Friday, December 31, 2010

Recommendation: Matt Stevens (acoustic, instrumental, progressive)

I came across this musician a few days ago while browsing Bandcamp. I was immediately captivated by his music and looked up his website to learn more about him.
So instead of me telling you about him, here's what his website says:

"Matt Stevens is a musician and composer from North London. An instrumental artist, he uses an acoustic guitar and a sampler to create multi layered tracks live. This is often called Live Looping. His music is compared with artists as diverse as John Mclaughlin and Sigur Ros. He plays live all over the UK.


Last year saw the release of Echo his well received debut album. It has been a "word of mouth" success thanks to the support of bloggers, podcasters and listeners from across the internet.
He has composed for short films(including the award winning Daddys Little Helper) and his live work is often compared to watching a one man guitar orchestra or wall of sound. He also plays guitar in the band The Fierce And The Dead.
He perfoms to people from all over the world using Ustream.TV "

Also, here's an interview with him.

You can stream his two albums on his bandcamp and also pay-what-you-want for downloads, or purchase the cd's (10₤ for both).

Do take a listen, it's fantastic music!

Recommendation: Golem - Orion Awakes (1973?)

Supposedly originating in 1973, released by Pyramid Records to be sold at art galleries, this album has been reissued in 1996 and in 2010, with the latter supposedly having authenticity evidence in the booklet.
However, upon listening to this for the first time without realizing who I was listening to, it sounded to me more like a modern recording. When I then looked at the band and realized this is supposedly from 1973, I became skeptical. These two reviewers seem to think the same: 1, 2.

Regardless, Golem presents here a fuzzy psychedelic freakout session, excellent for your tripping needs...

If anyone has more info on this album (beyond what is found on the net), please share it in the comments.

After the jump you have youtube playlist of the album.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dark Ambiances Series - Pt. 1: The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

During the next nights, we shall experience dark, somber and mysterious ambiances. We shall dwell in the depressive and forlorn, we will bask in the shadows of hopelessness.

I'll dedicate each post to a different group and their music; each group known for their own take of brooding and melancholic textures and melody.

We open this exhibit of the macabre with the multi-national group The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble.

They started as the duo of Jason Köhnen (bass, guitar) and Gideon Kiers (effects) who composed music for old silent movies. They were joined in 2004 by Hilary Jeffrey (trombone) and Nina Hits (cello) and this lineup recorded the debut self-titled album released in 2006. The lineup expanded further with Eelco Bosman (guitars), Charlotte Cegarra (vocals and various instruments) and Sadie Anderson (violin). In 2009 they released their spectacular album, Here Be Dragons.
Their side project, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, will featured here soon as well in this series, and so will wait its turn.
Music after the jump.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Songs by crazy Norwegians...: Major Parkinson - Death in the Candystore

Would you let your kids shoot a video with a bunch of twist-minded Norwegians?

Of course!

Heck, I'd beg to take part as well.

So have a look at the first video below and see the lucky children participating in such an occasion, orchestrated by Norwegian band Major Parkinson.

Major Parkinson play a charming, playful and fun brand of rock with carnival-esque spirit. They've released two albums, a s/t in 2008, and Songs From A Solitary Home this year.
I highly recommend both.

Songs by crazy Swedes...: Samla Mammas Manna - Tärningen & Svackorpoängen

Whenever I want some wacky, humorous music, there is a multitude of options to choose from (Zappa, Komintern, Ma Banlieu Flasque, Mr. Bungle and others).

A very good option, though, is Swedish band Samla Mammas Manna, a band which incorporated various influences into its sound (folk, jazz-rock and other vegetables) and created their own sound.

The band consisted of great musicians including drummer Hasse Bruniusson (Flower Kings) and Lars Hollmer (who passed away two years ago in December 2008).

They were part of the RIO movement and participated in the RIO Festival in London in March 1978.

They have undergone several incarnations and have related projects (Von Zamla and Zamla Mammas Manna and Ramlösa Kvällar), all worth while listening to as well.

The following youtube clip is in fact two songs from their second album, Måltid, released in 1973.
They are the 6 and 7 tracks:
6. Tärningen (3:33)
7. Svackorpoängen (3:11)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Musician / Band in the Spotlight: Richard Wileman / Karda Estra

Richard Wileman, under the moniker of Karda Estra, composes, plays and produces his releases, comprising of stunning lush pieces of neo-classical/folk/goth/etc. music and in which he has guest musicians playing alongside him. 

He has released thus far 9 full-length studio albums, of which I'd highly recommend Eve, Weird Tales and The Age of Science And Enlightenment (but all the albums are of high quality, in my opinion).The music is, while calm, emotional and ranging from gorgeously beautiful to eerie and spooky, from senses of elation to bleak and somber (all depending on the album and track). It is played in a restrained and appropriate manner, never getting cheesy or over the top. I like how every instrument gets its proper role and is heard distinctly in the recordings.

You can listen to many compositions by Karda Estra here, here and here.

For those of you interested in buying these, you can buy directly from Richard all his albums (provided they're not sold out), from his website at 5£ each, including free shipping world-wide.

After the jump are recent videos that Richard has recorded of him with other musicians playing Karda Estra pieces. You can see/hear more here.

Recommendation: Hidden Orchestra (Scotland; electronica/jazz)

I've recently discovered a very pleasant surprise in the form of Scottish quartet Hidden Orchestra, formerly known as Joe Acheson Quartet.

Read more and listen after the jump

Monday, December 27, 2010

Interview: Mike Judge (USA; Sinthome, The Nerve Institute)

Mike Judge is a multi-instrumentalist who has released music under various names, the latest being Sinthome and currently, The Nerve Institute.

To introduce him to you, here is the bio he provided for his PA page:

"The Nerve Institute is the current incarnation of a one-man project that's been active in some form for nearly a decade now. Variously has been called The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem, and Sinthome; Ficciones was released by ReR/Ad Hoc under Sinthome. I cut my proverbial teeth on the D.I.Y./punk scene in Kansas City, which back around 2000 appeared to hold semi-utopian promise to the very naïve kind of kid I was at the time. I drummed or played guitar or bass in a number of bands of whom maybe a dozen people on Earth have very sharp memories and who were passed over like the Hebrews in Egypt on the night of the Tenth Plague by everyone else: Culture Camp (noisy art-punk), Kill Brochtune (sort of prog-punk that in retrospect was strikingly ahead of its time -- I didn't write the material, hence my boastfulness), Dish (power-pop), Jimmy D and the Rotten 3 (ridiculous meltdown), the Wrecking Ball (backing band for the tremendously talented singer-songwriter Ben Summers), Mind the Gap (free improv). This led to some session & live work of various sorts, maybe most notably with It's Over -- onetime Next Big Thing of Kansas City -- and Tut Tut, the solo project of Alex Abnos of the recently-signed group Secret Cities.

Architects of Flesh-Density is my eighth LP of new compositions, the first under the Nerve Institute name. Entirely self-composed, self-played, self-recorded, self-produced as per all the others, save their occasional guest spots. Most notable among these was probably the appearance of Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow, the Opium Cartel) on Ficciones, donating some guitar and synth. I haven't performed any of my music live for almost six years, due variously to a distaste for teaching people to play it to my tremendously anal standards, disgust with the whole enterprise of The Music Business and, frankly, with audiences in general, and less dire stuff as well -- getting a B.A. in English lit, giving a few lectures at philosophy conferences, currently finishing a novel to be published next year.

Of the records I've made, the only ones I would claim today are the two Sinthome records, Ficiciones and the unreleased A Woman Has Given Birth to a Calf's Head (2008), and of course the new Nerve Institute LP."

After the Jump is the interview I conducted with Mike and I'd like to thank him for taking the time to answer in length to the questions.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recommendation: Greg Haines (UK, ambient)

Beautiful music is something many, if not all people, are after. However beauty comes in many forms and is differently perceived by different minds. And so one form of beauty can be found in Greg Haines music, which is as soothing and calming as it is beautiful.
I've recently heard his Until The Point Of Hushed Support, and was mesmerized by the sheer power of emotions and gorgeous textures found on this release. You can listen to samples on his website and myspace (linked in the two previous links).

You can stream a previous release of his, Komarovo, on the following bandcamp by Slaapwel records:

A song to watch the snow with...: Giant Squid - Panthalassa (Lampetra tridentata)

For those of you in areas where snow is falling, here's a song from Giant Squid's album, The Ichtyologist.

You can stream the entire album here:

You can find their merch here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Recommendation: Poseidotica (Argentina)

Instrumental heavy and psychedelic progressive rock is the order of the day delivered by Argentinian band, Poseidotica. With two albums to their record, Intramundo from 2005 and La Distancia from 2008, the band is evolving their approach, becoming more eclectic and open to new sounds and ideas.

Enjoy their two albums available for streaming in their bandcamp:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Picchio Dal Pozzo - A Live (2010, Altr0ck)

This release captures the live show of Picchio Dal Pozzo along with Yugen at the 2008 Altr0ck festival. The concert features 5 songs form their first album, the single, Uccellin Del Bosco, from the Abbiamo period, one from Camere and one from Pic_Nic. The closing track is a re-discovered lost track from the Abbiamo album that a fan had on cassette and passed it to the band.

Review: Diagonal - Diagonal (2008, Rise Above)

"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end?"

But they did.

Or did they?

Well, according to the British band Diagonal, those days may have passed but that's no reason not to try to revive them, or in fact re-live them. And they do it so well, that their version of past days seems better than the original.

Released on Rise Above Records, which aside from metal bands, has also several bands in their lineup that recreate the magic of past days of glory, such as Circulus, Litmus, Blood Ceremony, Astra and Diagonal.

Diagonal, from Brighton that sits on the shores of southern England on the channel, are a 7 members band, bent on recreating sounds long gone and even in the booklet of their self-titled album they look like 70s' rock musicians, giving the impression that they are either a long lost band only recently discovered or rather time travelers or in fact just die hard enthusiasts of another age.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A song to lament with...: White Willow - John Dee's Lament + A studio Report from Jacob

There are band who release albums that are quite different in style and. White Willow from Norway are one such band with their 5 releases to date and there's a new one in the making, called Terminal Twilight.

I am partial to three of their albums, the first one, the folk-rock Ignis Faatus, which has recently been re-issued in vinyl; their third one, Sacrament, which is my favourite and shows the band expand their folk roots to include symphonic prog traits; and finally the heavier (some say metal-ish) Storm Season.

I wanted to post a youtube video of a song from Sacrament, however the only one available is Paper Moon and I wanted either Anamnesis or The Reach. So I looked what else was available and so I found another great tune from their first album, which you can listen to below.

Here you can see a clip Jacob did about the making of the new album

Recommendation: William Gray - Living Fossils

No, William Gray is not a person, but a band from Argentina who released their first and so far only album in 2006. Living Fossils is an eclectic progressive rock album drawing influences from old "symphonic prog" but adding a harsher and heavier flavour along with other elements, including Hispanic ones. The album's variety is not only in its styles and influences but also in the ambiances it conjures and the moods it conveys. It's a long album, with a common theme running through it, fitting as it is a concept album about a person roaming the streets of Buenos Aires on the fringe of sanity and the music and its eclectic nature convey that very well.

A very well done album and I really hope they release more music.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review & Spotlight: Komintern - Le Bal du Rat Mort (1971)

This French band was founded by Francis Lemonnier (sax and vocals) and Serge Catalano (drums and percussions) in May 1970 after they left Red Noise due to musical and political disagreements. The name chosen gives you a clear indication as to their political views. The band released one album called "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" in 1971 and one single "Fou, roi, pantin" and were active until 1975. The musicians that joined them were Michel Musac (guitar), Olivier Zdrzalik (bass, vocals, organ and piano) and Pascal Chassin (guitar). At first they were less focused on composing only music but more on mixing it along with satiric theater - a sort of "cabaret satirique", in order to express their extreme left views. They used their music to enhance their message, and they did it in a manner that mixed several styles of music that would fit their show and the message to be passed on to the crowd/listeners. They were related to extreme left movements such as the "Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire" and they toured in the summer of 1970 in, among other places, universities and factories that were in strike.

A tune for the first snow...: Camel - The Snow Goose

The first snow has arrived here on Huntington, Long Island, NY.
Now on to shoveling the road and clearing out the car...
In the meantime some Camel...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Songs to be remembered by...: Chuck Schuldiner / Death

Nine years ago, on December 13th, 2001 Chuck Schuldiner passed away at the age of 34.
I won't belabor with words, I'll let the metal flow instead.

A song to delicately initiate your week: Senni Eskelinen Stringpurée Band - Embers

Senni Eskelinen Stringpuree Band are a Finnish trio combining folk into their delicate brand of intricate melodic rock. Here's a beautiful song from their 2008 debut album.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recommendation: Soft Mountain - Soft Mountain (2007)

Soft Mountain

Improvised live in the studio by the quartet of Hugh Hopper (bass), Elton Dean (sax), Yoshida Tatsuya (drums) and Hoppy Kamiyama (keyboards). Although, only released in 2007 (and in some places in 2006), this was recorded in 2003, during Dean's and Hopper's tour in Japan with Soft Works. By contacting Hoppy ahead of time, they agreed to get into a studio and just play... They start nicely and calmly with some "regular" sounding jazz, and slowly and progressively advance towards the more experimental and daring parts of this free style playing, of which a major part if free-form. The drums, while at times a bit too much in the back, are just a wild ride, relentless and with non-stop energetics, as if on steroids. It's made up of only two tracks - Soft Mountain Suite parts 1 & 2, and each is around half an hour. It might get too much at times, but when in the proper mood or state of mind, this is very rewarding. In any case, a fine release, very enjoyable, dynamic with mostly non-stop action.

Soft Mountain

Track 1: Soft Mountain Suite Pt. 1 (30.40)
Track 2: Soft Mountain Suite Pt. 2 (27.55)

Total running time: 58.40

Recorded 10th August 2003 in Tokyo, Japan

Elton Dean sax
Hugh Hopper bass
Hoppy Kamiyama keyboards
Yoshida Tatsuya drums

Music composed by E. Dean, H. Hopper, H. Kamiyama & Y. Tatsuya

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recommendation: Ephrat (Israel, prog-rock)

Formed in 2005, Ephrat is Omer Ephrat's creation, making heavy, emotional, melancholic and epic progressive rock. The band consists of Lior Seker (vocals), Tomer Z (drums) Gili Rosenberg (bass) and Omer Ephrat (guitars, keyboards, flute).

Their 2008 debut, No One's Words released by InsideOut, was mixed by Steven Wilson and has Daniel Gildenlow and Petronella Nettermalm (of Paatos) guesting on vocals on two songs.
Listen to some Youtube samples after the jump

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A song to to find your way home with...: The Builders & The Butchers - Short Way Home


The Builders & The Butchers are a Portland, Oregon based band playing lovely folk/Americana rock. I came across their website earlier this year and ordered their 2009 album, Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well, which is a superb collection of catchy melodic folk-rock.

Aside from this album, they have a s/t album from 2007, a split with Loch Lomond from the same year, a live album, Where The Roots All Grow, released this year. In 2011 they'll release their new album, Dead Reckoning.

Here's a great song from their second album called Short Way Home. Listen to the entire song, don't quit in the middle.

Watch more videos here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recommendation: Amity In Fame (Austria, rock, acoustic)

Austrian band Amity In Fame play acoustic-rock and have released an album in 2008 called Dinner For One and are now working on a second album. You can read more about them here.

Legal free download of the album, Dinner For One, on Jamendo

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Random Touch - A True Conductor Wears a Man (2007)

Here's a review I wrote some years ago about the first Random Touch album I heard, A True Conductor Wears A Man.

Moving between the Random and the Planned 

The name of this group might give a hint at what is going on here. But then again, I don't think anything is random here, maybe not well planned ahead, but if this is random, then the outcome is one hell of an organized mess for such a thing, though improvisation seems to have been part of the process. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Yugen - Iridule (2010, Altr0ck)

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. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review: 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 15th 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 sections.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A song for a rainy winter day...: Gösta Berlings Saga - Sorterargatan 3

I've had a post about Gösta Berlings Saga before, reviewing their latest album, Detta Har Hänt. Here are two videos of the second track from that album, Sorterargatan 3.

While the second video has better sound quality and shows a tighter performance, both are worth watching/listening. This song has a great buildup and then a propulsive rhythm and simple yet charming tune.

Pay attention to the drumming work and how well it mixes with and supports the music.

Club Groddar & Gräsrötter at Landet, Stockholm, Sweden 2009-10-22.

Frölunda Kulturhus 2009.09.25; Göteborg (Gothenburg)

A song to Thank You!...: Alphataurus - La Mente Vola

November has ended and December has began!

First I'd like to congratulate my good friends Emma and Johnny on the birth of their son Alex (born 29-11-10).

Second, my committee meeting went rather well, and so now I need to work hard for the next one.

Last, I'd like to thank you people who read these nonsensical blurbs and verbal outpourings of mine. The blog has had much more visitors than I had anticipated, with over 900 visitors this months and almost 200 returning visitors. Thank you!

Please let me know in the comments what do you think, what would like to see more of and what would you like changed. Can't promise I'll do it, but I will read and consider.

With regards to music, there have been great albums released this year, some of which I've mentioned here and I will do a 2010 favourite albums summary in January 2011 (similar to the one I did for 2009).

So I'd like to sum this post up with a stunning song to thank you all, La Mente Vola (the mind flies) by Italian prog-rock band Alphataurus.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recommendation: Hour Of The Shipwreck (rock, USA)

Dreamy yet fierce, the music of Hour Of The Shipwreck bridges between opposite emotional banks. In their songs they travel from delicate and calm currents to gushing and agitated torrents as they present their beautiful melodies fronted by soft male vocals. Their music is dramatic and intense.

Based in LA, this band has released one album in 2008, The Hour Is Upon Us but since then I've not seen any news from the band and so am not sure as to their current status.

Read an interview here and reviews here, here, here and here

Review: Big Big Train - The Difference Machine (2007)

Big Big Train The Difference Machine album cover

This is a review I wrote some time ago for the 2007 album by British prog-rock band Big Big Train.
In light of their new offering, an EP entitles Far Skies Deep Time, I thought of posting this review now.
Also, you can download the title track (23 minutes) of their last full-length, The Underfall Yard, here. They have more free downloads in their website.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A song to start the week with...: David Bowie - Cygnet Committee

David Bowie Space Oddity album cover 
I have my Ph.D. thesis committee meeting today (though in smaller format, as two members can't attend and so I've met one in person and I'll meet the second one in person as well soon). So I was looking for songs to go along with that but could find nothing. As I was searching for songs with the words Committee, Ph.D. or Meeting, I found several but none that matched in mood, lyrics or spirit, so then I came across David Bowie's song, Cygnet Committee from the album Space Oddity and figured it comes close enough and it's a good song so here it is.
Have a good week!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A song to be gloomy with...: Kauan - Neulana Hetkessä

Kauan from Russia started out as a doom/folk metal outfit and now veered into more folk-post-rock-ish territories with their stunning 2009 album, Aava Tuulen Maa, sung in Finnish. Here's the closing song from that album, Neulana Hetkessä. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Band in the Spotlight, Review & Songs to be driven by...: Hidria Spacefolk - Balansia (2004, Silence)
Finnish space-rockers, Hidria Spacefolk, the self-proclaimed astrobeat orchestra, are a favourite band of mine with their highly energetic instrumental space/psych-rock tinged with cool effects.
Mikko Happo - guitar
Teemu Kilponen - Drums
Kimmo Dammert - Bass
Janne Lounatvuori - Synths, electric piano
Veikko Sutinen - Keyboards, Synths
Sami Wirkkala - guitar  

They've released 3 studio albums, 2 line albums 1 EP and 1 compilation of remixes. They are currently working on their next release.
More about the band here.

My review of the album, Balansia, is after the Jump.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Songs to stir thing up...: Infected Mushroom

Get your night started with Infected Mushroom. Here are two excellent songs from their 2007 album, Vicious Delicious, Becoming Insane and Change The Formality.

Review: 35007 - Liquid (2002, Stickman)

Originating from Eindhoven in Holland, Space-rockers, 35007 (or Loose in reverse and upside down), started out with a vocalist in the lineup on their first album in 1994 but have since then proceeded as an instrumental lineup playing psych/space/stoner rock. This is my favourite release of theirs, Liquid, from 2002.
Review after the Jump.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A song for the aspiring rockers: Emmanuel & The Fear - Jimme's Song

Emmanuel & the Fear from Brooklyn have released this year their first full-length, Listen, an orchestral rock album filled with goodies, rich sounding catchy tunes. Here's a great song from it called Jimme's Song.

Listen to more songs here:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A short pause, a temporary slow down of pace...

It's been a (more than usual) busy week and this trend will continue in the next two weeks. I've had the first part of my committee meeting and in the coming Monday I have the second and main part.
Finally after many agonizing a time, a project I came up with and work on seems to fall into place and more data and good results are coming in. I'll just say it has to do with revealing the role of a certain protein in neurons, using mouse genetics and molecular biology methods (I'm sure most of you didn't make it to the end of that sentence). 

Also, this Thanksgiving weekend, I need to work to generate some important data, perhaps some that I can use for the meeting. Also, I've just been given word that a big experiment I've been working on has been completed and now comes the time of data analysis. So I'll start on this as well this weekend.

So naturally all this will cause my productivity level here to decline in the coming days and delay the reviews I'm working on. But they will come. So I apologize to those fine musicians and labels who sent me promo cd's and are waiting for the reviews to come on.

Also, feel free to let me know in comments or at avestin AT gmail DOT com what kind of posts do you want to read here, what kind of music covered, what albums and bands are you into or have discovered lately and anything else that comes to your mind.

I'll now leave you in the capable hands of Mono:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review: Nil - Novo Sub Sole (2005, Unicorn Digital)

Nil is a French band that has released 3 previous albums and their preceding album was a remarkable achievement. A concept album made up of two acts over 40 minutes and without interruptions. Here Nil changes to an album made up of 6 tracks, two of which are instrumentals.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Koenjihyakkei - Angherr Shisspa (2005, Magaibutsu, Skin Graft)


Chris (Syzygy) at Prog Archives, said it in the opening of his review – the Japanese Magma; I agree. Koenjihyakkei is a Japanese Zeuhl band has the characteristics of the genre – the operatic-style and theatrical vocals, the drum insanity, and the apparent chaotic like song structure (which is only an appearance that diminishes after several listens).

A song to start the weekend...: Hammers Of Misfortune - The Locust Years

In the next 2 weeks, I'll be pretty busy (my committee meeting is coming up, in 2 parts, no less, as well some other work-related stuff), so I'll not be updating the blog as much as I would, though I'm sure no one would notice (despite the nice numbers of visitors that come here; higher than I expected). I'll try to post whenever I have time. I do have promo's waiting to be reviewed:
Serpentina Satelite - Mecanica Celeste
Djam Karet - The Heavy Soul Sessions
Yugen - Iridule
Framepictures - Remember It
And a few others which I forget at the moment.

So here's a song to start the weekend with. The opening and title song from Hammers Of Misfotune's splendid album, The Locust Years:

A song to ponder along to...: Matthew Parmenter - Now

There are songs I listen to, which aside from being enchanted by their melody, make me listen to the lyrics and think; songs in which there is harmony and synergism between lyrics and melody.

Here's an example for one such song by Matthew Parmenter from his album Astray, which I reviewed here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tim Smith Tribute Album Track List

Over at Progressive Ears, I saw a post from Kavus Torabi about the track list of the Tim Smith Tribute Album, which you can pre-order here.
Track list after the jump

Songs to get you going in the morning...: Nemo - Les Temps Modernes + 1914

Nemo is a French prog rock band active since 1999. They have released 6 studio albums thus far, all recommended and with each one getting tighter, better and more ambitious in their scope. 

Here's the opening song from their third album, Prélude À La Ruine, from 2004.

Here's the second song from that album, an instrumental piece

Listen to more here and also listen to their Jukebox here:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Black Math Horseman - Wyllt (2009, Tee Pee Records)

Black Math Horseman are an LA based post/psych/stoner rock/metal band. They have released their first full-length, Wyllt, in 2009 through the great psych/stoner rock focused label Tee Pee. After the jump you can read my review of this album.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Songs to start the night with...: The Devil's Blood

The Devil's Blood, a hard/psych rock band from the Netherlands have released their debut, The Time of No Time Evermore, in 2009. Their music seems to connect two planes; that of the sublime and otherworldly, through the vocals and that of raw power, through their heavy sound. 
Read a good review of the album here.

Enjoy three songs by the band below. Two songs from their album and one from their EP, Come, Reap.

The Time of No Time Evermore

The Heavens Cry Out for the Devil's Blood

House of 10,000 Voices

Stream the new Agalloch album, Marrow of the Spirit, at NPR

Go here to hear Agalloch's new album, Marrow of the Spirit, streaming.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Gösta Berlings Saga - Detta har hänt (2009, Transubstans)

Gösta Berlings Saga are a Swedish instrumental prog rock band creating captivating textures and atmospheres without neglecting the catchy and melodic side. They have released two albums, and the third one is in the making.

My "review/impressions" of their 2009 album is after the Jump.

A song for mid-day Monday: A Helmet of Gnats - Misfit Toys

A Helmet Of Gnats, the Connecticut based fusion/prog band has released this year a stunning album in High Street with a 30 minute suite bearing the title name.
You can read more about them here.
You can find their albums at CD Baby among other dealers (Wayside, Amazon, Ambient Records etc).
The following tune, Misfit Toys, is taken from their second album.

Recommendation: Magentic (Israel, prog-rock)

Originating in 2003 as a cover and tribute rock band, Magentic have gradually began drifting into the prog realm, with covers of progressive rock acts and eventually began composing their own original material.
In August 2010 they present their debut album, In The Dream, featured below in their Bandcamp.

Magentic are:

Dorin Mandelbaum

vocals, flute

Boaz Peleg

vocals, guitar

Uri Katvan

guitar, vocals

Erez Aminpour

bass, vocals

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A song to end the weekend with...: Moonsorrow - Sankarihauta

Moonsorrow, one of my favourite bands (which my wife likes as well), have have released epic "viking" metal songs. I love all their releases, with my top favourite being Voimasta Ja Kuniasta (Of Strength and Honour), where they stunning songs, with Sankarihauta (Warrior's Grave; the video below) and Sankaritarina (Warrior's Tale) (note - I did not copy-paste any of the Finnish names thus far; I'm learning Finnish thanks to this band). 

Honestly, just disregard the video and listen to the song itself...

Here's the bio I wrote for them at Prog Archives:

Moonsorrow was founded in 1995 in Helsinki Finland by the Sorvali cousins, Henri (guitar and keyboards; he is also a member of Finntroll) and Ville (vocals and bass). They proceeded to record four demos until 1998; two of them disappeared and the two others are "Metsä" from 1997 and "Tämä ikuinen talvi" from 1998. The music on these was more of black metal compared with what was to be made by the band on their albums. This latter demo made it possible for them to gain a recording contract with Plasmatica Records. At this point Marko Tarvonen joined the band to take hold of the drumming and percussions position. This lineup recorded in 2000 their first full length Suden uni (A Wolf's Dream). Their demo Tämä ikuinen talvi was also re-released alongside the album in 2001. This first album got a re-issue in 2003 with a bonus track, alternate cover art and a DVD. In 2000 two musicians were invited as session members and were then invited to join the band: Mitja Harvilahti (guitars) and Markus Eurén (keyboards). This lineup proceeded to perform live and also to record and release in 2001 the album Voimasta ja kunniasta (Of Strength and Honour) through a new label, Spikefarm Records.

It was the followup to that album, Kivenkantaja (Stonebearer) released in 2003, that got them the wide attention in Finland and beyond; it reached the 16th place on Finnish album charts. A short break followed this period with their first abroad show in 2004 and then in 2005 the release of Verisäkeet (Blood Verses). This album reached the 18th position in the Finnish charts. In 2006 the band did a European tour alongside Primordial from Ireland. In 2007 came Viides luku - Hävitetty (Chapter five - Ravaged) which shows another progression in their style, having on it only two songs, each one half an hour long. This was followed by touring in Finland and around the world.

Moonsorrow's origins are in Black Metal but have progressed from it, preserving its roots but expanding on it, giving it an epic feel in the majestic and grandiose sound of it, and the length of the songs and also a folk characteristic Finnish paganism. It was termed Viking Metal (along bands like Thyrfing, Einherjer, Ensiferum, Turisas, Falkenbach and others) which are black metal in basis, but add much melodiness to their sound, an epic feel and anthemic choruses and a specific lyrical content. They have progressed with each release, to form anthemic songs, usually long. With each release there were additional progressive elements added to their music, those being in the complexities of the songs, the structures of compositions, the instrumentation, sound and approach.

With Kivenkantaja came the breakthrough to bigger crowds (this album contains epic songs that will appeal to prog metal fans) and with Verisäkeet came another shift that showed that the band is getting more complex in their approach to writing their songs. This approach was fully applied in Viides luku - Hävitetty which as was mentioned, is made up of two half hour songs, each based on several melodic ideas developed very well.

Moonsorrow have started with black metal (in their demos and a bit in Suden Uni), progressed to epic viking metal (starting with Suden Uni and then in the following releases until Kivenkantaja) to their progerssive sound (Verisakeet, Havitetty).

Moonsorrow has shown and keeps on proving that progressive metal lies not only with the commonly known bands of prog-metal, but that progressive metal can come from less expected bands from genres not usually associated with it. They have shown throughout their releases the aspiration to create something complex and appealing at the same time, and have shown progression with each release.

Moonsorrow is a highly recommended bands for fans of extreme metal as well as music listeners who want to have a taste of a different form of progressive metal.

2010 albums I recommend to check out!

If you've looking for music released this year, if you want something different than what you've heard so far, or just if you'd like some more suggestions for the albums you've gotten this year, here are some of my top faovurite albums released this year:

Musician in the Spotlight: Lorenzo Monni (Italy, prog-rock)
A composer and multi-instrumentalist with a a classical music background, Lorenzo Monni creates eclectic progressive rock pieces with high emphasis on gorgeous melodies and intricate arrangements and structure.

Read more after the Jump

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rodrigo Y Gabriela Live in Dublin

From here:
"The duo's latest album is called 11:11, and on it they pay tribute to 11 musicians who have inspired them. On 11/11/10, they played a concert at a small pub in Dublin. NPR Music's Alt.Latino webcast the concert live on our blog. Watch a replay of the entire set for a limited time."


Review: Alexandr Vatagin - Shards (2008, Valeot)

The first time I heard of Alexandr Vatagin was through his work in the Austrian band Tupolev, whose album, Memories Of Björn Bolssen, I reviewed favourably.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cloudkicker re-releases ]]][[[ as A New Heavenly Body

Cloudkicker has remixed and remastered ]]][[[ and re-released it as A New Heavenly Body.

Here's the post from his blog:
Prepare to be even more confused by ]]][[[.
So I recently upgraded my recording setup by purchasing a new set of monitors. I thought it would be fun to go back and remix some things to get a feel for the new sound…fast forward three days and I had remixed and remastered ]]][[[.
Just to be extra confusing, I’ve also given it track titles, a new cover, and a new name.

A New Heavenly Body
1. What It Is Impossible Not to Know and What It Is No Longer Permissible To Believe in the United States 06:06
2. A Hymn to the Projectile 04:14
3. One Enemy Among Twenty-Five Million Friends 05:33

All are titles of chapters in Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon”. Incidentally, the cover image is the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle disintegrating in the upper atmosphere on September 29, 2008.
Download “A New Heavenly Body” Here.

Here's a video interview with Ben Sharp (Cloudkicker) taken from Metal Injection:

A song to protest with...: Skyclad - The Parliament Of Fools

A great song by folk-metal band Skyclad from their excellent 2004 album, A Semblance Of Normality.

Recommendation: Afforested (UK, folk, prog-rock)

I'm going to be lazy and quote Afforested's Myspace bio:
" Afforested are a progressive folk rock band from the English county of Kent. Inspired by ancient woodlands and stories of heroes past, their songs weave tales of medieval outlaws, forest creatures and life in the greenwood. After many years of playing and composing in different genres, in the summer of 2007 brothers Alex and Jonathan Betts decided to form Afforested. Now in 2009 they bring you their debut release in the form of the free to download E.P entitled 'Wolf's Heads And Woodlanders'. The E.P was self produced and recorded at Hyrstgeard studios. Afforested are currently about to embark on the first writing sessions for a full length album which they plan to record in 2010."

You can stream or download for free their EP; see below.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recommendation: Ha'Arvan Halavan (White Rabbit, Israel, prog-rock)

Ha'Arnav Halavan (The White Rabbit) is a talented Israeli prog-rock band that have released their debut album, Kore Li Lachzor (Calls me to come back), in 2009 after several years of performing and recording. This is an emotional, rich sounding, keyboards-heavy progressive rock album with catchy songs.

The band was formed by the brothers Yuval Or and Yaron Gilad in the mid-nineties under the name The Golden Stamp (Chotemet Hazahav). The lineup changed in the next years and is now stable since 2006 with drummer Gil Idan and bassist Yoav Meirom.

Here's the single from the album called Chaluda (Rust):