open arms. Alongside their Symphonic and Orchestral side, Magenta bring the torch to life and as I’ve always said in some of the bands about the fires burning, Magenta makes sure that the flames never, ever, ever, ever burn out.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kevin Kastning - A Connection of Secrets


It’s been a good while since I’ve listened to Kevin Kastning’s music. I have been so busy listening to some amazing music both old and new. I’ve always wanted to delve into the pool with Kevin’s music, and now I have with the release of his 24th studio album released on the Greydisc label entitled, A Connection of Secrets. He has never disappointed me with his sound. And with a title like that, it fits well with its themes. Alongside of the collaborations between working with Mark Wingfield, Sandor Szabo and Carl Clements to name a few, he's never done me wrong.

The themes which have ten compositions he wrote, deal with finding the deep and darker side of someone’s personal life on what they are going through their dark and troubling times. What Kastning does, is going through an ominous journey that takes us towards to which is not a pleasant scenario, but knowing it is a connection of what the person has become. The tones is a combination of neo-classical, surrealism, and avant-garde classical music. Believe me, it is a heavier atmosphere.

And with the instruments by using the contra-guitar, contra-alto guitar, piano, and the 15-string extended classical guitar. He’s been a very, very busy man. The album was recorded in three days at Studio Traumwald in Northern Massachusetts. And you can feel the pin drops in the different moments as if something terrible has just happen with its harsh chords, bright sounds, and mysterious atmosphere.

You can imagine walking through the looking glass and imagine going into this parallel universe of what was, has now become an eerie twilight zone scenario. Understand, Kevin’s music is not easy to get into, but the way he uses these themes, you can imagine him doing a score for one of either Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick or Luis Bunuel’s films, it’s quite an astonishing and at times scary piece of music I’ve listened to.

A Connection of Secrets is another mind-boggling release that Kastning himself has unleashed this year and I hope he will continue to release more and more music to come in the years to come.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Fierce and the Dead - Field Recordings


Recorded on July 24th last year at the Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone, England, sees The Fierce and the Dead giving their amazement, creativity, and eruptive/volcanic performance in their new live mini-album that the quartet did entitled, Field Recordings on the Bad Elephant Music label. They were on the same bill with Hawkwind, IOEarth, Von Hertzen Brothers, Procol Harum and Whitesnake to name a few as the quartet give audiences with the sounds between the genres of; Post-Rock, Post-Punk, and Electronic Rock at their finest.

The artwork which is done by comic book artist Mark Buckingham (Fables, The Sandman, Miracleman) based on the photo by Kevin Nixon, captures a very sci-fi artistry that Buckingham brought with a sci-fi futuristic feel of The Fierce and the Dead’s performance. For the four-piece, they have come a long way. From performing in clubs to be in a gigantic stage outdoors, it’s a long and winding road for them and they have made it.

The live recordings is very dynamic yet an eruptive release they have done this year. Not to mention they will be performing the first here in the States in May at RosFest at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For me, with the Fierce and the Dead, that’s like (using sports analogy) winning the Super Bowl for them. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, they have come a long, long, long way.

Listening to the mini live-album, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at the Ramblin Man’s Festival and being there by showing your full support and knowing that Matt, Kev, Steve, and Stuart, deliver a volcanic performance. It’s almost as if my arm-hairs went up at 100.  The audience shows approval and applaud after they finish their compositions. Not to mention I think that it might be Matt Stevens’ sense of humor when he speaks, to show the band’s relaxation and having a blast.

There are moments on here which at times have a melody duel between the bass and guitars as the quartet take you on a journey with a mysterious, deep, futuristic ride that will put you on the edge of your seat. Again after listening to this twice now, this is for me…a Holy Shit performance I’ve listened to! While this was a short performance, I wish they could have done more to give the audience another ride to hurtle through the cosmos.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth 1946-2017

Allan Holdsworth was considered perhaps one of the most innovative, influential, overlooked, and virtuosic guitar players that was brought to life. He passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 70. His death was announced on Facebook by his daughter, Louise. It’s a sad loss for a man who took the guitar and the SynthAxe to a whole new level. And with supporters including; Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen, Alex Lifeson, and Robben Ford who considers him to be “The John Coltrane of the Guitar.”

Holdsworth started out back in the late ‘60s with the band, ‘Igginbottom when they released their debut album, ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench on the DERAM label in 1969 which included one of the co-producers Mott the Hoople’s Morgan Fisher. Then he would embark on other bands and artists including Soft Machine, Pierre Morelen’s Gong, Nucleus’ Ian Carr, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tempest, and Bill Bruford. It wasn’t until the late ‘70s when he joined up with the late great John Wetton, Bruford, and Eddie Jobson with the super group, U.K. in 1978 in which they released their sole self-titled debut album on the E.G. label as the band would release one more album, four live albums, two video releases, and the 14-CD/4 Blu-ray release of the Ultimate Collector's Edition.

Allan left the band due to creative difference after it was released while he embarked on a solo career. He released 11 studio albums from 1976 to 2001. I can remember when I was in College discovering Holdsworth’s music with his time with Tempest on their sole self-titled release back in 1973 on the Bronze label which featured Colosseum’s Jon Hiseman, Paul Williams on Vocals, and Bassist Mark Clarke.

It is perhaps one of my favorites. Not just because of the essence of Progressive and Hard Rock, but the musicianship on there is eruptive, powerful, and mesmerizing. It’s like this mid-cannon blast from the moment the song Gorgon kicks into high gear as Paul Williams delves into his soulful voice resembling Paul Rodgers of Free/Bad Company.

Holdsworth can bring the heavy roars through the complex guitars and it’s staggering along with the rising track, Up and On, the Cream-sque touch on Foyers of Fun, and riding down the highways shuffle blues rock on Strangeher.  Allan left the band due to differences which I believe he didn't want to have a second guitar player which was Patto's Ollie Halsall on the second album, Living in Fear in 1974. The band broke up after their second album was released as Jon Hiseman went to reform Colosseum (Part II). But I'm off-topic.

The loss of Holdsworth shows how much he was ahead of his time, pushing the boundaries, and always looking to see where the road will take him next. He was working on a next album which was announced two years ago entitled Tales from the Vault by launching a pledge campaign to crowdfund his album. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this difficult time. He was and will always be the Man Who Changed Guitar Forever.

If you want to delve or if you are new to the world of Allan’s music, here’s some recommendations I picked:

Tempest – Tempest (Bronze/Esoteric Recordings)
‘Igginbottom – ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench (Deram/Esoteric Recordings)
Allan Holdsworth – Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (Manifesto)
Pierre Moerlen’s Gong – Gazuese! (Virgin Records)
Soft Machine – Bundles (Harvest/Esoteric Recordings)
U.K. – U.K. (E.G. Records)
The New Tony Williams Lifetime – Believe It (Columbia)

Or the 12-CD Box Set, The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever 

And if you want to show support for Allan's family for a family memorial service, please go to their GoFundMe and give your love and help which is up to $65,768.
(https://www.gofundme.com/allanholdsworthmemorial)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tohpati Bertiga - Faces


Tohpati is and will always be; a very, very busy man. With his time as a solo artist, Ethnomission, Bertiga, and SimakDialog. There is not a single stop sign for him. For me, I’ve always wanted to see what he will do next. Now, it’s been five years since we’ve heard from Bertiga since the release of the 2012 release, Riot. This year they have unleashed their new album entitled, Faces. This is an Indonesian-release only on the label, deMajors. And it’s a welcoming return for the three piece to come back with more music.

The album is dedicated to the late great keyboardist Riza Arshad from SimakDialog. For me, this is Tohpati honoring his best friend and keeping both his legacy and spirit alive by making sure the fires will never burn out. Tohpati, Bassist Indro Jarjodikoro, and Drummer Aditiyo Wibowo (Bowie), have a diverse sound on here. And the five enduring centerpieces show that they still got it and keep the sounds between Funk, Jazz, Blues, and the Progressive elements thrown into the blender and mixing it into an interesting groove.

The opening track, Conviction sees Tohpati channel his riffs and leads into the waters of a Zappa-sque sound before he transforms his guitar as a synthesizer as he makes it sound to pay tribute to the ‘70s Italian Progressive Rock sound of Banco’s first two albums and Morgan’s Nova Solis-era. The style of the piece has this Gershwin suite almost in the midsection as if the trio are channeling Rhapsody in Blue with a twist before ending with the Zappa groove.

With Bluesphoria, you can imagine Tohpati going down the Texas highway for a boogie complex blues rock with him on top of ZZ Top’s Eliminator car through the night sky honoring the Tres Hombres-era by going into the riff of La Grange in a shuffling tone with a bit of Zeppelin to the cooking pot. The first 45 seconds of Extraordinary begins with an ambient introduction before he goes into a virtuosic complex melody.

Classical and Jazz alike with a slight touch of Fusion, he and Indro’s bass do a friendly duel as if they are playing both the riff and channeling each other on who has some killer grooves while Absolute sees Tohpati going into some twists and turns between a cross-over with Primus and The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame. Indro does some incredible yet brief slap-and-pop bass sounds as if he’s mastering the legendary Bootsy Collins for brief moment in the Funk section as if he brought Indro into the Mothership for an out of sight galaxy adventure.

The closer, Intense features this latin-groove introduction with the early ‘90s sound of Rush between Presto and Counterparts-era. Tohpati himself near the end of the piece honors both Alex Lifeson and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing before ending on a high note.

I’ve listened to this about five times now and it shows the amazement of listening to Faces. This shows that not only they’re back, but they haven’t forgotten the flaming fires to keep it going. And with the honor of Riza’s legacy, they got it right and another worth checking out if you love the Riot album or either Ethnomission or SimakDialog.