Monday, June 25, 2007
No, this isn’t two albums on one disc ; it’s merely the French and English versions of the title. If you can deal with the gimmicky cover of the CD, the bilinguality of the song titles, and the progressively RIO bent of the music, Miriodor would be an excellent addition to your collection. Someone described them to me as « Univers Zéro in a good mood ». Lacking a better description, I’ll reuse that one. If you like the instrumental complexity and power of UZ, coupled with that band’s lack of any mainstream influence, chances are you’ll find 3rd Warning to your taste. And even if you’re a novice to the RIO sound and are looking for a place to start, Miriodor is probably the best place. They combine musical prowess and creativity with a certain amount of accessibility. While not lacking the dissonance of Henry Cow or Magma, they serve it up in smaller doses. A three piece, Miriodor consists of Pascal Globensky on piano, Sabin Hudon on sax, and Rémi Leclerc on percussion. All three double on synths. Leclerc drives home the UZ comparisons with his Denisesque classically influenced percussives. The others weave intricate melodies and counterpoint. For a threesome their sound is remarkably full - lots going on. While no individual instrument is doing blistering solos, they will impress you with mature, complex writing. Like most of my favorite bands, the emphasis is on the writing rather than the playing. The result is a tightly composed 45 minutes of excellent progressive music. I highly recommend this new Canadian band to anyone with an ear for experimentation.
Mike Borella, Panorama, Winter 1993
1. Transsiberien (Trans-Siberian) (5:00)
2. Langage de lezard (Lizard's Language) (2:00)
3. Garde a vaus! (Attention!) (1:44)
4. Jerusalem (4:16)
5. Cortege (Procession) (3:45)
6. Vision (3:48)
7. Entrapercu (Glimpse) (3:08)
8. Reconfort metaphysique (Solace) (2:34)
9. 3e Avertissement (3rd Warning) (4:59)
10. Debout (Standing) (4:09)
11. Viking (4:27)
12. Chute libre (Free Fall) (3:18)
Pascal Globensky: piano, synthesizer
Sabin Hudon: sax, synthesizer
Remi Leclerc: percussions, synthesizer
Links in comments. Enjoy!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I've finally accepted it. Daniel Denis and Univers Zero are not going to make another Heresie or another Uzed
Frankly, while The Hard Quest was such a welcome comeback that I would have been overjoyed even if it had been mediocire, neither it nor Rhythmix have had much staying power for me. I find the longer, more open-ended, more oppressive compositions of UZ's earlier work more compelling overall. The new-school Univers Zero is still pretty unique, and still pretty good, but no longer completely enthralling.
That said, Implosion is easily my favorite of 21st-century Univers Zero. Compared to previous efforts, it's practically cheerful; while some of the interludes are ominous noise experiments (that, incidentally, don't really do anything for me at all), the compositions proper are surprisingly - and addictively - melodic. Only "La Mort de Sophocle" is a peek back at what was, with a slow creepiness that tantalizingly reminds of the older stuff. Denis' compositions have never been tighter - for better or worse - and the expanded instrumental palette already evident in Rhythmix
In fact, a lot of the pieces here - "Falling Rain Dance", "Temps Neufs", "Mellotronic", to name just a few - shouldn't really be that scary even to those who shy away at the mere mention of RIO or avant-rock. Thanks to the newfound melodicism and, perhaps, the continuing growth of Denis' compositional experience, this is the most accessible UZ yet, and not at the expense of depth. So while fans of the old-school stuff like myself may still regret that the band has (probably wisely) moved on to create a new signature sound, there's no denying that the new Univers Zero is still a juggernaut of a band. Implosion is their best effort since those good old days.
Brandon Wu — 1-26-05
1. Suintement (Oozing) (1:13)
2. Falling Rain Dance (4:12)
3. Partch's X-Ray (5:21)
4. Rapt d'Abdallah (3:01)
5. Miroirs (Mirrors) (1:18)
6. La Mort de Sophocle (Sophocle's Death) (3:11)
7. Ectoplasme (1:07)
8. Temps Neufs (4:56)
9. Mellotronic (4:04)
10. Bacteria (1:28)
11. Out of Space 4 (2:52)
12. First Short Dance (0:42)
13. Second Short Dance (0:41)
14. Variations on Mellotronic's Theme (3:04)
15. À Rebours (In Reverse) (1:56)
16. Méandres (Meanderings) (9:38)
Michael Berckmans – oboe, english horn, basson
Serge Bertocchi – alto, soprano, sopranissimo saxes, tubax
Aurelia Boven – cello
Daniel Denis – drums, percussion, all keyboards and samplers
Dirk Descheemaeker – clarinet, bass clarinet
Bart Maris – trumpet, flugelhorn
Eric Platain – bass
Christophe Pons – acoustic guitar
Bart Quartier – marimba, glockenspiel
Igor Semenoff – violin
All music composed and arranged by Daniel Danis
Links in comments. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Thinking Plague is a state-of-the-art American rock band with musical affinities to the Rock-in-Opposition movement. While it would be easy to imitate Henry Cow (or whoever) and boast a great accomplishment in profundity, Thinking Plague takes the high road and broadens the RIO ethic with groundbreaking innovations and eccentric songwriting.
On _Early Plague Years_, Bob Drake has taken the bands first two albums, 1984's _...A Thinking Plague_ and 1986's _Moonsongs_, remastered them completely and done some snipping to a few admittedly effusive sections in order to fit it all on one CD (any editing here is unfortunate but a fair tradeoff). Thanks to Drake, these albums sound great.
Thinking Plague, to most people, is abrasive, scary, and unmeleodic. I've heard the "nails on a chalkboard" description thrown around a lot. This is mainly attributable to their penchant for atonality, which is a common feature in their music along with long, complex songs and convoluted metrical changes. Personally I find Thinking Plague extremely melodic, catchy, energetic, and fun to listen to. Songs like "Warheads" -- an ominous composition with harsh, stark drums, mantra-like vocals, and angular, dissonant melodies (the final dirge is one of the most apocalyptic of things) -- and "Etude for Combo" -- an instrumental that was recorded live in the studio, and it like King Crimson possessed by evil spirits -- are definitive Plague songs. The two 15-minute epics, "Moonsongs" and "Thorns of Blue and Red / the War", are outstanding, multisectioned journeys through the dark, haggard forests around a sunny, happy prog town, full of great parts, especially the huge percussion jams in "Moonsongs". Actually one of my favorite parts in any Thinking Plague song is in "Moonsongs": the killer section where they play fast, repetitive melodic fragments of Susanne Lewis' sampled voice (it's MIND-WARPING), all the while the heavy bass and drums crash and pound with growing intensity. The lyrics of "Thorns of Blue..." are rather disturbing, as they were taken from a poetry book in the garbage behind a hospice. They have a very dark, imminent feel that goes well with TP's music. HOI. "How to Clean Squid" is insane discourse on, well, how to clean squid (lyrics taken from a cookbook), with a heavy rhythmic pulse and wacky vocals from Sharon Bradford. "Four Men in the Rain" sounds like a drunken string quartet on a submarine and "Collarless Fog that one day soon" is a strange, minimalist piece.
There is a close relationship between Thinking Plague, the 5uu's, and U Totem in both the members involved and the compositional traits of each. Each band is amazing and important, proving that American RIO-school bands are doing teh prog thing better than anyone right now. Explore all these artists and prepare to have your world expanded a thousandfold. If you're looking for a good place to dive right into these murky waters, _Early Plague Years_ is hard to beat. You'd have to be primordial ooze to not think this is brilliant.Official site
1. Warheads (8:03)
2. Etude for Combo (6:59)
3. Collarless Fog that one day soon (3:20)
4. Inside Out (4:12)
5. Moonsongs (original '86 Mix) (15:23)
"...A Thinking Plague": 39:49
6. I Do Not Live (5:02)
7. Possessed (8:17)
8. How to Clean Squid (5:01)
9. a light is on and name the world (1:28)
10. The Taste that Lingers On (2:06)
11. For Men in the Rain (2:29)
12. Thorns of Blue and Red / the War (15:26)
Total Time: 77:46
- Bob Drake / bass guitar, drums percussion, keyboards, voice
- Mark Fuller / drums, timbales, simmons drums
- Eric Moon / keyboards
- Mike Johnson / guitars, drums, percussion voice
- Susanne Lewis / voice
- Mark McCoin / drums, percussion, voice, cheap sampler
- Fred Hess / alto sax
- Glenn Nita / soprano sax
"...A Thinling Plague":
- Sharon Bradford / voice, casio mini synth, "drake noise box"
- Bob Drake / bass guitar, drums percussion, guitar, keyboards, voice
- Harry Fleishman / piano, organ,voice
- Mark Fuller / drums, simmons drums
- Mike Johnson / guitars, synths, piano, voice
- Mark Bradford / voice
Links in comments. Enjoy!
Friday, June 8, 2007
Having recently been converted and classified as a bonified Area fanatic, I find myself pulling this one out of my collection daily. Maledetti holds all of the elements that make Area such a hair raising listening experience, while exploring new territory foreign to the Area camp. Most of the information on Area comprises their releases up to this one and stops short of really describing this torrent wave of musical experimentation called Maledetti. All of the Area elements are intact; from the Mediterranean sonic fusion, rhythmic assaults that leave one breathless, to newer elements of African rhythmic percussion via Paul Lytton, classical jazz elements courtesy of Steve Lacy, and a classical music overture with the aid of a string quartet, making Maledetti a monster in the Area catalog.
Along with Ares Tavolazzi on bass and keyboard genus Patrizio Fariselli, Demetrios Stratos has never sounded better with his vocal intonations. Starting off with "Evaporazione" we hear Stratos running back and forth spouting some Italian nonsense which ends abruptly with him screaming "Ladies and Gentlemen", leading to "Diforisum Urbans": a glorious glide of rhythmic keyboard mayhem that breaks with a keyboard run halfway through and Stratos vocalizing like never before. "Gerontocrazia" contains one of Stratos's most incredible vocal workouts. If I had to pick one track that was most representative of Demetrios's style of singing this would be it, minus the yodeling inflections. "Scum" is one of those tracks that will have you reaching out and pulling your old Monk and Bud Powell recordings and dust them off for a second listen.
Side two: enter the string quartet with a Bach concerto, magnificent in it's own right, and into "Giro, Giro, Tondo". Damn this is incredible from Stratos! So full of emotion and energy, many vocalist could take lessons from listening to this! Patrizio Fariselli shines like the brightest beacon in a dark harbor with his keyboard work which makes this one my all time favorite Area tracks. And ending Maledetti is "Caos", a workout of structures of insanity guided by no one. What would an Area work be without "CHAOS REPRESENTED in the final inflection of an out and out masterpiece from one of the most innovative and exciting groups to have ever graced these shores and ears. They don't make em like this anymore!!
Mark Gaines [July 2002]
1. Evaporazione (1:45)
2. Diforisma urbano (6:18)
3. Gerontocrazia (7:30)
4. Scum (6:30)
5. Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore (2:20)
6. Giro, giro, tondo (5:55)
7. Caos (parte seconda) (9:00)
8. Intervista a Stratos, Tofani, Fariselli (2:07)
9. L'Internazionale (5:58)
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums, percussion
- Patrizio Fariselli / piano, electric piano, bass clarinett, synthesizer, percussion
- Ares Tavolazzi / electric & acoustic bass, trombone
- Paolo Tofani / guitar, synthesizer, flute, tcherepnin
- Demetrio Stratos / vocal, organ, cembalo, steel drum, percussion
- Eugenio Colombo / kazumba
- Hugh Bullen / bass
- Walter Calloni / drums
- Steve Lacy / soprano sax
- Anton Arze & Jose Arze / txalaparta
- Paul Lytton / percussion
- Paolo Salvi / cello
- Giorgio Garulli / contrabass
Links in comments. Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Heavy Zappa sound on a couple of the songs especially on the humorous romp that is the first song "Um Tut Strut". The music on the album is a mix bag from avant-garde, progressive rock, jazz, expirimental and electronica though it is somewhat accessible. The lyrics can be goofy to serious. Mostly featured is the lead guitar work of Tony Hall and he is very good and plays much like Zappa. The best songs on the album (IMO) are the first 3. "No Raven Tonight" has the most cohesive progressive rock feel with tempo changes and has the best drumming of the album. "Perseids" is a very well played song as is a departure from the rest of the album in the sense that it is the only mellow song. Mellow does not mean boring however as this is one of the most beautiful songs with nice acoustic guitar playing and dreamlike keys. The song is 14 minutes long and never dull. The last 3 songs are a mixed bag and I didn't really get into them as much as the first 3, however parts of the songs are very good especially in "Black Day / White Light" which has some nice progressive drumming, guitar and bass work. The last song, "Pioneers Over C", which is a cover of a Van Der Graaf Generator song, is not my style. The song has no melody or rhythm to it. it's just instruments playing by themselves never really going anywhere. I am not a big fan of VDGG so maybe if you like them, this song will be a highlight. Overall, a good album but just not catchy enough for me mostly on the second half of the album.
1. "UM-TUT-SUT" - takes some getting used to due to the humorous start of the song musically but is a great Zappa-like song with the last 5 minutes being very impressive with great guitar work. (8:57)
2. "No Raven Tonight" (9:00)
3. "Perseids" (14:12)
dalt99 (David C.)
1. Um Tut Sut (Sary) (8:57)
2. No Raven Tonight (Sary/Fowler/Mullen) (9:08)
3. Perseids (Hall) (14:14)
C. Reign of Ice
4. Black Day, White Light (Hall) (9:36)
5. The Souls of The Damned Live In Failed Works (Sary) (9:26)
6. Pioneers Over 'C' (Hammill/Jackson) (15:47)
7. (Hidden Track) (3:50)
- Mike Sary / bass, Chapman stick
- Tony Hall / guitars, vocals
- Bob Douglas / drums, vocals
- John Robinson / keyboards
- Gregory Acker / sax, flute, Whistle
- Peter Rhee / violin
- Gary Hicks / trumpet
CAUTION: not dancing to this recording may greatly increase your longevity.
Links in comments. Enjoy!