Category Archives: CD Reviews

Odd Logic – “Last Watch of the Nightingale”


Last Watch of the Nightingale, is Odd Logic’s eighth album. Their last album, Effigy, back in 2017, was my introduction to the band. I reviewed that dynamic album and learned of the power and extended influence of this band.

Odd Logic is a Washington state progressive metal band. The members of the band also play live in a local cover band, that plays primarily Dream Theater, (Forsaken Fortress).

For Last Watch of the Nightingale, the band members include: Sean Thompson, on guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals; and Pete Hanson, on drums and guttural vocals. The album will be released on September 28, 2019.

Odd Logic began writing and recording the music for Last Watch of the Nightingale, back in 2017, just after the release of their killer album Effigy. In fact, almost 80% of the album was completed in early 2018. The final track was cut on September 1, 2019, meaning the band had spent at least 190 days creating this epic.

The Last Watch of the Nightingale, is another great concept album for Odd Logic. In summary, the story involves, “a long-time ship captain of trade, Jengu, who departs from his wife for one last journey on his faithful ship the Nightingale. Each song brings he and his crew deeper into an unusual storm, eventually bringing the captain to a state of anxiety and comatose dreaming. At the point of the ship’s submersion, he uses his last energy to release his caged nightingale, (bird), that his wife, Anlia gave him for protection on his long sea voyages. The bird arrives home, and because it has reappeared, Anlia knows the fate of her husband”. By the way, the band notes: “More than one nightingale is not a flock, it is a “watch”.

The CD artwork includes “journals and shipping records that were recovered for both husband and wife. They are key to filling in the rest of the story”.

The album opens with, “Last Watch”, an over 6-minute epic instrumental, featuring innovative electric guitar, bass, and power drumming, after the opening orchestration and effects. The opening piano and strings are wonderful. The pace builds until, the full gamut is unleashed. Power hammer drums, grinding guitars, and overwhelming bass create a blistering anthem-like drum and guitar attack that few bands have accomplished this year. Every once in while they give you keys and orchestration, but they continually return to that torrent of merciless seas of guitar and drilling drums. A very serious opening track to start this epic album. The only thing that I can remember that is remotely close is Dream Theater’s “Caught in a Web” or “The Mirror/Lie”, but this song is heavier! I think those tracks might have been the inspiration to drive harder. That diving bell at the end is epic!

“Garden of Thorns”, comes at you full pace. Electric guitar, bass, and in your face drumming, with keyboards flowing behind. Then Sean Thompson’s first vocals, “All this time away at sea. Torn between the loves of my life. Point me south when my journey’s done. Imagine me close to home, will you. But navigate until then. We must sail on”. A rugged captain willing to sail on. Soft keys rain down as he sings. More of the power of “Caught in a Web” or “The Mirror/Lie”, emerges, only this time set to a story of navigating a stormy sea. Later, Thompson sings, “Oh, midnight on a sea so still. The world has never been so real”. Another power driver of a song filled with storied lyrics and emotion.

“Absence”, opens with a drum salute, then Thompson sings, “I’m sitting on a tall ship thinking of you. Would you notice that I’ve got a clean pair of shoes? If I could say anything, just look at the stars. It’s a perilous journey but I’ve come this far”. Later he sings, “Riding the ocean, I feel alive and well”. Grinding guitars and great vocal harmonies teamed with expert counterpunch drumming, bass and supporting keyboards.

On “Chance of Gods”, Thompson sings, “What does it mean if I see no stars. Help me to breath if I labor to sound the call. Sun fall and dreams, fog and mist, it’s day 5. In deep thought below, sail and deck, tonight”. Rain and stormy conditions increase, as do the melancholic piano sounds, deep bass and low guitars. One of the most dramatic moments on the album occurs as Thompson unleashes and epic scream, “How will this night end?” Then, “Now I know, and I know very well. That my soul belongs to the chance of Gods”. Power music follows. The band eclipses the power of Awake, as Sean’s vocals and the relentless torrent of guitars and drums outlast Dream Theater.

“Dreaming in Color”, opens with beautiful piano, before Thompson sings, “I know my eyes are not certain. Blinded by scenery. Corridors of water lead my way.
Shout your name to get me through this night. It is the first time dreaming in color”. The dream sequence music is quite unique and otherworldly.

“Of the Nightingale”, is full of cool drumming, more keyboards, with unique signatures. Then, the grinding guitars begins to roar. And so, does Pete Hanson, with those guttural vocals. Then Thompson sings, “Some things refuse to change. Some things are lost in the world. Some things return the same. Like circles”. Then he sings, with quiet piano pounding out the cadence, “Faith, repent, please, exception forgive, regret, these may be my last words”. This keyboard driven song is wonderful.

 “Sorrow”, is an enormously emotional instrumental song full of passionate music following the sad storyline.

“Boundary Division” is a 23-minute epic closer, the likes of which I have not heard so far this year. It opens with what sounds like a gong. Then crushing drums, riveting electric guitars and bass. A thunderstorm of musical sound. Thompson sings, “Full go into the storm, it is now or never. I know the longer we go we will reach the moonlight shining. Embrace the quickening pace, we will use its power.
We face the eternal race to sail right through the eye”. Then, quietly he sings,
“Hello, my hands, we know the meaning of our life. Breathe in, breathe out, we’ll find the boundary division”. The music in between the story lyrics is full of passion and power. I refuse to divulge the full storyline. Sean closes the song with a wonderful closing paragraph, “Hello, to all who know the meaning of their life.
To those who dare to find the boundary division. You know we never know the fate of every night. So, go on and… Welcome home!”

Last Watch of the Nightingale is testament to the ever-growing musical ability of Odd Logic. If this album gets the right exposure globally, they should be drawing crowds the size of Dream Theater. I am a Dream Theater fan, and Odd Logic’s music is much more engaging than Dream Theater’s latest. They just don’t have a major label supporting them, like DT. Sean Thompson’s voice is comparable to James LeBrie’s. The musical ability that fills this album should be heard by a wider audience. I hope those in the music industry that have the power to help bands grow, will take heed of this call and pick up this album, and appreciate it in its completeness. Please listen to this on CDBaby or the band’s Bandcamp site and then go get it, and experience it in full surround sound. It is one of the best albums I have heard this year.

Track List

  1. Last Watch – 6:17
  2. Garden of Thorns – 6:17
  3. Absence – 5:31
  4. Chance of Gods – 6:27
  5. Dreaming in Color – 8:03
  6. Of the Nightingale – 8:16
  7. Sorrow – 4:09
  8. Boundary Division – 23:00

Thomas Ewerhard, created the artwork, design and layout. Kevin Hunter, prepared the preliminary/conceptual consultation, and Ben “Jammindude” Straley, provided additional consultation.

The album was mixed, mastered and produced by Sean Thompson at Offseason Studios.

http://www.oddlogic.band/news

https://oddlogicrock.bandcamp.com/album/last-watch-of-the-nightingale

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/oddlogic8

https://www.facebook.com/OddLogicband/

PRoPoRTIoNS – “Vision from a Distant Past”


PRoPoRTIoNS is a progressive rock band, with jazz fusion influences. The band members come from different parts of the world and their music sounds, at times, like it is actually beyond the realms of this world.

I found the band’s second album, Vision from a Distant Past, available for listening on CDBaby.com. The album was released on September 1, 2019. Their debut album, Reboot, was released last year. Their music is a wonderful blend of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, and Larry Fast, with some definite jazz influences. The music is mostly instrumental, with keyboards and guitar playing the most prominent roles.

The band is made up of: Lennart Ståhle, (from Sweden), on guitars, flute and keyboards; Tomas Stark, (from Sweden), on keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar; Denis Boucher, (from Canada), on drums and percussion; and Andy Kubicki, (from the USA), on bass, keyboards and orchestration.

On Vision from a Distant Past, PRoPoRTIoNS uses special musical guests:
Jeremy Cubert, on Chapman Stick, on “Double Barrel”, and synthesizer on “Telemetry Drizzle”; John Eyre, on vocals for “Seagull’s Call”; Pierre Bordeleau, on vocals for “Open Door”; Stefan Kubicki, on electric guitar, on the tracks, “Floorcare” and “Colors of Light”; Richard Sheehy, on electric guitar, on “Temporal Induction”; and Dayron Luis San Juan Muguercia, on congas on “Floorcare” and “Pangaea”.

Every song on this album is absolutely innovative and entertaining to listen to from beginning to end.

“Temporal Induction” sounds like a Larry Fast computerized song until it changes completely into a Pink Floyd – like instrumental. It goes from completely outer space to inner space in minutes. Richard Sheehy, on electric guitar, takes over midway through the song to help give the track its David Gilmour – like edge. One of the best tracks on the album, and one of the best keyboard-oriented tracks I’ve heard this year. Absolutely mind-blowing and dynamic.

“Double Barrel” opens with fast moving computer-like keyboards. Jeremy Cubert, on Chapman Stick keeps a wonderful beat and rhythm. Some of the sounds reminds me of Steve Hackett’s carnival – like influences. The keyboards are wonderful throughout.

“Seagull’s Call” is my favorite song on the album. Kind of an ole English tale, by the seaside, with gull sounds and waves of the ocean. The acoustic guitar work and John Eyre’s vocals were perfect. The flute work is “Tullriffic”! The deep acoustic guitar is so warm and enchanting.

“Sticks in the Head” opens with soft flute and sorted percussion. Along with the deep piano, they create a deep, trancelike, Middle Eastern rhythm that begins to draws you in. Hypnotizing and at the same time wonderfully exotic and unique. A banquet for the ears.

“Floorcare”, slides in with orchestration, keyboards and synths, followed by Stefan Kubicki, on electric guitar. There is this Eastern Asian feeling to the opening, before the synthesizers take over and plunge you deep into an electronic realm of consciousness. The organ work towards the ending adds additional dimension to a very dynamic song. Kubicki’s guitar towards the end brings back many memories of Steve Hackett’s best. They add flute near the end with bells and chimes to top the cake.

“Colors of Light”, opens with some Hackett-like acoustic guitar and stunning piano. Percussion and drums add to the soundscape and power the song to another level. The guitar work is innovative and different than anything you may have heard this year. The “fireworks” display at the end is awesome!

“Open Door”, is full of deep sounding keys and great guitar and percussion. Pierre Bordeleau on vocals describes a world full of opportunity and achievement, if we only realize that there is an open door. “The open door, makes us free forever”. The drums and guitar solos are dramatic and inspiring.

“Telemetry Drizzle”, opens with cool percussion and drums. The climbing and cascading guitar work is memorable. This is the most jazz-influenced keyboard show on the album.

“Grift”, is a keyboard and drum workout. Then some excellent electric guitar soloing is added to take the song up a notch. Searing cool synths join in to take me back to the feel of “Hot Buttered Popcorn”, if anyone, besides me, even remembers that fun song.

“Splendid Illusion”, is full of splendid piano and synth effects.

“Pangaea”, is another beautiful piano, synth, and guitar concerto. The congas and birdsong add so much magic. As do the thunder, rain and atmospherics.

“Temporal Finale” is an absolutely wild space adventure. Arjen Lucassen would love this…I think. Unfortunately, it ends too soon.

Despite being a mostly instrumental album, every song is engaging and full of entertaining rhythm and music. Many of the tracks are danceable. When was the last time you read that in a progressive rock review? This band is absolutely original and playing what I think might be at the next level of progressive rock. The synthesizer work throughout this album and all of the music takes progressive rock in a new, and I think interesting direction. Please give PRoPoRTIoNS’ Vision from a Distant Past, a try.

Track List

  1. Temporal Induction – 4:18
  2. Double Barrel – 3:06
  3. Seagull’s call – 6:34
  4. Sticks in the Head – 5:16
  5. Floorcare – 6:04
  6. Colors of Light – 7:02
  7. Open Door – 4:31
  8. Telemetry Drizzle – 3:58
  9. Grift – 3:10
  10.  Splendid Illusion – 8:04
  11.  Pangaea – 4:44
  12.  Temporal Finale – 1:21

All music was written by PRoPoRTIoNS, except for “Splendid Illusion”, by Craig Clark.

Vision from a Distant Past was recorded at Board Potato Studio, USA; Studio Tan, Sweden; Old Road Studio, Sweden; and Studio ON|Reflexion, Canada.

Vision from a Distant Past was mixed by Andy Kubicki at Board Potato Studio, and mastered by Denis Boucher at Studio ON|Reflexion.

The album cover art was created by Alexis Kubicki. azkubicki.com

https://propsreboot.bandcamp.com/album/visions-from-a-distant-past

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/proportions2

Cirrus Bay – “The Art of Vanishing”


Although it was released at the height of summer, back on June 30;
early fall is still a very good time to appreciate the wonderful calmness of Cirrus Bay’s new album The Art of Vanishing. With track titles like: “A Blossom of Hills”, “A Garment of Clouds”, “Eden”, “Falling Leaves”, and “The Poetic Sea”,  a listener knows to expect some wonderful, dreamy, awe inspiring music that will take you away from all of life’s worries and commitments. The duration of the album returns your mind to a time when we all had more time to appreciate the wonders of the world, along with beautiful, engaging music.

Cirrus Bay is a Buckley, Washington, based band. Buckley; to provide perspective, is a town in Washington on the outskirts of Washington’s largest mountain/volcano; Mount Rainier. In fact, it is only around 22 miles from Mt. Rainier. The perspective, of seeing that enormous mountain from sea level at merely 22 miles away, is an awesome sight, along with its intensity and beauty. It is an inspiring sight during each of the year’s seasons.

Cirrus Bay is made up of Tai Shan, on lead vocals; Sharra Acle, on vocals; Mark Blasco, on drums, bass, sax, vocals, and guitar; and Bill Gillham, on keyboards, guitars, recorder, banjitar, and vocals.

The Art of Vanishing, recaptures the feelings and emotions I felt back in the mid-70s for early and middle Genesis career, albums and music. That whimsical sound you remember hearing from David Hentschel’s influence on Genesis, and the early sounds of the band before the commercialism that took over on We Can’t Dance, are all here.

The warm, and whimsical, carefree, feeling is ever-present on the album’s first track, “A Blossom of Hills”. Beautiful acoustic guitar, original and innovative, but full of the memory of some of Steve Hackett’s best riffs; welcomes you to join in on the fun, about to be presented. I even hear some Led Zeppelin III and IV, in those strings. Tai Shan’s lead vocals, teamed with Sharra Acle’s backing vocal are the charms we have been missing in the music presented by most of today’s modern progressive rock.

Tai Shan sings, “I ride into the day, as life just fades away…through the rear window”. Then, Sharra Acle joins in, as together they sing, “A blossom in the wind, a brush across my skin. And soft the spark that follows. It’s a story inside unknown. A creation of sight and sound. Sky and ground. New places beckon, so wild and free”.

After their wonderful vocals, an almost eerily familiar sound of guitar, like Genesis “Ripples” or “Mad Man Moon”, or even “Horizons”; just mystical guitar that brings back so many great musical memories, while creating anew. I even hear some of the wonderful keyboard and guitar sounds I remember from IZZ’s height of career, “Deafening Silence”.

If that wasn’t enough to light up the memories, Shan and Acle return to deliver some of the best lyrics and vocals I have heard this year. The ladies sing, “Into waking hills. Into a sense of freedom. A shout from deep within, escapes into the sunshine. How we need the sunshine. Into green and gold. A world that will accept you. Stand with open arms. The beauty will embrace you. How we need the beauty”.

Then enthralling piano, peaking the emotions and driving the sound higher. But we’re far from the end of this beauty. The wonderful soft acoustic guitars return, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s, “That’s the Way”, and the spirit of “Friends”. That acoustic spirit of real and organic, not funneled through electric. Natural, in all its glory. Additionally, the band uses banjitar, which provides yet another rural reference point for this music.

When the ladies return, their voices and the music sounds like the free-flowing fun of the 1960’s before all the tragedy. The innocence we felt before the riots and Nixon. That feeling of early CSN and Simon and Garfunkel. If you are old enough…you remember. If not, I think you will appreciate it anyway.

They sing, “Upon my waking eyes and ever-changing skies. Beautiful kingdom. A brush across the hair. To sharing in this land. To build the world and run free!”

This over 10-minute, epic song is definitely on my list of one of the best songs of the year. It has captured a lot of what I remembered and loved from the late sixties and early seventies.

How do you follow up that epic! With a wonderful acoustic guitar song, with the lovely name, “Undiscovered Isle”. Innovative guitar along the same lines I referenced in “A Blossom of Hills”, only more of it. The reference point and feel of traveling in the nearby San Juan Islands, that dot the Puget Sound, on a warm late spring or summer day.

What could be better than a “Garment of Clouds”? As someone who loves to watch clouds, I definitely understand and feel this song. Acoustic guitar and recorder open before Tai Shan sings, “I run to catch the day that slips away. Hoping to feel one more time. New emotions. Blossoms in the air, comes in a garment of clouds. I remember”.  Acoustic guitar rambles ahead as we wander amongst the forest or hills, looking up at the ever-changing cloud formations in the sky. An emotional memory full of soundtrack music. Then, Bill Gillham, on keyboards and Mark Blasco on sax create an inspiring closing section to the song.

“The North Country”, summons an opening organ-like sound that will take you back to Bank’s and early Genesis. The keyboard music from there on in, is original and innovative enough to entertain. This is a very entertaining instrumental with electric guitar added later in the song.

“Sooke Harbour” is an actual place on Vancouver Island, in Canada’s British Columbia Province. The recorder teamed with acoustic guitar opens the song like a soft caress. Then keyboards, sax and drums. A wonderful stream of music flows on like the Salish Sea which surrounds it. Another wonderful instrumental for the band to display their talent. How do you write about a place as magical as

“Eden”? How could any song embrace its mystic power? This song truly tries to capture it, with sounds that remind me of some of the Innocence Mission’s music. Tai Shan and Sharra Acle return on vocals. They sing, “Wind and sea. Stirrings of the place I long to be. At the edge of the heart of memory. And on these shores remain. Thriving from all that’s free from blame. Away from hate and pain”. I will not spoil the rest of the lyrics or story, but you really need to hear it for yourself.

With a title like, “Unexpected Wonder”, you know to expect something wonderful. Cool keys surrounded by soft sax…just amazing. Electric guitar and bass helping to provide the wonder. Piano and cascading Hackett-like electric guitar. Organ, then running keys, bass, drums and an electric guitar solo. More great instrumental music from Cirrus Bay. The sax solo is warm and wonderful.

“Lost and Profound”, opens with soft and wonderful piano, followed by sax. Piano that will take you back to “The Lamb” or Genesis “Ripples”. Another emotional instrumental full of passion. “The Dictator”, opens full of drive with guitar, bass, piano, and drums. The harmony of Tai Shan and Sharra Acle’s voices melding is wonderful. “It’s a time of misplaced trust”. Yes, we are going through that kind of time right now and this song speaks well to the effects of a dictator’s influence.

“Vanishing Place”, is full of wonderful, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – like piano, at its opening. Then, Tai Shan returns to sing. More innovative keys and synths that seem to build like “Snowbound” off, And Then There Were Three, or “One for the Vine” off Wind and Wuthering. This is the second longest epic on this album, and the album’s closer. The sax solo mingles well with the piano before drums, bass, and guitars join in. Tai Shan returns to deliver, “At the edge the sunlight fades. Lives are lost and feelings fade away. So, they say”. The band opens a wonderful instrumental section reminiscent of Genesis. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Since I was fortunate enough to have bene given the expended version of the album, I will also review the two extra tracks provided.

“Falling Leaves”, is another acoustic guitar gem at its opening. Bill Gillham sings lead vocals on this song. He sings, “You slipped into my world so unexpectedly. I did not think someone could have this hold on me. I tried to hide. This twisting inside”. A thoughtful and reflective song of feelings of love as the seasons turn.  

“The Poetic Sea”, is a poetic piano concerto. Every minute is one you do not want to pass. Thank you for this addition. At over 12 minutes, it is the album’s longest song. A portrait of all that is great about the piano. Buy the album for this track alone!

This album is perfect in every way. It lives up to the craftsmanship and love these musicians have for their art. Every song has its, (sorry…I couldn’t avoid it), own special way. Please make this album part of your required listening for the year. Get this album and explore Cirrus Bay’s wonderful back catalog. It is full of whimsical and wonderful music like The Art of Vanishing.  

Track List

  1. A Blossom of Hills – 10:28
  2. Undiscovered Isle – 2:53
  3. A Garment of Clouds – 5:03
  4. The North Country – 5:17
  5. Sooke Harbour – 3:07
  6. Eden – 3:42
  7. Unexpected Wonder – 6:55
  8. Lost and Profound – 3:03
  9. The Dictator – 4:08
  10.  Vanishing Place – 10:08
  11.  Falling Leaves – 3:38
  12.  The Poetic Sea – 12:10

All tracks were written by Bill Gillham. The album was engineered and mastered by Mark Blasco. The Art of Vanishing was produced by Bill Gillham and Mark Blasco. The cover art was created by Lee Gaskins, who is famous for his otherworld album covers and art for Cirrus Bay. Photos for individual tracks were taken by Bill Gillham.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muqbhnfZChM  

https://cirrusbay.bandcamp.com/album/the-art-of-vanishing https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/cirrusbay6

Concert Review – Moon Letters and Human Ottoman at the Parliament Tavern, in West Seattle, Washington on Friday, August 16th, 2019

I went to The Parliament Tavern in West Seattle, Washington, on August 16th, to see Moon Letters live, after reviewing their new CD, Until They Feel the Sun. I read about their show at SeaProg 2019, Seattle’s most well-known progressive music festival, and wanted to hear them live. It isn’t often that you go to a show expecting to hear another great band, and get introduced to a brand-new band that takes the show to another level. The Parliament Tavern show was my introduction to the innovative polyrhythmic rock of Human Ottoman. The show was my first progressive rock concert of the year and it was wonderful.

The show opened with Susan Lucia of Human Ottoman playing drums with Peter Daniel and Funk Jazz. Peter Daniel was well received and the band played some interesting jazz and funk noodling. It was great, but not the feature artists I was looking forward to hearing.  Peter Daniel on saxophones from 45th St Brass had the audience warmed up well with music and commentary. It was a good show, and I’d recommend any jazz lover to search them out.

Next up was Human Ottoman. I was already impressed with Lucia’s drumming with Funk Jazz, however, when Grayson Fiske rolled in that vibraphone on wheels, I knew we were in for a treat.

Human Ottoman is a dynamic quartet of musicians made up of Grayson Fiske, on electric vibraphone: Julian Kosanovic, on cello; David Robert Burrows, on bass: and Susan Lucia on drums; from Portland Oregon. Their music is dynamic and weird at the same time. But it is innovative and full of excitement. The band has been on a multiple city tour since releasing their new album, Rampage in August. Their music is in demand throughout the west and Mid-West. And for good reason. They often open each song slowly with vibraphone, cello and bass, then Lucia smashes the drums and they go full tilt. It is just amazing when they do.

The experience is hard to describe. It is creative wow. They open with each musician playing their instrument in different directions, before Lucia seems to bang the drum for an eruption of sound to begin. Then, the band plays at rapid speed and increased volume. It is amazing how they time these eruptions and all play their instruments at peak performance, in rhythm and with melody. 

Human Ottoman played the following songs: “DoeToe”, ” 3(5)+4″, “Drug Anthem”, “Yesterday”, “Real Eyes”, “construction”, and “100k Lazer Cats”. My favorite was “100k Lazer Cats”, with Lucia playing the drums with the bow.

Next up, was the reason I came to the show, Moon Letters. I met with Michael Trew and some of the other band members before the show and congratulated them on their recent invitation to the Rights of Spring Festival, next year in Sarasota. An invitation to RosFest is quiet an honor for any band, but particularly hard to receive for a band in the Seattle area.

Moon Letters did not disappoint. Michael’s use of the sword, reminded me of the sword used in the legendary Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains the Same. When he brought out the flute and played my favorite song on the new album, “Sunset of Man” I cheered loudly. The keyboards played by John Allday, were wonderful to hear live. Kelly Mynes, on drums and percussion, almost reminded me of John Bonham. I was actually afraid he would break the drums. A couple of things actually fell off the kit.

Moon Letters did a perfect job of recreating the emotion and feeling of the intimate story behind their album, Until They Feel the Sun. The set was the highlight of the evening, despite the wonderful discovery of Human Ottoman.

Fans of the band, and the progressive rock fans that will gather in Sarasota next year will be treated to a concert delivered by consummate professionals. I cannot wait until their next album; which I have heard they are already working on.

Moon Letters’ set included the following songs: “Those Dark Eyes”, “Sea Battle”, “The Tarnalin”, “The Red Knight”, “Sunset of Man”, “The Green Lady”, “Beware the Finman” and “Gypsy”, a Deep Purple cover.

Moon Letters:

https://www.moonletters.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MoonLettersBand/

https://moonletters.bandcamp.com/

Human Ottoman:

https://www.humanottoman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HumanOttoman/

https://humanottoman.bandcamp.com/

Peter Daniel and Funk Jazz:

http://45thstbrass.com/

Electric Kif, Futuristic Fusion from Miami

Electric Kif

Electric Kif – Jefe (Electric Kif, 2019)

There is a new wave of electric fusion bands that are taking music into exciting, new directions. Electric Kif, from Miami, is a fine example of these new acts.

On Jefe, Electric Kif combines fiery jazz-rock, seductive funk, cutting edge electronic and global beats plus mesmerizing, chilled electronica.

Electric Kif – Jefe

This superb progressive music outfit includes Eric Escanes on guitar; Rodrigo Zambrano on bass, Moog, Rhodes, baritone and fretless guitars; Jason Matthews on keyboards; and Armando López on drums and percussion.

The ensemble is on tour this Fall:

September 30 Cary Street Cafe, Richmond, VA
October 02 Martin’s, Roanoke, VA
October 03 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, Pittsboro, NC
October 04 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, Pittsboro, NC
October 05 Into the Woods Festival, Charleston, SC
October 07 Rockwood Music Hall, NY, NY
October 08 Irons Works, Buffalo, NY
October 09 Thunderbird Music Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
October 11 Martyrs, Chicago, IL
October 12 Blu Jazz, Akron, OH
October 13 Bop Stop, Cleveland, OH~
October 24 Suwannee Hullaween, Live Oak, FL

Buy Jefe

Profound Psychedelic Electronic Musical Journey into the Core of the Mekong Delta

Kelly David – Meditation in Green (Spotted Peccary, 2019)

Electronic music artist and sound designer Kelly David has released Meditation in Green for the great Spotted Peccary label. Throughout the album, David takes the listener into a fantastic world of mystery and spellbinding ethno-ambient electronics and a multitude of sounds.

Kelly David’s inspiration came from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and features samples of traditional Vietnamese musical instruments provided by Vu Nhat Tan.

Kelly David – Meditation in Green

Despite the titles of the songs, this is not easy listening melodic meditation music. Instead, it is a wonderful voyage though the best of ambient electronic music, with a world music edge.

Kelly David plays analog and digital synthesizers, large format analog modular synthesizers, samplers, loopers, wind synthesizer, field recordings, gongs, bells and several percussion instruments. Guests include Drew Redfield on electric guitar; Kailani Jurasek on temple bell; and field recordings from Kent Antognini and Eckart Bühler.

Buy Meditation in Green

Masterful Progressive Sound Design from Emmett Elvin

Emmett Elvin – The End of Music (Bad Elephant Music, 2019)

British multi-instrumentalist, composer and sound designer Emmett Elvin has released an outstanding progressive rock album titled The End of Music. Emmett Elvin’s style is hard to categorize. He interweaves the best of progressive music: masterful symphonic progressive rock, wondrous cinematic structures, cutting edge electronica, post rock, fascinating sound effects, exquisite acoustic guitar pieces and mesmerizing loop creations.

Having of late been sorely beleaguered by testy whimbrels I decided the hour was ripe to once again beseech the assistance of that sagest of metaphysical bards, Magnus Opium,” says Emmet. “His prescription was simple enough: conjure an entirely fresh, lapis-hued songbook from the trembling, indifferent maw of the Abyss to be used as a calmative for the hearts of even the most truculent waders. ‘But what title should I bestow on this sonic grimoire?’ I asked of him. Poor timing on my part, as his mouth was at that moment stuffed with coconut mushrooms. I’m reasonably certain he said: The End of Music. Dallying long enough to make sure would likely have lost me everything. And these 13 songs from the Abyss were too hard-won to surrender.

Emmett Elvin is best known as the keyboardist for Knifeworld, Guapo and and Chrome Hoof. On The End of Music he plays acoustic and electric 6 & 12 string guitars, bass, acoustic piano, Rhodes, Nord synth, casserole, biscuit tin, percussion, recorders, vocals.

Emmett Elvin – The End of Music

The band includes Alex Thomas (Chrome Hoof, Squarepusher, Badly Drawn Boy) on drums and percussion; and Sarah Anderson on violin and viola. Additional musicians: Eden Duke on stacked harmony vocals on ‘Everything Falls Away’ and ‘Everything Falls Away (reprise)’; and Olga Lisikova on vocals on ‘No Wonder.’

Buy The End of Music

The Insistent Fusion Energy of Antoine Fafard

Antoine Fafard – Borromean Odyssey (Timeless Momentum, 2019)

Canadian bassist, guitarist and composer Antoine Fafard is back with his sixth album, Borromean Odyssey. Fafard makes some of the finest progressive jazz-rock fusion at the present time. A constant in all his albums is the presence of superb instrumentalists. This time, Fafard invited British musician Gary Husband and American rock and jazz drummer Todd Sucherman.

Antoine Fafard – Borromean Odyssey

On Borromean Odyssey, Fafard treats the listener to memorable bass solos. The electric guitar work is equally outstanding, inspired by Alan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin as well. Fafard switches from high energy virtuosic fusion to laid back, ambient short passages titled Borromean Odyssey I-V that change the mood and relax the listener, before returning with another outburst of stunning electric energy.

Gary Husband is a multifaceted artist. Sometimes he plays the drums and on other occasions, he appears as a keyboardist. Although Husband released an album recently as a pianist, on Borromean Odyssey he really stands out as a master of the synthesizer and electric piano.  Borromean Odyssey contains a remarkable set of synth solos that demonstrate that Husband is one of the finest electronic keyboard players in the current progressive music field.

Todd Sucherman has played with American melodic pop-rock band Styx for two decades. On Borromean Odyssey, Sucherman delivers a spectacular performance of creative drumming.

Fafard has also released a boxed set titled Hexalogy 2011-2019 that contains six albums and a 100-page booklet.

Buy Borromean Odyssey

Human Ottoman – “Rampage”

Human Ottoman – Rampage

Well, I went to see the band Moon Letters, that I have reviewed here on this website, at the Parliament Tavern, in West Seattle, on Friday, August 16th, 2019. More on that concert soon. I was warned by Moon Letters that Human Ottoman, the band opening the show, was going to be something special. And they were absolutely correct.

Human Ottoman describes themselves as a “power quartet of electric vibraphone, cello, bass, and drums, from Portland Oregon”. The band is made up of Susan Lucia, on drums; Grayson Fiske, on vibraphone; Julian Kosanovic, on cello; and David Robert Burrows, on bass. Contributing their talent on Rampage, are: Mathew Cartmill, cello solo; Dusty Carlson, bass; and Skip VanKuske, on cello.

Susan Lucia and Grayson Fiske started the project in 2013. Human Ottoman brings “polyrhythmic rock to the masses”. Their sound is something west of Frank Zappa. Their first album, Power Baby, was independently released in 2014 and received an Independent Music Award in the “Instrumental” category”. Their second full-length record, Farang, was released in 2015. Rampage is their third album, and the band is on tour throughout America supporting it.

Ok, disclaimer: I have never been a fan of Frank Zappa. But after hearing Human Ottoman live, I was an instant fan. Unlike Zappa, with Human Ottoman I hear a melody and what I would consider music. I absolutely agree with the tagline “polyrhythmic rock”.

So, how is this third album? Well let me start off by saying that these artists absolutely have mastered their instruments. Every song is unique and completely enthralling. How they actually write this material and keep it all together and on cue is a masterpiece in itself. When you watch them set up, it is quiet an ordeal, especially the vibraphone on wheels. Lucia’s drumming is some of the best I’ve seen in years. The unique sounds she creates not only with drums, but all of the percussion sounds she has at her fingertips are astonishing.

Likewise, Grayson Fiske, on vibraphone is something you just have to see and hear to believe. He is also entertaining as a comedian and in-between song, audience discussion leader. Fiske does with vibraphone what Hendrix did with the guitar. It is so unique and wonderful it will mesmerize you.

Julian Kosanovic, on cello, plays the instrument in a way you again, must see to believe. Playing it laying down, sideways, between the legs, and on its side creates some unique sounds I don’t think I’ve heard before on a cello.

David Robert Burrows, on bass, is the most standard of all the artists. But you definitely can hear his power bass chords throughout this album.

Each of the songs Rampage, are short, but packed full of dynamic rhythms and innovative music. Grayson Fiske reminds me of David Byrne of the Talking Heads, more than Frank Zappa. He sounds a little like Byrne, as the lead singer, but his voice defies comparison.

The music is weird and wonderful, and Portland fans would not allow it to be any different. Every track on this album will command your attention, no matter how short its duration.

Some of my favorites are “Real Eyes”, with Fiske’s wonderful innovations on vibraphone, the piercing cello solo of Cartmill, and the heavy bass of Burrows.

“Maraca Who”, with Lucia’s cool drum sequences and I think vocal is another fav.

“Drug Anthem”, is an ethereal wonderland.

“Doe Toe” is a drum show for Lucia, but the rest of the band supports her well with wicked sound.

“Praha” slips by too fast, it is wonderful.

“100k Lazer Cats” is amazing with that swishing sound Lucia makes with what was a bow, pulled ever so slowly for maximum effect The vibraphone sounds and cello are simply otherworldly. Probably my favorite track. It was amazing live!

“Dream” has more of Lucia’s beautiful voice set to dreamy sounds. My second favorite song on the album.

“Yesterday”, the closer was also amazing live, but the studio version is still captivating.

If you are looking for something completely different, this is your Golden Ticket. The songs are short and completely accessible. Get this album, and like me, start exploring their back catalog.


Stephen Shoup produced all of the album photography.
Sam Gerhke produced all of the band pictures used in this review.

This band has not stopped touring since that hot August night we saw them in West Seattle. That says they are a major draw and their music is being heard throughout the country. They are in heavy demand…because they make unique, innovative and wonderful music.

Track List

  1. Real Eyes – 3:43
  2. Maraca Who – 4:16
  3. Basement 5 – 1:08
  4. Swanktown – 3:14
  5. Drug Anthem – 4:12
  6. Doe Toe – 3:15
  7. Praha – 0:57
  8. 100k Lazer Cats – 4:16
  9. Construction – 0:58
  10. Dream – 3:03
  11. Yesterday – 4:23

https://www.humanottoman.com/

https://humanottoman.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HumanOttoman/

Edenbridge – “Dynamind”

Edenbridge – Dynamind

Anyone who knows me, knows I like Edenbridge. I thought they reached their peak with The Bonding. There were so many great stories and lyrics, as well as powerful orchestration on the album. The Great Momentum was a good album; however, it was not up to the caliber of The Bonding. So, it was with hope that I requested and received their new album Dynamind

Although it does not have the power of the lyrics and orchestration of The Bonding, it does have something that The Great Momentum was missing. Innovative keyboards, mixed well with blazing guitar, and a plethora of some added instruments and sounds.

Edenbridge has always reflected the effervescent spirit of their Austrian heritage in their music. That spirit is so well summed up in the classic movie of defiance and love of country, culture, in The Sound of Music.

“The Memory Hunter”, opens Dynamind, like many an Edenbridge song. Full of power drums hammering, bass supporting and those two lead electric guitars roaming like wolves on the hunt. Speed rock n roll, set to a heavy beat. Sabine sounds great as she sings, “How will you measure your life? Without a past. A trail of devastation, so dark and vast”. “Dreams don’t fly no more”. Lanvall has a cool mysterious keyboard sound integrated within the guitar roar, like a rolling synthesizer that gives this track some magic.

When I first saw the track titled, “Live and Let Go”, I thought this might have an ironic spin on the famous James Bond classic, Live and Let Die. (The band has covered Bond songs in the past). Instead, it is another traditional Edenbridge song. What really makes this band so great for me is Sabine’s singing. No other female vocalist quiet compares to her power, mixed well with emotion, and without the screaming that often accompanies female metal singers. And on “Live and Let Go”, she shines well above the music. She has a strong opening line, reminding me of The Bonding, “Here I stand”, and then she carries it on so well after, singing, “Live and let go. There’s a light in the dark to endeavor. Free to fly in a never-ending sky”. Full of enthusiasm and drive.


“Where the Oceans Collide”, opens like most Edenbridge rockers, full of spark and racing electric guitars, supported well with bass and thundering drums. What makes it different is Lanvall’s infusion of some cool keyboard sounds. Edenbridge albums are always full of intricate and innovative guitar sounds, but the keyboard extras he has added on this album stand out to me. Sabine sings some great lyrics, “This is not a dream. This is not a test. Colors clashing like a wave in crest. It’s the line of sight, where oceans collide”.

 “The Other Side”, has a wonderful mix of stringed instruments adding to the soundscape that the band creates. This one almost sounds like an Irish/Scottish jig at times; it is a rousing march full of imagination. Hammered Dulcimer and mandolin makes this one of the best and most original tracks on the album. Sabine sings wonderful lyrics, “The eternal quest for the better. Be different than you’re meant to be. Every march into a battle has the core inside the men. Your mind will feed the universe. The inner voice shall guide”.


“All Our Yesterdays”, is full of all of that orchestration I miss from The Bonding. Sabine sings glorious lyrics with emotion, “The coming of age. Where ever we go. Whatever we will know. The dust of a thousand ways. In all our yesterdays”. Another of my favorite tracks.


On “The Edge of Your World”, Lanvall has some more of those innovative cool keys and orchestration at the track’s opening. Sabine sings, “Where you are, is how you see. The edge of your world is a mystery. All you dare come, by and by the edge of your world is an open sky”. The guitar solos on this track are some of the most memorable on the album.

 “Tauerngold”, is full of wonderful acoustic and rhythm guitar mixed well with keys and the usual heavy electric, bass and pounding drums. Sabine sings, “We were bound for this glaring ideal. The call of nature is our vein of gold. It is the future we hold. It is the scream of the eagle. The Midas touch. It is the eternal raging stream. The merit real. The only ideal. The Holy Seal”. The music is always better when this band tells an elegant story of their native history.


Finally, Lanvall unleashes the album’s best keyboard/synthesizer intro on the album for the opening of “What Dreams May Come”. Yes, that is what I was dreaming of, more cool keys, like Tool’s new album. That keyboard was awesome. But the electric guitar pairings on this track are also wonderful. Sabine sings, “Home again. The end is just a new beginning. Those kindred souls. When life is just a heartbeat”.  The lead electric guitar solos remind me of some of the ones I remember off The Bonding


“The Last of His Kind”, is the longest and most epic track on the album at over 12 minutes. The opening, is worth the price of admission alone, but it gets even better. They finally let Sabine sing with quiet background sounds surrounding. Like they did on The Bonding. That is when her voice is allowed to completely reach its epic proportions, full of all her emotions. She sings, “Did you hear me, did anything change? Time, time and again. Appallingly high. Why, we’re holding on? Only to find, he is the last of his kind”. The song’s middle section with cool percussion, electric and rhythm guitars, soft drums and keys is the most elegant section of the album.

I beg Lanvall and the band to please listen to Tool’s new album and hopefully they will hear the cool quiet sections, like this, are just as powerful as all the bombast. Sabine picks back up, “We’ve forgone the chance moving on in trance. Holier than thou. We want it now. We need it, to feed it”. Thunderous guitars and drums as an epic soundscape builds, like the glory of The Bonding returning. Sabine closes the album elegantly with the words, “Oasis of light. A planet of grace. Where powers unite. Shall be our place!”

 
“Dynamind”, is a final closing thought set to song, with Sabine singing, “The Holy Grail of inner wealth will lead away. From the demotion and remorse, out of grey. When polarity will balance the world, rising above mankind. It’s Dynamind, for all!”

Edenbridge is: Sabine Edelsbacher, on lead vocals; Lanvall, on lead and rhythm guitars, bass, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars, piano, keyboards, orchestration, Hammered Dulcimer, Kacapi, Bouzouki, and mandolin; Dominik Sebastian, on lead and rhythm guitars; Johannes Jungreithmeier, on drums; and Stefan Gimpl, on bass.

Dynamind will be release October 25th, 2019. It is another great album, by a favorite band. Get this for your collection. But hopefully, the band will return to the music and orchestration of The Bonding, and stay away from the standard grinding metal they are used to creating.

Dynamind will be available in the following formats: DigiPak CD, including bonus CD – 2 colored (blue with black swirls), Gatefold LPs with printed inner sleeves, CD in paper sleeve. 

Track listing: 
01. The Memory Hunter 
02. Live and Let Go 
03. Where the Oceans Collide 
04. The Other Side 
05. All Our Yesterdays 
06. The Edge of Your World 
07. Tauerngold 
08. What Dreams May Come 
09. The Last of His Kind 
10. Dynamind

https://www.edenbridge.org/

https://www.facebook.com/EdenbridgeOfficial/

https://edenbridge.bandcamp.com/