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Review by avestin 12 years ago <Permalink>
Jack Dupon - Démon Hardi 2010
I don’t remember how I first heard of Jack Dupon, a French four piece band consisting of Arnaud M'Doihoma (bass, vocals), Gregory Pozzoli (guitars, vocals), Thomas Larsen (drums, percussion, vocals)
and Philippe Prebet (guitars, vocals).

I bought their 2008 debut album, L'Echelle Du Désir, but was not too thrilled with it. It has nice ideas and it is theatrical, quirky and eccentric but I felt the songs were too meandering and lacked direction and focus. But I was still interested in seeing what they’ll do on their next album. And so I was happy to be given the opportunity to review it.

Well, I think that more than they have changed from the debut album, that I have changed and now perceive them a little differently. They do seem to be more focused this time around with their songs and even more intricate and creative, but they still maintain the same basic characteristics from the first album, which I’ll mention below.

But first let me make a point.

Jack Dupon’s music seems to me to fit much better a live setting. In fact, it would probably benefit from having some kind of theatrics associated with the music, some visualization attached to the music.

Their music is theatrical and veers from the dramatic to the silly or humorous side. This theatrical aspect of theirs is reminiscent of other French progressive bands such as Ange, Arachnoid, Mona Lisa, Etron Fou Leloublan and even the more current Sebkha Chott etc.

I don’t mean that Jack Dupon sounds like any these, rather that they share this characteristic of theatrics, of an ambition to add a visual side to their music. Jack Dupon’s music sounds much less serious than these, much more cheeky and upbeat, and not half as dark. One can also draw lines of similarity in sound to others such as Frank Zappa (on all songs) and even King Crimson ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 12 years ago <Permalink>
Breznev Fun Club - L'onda Vertebrata 2010
Avant-Garde Prog Classical/Rock
There are releases that I struggle to come up with adequate words that would somehow be worthy of the music. Usually after writing these reviews I feel lousy for not being able to match my abstract impressions of the album with the verbal and thought-processing part of my brain which seems to be incapacitated and barely capable of finding the right descriptions and praises. So in case it’s not clear from this review, know this – I am very impressed with this album. And I find the music on it to be as lovely as it is captivating. But know this, it takes time and concentration to fully absorb all of it. There, a direct and simple way to praise an album, bypassing all the verbose and loquacious long-winded and pompous reviewing I usually aim for.

But I can’t leave it at that, right. You may very well want to know what this sounds like? And perhaps a bit more on what I think of it, what I hear special in the music?

Recorded in 2009, these compositions represent a repertoire of music by Rocco Lomonaco dating back to 1990 until 1997. The music Mr. Lomonaco composes a fascinating fusion of modern classical music with rock, resulting in a “rock-estra” of sorts. There is a magical mix of the orchestra and the rock lineups, including the vocals (female operatic and male speaking/singing). The lyrics are by Franco Sciscio. In fact, I was reminded of the music of Yugen on Labirinto D’acqua the most while listening to this (obviously this was composed before their time) and at times it brought up even Steve Martland’s Horses Of Instruction (track 8 – “Inseguito Dai Creditori”). Another point of reference is Nichelodeon’s Il Gioco Del Silenzio (I’ll get back to that at the end of the review).

Most pieces are made up of shorter sections that flow seamlessly. Each one dominated with a theme and atmosphere of its own, at times ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Long Distance Calling - Long Distance Calling 2011
The third Long Distance Calling album is self-titled.

Now why is that so?

I could think of many examples where bands do this on their first album. But the third?

There has to be some special meaning to it then.

Perhaps they're trying to say something? Is the band feeling estranged from its listeners and trying to reach out to us with this record by using this title? Or could it be that communications have deteriorated such that only a Long Distance Call is taken seriously?

However you want to interpret it, Long Distance Calling provides another almost entirely instrumental heavy and spacey rock album. One that they say is song and theme oriented, despite the lack of lyrics for the most part although there is a "proper" song on here, Middleville, featuring John Bush on vocals. The band states that: "Our writing is very song orientated; the song itself is the most important thing. We're mostly jamming when we write songs, trying to find a basic structure and then filling and building it up with sounds, melodies and atmospheres. On the new album we rediscovered the power of the riff.". One can definitely hear powerful riffs throughout the album's 7 tracks, blurring the border between rock and metal with their heaviness and groove. While the origins of the songs lie in jams, there is certainly clear direction and melody to the each piece as well as development and buildup. While it lacks lyrics, the music is quite emotional, ranging from aggressive and in-your-face-riffing (Invisible Giants) to slower and a little mellower yet still powerful parts (Timebends). Moreoever, there are some sections where the music is quite groovy (Invisible Giants, Into The Black Wide Open), but still the general vibe of the album is somber and dark.

Interestingly the band says the following: "We don't listen ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Beardfish - Mammoth 2011
Eclectic Prog Rock
I’ll start by saying that if you’re a fan of Beardfish, stop reading now and just go get this album.

Unless you want to read something about how they are advancing in their musical path, how they have progressed and changed somewhat in their writing, but still sounding like a bearded fish.
While the music is quite accessible, I needed several listens until the album reached me on a more emotional and personal level. This is a personal issue obviously and will vary from individual to another. However, once I “got” into it, I could enjoy the music so much more. But my point is that even prior to that emotional contact, I could very well acknowledge that this is a well done album, with clear and solid musical themes and fine execution.

This is the sixth album by this busy and talented band (they released their first album, Från En Plats Du Ej Kan Se, in 2003), and they seem to be getting better and more ambitious with each one. The band’s sounds get denser, richer and fuller. There are walls of guitars and keyboards filling my ears in opener song The Platform, but this doesn’t diminish the melodic line that drives this track. Actually, all the songs here have a stronger backbone in the form of the keyboards; these create a vast thick basis for the rest of the music to rely on, something that wasn’t always there in prior albums. I must also point out the clarity of recording and how lovely it is to hear the efficient bass work. Moreover, Rikard’s vocals seem to be better controlled here, as at times, in previous albums, he seemed to reach a little out of his range occasionally. In any case, his vocals are quite recognizable by now and they are very special and are a superb fit for this style of music. In Green Waves he takes his voice into places he’s seldom used before; practically screaming in a ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Utopianisti - Utopianisti 2011
Eclectic Prog-Related Rock/Jazz
Finland is a cold place. It’s also dark for a lengthy period of time. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to live in! With a depressive atmosphere and gloomy music being played by the local bands and musicians.
But then you have folks like Markus Pajakkala, who come and ruin the whole thing for you… They play this upbeat and energetic music that makes you want to move your head and feet, music that you can’t help but have your senses shaken and your spirit lifted upon listening to it. Damn it, I’m trying to be depressed here! Those young kids and their damned upbeat and excellent music!

Ok, Let me start again.
Allow me to ask you a few questions before proceeding:
Have you ever wanted to hear a heavy and eclectic Big Band performance?
Are you curious as to the possibilities of having a large ensemble of musicians, practically an small orchestra, playing a mix made up of blues, jazz and rock with a little metal-ic leanings as well as some electronic effects added for good measure? Do you like the sort of music from Frank Zappa, Alamaailman Vasarat, Mr. Bungle, miRthkon, Zorn’s Dreamers, et al.?
Is the notion of an instrumental extravaganza beating your ears constantly, excite you?
If you’ve answered Yes to any of the above, you might want to give Utopianisti a listen!

Who is the man behind this project?
Markus Pajakkala was born 1986 in Kangasala, Finland. He began playing drums at the age of 10 and then proceeded to play the saxophone and keyboards. He studies Music Technology in Sibelius-Academy in Finland. The music on this, his first solo album, was composed between 2005 and 2010. On the album are featured 17 guest musicians from various background who have been given free hand to play their own solo parts. Markus also ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Lebowski - Cinematic 2010
Spacey Prog Rock
Going to the movies, in an album

Apparently, this album was made by film lovers. It is dedicated to 5 Polish cinematographers (whom I don’t know, so I can’t help you there). It’s called Cinematic and is being presented as a soundtrack to a non-existent movie. I can easily hear it.

In fact the movie that plays in my mind as I listen to it, is a drama. A drama set in a hustling bustling city, during a rainy winter day (perhaps this is due to the cover of the album). The movie focuses on several individuals as they go about their daily routine and plans. Each person has something on their mind, perhaps a problem or a load on their chest. Each song depicts how that person deals with his or her own private issue.

But if you prefer, you can read the band’s comments on each piece in the booklet (written in Polish and English) including notes on the album itself as a whole. In fact those are quite interesting and revealing of the band’s mindset and approach to the making of the album.

The album is instrumental but the band added vocals from movies. Those are well made combinations and match the ambiance of the tracks in which they’re placed in. they are mostly in Polish but there are also some in French and English.

The music is spacious, volumetric and contrasts softness and aggressiveness. The pace is for the most part, slow and ponderous. In fact there’s little variation in that facet but that is not that much of an issue since other aspects such as volume and intensity, mellowness and fierceness, exhibit dynamics. Moreover, the drumming is quite engaging and creative and provides the music the necessary shifts between a pensive state and a more agitated mood.

While the album is mostly unhurried, it doesn’t wait to get to the point. The tunes are ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Pikapika TeArt - Moonberry 2010
Avant-Garde Prog Rock
Do you know many bands from Siberia?

Whatever the case, here’s a group from Krasnoyarsk deserving your attention.

The band begain its life in 2004 with common love for the music of Aranis, King Crimson, Hnery Cow, Fred Frith as well as Stravinsky, Schostakovich and Schnittke. The fact that there album is out on the Italian label Altr0ck is the result of Marcello Marinone (the band behind the label) discovering the band’s music on their Myspace in 2006. Thus began an online communication (using translators) about releasing their music on the label, followed by the hardship of finding a proper studio for them to record in. Eventually the obstacles were conquered and we have the opportunity to hear this band’s music.

While many instruments are present, the sound is not dense as to not make out details. In fact their sound is quite “breezy” contributing to the atmosphere of the music, made up of a balance between seriousness and light-heartedness. This is in contrast, for instance, to Yugen’s first album, Labirinto D’acqua, where the vast array of instrumentation was such that it threatened to collapse on the listener’s ears (in a good way) and the sound was this very dense and rich. Here, simplicity in texture volume seems to take precedence and guide the vibe-creation procedure.

Moreover, I appreciate then using an expanded lineup (much like Yugen and Rational Diet), being predominantly classically trained and oriented, allowing for a plethora of sounds to front the tunes, be it the sorrow-filled violin or the cheeky clarinet. Despite their classical training and background, I hear various elements in their music, such as folk, rock and chamber music, all combined to create their own sound, which is an accessible and melodic form of expression.

While the album is ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Yugen - Iridule 2010
Avant-Garde Prog Rock
In Iridule , Yugen continue their musical journey began in Labirinto d’Acqua in 2006. While they retain their sound from their first album, here Yugen are incorporating additional styles, including the addition of (female) vocals, courtesy of Elaine Di Falco ( Thinking Plauge , Caveman Shoestore ). Yugen offer several shorter, vocals-lead songs, which are focused on creating eerie and odd textures and atmospheres, rather than presenting a tune.

There’s a pack of guest musicians on here, including the lineup of Thinking Plague: Dave Kerman (also of 5UU’s , U Totem , Present and others), Mike Johnson and Dave Wiley (also of Hamster Theater ) and the aforementioned Elaine Di Falco .

If I had to pick a track from here to represent this album’s sound the bet, I’d probably pick out the second piece, The Scuttle Of The Past Out Of The Cupboards . It starts out in their usual highly energetic commotion fashion with notes flying all over the place, seemingly out of touch with each other (but really not), breathing with what may seem like a sense of freedom and perhaps even anarchy, but in fact very controlled and calculated. They later on then slow down and descend into a slower and quieter segment, an ambient section conjuring bizarre sounding vibes, eventually going back to the original musical palate ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Djam Karet - The Heavy Soul Sessions 2010
Despite having a musical style that on paper should appeal to my tastes, being a widely critically acclaimed group and having an extensive discography spread out over 3 decades, I’ve only checked out so far two releases from California-based instrumental progressive rock act, Djam Karet : 1991’s Burning the Hard City and 2003’s A Night for Baku . While I find the music on these albums to be good and very well played and produced, it didn’t grab me and made me have repeated listening, though I know that these albums have their fans, so I’m not writing them off.

In 2010 comes their newest studio offering, the 15 th in number called The Heavy Soul Sessions , 5 years after the well-received and acclaimed Recollection Harvest which I have yet to hear, but definitely intend to after listening to this album.

The Heavy Soul Sessions was born as a result of live shows in which they played tracks spanning their 26 years of existence. They proceeded to record these tracks live-in-the-studio with no overdubbing. They have also included a cover song, Dedicated To K.C. by Richard Pinhas from his 1982 album, L’Ethique . Indeed this album sounds great, fresh and crisp both sound-wise and music-wise. In fact it has inspired me to go back and re-listen to the two albums I have of theirs and get some others I don’t have. So what you get here is a taste of the variety of flavours of the band’s output. You get a taste of space-rock, ambient and electronic music as well as a balanced portion of aggressive rock, warm analog synths and mellotron, spacey guitar solos and dreamy-eerie slow and pensive ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Nichelodeon - Il Gioco Del Silenzio 2010
Nichelodeon :
Claudio Milano is the man behind Nichelodeon, a theater-eqsue act making diverse and rich-sounding music, focused on creation of ambiances and particular atmospheres, ranging from the eerie to the highly emotional. Their first output has been the 2007 release appropriately named Cinemanemico, as the music has a cinematic characteristic to it (I reviewed it as well). 2010 sees the release of a studio album and a DVD of a live show at the Bloom club in Mezzago, Italy. The DVD performance consists of some of the band’s material re-interpreted as well as a soundtrack of the last episode of Twin Peaks to celebrate its 20 years anniversary (to be reviewed separately).

Il Gioco del Silenzio (The Game of Silence) :
Nichelodeon’s music feels spontaneous, impulsive, coming straight from the “demented” and “tortured” mind of Claudio Milano. The sounds emanating from the speakers can be frightening and spooky while at other points they can be charming and embracing. But most of all, the music sounds like a real-time soundtrack of various experiences. Listening to the album, I felt I was travelling through Claudio’s mind, encountering all these strange sceneries, places and people.

The music is an odd but well-done mixture of abstract and tangible. While one can discern melodic lines, it is presented in a way such as to make believe it is planned, or in a blurred and hazy manner (adding to that is the fact that there are no drumming on the album). This comes back to the issue of spontaneity: that is, the music for the most part sounds intuitive and impulsive, ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Aranis - RoqueForte 2010
Prog Classical/Metal
Aranis, the Flemish ensemble led by double-bassist Joris Vanvinckenroye, keep on evolving on their fourth album, RoqueForte, released on the fantastic Italian label, Altr0ck. While the first two albums provided beautiful chamber music with strong rhythmic backbone and some folk-ish tendencies, the third album presented more ambiance as well as vocalization.

In this album, they are joined four guests, Ward De Vleesschouwer (piano), Stefan Wellens (viola), Pierre Chevalier from Present and Univers Zero (piano) and Dave Kerman from 5UU’s, Thinking Plague and various other projects (drums and percussions). You’d think that adding drumming to their music would change their sound dramatically, but that is not the case at all. Dave Kerman’s drumming is subtle and not dominative and mingles perfectly with the rest of the instruments. In fact, it sounds as if the percussions were always a part of the band’s sound.

The sound is more edgy, rough, raw and yet still as elegant as ever. They have veered into territories covered by Univers Zero and Present, i.e. a darker and more brooding style and atmosphere; but they have not lost their identity, their sound and charm. Indeed, the Aranis personality is renewed here in this extended lineup. RoqueForte shows the group in their usual punctual playing and elaborate compositions, yet with a new direction and somewhat different approach, showing their strive to evolve as a musical entity.

The music here, while as rhythmic as before, seems more intent creating delicate but ominous ambiance. Take the opening track, Roque for instance. While they don’t forsake melody for texture, they do sounds as if more intent on evoking certain mysterious and eerie qualities. I think this piece presents a well thought-out and executed balance between the melodic and the ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Sky Architect - Excavations of the Mind 2010
Prog Rock
Sky Architect presents their eclectic and heavy brand of progressive rock in their first album, Excavations of the Mind, through Galileo Records. This young five-piece Dutch band has released in 2010 an album recorded in 2008, which showcases the band skills and love for progressive rock. For me, they manage to take what is good about prog-rock and present it in a modern fashion, style and sound (not that I don’t like the so-called “retro-prog” groups).

In Excavation Of The Mind, Sky Architect have created a seamless musical mélange of the heavy and delicate, the fierce and melodic, the power and subtle.
The albums songs are made up of excellent and well-executed musical ideas, a satisfying equilibrium between heavier sections and calmer grounds. The songs are driven by the aggressiveness of the electric guitar on one side and the delicacy of the keyboards and acoustic guitar on the other. The music can be almost metal-heavy at one point and then calm down and turn into a refined acoustic passage and then continue into a keyboards-drenched prog extravaganza.

The band writes multi-section songs, with those opposing each other in tempo and spirit, but complement each other very well. The songwriting is balanced between creating beautiful harmonic choruses and energetic and high-paced instrumental passages (such as in Deep Chasm pt. 2). Indeed, I feel there is a well-balanced instrumental to song ratio. In fact I feel that their instrumental side is their stronger side. The musical passages in The Grey Legend are a delight to listen to and wonderfully executed. They never veer off for too long from the main theme and always have a way of connecting all the song’s various parts nicely together.
... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Rational Diet - On Phenomena and Existences 2010
Avant-Garde Prog Rock
A rational and well-balanced diet

Not many bands manage to astonish me with how they progress and evolve from album to album; little opportunity to I get to hear bands that while keeping their core sound and style, are able to bring something new into their palate, produce an updated aural image of themselves.

Rational Diet is one such group.

I’ve read that this band’s music poses a challenge to some listeners, a barrier of disharmonic noise and orchestral chaos. I for one, hear magical harmony, mysterious and eerie ambiance and highly calculated and intricate composition, arrangements and stellar musicianship. The production is also of high quality and brings forth all the small details and intricacies that can easily get lost in such a rich and layered album.

Rational Diet’s music has a diverse range of sounds. From ominous and disharmonic sounding sections to more rock-oriented segments, from slow and relatively calm to a chaotic-like frenzy-driven rhythmic bit. Their music is such that it’s eerie, sharp and in-your-face one minute and then it gradually morphs into a softer-edged sound with a more harmonic nature. This album presents a variety of these sounds, much like a diverse and well-balanced diet. Each of the 14 compositions on the album presents varied and distinct pace, mood and approach, all unified by the band’s sound and playing. This array of templates is at times applied in one song (Sleep Is A Teasing Man, and Passcaglia In Beautiful And Furious Worlds are two examples).

Moreover, the instruments themselves are wisely used to achieve this effect, as the violin is usually the lead “offensive” and abrasive sounding instrument while the piano and organ serve the opposite end and the rest serve both “camps” as needed. This group ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 13 years ago <Permalink>
Ciccada - A Child in the Mirror 2010
Symphonic Prog Rock
Unlike the Cicada insects whose music might sit comfortably in the avant-garde/noise camp, this Greek sextet called Ciccada makes pleasant melodic, folk-tinged progressive rock with heavy emphasis on keyboards and flute.

Ciccada came to be in 2005 as Nicolas Nikolopoulos (flute, keyboards) and Yorgos Mouchos (guitars) joined forces, soon joined in by vocalist Evangelia Kozoni (who also plays accordion and percussion), thus forming the core of the band. More musicians came and went as years went by and in this album they are joined in by bassist Omiros Komninos and contributions from session musicians.

The band's music lies in what many call "symphonic rock" (a term I'm not sure of its meaning, but if it helps you, then that's good). Their music is very pleasant and warm, even soothing and calm. The dominance of the flute and Evangelia's vocals (not an in-your-face type of presence, but in the sense of being at the forefront, leading and setting the tone) is the element that permeates throughout the entire album and creates its atmosphere and its charm.

While other reviewers and the press release cite Jethro Tull, Renaissance, Gentle Giant and the likes as influences, which is all well if you'd like to get an idea of what to expect, I'll chime in with two notions: One, I personally would place Ciccada in a "camp" along with Viima and their "symphonic folk prog rock" style. Two, instead of searching for labeling and ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 14 years ago <Permalink>
Spleen Arcana - The Field Where She Died 2008
Prog Rock
French musician Julien Gaullier, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, pulls off an impressive achievement with his first album The Field Where She Dies. Having written the material over several years, he recorded the music, singing and playing all the various instruments except for the drums which are played by David Peron and there are addition vocals sung by Marie Guillaumet. Though I like the music here for the most part there is one major draw back here for me. That is Julien’s voice. I find that his vocals do a disservice to his music. He’s not exactly singing, but not narrating or anything of that sort. But to me they sound flat and somewhat bland and not adequate to the music except in several places (the chorus of Trample On Me for instance and the short growl-like segment on A Picture Of Two Lovers In The Mist). This music requires a more versatile singer, with a wider range, but mainly in a low pitch. I would also have made much more use of Marie’s backing vocals. The best use is on the last track but is not as prevalent on the other songs.

On to the music: Dark and even aggressive with the harsh guitar riffs, this reminds of music from bands like Anathema (Alternative 4 era) while incorporating intricate compositional structures and a vast array of sounds and instruments. A song like Trample On Me presents a wide range of emotions and styles in it, showcasing Julien’s vast influences. You have a dark opening which culminates in a bombastic forceful opening lead by poignant guitar riffs. The chorus has a very good use of keyboards and voice-like sound produced which I find very effective and appealing. Later in the song, there is a shift to a quieter and slower part, which would have been better sounding had more keyboards been used, but still, is very effective; in particular the guitar solo. All in all, this is a ... -> show full review
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Review by avestin 14 years ago <Permalink>
Viima - Kahden Kuun Sirpit 2009
Symphonic Prog Rock
Viima releases in 2009 their second album, Kahden Kuun Sirpit (Two Crescents), with a new lineup in which only two members are left from the previous album. The new people in the band are drummer Mikko Väärälä, vocalist flutist and saxophonist Hannu Hiltula and bassist Aapo Honkanen. Continuing from the first album is keyboard player Kimmo Lähteenmäki. The album contains four songs, one instrumental piece (Sukellus) and an epic title track. This title track is about the history of the city of Turku (where the band rehearses) and also about an individual’s life in the city. As the band sings in Finnish, it is a welcome gesture that the booklet has translation into English of the lyrics alongside the original Finnish version. We start with Autio Pelto which resonates the sound of the previous album with its charming flute in the foreground and the guitar backing it up while the keyboards administers a soothing background base line to support its “comrades”. The folk elements are still here (though to a lesser extent than the previous album) continuing the “sympholk-prog” style of the previous album, though this time it sounds less cheerful than before, but as rich sounding. Gone are the female vocals of Päivi Kylmänen and enter the male vocals of Hannu Hiltula. This is to me unfortunate as I thought her vocals were superb and gave much life and vitality to the music. It could have added a great deal here, supplying another layer of delightful vocal layer to the mix. Hannu’s vocals, while doing the job well, are in places somewhat weak, as in the last song, the title track Kahden Kuun Sirpit (around the two minute mark, where he sings almost without backing instruments but as for the rest of the song it’s fine). But overall, he does a pretty good work. In addition he does a fine work playing the flute and saxophone.

The music is ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 14 years ago <Permalink>
Deluge Grander - The Form of the Good 2009
Prog Rock
The Good is in great Form Let me start by saying this: There are several bands and musicians that when I listen to their album I think to myself: “I wish I could compose music like this. I wish I would have composed this”. This is the case with Deluge Grander’s music.

This is the second Deluge Grander album, another musical delicatessen from Dan Britton’s creative mind (keyboards), along with his highly talented band mates, Dave Berggren (guitars), Brett d’Anon (bass) and Patrick Gaffney (drums). This time around Dan hired the services of a large lineup of classical musicians to enhance the sound and add more dimensions to the music. The musicians, mostly from College Park, in Maryland, bring in the lineup such instruments as cello, clarinet, flute, saxophone, violin, trumpet, trombone and oboe. This orchestral addition comes out very well and is best heard on the track Aggrandizement.

As this album is different somewhat in sound and also style to August In The Urals (which I love), I will not compare it to that one, but only mention, that in this album, Deluge Grander show a fabulous progression and change and adaptation of new ingredients in their music. This album is not as affluent and volumetric sounding as the previous one, but it sure does not lack anything in creativity, musicianship and beauty. Though the music has influences from the classic symphonic-prog-rock days along with jazzy touches and funk-sounding parts and also sounds that might fit very well in Canterbury scene albums (with that fuzzy sounding keyboard), this album presents fresh sounding music, that warms my heart each time I listen to it. Not only are the melodies captivating, but their execution is as good. I also hear some elements of Birds And Buildings’ highly energetic sound here in the third track, Common Era Cavemen.

In this ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 14 years ago <Permalink>
Disen Gage - ...the reverse may be true 2008
Eclectic Prog Rock
This is a very good album, but The Reverse May Be True… The Screw-Loose Entertainment released by RAIG in 2004, was indeed entertaining with its instrumental guitar-oriented, heavy and quirky rock (sometimes even psychedelic in nature and mood, though not sound), manifesting a variety of influences from King Crimson (Red-era) to more avant-rock leanings. It is therefore, with excitement that I found in my mail a promo copy of their new album released in 2008 (through RAIG as well) with a title that suggests a good portion of healthy skepticism and open-mindedness. Coming in another successfully well made digipack by RAIG, the art work, a collage of drawings and pictures is very fitting the music and atmosphere resounding from the album.

Indeed open-minded is a quality one needs when listening to their music. Not that it is too “out there” or overly alienating, but for those with softer “ear drums”, this approach may be required, but then again, the reverse may be true… (sorry, I just had to insert it). As with their previous releases, there is innate humour and good spirit in the music here. The opener, ‘What’s up on planet Plyuk?’, has a carnival-esque quality (well portrayed by the rhythm and instruments) and yet doesn’t become grotesque, but instead remains in check and doesn’t lash out with all they have in their ammunition to offer.

The sound has a nice volume to it and that can be said about the entire album. The musicianship is accurate and not overdone or flashy. There is good gradual development of the tracks. Such is the case for instance in ‘Landing’, which starts easily and rather quietly and gradually acquires dynamics as it progresses, adding more layers, instruments and themes. This track to me shows are restrained and disciplined they are and how skillful as well. I can think of several ways of how they ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 15 years ago <Permalink>
Rational Diet - At Work 2008
Avant-Garde Prog Rock
In 2007 this Belarusian ensemble released their s/t album through Altr0ck and it was one of my favourites of that year and a great album overall. Their quirky style, inspired by classical composers such as Stravinsky and Ives to experimental and progressive rock groups such as Univers Zero has won me over and I was highly anticipating their next effort. Little did I know that it would turn out to be such a brilliant album, which shows a progression from their previous output, going into new direction, trying and experimenting with new routes and possibilities.

The lineup consists of a basic rock unit of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums along with a classical lineup of saxophone, bassoon, cello, violin and piano, giving them a range of opportunities to create a wide musical “palate” of sounds. There are also female vocals on some tracks.

9 tracks and songs are in here, mostly short, or not too long, with a charming atmosphere, beautiful melodies which are surprisingly catchy and at times sound like Stravinsky gone electric. The music is always changing, there is constant experimentation, but not for experimentation’s sake, but to find more ways for the music to advance and achieve another effect, another point in its route of progression, another beautiful peak. The music, while at times can seem chaotic, is always under control, always meticulously performed and orchestrated. The brilliant parts, such as in Pukhow, where the piano seems at times to go berserk, are beautifully in line with the music, gorgeously arranged to lead the music onward, brilliantly composed to sound both out of line and in line with the rest of the band.

A ... -> show full review
Review by avestin 15 years ago <Permalink>
The Cargo Cult Revival - Snakecharmer 2008
Heavy Prog Rock
This album can truly charm snakes This four piece instrumental band from CT, USA has released so far two albums, of the heavy brand with several underlying elements such as a spacey and psychedelic atmosphere, stoner-rock elements (listen to the last track on Snakecharmer), fusion segments emphasized by the bewitching cello and an overall encompassing and enveloping sound that takes me away while listening to far away places, surrounded by mountains of crushing riffs and deep evoking rhythms and the alternating uplifting or mesmerizing string instrument playing.

The music presents spacey segments and psychedelic elements (“Bastard Son”, “Snakecharmer”), upbeat and energetic melodies (“Divine Machine”), heavy rock with long brooding riffs (“Bastard Son”) and gripping themes (“Snakecharmer”). Their music involved starting with a fixed theme and then veering out from it into new directions, creating exciting new possibilities for it and occasionally coming back to the original idea.

The first track, “Divine Machine”, starts off bouncy and happily with the guitar and electric cello at the front, playing a catchy melody, greatly enhanced by the rest of the lineup. The track has a propulsive rhythm to it, hard to not be gripped by. “Divine Machine” links uninterrupted and very naturally into the second piece, “Whiskey and Hookers”, creating a great flow to the album as a whole. It continues with a lighthearted theme that seems to carry on the mood of the melody in the previous track. It does rock, however, as it gets heavier at parts with crunchy riffs surrounded by cello-fronting moments with its delightful charming and happy sound. ... -> show full review
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