Thursday, 28 March 2013

Gerard - Keyboards Trian(gle II (2002)

First album featuring new versions of prog-rock legends songs called "Keyboards Triangle" was recorded in 1999 by two Japanese bands: "Gerard" & "Ars Nova". It was really splendid disk which many prog fans enjoyed and praised quite much. It's a pity that most of people don't know that in 2002 second part of this project was recorded, this time solely by "Gerard". Name of this release is "Keyboard Triangle 2" (yes, "keyboard" not "keyboards" like in the first part).

Compared with first part this album is significantly shorter and less diverse (only one band is playing - "Gerard", and only 3 bands are covered - "King Crimson", "UK" and "ELP"). However I can assure you that it includes ones of my favorite music pieces out there! I can even say that I like it more than "Keyboards Triangle" because covers are much tighter and less crazy-in sake-for-being-crazy here. Almost no dull, over-played, repetitive madness here, just pure prog-rock enjoyment. That's why I love it so much.

Let's find out how Toshio Egawa and his colleagues "butchered" those classics using keyboards power trio (+vocal) formula:

1. "21st Century Schizoid Man" - cover of the most famous King Crimson's song is astonishing! Instead of guitar and saxophone which led this track in its original form, we have extremely intense synthesizer riffs and fat, over-driven Hammond organ runs. Simon Nakaji which guesting on vocal duties on this album sounds truly demonic singing through some electronic device which modulate his voice (just like Greg Lake in original). Fully expanded organ solo with all of these ELPish pyrotechnics is a really nice surprise here too. To be honest I enjoy this version as much as KC's original.

2. "Danger Money" - another song and another fantastic cover. This time "Gerard" decided to presents us their own vision of song "Danger Money" from British band "UK" repertoire. This cover is more similar to original one because of similar instrumentation used: synthesizer & organ, but I have to admit that these medieval-like vocal harmonies shared between Simon Nakaji & Atsushi Hasegawa sounds even better than in original for me! Only this "Danger Money!" part sounds a bit cheesy because of some strange electronic voice modulation. Very good version indeed but doesn't bring anything new to the original.

3. "Knife Edge" - my favorite song on "Keyboard Triangle II", truly splendid. You thought that Emerson plays mean organ riff in original ELP version? So check out how Egawa hits us in the head with even more brutal Hammond delivery! His organ truly rips our ears apart! His solo in the middle is even more vigorous & lightning fast than Emerson's, and includes all necessary shrieks, "explosions" and other pyrotechnics. I can only add Simon also sings with real anger so suitable for this composition. I didn't think that it's possible, but I really prefer this version to the original one.

4. "Alaska / Time To Kill" - another track is a medley of two compositions of "UK". Just like original is starts with space rockish, echoing synthesizer flights but after less than 2 minutes Egawa's organ strikes back again with double power. While I'm not a big fan of original "Alaska" tune, here this composition bursts out with its full symphonic splendor. Toshio really knows like nobody else how to treat his Hammond to create so flashy-violent sound. After this instrumental section comes "Time To Kill" which I don't enjoy so much. Simon's voice seems to be a bit too screamy and out of key here. Thankfully later on we can listen to delightful violin soling sounds created on some truly fantastic synthesizer (yes, you have to check it out to believe that violin can be so perfectly mimicked on keyboard!).

5. "Lark's Tongues In Aspic Part Two" - to be honest I'm not a big fan of King Crimson's original, however Gerard's version seems to be less "forced" and more interesting for me. Once again Egawa uses his violin-like synthesizer here and mix it with swirling organ grooves. His Hammond solo (another Hammond solo on...King Crimson's composition! Robert Fripp would be surely puzzled while listening to this staff :-) is astonishing as always and sounds very powerful & symphonic. Just great!

In 2 words: must have! "Keyboard Triangle" is a perfect staff for all keyboards-driven goers out there. If you want to know how sound organ & synth based King Crimon's classics, proceed to this album immediately! You want to know how ELP's and UK's compositions sound when they are re-arranged by Japanese keyboards wizard Toshio Egawa - check this album. Just like "Keyboards Triangle", its second part is a brilliant symphonic prog release from "the country where cherry blossoms" which should be checked by aficionados of other keys-driven groups like "ELP", "Trace", "Triumvirat", "Le Orme", "Collegium Musicum", "Little Tragedies" or "Social Tension".

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 21st Century Schizoid Man (8:02)
2. Danger Money (8:02)
3. Knife Edge (6:32)
4. Alaska~Time To Kill (7:40)
5. Lark's Tongues In Aspic Part Two (6:54)

Total Time: 37:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Toshio Egawa / keyboards
- Atsushi Hasegawa / bass, chorus
- Masuhiro Goto / drums
- Simon Nakaji / vocals

Bo Hansson - Music Inspired By Watership Down (1977)

I personally love the fourth Bo Hannson's album. It's a cohesive and mature work builded up around relaxing melodies and warm colours. These elements are well imprinted in the opener, the magnum opus titled "Born in the Gentle South" (16,35 minutes). The nordic influence are more sparse, now, keyboards and synthesizers have the most prominent role. The other tracks are in the same vein, slow for the most part with many surprises and unespected changing of tempos that enrich the arrangements. "The Twice Victory" (8,14 minutes) is the other most evident example with an orchestral and anguishing (I don't know why, but it is so) structure.

The titles of the songs are inspired by the verses of famous english poets, Shakespeare and Keats, for instance. The more melancholic sound demonstrates the the disillusionment of Bo Hansson for the music press of that time. Indifference was what they gave him for the release of this jewel! Nowadays seems to be not very different from 1977: I saw in fact many people saying this album is the weakest of his (not large) production. I tell you the truth: Watership Down is the album I listened to the most. It's a sort of hymn, sometimes giving us the opportunity to escape from our reality and travel far from home. In fact the sound is dreamy and floating and the electric guitar shows some references to Pink Floyd.

The bad thing is that it is the last Hansson's album and, for another time, it's sad to see that also this artist had to stop his solo career after so high levels of quality. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Born of the gentle South 
2. Allegro for a rescue 
3. Legend and light 
4. Trial and adversity 
5. The twice - victory 
6. The kingdom brightly smiles

Line-up / Musicians

- Bo Hansson / piano, keyboards, bass, guitar, tambourine
+ Sten Bergman / flute 
- Torbjörn Eklund / wooden flutes
- Kenny Håkansson / guitar, bass 
- Göran Lagerberg / bass 
- Tomas Netzler / bass 
- Fredrik Norßn / drums 
- Pontus Olsson / piano, recording
- Bo Skoglund / drums, maracas

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Entheogenic - Spontaneous Illumination

The second full-length album by psychedelic dub producers Entheogenic is a genre-defining album that offers a mixture of ambient and chillout atmospheres with intelligent electronic dub, ethnic influences, deep drums and basses, and electronic and acoustic instruments. Spontaneous Illumination was produced by Piers Oak-Rhind and Helmut Glavar at Entheogenic Soundlabs in the southwest of France. Most of the sound samples used on this album -- such as birds and water -- were recorded by the artists in the beautiful environment of their studio. This album is timeless, beautiful, and skillfully produced with groove-oriented synthesizer music heavily laced with global samples. The album was released on c.o.r.n. recordings and was the first psy-chill album to make it to number one in the German chillout charts. These charts are assembled from the votes of 150 downtempo DJs. Spontaneous Illumination stayed in the Top Ten for an additional 12 weeks. ~ Bhasker Gupta

Monday, 25 March 2013

A.R. & Machines (Achim Reichel) - Die Grüne Reise - The Green Journey (1971)

 A.R. & MACHINES is the solo project of one Achim Reichel. The A.R. are of course his initials while the MACHINES are those elctronics and tape recorders he used to create this psychedelic sound.This album was released in 1971 and the press at that time roasted him for it. Achim you see had been this teen idol who was very well known in Germany. He was the founder and guitarist of the most popular Beat band in that country called THE RATTLERS. He grew tired though of strumming his guitar to this simple 4/4 beat and was looking for something more challenging. It would be like one of the Jonas brothers deciding to make this experimental, psychedelic prog album. No matter how good it was you know he would be ridiculed for this non-commercial nonsense. Right ? Well all these magazines that trashed Achim's debut album would later apologize as it was soon accepted that this was a tripped out masterpiece. He became known for the guitar echo which he came upon by complete accident. "I was just trying something out with my guitar, when out of the blue the Akai X-3300 began to repeat endless cascades of guitar echoes. My guitar suddenly sounded like ten". He found his new direction. I've known about this band for years but until recently have been unable to find any of his recording. I have the EROC remastered version from 2007. The title of this album means "The Green Journey". Julian Cope would call this record "...the final result of a kind of higher awareness..." Brian Eno said this was his main source for inspiration for his "Another Green World" album. And how about that album cover !

I'm going to use the English song titles. "Globe" opens with strange sounds then this catchy beat takes over.The song continues to change. Lots of electronics 2 1/2 minutes in. Great sound. "In The Same Boat" opens with this guitar riff as drums then vocals join in.It turns very psychedelic a minute in then that riff and beat returns. "Beautiful Babylon" sounds so cool to start out. Drums before a minute. It's all about the electronics before 3 minutes. It's laid back late. "I'll Be Your Singer-You'll Be My Song" is a short tune with vocals,strummed guitar and percussion. Psychedelic stuff. "Body" features percussion along with vocal and other sounds.

"A Book's Blues" is bluesy with a beat,vocals and guitar. "As If I Had Seen All This Before" has a very freaky intro with cool vocal expressions that are manipulated. Electronics and a beat take over as guitar and drums join in. Great sound. It's crazy psychedelic 3 1/2 minutes in. The beat returns then it's far out again. "Cosmic Vibration" sounds so good the way the guitar echoes. What a trip this song is. "Come On People" is led by vocals and drums. Vocal melodies and clapping join in. "Truth And Probability" is the perfect drug track. It made me laugh and wonder and i wasn't even high. The sounds echo and check out the vocal expressions that are manipulated. Just hilarious at times. Insanity !Review fro

Songs / Tracks Listing 
Side A:
1. I Am (Happy Adventures For Sense, Mind And Inclination)
2. Staion 1: Globus (In The Same Boat)
3. Station 2: Beautiful Babylon
4. I'll Be Your Singer You Be My Song
5. Station 3: Body (A Book's Blues)
6. Station 4: As If I Have Seen All This Before
Side B:
7. Cosmic Vibration (An Afternoon Concert)
8. Come On People
9. Truth And Probability (A Lexicon For Self-knowledge)

Line-up / Musicians -
Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Frank Dostal / lyrics
- Dicky Tarrach / drums
- Hans Lampe / percussion (2)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

XII Alfonso - The Lost Frontier (2006)

XII ALFONSO's story dates back in 1988,when they were found in Bordeaux by Francois and Phillipe Clarhout,Stephane Merlin and Laurent Cindicq.Between 1988 and 1992 they wrote exclusively instrumental music and they even recorded a concept album around Marco Polo's life.In 1993 they recorded their first single ''Costa Brava coast'',before visiting Scotland and UK and being influenced by the ruins of Hadrian's Wall in the town of Haltwhistle,they decide to create a concept album related with this theme.With the help of several musicians (among them Mickey Simmons and Dan Ar Bras) and singers and despite the line-up problems,XII ALFONSO release ''The lost frontier'' in 1996.

The music is pretty much laid back with scarce electric outbursts and mostly relaxed themes with an intense Celtic flavor.Their sound is pretty diverse and varied in these 16 short compositions,going from melodic electric passages to piano-based instrumentals and light keyboard-driven symphonic introductions.There is a heavy OLFIELD-ian atmposhere dominating the album with all these different instruments and influences mixed together in a generally soft progressive package.Actually the guitar work (and not only) reminds me of MINIMUM VITAL,though in a much more melodic presentation.What is quite clear are the strong doses of pleasant Celtic melodies (with some fine blending of acoustic parts with accordeon,pipes and flutes) and the tons of elegant acoustic guitars,trying to create a nostalgic climate.Notice also the ethereal female vocals,which are one of the highest points of this release.

Lovers of electric sounds will be pretty much dissapointed by ''The lost frontier''.However,both fans of MIKE OLDFIELD and laid-back but almost symphonic music will propably like this a lot.An interesting first step for the band. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hadrian's wall overture (5:08)
2. Hello you (4:18)
3. Mist (5:06)
4. Minstrel's tale (8:27)
5. The ghost's song (4:03)
6. Lazy day in Haltwhistle (3:32)
7. Back to Northumberland (3:33)
8. Edges of empire (2:29)
9. Diving into the coal womb (2:29)
10. Breathing, scarcely (5:49)
11. Wheels of change (4:58)
12. Another day in Haltwhistle (2:17)
13. Heath (5:14)
14. Revival (3:50)
15. Thirteen winds (5:06)
16. Anthem (4:48)

Total Time: 71:07 

Line-up / Musicians

- Philippe Claerhout / guitars
- François Claerhout / keyboards programming
- Stephane Merlin / keyboards
- Caroline Lafue / vocals
- Mickey Simmonds / keyboards
- Laure Oltra / texts
- Bernard Auzerol / bass
- Laurent Dupont / bass
- Dan Ar Bras / guitar
- Thierry Volto / drums
- Caroline Monteil / flute
- Laurent Sindicq / bass
- Thierry Moreno / drums, percussion

Thinglink Plugin