Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Unwound (2008)

Like a thief in the night leaving tasty fruit you might overlook, this Somerset, England based bittersweet progressive rock band founded by Bruce Soord (once upon a time with Vulgar Unicorn) quietly amassed a six-album discography from 1999-2007. A one-man show for some of their existence, the Pineapple Thief still earned a small but enthusiastic fan base around the world and loads of critical acclaim, but total sales of 25,000 translates to way too many people being deprived of their unique, expansive atmosphere meets in-your-face industrial rock sound. Tightly Unwound opens in a dream state, with Soord's hypnotic voice rising over a simple spacy keyboard vibe; then the strumming begins and "My Debt to You" becomes a cheerfully jangling delight -- until it slows again. "Shoot First" brings in the band's more progressive, high energy electric guitar rock fire, which bursts out between midtempo verses that breeze along in symphonic harmony until the next flare-up. The title track captures both flavors simultaneously as Soord's soothing vocals seem a bit lost amidst the boom of the drums and high-powered rock machinery and sound effects. Tracks like "The Sorry State," which is scaled back and allows the listener to drift along with the dreamy melody are more emotionally effective. Still the balance between easy and sensual and totally blistering ("My Bleeding Hand") is pretty irresistible and should finally help the Pineapple Thief appeal beyond their small rabid base. ~ Jonathan Widran Review from Rdio

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. My Debt to You (5:19)
2. Shoot First (4:12)
3. Sinners (4:52)
4. The Sorry State (4:11)
5. Tightly Wound (6:35)
6. My Bleeding Hand (4:20)
7. Different World (10:44)
8. And So Say All Of You (4:05)
9. Too Much To Loose (15:12)

Total Time: 59:30
Line-up / Musicians

- Bruce Soord / vocals, guitar
- Wayne Higgins / guitar
- Steve Kitch / keyboards
- Jon Sykes / bass
- Keith Harrison / drums 

Banco Del Mutou Soccorso - Darwin (1972)

Darwin! will remain Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's masterpiece. This album, the band's second, is the proud equal of Premiata Forneria Marconi's Per Un Amico and Le Orme's Felona e Sorona in the Italian progressive rock hall of fame. In Darwin!, every promise made by Banco's eponymous debut was realized. Vittorio Nocenzi's writing has flourished into complex songs blending Italian songwriting, bel canto, and progressive rock. The arrival of guitarist Rodolfo Maltese crystallized the band's luxurious sound, all topped by Francesco Di Giacomo's operatic vocals. The majestic "L'Evoluzione" opens the album, providing some of the best moments ever recorded by this band (along with "Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico"). "La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta" ("The Conquest of the Wrong Position") reproduces the same pattern as "Metamorphosi" from the first album: a frenetic instrumental theme, scaled down toward the end to let room for a very emotional verse. "La Danza de Grandi Rettili" is a rare jazzy number. Di Giacomo shines on "750,000 Anni Fa...L'Amore?," a heart-wrenching ballad much closer to Italian pop music than progressive rock. The album comes to an end with "Ed Ora la Domando Tempo al Tempo," a short piece inspired by merry-go-round music. The original version of the album bears a cover with a pocket watch. Never satisfied with the sound quality of the original tapes, the band re-recorded the whole album in 1991 and issued it with blue cover artwork. Purists turned their back on this new version, but it is actually very well performed, even though it has lost the vintage 1970s Italian flavor. The original Darwin! was eventually also reissued on CD. ~ François Couture. Review from Rdio

Songs / Tracks Listing
  1. L'Evoluzione (13:59)
2. La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (8:42)
3. Danza Dei Grandi Rettili (3:42)
4. Cento Mani E Cento Occhi (5:22)
5. 750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore? (5:38)
6. Miserere Alla Storia (5:58)
7. Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho! (3:29) 
Line-up / Musicians

- Gianni Nocenzi / clarinet, piano, keyboards
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, tympani
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, guitar, guitar (bass)
- Francesco DiGiacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, synthesizer, keyboards, clavinet
- Marcello Todaro / guitar (acoustic), guitar, guitar (electric), vocals 

The Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mountain Flame (1971)

There are no words to describe this album. At first listening you won't be fooled around, you'll know you're in the presence of one of the greatest albums ever made. A grandiose symbiosis between rock music, neo classical music, psychedelic jazz music with further elements from blues to Celtic music. First of all, this album is an instrumental. If you think that, because of this, it would never reach a supreme level. you're judging wrong. The diverse instrumental arrangements, the superb playing, very virtuous and strong, offers an extremely enjoyable listen. Particularly I am referring to the magnificent drumming all over the album, very paced with many speed transitions, constituting a true independent instrument (but obviously well orchestrated with the rest), the high skilled guitar playing as well, with many speedy harmonious solos and also the beautiful violin playing.
The album's production is also very good, not resembling at all a 1971 record, it could be perfectly an album edited a few years ago, as you'll not have any sound complaints. Every track is fantastic but my personal favourites are: the first, Shadow of the Moon, where the instrumental explosions, the guitar leading solo and the beautiful main riff impresses an astonishing ambience; Dawn with its skilled and beautiful violin; Noonward Race for more instrumental explosions; A Lotus On Irish Streams because of its emotional neoclassical arrangements, with violin, piano and acoustic guitar conferring a relaxing ambience very enjoyable; The Dance of Maya which has some blues influence; and the climax ending track Awakening.
If you are a progressive rock collector and you DON'T have this album, God how can you live with such a great lack? This album is OBLIGATORY! It represents a perfect odd to symphonic progressive music in the genre of Canterbury/Jazz Fusion. It should not let anyone indifferent to it. If it lets, there's definitively something wrong with you.Review from Progarchives.com

Songs / Tracks Listing
 1. Meeting Of The Spirits (6:52)
2. Dawn (5:10)
3. Noonward Race (6:28)
4. A Lotus On Irish Streams (5:39)
5. Vital Transformation (6:16)
6. The Dance Of Maya (7:17)
7. You Know, You Know (5:07)
8. Awakening (3:32)

Total Time: 46:34

Line-up / Musicians 
- John McLaughlin / guitar
- Jerry Goodman / violin
- Jan Hammer / piano, electric piano and organ
- Rick Laird / bass
- Billy Cobham / drums

Kraan - Flyday (1979)

After Wiederhoren which is my favorire Kraan album ,I was not too happy when this album came out.I did not think it was the same quality and was a let down. Jan Friede the great original drummer was replaced by Udo Dahmen.Dahmen it a good drummer ,but I have a soft spot for Jan.

Now for the album.

Far West is a wonderful opener,a classic Kraan instrumental.Short and dreamy.Like walking without touching the ground.Love it,but a bit short.

My Brother Said,is stoner rock kraut style.OK.

Ausflug is amazing.Another one of those instrumentals, that these guys always have one or two of on each album. Got 3 parts: Slowish intro which drifts along nicely,for then to shift into a great upbeat groove,carried by guitar with a hypnotic bassline in the back.Then it drits back into a groove like the beginning,for then to fade out.Definately the high point on this record. An I-Tunes purchase if there ever was one.

Gayu Gaya.Nice lazy groove in the beginning,but drifts into a bit of a messy middle.Not too exciting for me.

You're Right.So so,upbeatish tune.

Young King'd Son.Nice slow paced song but the lyrics are silly and gets a bit annoying.

Buy Buy.Nice kind of instrumental.Kinda,because Buy Buy are the only lyrics.Melody is a nice one of those slow melodies,but the singing is kinda in the way,though there are not too many of them. Does that make sense?

Flyday.Very mellow instrumental,but it doesn't really go anywhere.

3* may be a touch much.But the 2 songs Far West and Ausflug really are amazing,I will be generous. Good,but not essential.

The cover made by Peter Wollbrandt ,the guitar player is quite unique. Hellmut Hattler and Peter have done most of their own covers.Well done.Review from Progarchives.com

Songs / Tracks Listing
 1. Far West (2:29)
2. My brother said (3:40)
3. Ausflug (7:13)
4. Gayu Gaya (5:06)
5. You're Right (5:55)
6. Young King's Song (5:35)
7. Buy Buy (3:33)
8. Flyday (3:21)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ingo Bishof / Moog synthesizers
- Udo Dahmen / drums
- Helmut Hattler / bass, percussion, backing vocals
- Peter Wolbrandt / guitars, vocals, strings, percussion

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Oresund Space Collective - Good Planets Are Hard To Find (2009)

Not very different in overall scope from their previous official album though; but more maintaining the qualities of that one. Smooth transitions and evolvements is a key feature in these snippets of studio jams assembled into six tracks here; and if memory serves right there are less synths and keyboards involved this time around than on previous occasions. Also worth noting is the raga-inspired sitar that is the key element in the tracks opening and closing this excursion.

Still, a mostly bass and guitar dominated affair embellished with careful use of spacey synths and organ still makes for some trippy space music; where the main negative asset is that the segments where the band seems to be searching for a main direction still get to be a tad lengthy. Once in their stride they are impeccable though; and the last half of final track MTSST must be amongst the strongest material I've heard of this outfit.

If improvised space rock jams sounds like a good thing to you, this is a very good place to start exploring this particular brand of music. 

   1. Good Planets Are Hard To Find (9:43)
2. Space Fountain (8:51)
3. Orbital Elevator (16:12)
4. Pf747-3 (19:36)
5. My Heel Has A Beard (6:01)
6. MTSST (19:28)

Total Time: 79:51 
Line-up / Musicians

- Tobias / guitars
- PIB / drums
- Thomas / bass
- Jocke / bass
- Luz / percussion
- Mogens / Hammond, synths
- Dr. Space / Synths
- KG / sitar, guitar, Hammond

Oresund Space Collective - Organic Earthly Flotation

This is way more relaxed than many albums beforehand, the groovy, partially jazzy vibe is nearly gone here, except on the closing Neptune Rising maybe. And indeed, the line up saw a major change, as there is the complete PAPIR crew involved this time, additionally Americano Daniel Lars, who had his first trip ever to Denmark for playing with the ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE. Only synthesizer wizzards Mogens and Scott (Dr. Space) are staying, acting restrained though, 'Organic Earthly Flotation' is yet another album which works more guitar laden.

Walking On Clouds manifests in two sections, originally developed by Daniel, that means you can't really say that the music is completely improvised. Backed by a solid rhythm branch this is smooth, cheerful, featuring nice inspired guitar interplay, partially enriched with spacey patterns as well as chirping synths. Not quite a spectacular album - as I'm familiar with the complete studio discography - but surely something to dig. 'Organic Earthly Flotation' again proves their ambitious approach to update the sound with every entirely new production. Review from Progarchives.com
Songs / Tracks  
1. Walking on Clouds (19:23)
2. Walking on Clouds (Pt.2) (6:17)
3. Carlos on the Moon (16:57)
4. Neptune Rising (5:08)

Total Time 47:45

Line-up / Musicians 
Mogens - Synthesizers
DR. Space - Synthesizers
Kristoffer (Papir) - Drums
Nicklas (Papir) - Guitar
Pär (Sgt. Sunshine, Carpet Knights, Hoofoot) - Bass
Daniel Lars - Guitar
Christian (Papir) - Bass on Neptune Rising

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Univers Zero - Heresie (1979)

 Having thought the debut album was unsurpassable the boy's go one better on this one. Denis's 'La Faulx' is a slow builder, the textures at the beginning are rich with wheezing bass Harmonium and Michel Berckmans Bassoon whilst Bassist Guy Segers incants in the background. Tracks 2 & 3 are the work of Roger Trigaux, later to produce a solo album called 'Triskadecaphobie' under the band name of Present. Entitled 'Jack the Ripper' & 'Vous le Saurez en Temps Voulu' once again Roger and the band excel themselves. Play it in the dark if you dare!

The music is incredible dark,sombre,as depressive as can be.Pessimism to the max!If someone informated me well than I believe that the texts are spoken in the languages of druids.Together with the slow creeping cello's and bassoon it createds an incredible anguished atmosphere.

Some people overemphasize the scary boogeyman nature of Univers Zero (usually to promote their virtues), I think, but certainly their music is quite moody and dark, and this is likely their darkest sounding record. All the pieces are slow and ponderous, with sustained, repetitive lines and harmonies that are often "dissonant" to traditionalist ears. Certainly you can hear the influence of interesting European composers like Bartok and Messiaen, as well as, if not Zeuhl, the same sort of avant-jazz sources as Magma was tapping. Reeds and strings are the lead instruments, making this more of a jazz/chamber fusion than anything to do with rock music in the usual sense. The kind of music that would be good scoring a old silent horror movie, this is definitely a classic of its genre- I have to be in the mood for it, but it fits that mood perfectly.Reviews from Progarchives.com

Songs / Tracks Listing
 1. La Faulx (25:18)
2. Jack the Ripper (13:29)
3. Vous le Saurez en Temps Voulu (12:56)
4. Chaos Hermetique (11:51) *

Line-up / Musicians Lineup on the original album:

- Michel Berckmans / bassoon, oboe
- Daniel Denis / drums, percussion
- Patrick Hanappier / viola, violin
- Roger Trigaux / guitar, piano, organ, harmonium
- Guy Segers / bass, voice

Lineup on the bonus track on the 2010 remaster:
- Daniel Denis / drums
- Patrick Hanappier / violin
- Guy Segers / bass
- Roger Trigaux / guitar
- Vincent Motoulle / keyboards

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