Category Archives: CD Reviews

Oblivion: Intimate Portraits

Venus’s Delight – OIP (2017)

OIP (Oblivion: Intimate Portraits) is the title of the new album by Italian band Venus’s Delight. The group is led by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Alessandro Gregori.

On OIP, Alessandro Gregori delivers a set of melancholic songs influenced by post rock and Van Dr Graaf Generator sensibility.

One of the highlights is “White Morning,” a prog rock song where Venus’s Delight adds nicely-crafted keyboards and vocals, topped by a climactic guitar solo.

The progressive rock direction continues with “Kindflow,” where you’ll find creative bass lines, keyboards and edgy guitars.

Another high point is “From Ash To Sand,” a dramatic piece featuring jazz-style drums and a notable mix of acoustic and electric guitars.

The final standout is the final track, “OIP.” Here, Venus’s Delight treats the listener to mesmerizing looped electronic sounds and atmospheres that morph into post rock with introspective vocals.

Elipse

Como Asesinar a Felipes – Elipse

Como Asesinar a Felipes – Elipse (Koolarrow Records, 2017)

Chilean band Como Asesinar a Felipes presents a fusion of avant-garde jazz and hip hop. It’s an unconventional mix featuring improvisatory saxophone, electronic effects and rap vocals.

The lineup includes Koala Contreras on vocals; Gallardo on sax and flute; SebaBala on bass; Metraca on drums; and DJ Sp@cio on scratches.

Remarkable Vintage Keyboard Fest on Per Aspera Ad Astra

Taproban – “Per Aspera Ad Astra” (Musea Parallele, 2017)

“Per Aspera Ad Astra” is the new album by Italian symphonic progressive rock trio Taproban. The band features three talented musicians that deliver high energy prog rock highlighting keyboard wizardry, creative bass lines and outstanding drum work.

For this project, the band’s fifth album, the musicians used an arsenal of vintage musical instruments from the 1970s, recreating the magical sound of the era.

The lineup on “Per Aspera Ad Astra” includes keyboard maestro Gianluca De Rossi on Minimoog Model D, Hammond C3 organ, Mellotron SM400, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, Roland JX8P, Nord Electro 3 HP, EMU Vintage Pro, acoustic grand piano, glockenspiel and vocals; Roberto Vitellion Rickenbacker bass 4003 Jetglo, Geddy Lee Fender Jazz, Moog Taurus I & III, Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, E-bow, and Fender 6 string acoustic; and Ares Andreoni on Gretsch Catalina maple drums, Zjildjian Sabian and Paiste cymbals, rototoms, cowbell, darbuka, windchimes, and vibraslap.

Guests: Francesco Pandico on drums and percussion and Antonio Marangolo on tenor saxophone.

Buy Per Aspera Ad Astra in Europe

Buy Per Aspera Ad Astra in the rest of the world

Otherworldly Cello

Joan Jeanrenaud – Visual Music (Deconet Records, 2016)

Visual Music is an outstanding recording of cello music by composer and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, who used to be a member of the famed Kronos Quartet for 20 years.

Joan Jeanrenaud delivers a set of solo cello pieces that range from captivating melodies and cinematic soundscapes to mesmerizing ethereal compositions and neoclassical pieces as well as experimentation using various layers and cello techniques.

There are truly fascinating tracks such as are the beautiful “Solo Prelude,” and the hypnotic pieces “Isola” “Moon Above” and “Ethereal Tree” where Joan Jeanrenaud ventures into deep space and other worlds, mixing her multifaceted cello with ambient electronics.

 

 

The tracks on Visual Music were originally made for Joan Jeanrenaud’s Dance, Theater and Art Museums.

The musicians on the Visual Music album include Joan Jeanrenaud on cello; PC Muñoz on marimbata, cajón and drum kit; William Winant on vibraphone; and Dohee Lee on recorder and electronics.

Buy Visual Music in Europe

Buy Visual Music in the rest of world.

Masterful Norwegian Progressive Rock Alchemy

Wobbler – From Silence to Somewhere (Karisma Records, 2017)

Wobbler is the Norwegian progressive rock powerhouse. It’s a band deeply influenced by some of the finest classic progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Unlike other progressive acts that draw their influences exclusively from British bands, Wobbler’s music is also inspired by the great Italian bands of the 1970s.

In Wobbler’s new album, From Silence to Somewhere, you’ll find Gentle Giant-style early music influences as well as passages inspired rooted in progressive rock-era Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. On the Italian influence side, Wobbler pays tribute to masters such as Museo Rosenbach, PFM and Banco.

For music fans, this is symphonic progressive rock at its best. From Silence to Somewhere contains four extensive musical pieces loaded with captivating mellotron, distorted organ a la Canterbury and other classic keyboard sounds along with beautifully-constructed vocals derived from Renaissance music, superb dual guitars, bass and percussion work.

The lineup on From Silence to Somewhere includes Lars Fredrik Frøislie on keyboards, backing vocals; Kristian Karl Hultgren on bass, bass clarinet, bass pedals; Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, percussion, recorder; Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo on vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion; and Geir Marius Bergom Halleland on lead guitar, backing vocals.

From Silence to Somewhere is one of the best prog rock releases so far this year. It’s scheduled for release on October 20, 2017.

Superb Bass from Malta

Simon Sammut – Crossing (Simon Sammut, 2017)

Crossing is the second album by an excellent bass player from Malta named Simon Sammut. The album crosses numerous musical boundaries ranging from funk jazz and fusion to world music and ambient electronic influences.

Crossing is beautifully-packaged with innovative fold out packaging and fascinating artwork. It goes well with Simon Sammut’s multifaceted bass sounds.

The lineup on Crossing includes Simon Sammut on upright bass and electric basses; Tony Sammut on piano; Mark Attard on piano; Melchior Busuttil on drums, percussion and programming; Marc Galea on classical and electric guitars; Jonathan Ellul on electric guitars; Kris Spiteri on melodica; Kevin Abela on trumpet; Ivan Borg on tenor saxophone; Godfrey Mifsud on baritone saxophone; Jesmond Azzopardi on bass trombone; and Marlene Sammut on vocals.

Buy the MP3 version of Crossing.

Avant Time of the Grets

Ut Gret ‎– Time of the Grets

Ut Gret ‎– Time of the Grets (ZNR Records ZNR1009, 1998)

Ut Gret is one of the leading American bands in the avant-garde side of progressive rock. On Time of the Grets you’ll find free form improvisation, avant-garde jazz and elements of progressive rock.

The album features special guests such as Eugene Chadbourne, Davey Williams and Henry Kaiser.

The highlight of the album is a fabulous Zeuhl-style piece titled Magma Futura.

The lineup includes Joee Conroy on guitars, Chapman stick, violin, bass, viola de gamba, santoor, psaltery, autoharp, cheng, shamisen, pipa, zitherphonics; David Stilley on saxophones, keyboards, bassoon, clarinets, flutes, wind synthesizer, percussion, MIDI mapping; Gregory Acker on flute, chendra, percussion; Davey Williams on electric guitar; Eugene Chadbourne on guitar; Murray Reams on drums; Henry Kaiser on guitars; Greg Goodman on piano; and Misha Feigin on vocals.

An Intriguing Musical Picnic

Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus – Music for a Family Picnic

Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus – Music for a Family Picnic (Eclipse Music, 2017)

Music for a Family Picnic is the second album by Finnish progressive music band Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus. The group is led by multifaceted accordionist and composer Harri Kuusijärvi.

On Music for a Family Picnic you’ll find a wide range of influences, from minimalist and cinematic passages to progressive rock, folk and jazz.

The lineup on Music for a Family Picnic includes Harri Kuusijärvi · on accordion and effects; Veikki Virkajärvi on electric guitar; Eero Tikkanen on bass; Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, percussion, and effects; and Jesse Ojajärvi on drums.

Buy the Music for a Family Picnic MP3s or the

Promising Aporía

Pareidolon – Aporía (Shine Productions, 2017)

Pareidolon is a Canadian progressive rock and hard rock act led by ensemble led by bassist and composer Lachlan Tocher. All the members of Pareidolon are graduates from the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology program.

Aporía contains 6 tracks. The highlights are the three progressive rock-leaning pieces: “The Tunnel”, “Leave” and “Good Morning.”

“The Tunnel” features a mesmerizing mix of mellotron, piano and bass along with tasty synth and guitar solos and a fine mix of male and female vocals.

 

 

“Leave” is a great suite containing mellotron, dreamy female vocals and dual guitar work.

 

 

Piano and natural sounds are the essence of the evocative instrumental “Good Morning.”

 

Two other tracks are essentially hard rock efforts and the last track introduces heavy metal.

The lineup includes Lachlan Tocher on bass and mellotron; Brittany Keller on vocals; Jonathan Kwak on vocals; Ashley Pearce on guitar; Branden Green on guitar; Anna Backus on piano and synths; and Aybars Savat on drums.

There seem to be two elemental forces in the band, pushing and pulling. The progressive side is obviously the most appealing, forward-thinking, with great potential.

Buy Aporía