Monday, July 30, 2007

5uu's - Hunger's Teeth (1994) Avant-Prog (320 kbps)

5uu's - уникальная американская группа, проект барабанщика Дэйва Кермана (он также создал вместе с Джеймсом Григсби группу U Totem, принимал участие в деятельности Thinking Plague). Весьма непростая, но совершенно замечательная музыка, рекомендую.

Что пишут

Probably the most accessible and instantly likeable of 5uu's albums, but you still have to have a fondness for the avant side of prog to enjoy it. I bought my copy used from a prog fan who didn't like it, so it's not for everybody. Personally, I love the album, so his loss was my gain.

To give some idea of the popularity of this album among the avant crowd, when Thinking Plague played ProgDay in '99 (with Dave Kerman on drums), someone in the audience called out a request for "Well...Not Chickenshit". Plague bandleader Mike Johnson replied by a riff from the song on his guitar. "Well...", the opening song on Hunger's Teeth, is a classic, with catchy (if somewhat angular) music and lyrics about condescending things a boss might be heard to say at a 9 to 5 job. According to Kerman, the title was found when keyboardist Sanjay Kumar accused him of being chickenshit (heh, Word's spell-checker wants to change that to "chickens hit") for not attributing the quotes to the actual people who had said them.

The lyrics to "Roan" really hit me, because it expresses something that I have experienced several times, and thought it was just me being paranoid. It's specifically about the dangers of living in California, and wondering if the various disasters that occur there will damage your home. We don't have many earthquakes or riots here in semi-rural Pennsylvania, but I have been on my way home a few times, saw smoke on the horizon and started worrying.

"Mangate" is a minimalist, tape-manipulation piece created by Thomas DiMuzio. It has such a hypnotic effect, that I once missed my exit on the highway because that track had lulled me into a semi-trance. Very neat.

Those first three tracks are my favorite part of the album, but it continues to maintain its high quality throughout. The ground it covers ranges from a barbershop quartet singing about barbers to philosophy about a bachelor fumbling his way through mending his own clothes. Plus there's a running theme throughout the album that has to do with horses - the one pictured on the cover, the track title "Roan" (which starts with galloping hoof beats), the rocker "Glue" ("in time, sugar and horses will both become glue") that starts with the trumpet call that begins horse races, etc. Even the album title is apparently meant to be the name of a famous race horse. The more I listen to this disc, the more layers and tie-ins to various themes I find.

This is definitely a highly recommended album, if you're a fan at all of prog's more experimental edges. For those looking to get their first 5uu's album, this would be a good place to start (if you can find it).

review by Bob Eichler — 4-16-03

О диске

Track listing:

1. Well... Not Chickenshit (6:35)
2. Roan (3:03)
3. Mangate (2:55)
4. Geronimo (4:51)
5. Glue (2:41)
6. Opportunity Bangs (5:18)
7. The Shears (1:25)
8. Bachelor Needle (2:16)
9. Truth, Justice, and the American Way (5:35)
10. Equus (5:06)
11. Traveler Waits for No One (3:27)

Total Time: 43:52


- Sanjay Kumar / keyboards
- David Kerman /drums, guitars, keyboards
- Bob Drake / vocals, basses, guitars, violins
- Thomas Dimuzio / electronics
- Susanne Lewis / vocals
- James Grigsby / guitar, vibes, bass
- Michelle Bos / utensils, penny fountain, skydiving ocarinas, metal tables, creaks, blue rocks

Links in comments. Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Far Corner - Endangered (2007) Avant-Prog/Chamber Rock/Progressive (320 kbps)

Недавняя и последняя на сегодня работа инструментального американского камерного/рок-квартета из Милуоки (Висконсин). Очень интересный и разнообразный мрачный камерный рок в духе Univers Zero с виолончелью вместо гитары, можно услышать также влияние ELP и King Crimson. Ну и классических композиторов 20-го века. Басист группы - тот самый Вильям Копекки. Рекомендую.

Что пишут

Despite efforts to change its reputation in recent years, Milwaukee, Wisconsin still seems like an odd place to find a forward-thinking group that puts the “progressive” in progressive rock. Far Corner’s self-titled 2004 debut demonstrated that the most wondrous music can come from the most unlikely of places, and Endangered takes things a step further. Fans of Univers Zero (whose 2006 Cunieform release Live found its way onto many progressive top 10 lists for the year) will find much to like about Endangered although Far Corner can, at times, demonstrate a far more aggressive rock stance than the longstanding Belgian Rock-in-Opposition group.

The focus of this oddly configured group (keyboards, bass, drums, cello) remains dark-hued and, at times, ominous composition that references 20th Century classical music and ‘70s progressive groups including King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer in equal parts. The group’s first album consisted entirely of material by keyboardist Dan Maske, but Endangered’s title track takes an innovative and creative approach to collective composition. Much like a story round, where one person begins a tale and passes it on to the next person to enhance, augment and further develop, this twenty-minute piece evolves as each member of the quartet takes what came before and moves it forward.

The base textures of the group remain the same. Maske’s emphasis is on organ first, piano second and synthesizers a distant third. Cellist Angela Schmidt demonstrates the ability to be lyrical and delicate one moment, harsh and metallic the next as she adds distortion to her instrument. Uber-bassist William Kopecky assumes the dual role of rhythm section anchor and contrapuntal melodist, while drummer Craig Walkner is equally pluralistic as assertive propeller and textural colorist. Here, however, the group expands its sonic palette, with Maske adding trumpet and melodica to the mix alongside Kopecky’s spring drum and Schmidt’s violin and bamboo flute.

Improvisation also remains a fundamental component, despite Far Corner’s largely composed repertoire. It may alternate between regular and irregular meters, but the acoustic-driven “Not From Around Here” actually swings, featuring a lithe and passionate solo from guest violinist Jerry Loughney and an equally impressive turn by Kopecky. “Claws,” on the other hand, feels more like collective free improv despite Maske's compositional credit.

As undeniably talented Far Corner is, it remains clearly committed to the demands of the music, with none of the showboating or excessive self-indulgence that sometimes gives progressive rock a bad name. Endangered is an even better record than Far Corner by a group that is becoming more comfortable, cohesive and experimental while losing none of its edgy appeal.

By John Kelman, March 23, 2007

Official site
Visit Far Corner on

О диске

Track listing:

1. Inhuman (3:47)
2. Do You Think I'm Spooky? (6:41)
3. Creature Council (10:17)
4. Claws (5:14)
5. Not From Around Here (8:57)
6. Endangered (19:50)

Total Time: 54:46


William Kopecky - fretted and fretless basses & spring drum
Dan Maske - keyboards, trumpet, melodica & additional percussion
Angela Schmidt - acoustic and electric cellos, violin & bamboo flute
Craig Walkner - drumset

Special guest: Jerry Loughney - violin solo on "Not From Around Here"

Music composed by Dan Maske.
"Endangered" composed by Far Corner.

Links in comments. Enjoy!