Monday, September 24, 2007
Present’s first full fledged studio album since their (so welcomed back) return to the Belgian scene is a rather superb, if slightly surprising one. Original members Roger Trigaux, Daniel Denis (both also UZ members) and Alain Rochette return with long-time compadre Guy Segers on bass and Roger’s son Reginald on guitars. This is as far as I am concerned their second-best line-up after the one of the early 80’s. Daniel denis will not be around for that long since he will reform Univers Zero again and Present will find first Pierre Narcisse (ex Daniell Schell And Karo) than settle on a more permanent basis on US citizen Dave Kerman.
If I was suggesting this album is slightly surprising, it is because of the prominence of the vocals as three of the four tracks have singing: while signing may be a bit an approximations for Present’s vocals here, we can talk more of chants or almost black-mass incantations – and not always very good, one must admit. Nothing evil or Satanist, I assure you, just simply dark, sombre and gloomy lyrics, fitting quite well the music. Because for the rest Present is back in fine form and this is certainly quite a worthy follow-up to the Poison album. Delusions will become a favourite in concert, with its never-ending piano riff repetition somehow bringing that minimalism that Present is always slightly hinting at, but here coming out in the open, but the last four minutes is a constant and awesome construction shifting constantly between odd time sigs and great soloing. May Day (in the help sense) is also another concert classic, but I must say that it strikes a bit of a miss to me. Nevertheless, this is yet another typical lenghty track of theirs. Much better IMHO, is the Sense Of Life, which have much better vocals and changing rhythm patterns and slight free jazz improvs. If you are aware of Magma’s works, you will see that Present as definite touches of Zeuhl music in them. Present was always a very rhythmic group and Roger Trigaux’s constant switches from guitars to piano, this allows Rochette use a few keyboards extra including a rare mellotron, sparely used but to great effects. The last track is a self-not-so-explanatory and Rochette-penned Ex-Tango, which is another small gem.
Funnily enough (and this will be the case in future albums), even with the extended space of the Cd compared with the vinyl, Present chose to keep this album around the 40 min mark (around the same as in their vinyls), which given the sombre nature of their music is quite a reasonable and mature decision. Much recommended and sufficiently close to their early albums to be a good intro to their strange oeuvre.
Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)
1. Delusions (14:48)
2. May Day (10:00)
3. The Sense Of Life (11:08)
4. Ex-Tango (3:46)
Total Time: 39:42
Roger Trigaux - guitar, keyboards and vocals
Reginald Trigaux - guitar and vocals
Alain Rochette - piano and keyboards
Guy Segers - bass
Daniel Denis - drums, percussion and vocals
All compositions by Roger Trigaux except "Ex-Tango" by Alain Rochette
Lyrics for "Delusions" by Roger Trigaux and Luc Govers, "May Day" by Roger and Reginald Trigaux and "The Sense Of Life" by Roger Trigaux
Cuneiform Records #Rune 107
Links in comments. Enjoy!
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are, in a word, unique. Their music is a unique blend of styles and textures that, in the end, sound unlike anything else. They straddle the lines between prog and "serious" music, without losing the fire and drive of rock.
One of the things that makes the band stand out from the crowd is their lack of the traditional bass and drum rhythm section. To be sure, the use of auxilliary percusionists, loops, and drum programming gives their music plenty of rhythmic oomph, but the ability to shed those instruments allows them to explore other textures. Most tracks use synths and grand piano as a base, with intricate guitar, keyboard and reed work over top. The title track is a perfect example of this, as the driving piano and drum loops keep things moving while guitar and sax bound on top. "Ptoccata II", on the other hand, is more laid back and atmospheric.
The various sources for the tracks adds to their diversity. "Birdhead" is a collaboration with percussionists Drumhead, with Erik Lindgren composing the song around the Drumhead track "Autobody." "Music Inspired by 1001 Real Apes" was a collaboration with David Greenberger, creator of The Duplex Planet, and was originally a 65-minute work. "One Hundred Cycles" began life as a piece written by Ken Field while he was composer-in-residence at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
Petrophonics is an amazing collection of intricate, intenense and nearly indescribable instrumental music. If you're generally not a fan of that kind of thing, don't let the band's unique lineup or presence on Cuneiform scare you away. This is not music that is abstract for the sake of being abstract. It's always well composed and arranged, which leads to it being memorable, even if it's not in a toe-tapping melodies-stick-in-your-head kind of way. Highly recomended.
Jon Byrne, Ground and Sky
1. Petrophonics (6:13)
2. Ptoccata II (5:13)
3. One Hundred Cycles (5:20)
4. Nevergreen (7:30)
5. Study Of Unintended Consequences (4:22)
6. Birdhead (3:57)
7. Allswell That Endswell In Roswell (6:50)
Music Inspired By 1001 Real Apes:
8. Time Marches On Theme (3:15)
9. Dinosaurs Theme (3:31)
10. Gravity Theme (6:29)
11. Quincy Sore Throat Theme (3:55)
The Insidious Revenge Of Ultima Thule:
12. Part One (2:28)
13. Part Two (3:26)
14. Part Three (3:23)
- Michael Bierylo / guitar, programming, sound design
- Ken Field / Alto & Soprano saxophones, flutes, percussion
- Erik Lindgren / acoustic Grand piano
- Rick Scott / synthesizer, sound design and piano (Study Of Unintended Consequences)
Links in comments. Enjoy!
For the humor impaired and whimsically challenged, the relentless barrage of berserk good cheer Samla Mammas Manna unleash is a recipe for a migraine. Mining a vein of indigenous Swedish folk influence and undermining it with ingenious infusions of dadaist detournment, the maniacally merry machinations of these Swedish avant-prog maestros is an admittedly acquired taste but one well worth acclimating yourself to. Though two albums were issued under the moniker Zamla Mammaz Manna in the late 70s, this is the first statement from the original quartet since 1976's Snorungarnas Symfoni. Remarkably, time has not altered their capacity for radicalism a whit.
Effortlessly negotiating impossibly tricky unison lines with clockwork precision and impish glee, a track like the ferocious, fractured "Frestelsen's Café", with its whirling marimbas and flailing guitar paroxysms will leave even skeptics slack jawed and starry eyed. Evenly slotted between these densely composed bits are some completely out-to-lunch improvisations that find our heroes looning and gibbering like escapees from a muppet asylum while a befuddled narrator gamely attempts to come to grips with what he's witnessing. Welcome back friends. Its been too long.
1. Stämma lite (0:29)
2. Lyckliga Titanic (5:12)
3. Oh sa masalana jämfört med Ålman River (2:03)
4. Första Ikarien (6:39)
5. Reptilgärna (2:16)
6. Satori (3:28)
7. Vegetariskt impro, svar direkt (2:38)
8. Frestelsens café (8:14)
9. Tung krupa tejpraga tra la la (2:36)
10. Andra Ikarien (3:33)
11. Även oss får tiden åldras Spasmodskij Engelbert Humperdnick Blues (5:12)
12. Hatman (2:28)
13. Tredje Ikarien (5:30)
14. 00 (0:19)
Total Time: 50:37
Coste Apetrea - gitar, bouzouki, veena, voice
Hasse Bruniusson - drums, percussion, marimba, voice
Lars Hollmer - keyboards, accordion, melodica, voice
Lars Krantz - bass, voice