Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dasputnik, Finland


News: The band are still active and have released their 3rd album in 2016 entitled Psykhixplosion. It appears to be LP only, which isn't ideal. I don't own it yet. The wording on the Facebook page indicates this is their final album, but it could just be lost in translation (words like "our end" and "3rd and last" could mean "our last album" and "3rd and latest" in context). Though the website is kaput, there have been a couple of recent posts on Facebook.


Location: Turku

Overview: Dasputnik are an energetic and tight Ozric Tentacles styled space rock band, with furious guitar leads, synthesizers, a crack rhythm section and melodic sax.  Up there with other great Finnish bands like Hidria Spacefolk and Taipuva Luotisuora.

Reviews (click on album covers):


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Djam Karet, USA


News: According to the band's Facebook posting: "Djam Karet's 18th album will be called: Sonic Celluloid. I just sent it off to the factory for pressing.  It's our most melodic album yet, with more acoustic instruments, and more Mellotron & Moog, then any of our previous 17 albums! Due for release in late January - early February 2017." This has now been confirmed for January 27.


Location: Los Angeles area, California

Overview: When Djam Karet first popped onto the scene, they were a breath of fresh air. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was doing improvisational space rock jams in 1985. Especially here in the States. By the time of Reflections from the Firepool (1989), the band were firing on all cylinders, leading the pack in instrumental space rock, recalling the greats like Amon Duul II. But then they lost their way, unsure of their own identity. The 2 separate CD experiment of Burning the Hard City and Suspension and Displacement demonstrated cracks in the foundation - a band torn between progressive rock and electronic. They were met with mixed reviews at the time. Their slight at the first ProgFest seemed to unwind the band further, including personnel shifts, until regaining their feet again with the brilliant The Devouring (1997). Since that time, Djam Karet have released reliably great instrumental prog/space rock. I do feel that Djam Karet are taken for granted, and are too often an afterthought when discussing great prog bands from the USA. Currently I own 13 of their albums, and likely to be 14 based on the news. And yet, I haven't managed one decent review for them (just a couple of scribblings). I need to change that.

Reviews (none yet)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Aquaserge, France


News: Aquaserge's new album has been set for February 3rd, and is titled Laisse ça être. Album cover posted here.


Location: Toulouse

Overview: Very interesting band that recalls the exploratory spirit of the French late 70s and early 80s culture. A mixture of avant prog, Canterbury, space rock, and sundry other sounds is what you'll hear with Aquaserge.

Reviews (click on album covers)


Accordo dei Contrari, Italy


News: Accordo dei Contrari's 4th album will be titled Violata Intatto. According to their Facebook page: "An official date is not there yet. Certainly in the first half of 2017".

Location: Bologna

Overview: Accordo dei Contrari successfully blend retro styled Italian prog with a mid 70s jazz rock mindset. An exciting band with an impressive run of albums and multiple live shows.

Reviews (click on album covers)



French TV, USA


News: According to a post on Prog Ears, band leader Mike Sary states a new album is in the works. That would be a very quick turnaround, as French TV have really slowed down their release schedule. I'd like to see the band get back to being more melodic, and less angular myself. No matter what they do at this point, their historic legacy is set, and they deserve the high praise and respect they have earned.


Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Overview:  French TV are a long running group from Louisville, Kentucky. They started more in fusion realms, with a slight Canterbury edge. Over the years, they added more grit and complexity, and certainly are a key contributor to what is now know as the Avant Prog genre. They always had a great sense of humor, and definitely their politics ran left of center, as to be expected for a group such as this. But since they were primarily a instrumental group, it only comes out in their commentary accompanying each release, and honestly is quite fun to read. Not sure why all the online discographies have Virtue in Futility as from 1994, as I remember distinctly Craig playing it on the radio here in Dallas, and that would have likely been 1992 (the date Gnosis has). It is also the one of two I currently do not own (the live Yoo-Hoo being the other), as I sold it off years ago, but probably should pick it up again. French TV are certainly one of the best American progressive rock bands of the last 30 years. Over time, I hope to fill in notes/reviews for all of these.

Reviews (click on album covers)



Goat, Sweden


News:


Location: Gothenburg

Overview: Goat are a band that mixes ancient mystic rituals and Swedish folklore, combined with a 1970s exploratory jazz rock sound. The best way I can describe them is like a mid 1970s Embryo, Archimedes Badkar, and Kebnekaise all mashed up and distilled for the modern age. The fact that Goat have achieved commercial success with such a sound is even more remarkable. Amazing to find a band like this on one of the top indie American labels like Sub Pop. Because of that, it's tempting to tag the band with the derogatory hipster designation, but it's entirely unfair. We're 3 albums in, and every one of them is great. I need to get some reviews out.

Reviews (none yet)

Korai Orom, Hungary



News:

Location: Budapest

Overview: Korai Orom (or properly Korai Öröm), are an important group who successfully mix the UK Festival Psych sound (Ozric Tentacles et al) with more modern electronics, often times bordering various dance styles, but stopping short at the right moment. They are a prolific group, and all of their albums are worthy of your time. I say that without having purchased their latest 2013, something I plan on rectifying this year. Korai Orom are very active on the live front, and are now going into their 27th year. A definite A-lister.

Reviews (click on album covers)


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Radio Massacre International, England


News: According to the Wayside weekly flyer, we can expect a new proper Radio Massacre International album. No dates have been announced. It's been many years since RMI has released a regular album, they seemingly intent on releasing various in-the-moment type works. They've been absent for so long, they've actually fallen out of my A-list grouping. Hopefully this ushers in a new era of creativity for the band.


Overview: England based Radio Massacre International has to be considered the premiere Berlin School electronic band from the modern era, going back to the mid 1990s. Over time, they incorporated more psychedelic and space rock to the mix, making them even more exciting. They have over 15 proper albums and if you consider CD-R's, downloads, uploads, DVD's, solo albums, Bandcamp releases, childhood cassette recordings, reel to reels, etc... then they have precisely a gazillion releases (yes, I counted). It appears Radio Massacre International are trying to out Klaus Schulze ...Klaus Schulze. As it turns out, I own all the official RMI releases excepting Zabriskie Point (which I sold) and City 21 of which I haven't heard at all.

Reviews (click on each album cover)





Saturday, December 31, 2016

Under the Radar changes for 2017

As stated on my flagship blog Unencumbered Music Reviews, changes are afoot on my remaining 2 blogs. In effect, Under the Radar is now out of the review business. All of the existing reviews will eventually be moved over to UMR. It will take some time, and it won't be a dedicated project, so this blog will be a hodgepodge for a long while I suspect. I was miles behind on getting the contemporary reviews up (1990's and on), and rather than force a band page because a review existed, I have given up on that quest.

What this does do, however, is free this blog up for something that I've wanted to do for some years. Basically a gathering place for active - or potentially active - contemporary progressive rock bands and their activities. My coveted "A-List" as it were. So each band page will have an overview, along with the latest album news, as I hear about it (or you all alert me!). As news evolves, I will just simply move the band page to the top to highlight that news. This will replace the need for a monthly Roundup post, and it will also allow me to get band pages up much quicker, and not worry about reviews and discographies, which is what slowed this blog down to a crawl. Bands that are no longer active, and have no active internet presence (many of the bands we featured from the 90s for example), will simply be removed, and added to the UMR site. So you will see some pages go away while new ones get added at a quicker clip.

In addition, when I do add new reviews to UMR, I will also move the band page forward. To see the review, simply click the album cover and it will take you there. I'm still messing around with the design of the new band pages, but it must be simple, or I'll be back to taking forever to get anything done.

Look for some new band pages to go up first thing in 2017, and then like UMR, it really just depends on when I have some free time.

Oh, and one design note. Since links are an important part of UTR, I have tweaked the HTML code so that a new window always opens when you click on a link. I think that's easier than using the back button, and it allows you to open Facebook, a webpage  and some samples without having to open them up manually.

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 2016 roundup

I fear these updates are going to be less and less informative as we go. I've listened to a whopping 17 albums since November 26. Some old, some new. This is my new life, and it comes as absolutely no surprise. Next year will only be worse when it comes to free time (And hello to Brazil, Peru, and Chile!). I'll try to update with new album announcements or anything else of interest. I also have a few band pages to put up. I'll just keep plugging along, even if I do end up going silent for long stretches of time.

The Christmas and New Year season is upon us. I'm taking half-day today, which is my first chance to breathe since the Thanksgiving weekend. I've also insisted on taking Saturday's off (haha, yes it's down to that). Next week promises to be quiet, so this will be my chance to catch up here and on UMR. After that, maybe I see you on Saturday and an occasional Sunday? I hope so anyway. Still planning on a Purple Peak Records sale as well sometime in late winter.

The only significant announcement since last month is there will be a new Aquaserge album entitled Laisse ça être. Release date is scheduled for February 2017.

As far as listening goes, I really enjoyed the new Goat Requiem album. I'll probably get a band page up, though for some reason I can never seem to write much about them. My sparse notes for Requiem state: Mid 1970s Embryo, Archimedes Badkar, and Kebnekaise all mashed up and distilled for the modern age. I dig it. Immensely so.

Sammal's debut proved to be excellent as well, just as good as the one we reported on. I'll be updating that page soon with my new notes.

Messenger's Illusory Blues is good, and I really enjoyed the instrumental bits. The vocal style however is way too close to the alternative/indie standard which rubs me the wrong way. Not sure where I stand with these guys yet. Might try their followup anyway.

The new Eye album is excellent. No surprise there, and the band are really improving their songwriting skills to go with their already strong improvisational abilities.

I also picked up the Agusa live album. I rarely go for live albums, but this promised to be improvisational in nature, and that proved to be true. It's basically an all new album, like they used to do it in the early 70s. Really a splendid release, and the CD from Greece (Sound Effects) truly did fly under the radar. Don't miss this one if you like that vintage 1972 jam style.

Moogg's new album Italian Luxury Style was also quite welcome. Still very much in the Canterbury vein with some twists. Maybe not as good  as the debut, but close. I need to get another solid listen and put some decent notes to add to the existing band page.

Ingranaggi della Valle's new one is also very good, though a step down from the awesome debut. The English vocals are not a good addition, and their execution veers too close to what Messenger above is doing. They need to ditch this idea quick. I find it hard to believe for a band whose stock in trade is classic Italian progressive rock, a necessity to sing in English and in a manner not fit for the style. Anyway, I'm talking about a very good album here, and the vocals are fortunately sparse. In any case, this is another album I need to get quality notes down for to add to the existing band page.

And well, that's it for UTR this month. See what I mean? With any luck at all, I'll get some band pages up this week as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

November 2016 Roundup

And we arrive in late November. We'll jump quickly to the personal situation, and then wrap-up. Fortunately I did secure a position at the beginning of the month, as indicated last month. It's a global director role, which requires extensive travel - not only internationally but also to Baltimore, where the company is based. It's a huge responsibility that I've taken on, which is exactly what I strove for. As such, I need to "put the toys away" for awhile. Free time now comes at a premium. I was fortunate to start near the Thanksgiving holiday, which is allowing me to close out a few things in the interim. We also have the Christmas season around the corner, and that should allow me a bit more time to play around. But otherwise, I'll need to go silent for a bit. None of this stops me from collecting and listening (much abbreviated perhaps), but the more "time consuming" projects will need to be put on ice for now. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a note to the Purple Peak Records d-list delaying the sale into early next year. The sale is completely built and ready to go. I just need a free non-holiday weekend to host it.

A few quick updates, minus hyperlinks, and off I go. I plan on being back in December with a similar quick update.

I also hope to get a few more postings up on here during the weekends, as well as on UMR.

----New albums of interest to be released soon

3rd Ear Experience - Stones of a Feather (USA). Nov 21. UTR A-List band. Excellent space rock band that I've yet to feature.

Accordo dei Contrari - Violato Intatto (Italy). UTR A-List band.

Dungen - Haxan (Sweden). Nov 25. UTR A-List band.

Gosta Berlings Saga - Sersophane (Sweden). Dec 16. UTR A-List band.

Pocket Size (Stockholm) - Vemood (Sweden). Dec 1 (LP only). UTR A-List band.

Shaman Elephant - Crystals (Norway). Dec 9. Don't know this band but the description reads very well, so I'll probably buy it sound unheard.

Universal Totem Orchestra - Mathematical Mother (Italy). Dec 17. UTR A-List band.

----UTR A-List band albums that are here (or on the way) but haven't heard yet

Corima - Amaterasu (USA) I'm very excited about this one!

Corsair - One Eyed Horse (USA) A really cool proggy hard rock band from Virginia. I haven't featured them yet, but hope to eventually. Another one of those great Shadow Kingdom bands that are flying way too far under the radar. I'm way behind myself.

Elephant9 - Silver Mountain (Norway)

Eye - Vision and Ageless Light (USA)

Goat - Requiem (Sweden)

Humus - Whispering Galleries (Mexico) This is from 1999, and was released on LP only (in Italy), but I finally secured one. I have a rip on CD-R, so I guess technically I've heard it.

Iron Maiden - Book of Souls (England) Haha - well, I never got around to buying it until now.

Patchwork Cacophony - Fire of Cups (England) Ben Bell's latest work promises to be great!

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre (England)

Sammal - s/t (Finland) This is the debut album. We've already featured the second.

Sun Dial - Mind Control (England) First released on LP in 2012, now on CD via Sireena of Austria.

Syd Arthur - Apricity (England) The reviews have been middling to great, but I have hope.

Vespero - Lique Mekwas (Russia) I have a large posting ready to go for this incredibly great band. But I've been waiting to hear this new one... forever it seems.

Wolf People - Ruins (England) Another one I'm very excited about based on the early reviews.

various artists - Trip Wave 2 (Russia) From Trail Records. The first comp was awesome. Cannot wait to hear what else they came up with.

----Hopeful UTR A-List band albums that are here (or on the way) but haven't heard yet

These are bands I've never heard before, but the descriptions read most promising.

Avatarium - The Girl With the Raven Mask (Sweden) I'm a big Candlemass fan, and this seems to point to our progressive world mixed in. Hoping for great things here.

Bocca Della Verita - Avenoth (Italy)

Experimental Q2 - Reflux (Romania) 2014 album from the superb 70s band once known as Experimental Quintet. I've been completely negligent in reviewing this one. (Update: Turns out this album is an archival release from 1978. Nevermind! It's quite good though).

Cary Grace - Tygerland (England) One of the primary reasons why I stopped taking promos. I discovered this in a pile a year after she sent it. I'm very sorry Cary! I owe you big time.

Messenger - Illusory Blues (England)

Promenade - Noi Al Dir Di Noi (Italy) 

Zhaoze - Intoxicatingly Lost (China) Well, I called it didn't I? China is the next big thing in progressive rock. Another promo that I've been entirely negligent about. Sorry Alex!

----UTR A-List band albums that I've heard recently but with no notes to speak of

Fates Warning - Theories of Flight (USA) Fantastic new album from the band that pretty much invented prog metal, before the term became bastardized.

Legend - The Dark Place (England) This album was released in 2013, but wanted to call it out anyway. They really snuck this one in didn't they? This is the Legend from Jersey, perhaps the greatest of the original NWOBHM bands. And this new one is just as great. Don't miss it.

Manilla Road - The Blessed Curse (USA) One of my all-time favorite metal bands. Love that epic style. I first bought Crystal Logic in 1983 (still have that LP copy) and every album since and before. Mark Shelton continues on wonderfully with his unique vision. I really need to get a page up for them.

Synaptik - The Mechanisms of Consequence (England) Incredible tech thrash formed from the ashes of the equally great and obscure Inner Sanctum. Alan Tecchio (Watchtower) guests on vocals.

Tusmorke - Fort Bak Lyset (Norway). 3rd album and a nice return to form. And I like that they exploited their "Norwegianness" this time. I hope to update their entry here eventually.

----UTR albums that I still need to purchase as if I actually have time to hear them...

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Coraggio e Mistero (Italy) New album with Alvaro Fella (Jumbo!) on vocals. This could be very special.

Cherry Five - Il Pozzo Dei Giganti (Italy)

Delirium - L'Era della Menzogna (Italy) One of my favorites of all the 70's Italian bands

Electric Orange - Misophonia (Germany) New one. Auto-buy

Fatal Fusion - 3 albums (Norway) Haven't heard but they come recommended

Il Fauno di Marmo - Canti, racconti e battaglie (Italy) Been out for awhile, just haven't picked it up yet

Flor de Loto - Árbol De La Vida (Peru) Hopefully they're dropping the metal (not their forte I'm afraid) and going back to the psychedelic. Wait and see.

Ingranaggi della Valle - Warm Spaced Blue (Italy) Auto-buy

Kaipa DaCapo - Dårskapens Monotoni (Sweden) I definitely want this

Korai Orom - 2013 (Hungary) I fell asleep on this band. Always reliable.

Mad Fellaz - II (Italy) I really enjoyed the debut. Need to get a page up

Marchesi Scamorza - Hypnophonia (Italy) Another band whose debut is excellent

Merry Go Round - s/t (Italy) I'm a sucker for hard rocking prog bands

Moogg - Italian Luxury Style (Italy) Auto-buy

Sun Dial - Made in the Machine (England) Just came out

Supay - Senales (Peru) Another quality A-list band I feel asleep on. This is already 3 years old!

The Winstons - s/t (Italy) Haven't heard but comes recommended

Witchwood - both albums (Italy) Haven't heard but they come recommended

Wucan - Sow the Wind (Germany) Haven't heard but comes recommended

Zanov - Open Worlds (France)

And there's way more than this that I've just tabled for now.

---

All of the above is in addition to all the great reissues, archival releases, and originals from the classic LP era that I feature on UMR. Too much stuff....

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eclat, France



Facebook

Eclat appear to still be together, but do not appear to be active.

Eclat de Vers - s/t. 1991 MSI (CD)
Eclat - Volume 2. 1992 Musea (CD); 2005 MALS (Russia CD)
Eclat - Volume 1 & Volume 2. 1996 Kezako (CD) The above two albums combined.
Eclat - Volume 3. 1997 Kezako (CD)
Eclat - En Concert (Marseille Tokyo). 1999 Musea (CD)
Eclat - Le Cri de la Terre. 2002 Musea (CD)
Eclat - Live au Roucas. 2010 Musea (CD)
Eclat - L'Esprit du Cercle. 2012 Musea (CD)

----Volume 3

Eclat, from Marseilles, were one of many French progressive rock bands to have emerged in the 90s, only to be completely forgotten in modern times. Eclat reminds me most of Minimum Vital, especially in regards to the energetic electric guitar and Medieval themed undertone. The album is primarily instrumental, and the only vocal track 'La Madeleine', is also the album's only clear misstep. A fine album worthy of investigation. Eclat appears to still be active, though I haven't heard anything past their 2002 album, which seems to be the case globally. Exposure time.

----Le Cri de la Terre

On this album, it seems the band has moved away from their Minimum Vital-ish roots, which is to say there is less of the Medieval here. But in its place is a more aggressive kick-ass style guitar rock, with some nice keyboards (though not recommended for digital-phobes). Taken this further, I'd admit that the short electronic pieces are definite minuses here. On the plus side, guitarist Alain Chiarazzo can play with the best of them, his style is very much in the French school, and the Paysson (Minimum Vital) comparison continues on.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016 Roundup

Still hanging onto these updates. Trying to keep up despite personal events swirling around me. Leaving me at times completely buried and others with nothing to do but play around with my music hobby. Crazy.


----Monthly updates on existing band pages

Managed to get a few more updates this time.

Added notes for Radio Massacre International - Solid States
Added notes for Level Pi - Electronic Sheep
Rebuilt the Jettison Slinky page with new notes throughout.


----Under the Radar bands with new albums on the way

Here are some new announcements since last month:

Dungen - Häxan. Mexican Summer. November 25. Yet another one of the more "mainstream" bands with a new release. Wow - they all came out at once!

Flor de Loto - Árbol De La Vida. Azafran Media. Looks like this was released on August 16th. I've fallen behind a bit on this band as they started down the prog metal path. I need to update the page to the new format and get some new links up there. For another day.

Moogg - Italian Luxury Style. Mellow. Finally released on CD (October 8th) after being download only for some months. Very excited about this one as I loved the debut! I need to update the page for this as well.

Patchwork Cacophony - Five of  Cups. November 7. This is Ben Bell's new band, named after his first solo album. I have this one on the way. Very excited about it!

Sun Dial - Made in the Machine. Sulatron. Released October 20. Oh my goodness, yet another more mainstream act with an album. It's a conspiracy I tell ya! I need to get a page up for these guys.

There's also a new Metallica album coming in November which I thought was interesting anyway...


----The below were announced previously. Updates are in italics and underlined. All released albums will be removed from next month's posting.

Goat - Requiem. October 7.  Released.

Nuova Era - Return to the Castle. Late October.  Released.

Syd Arthur - Apricity. October 21. Released

Unreal City - not yet titled. Spring 2017According to their Facebook page, the new date has been set for September 10, 2017 - and will be on both LP and CD.

Wolf People - Ruins. November 11.

Accordo dei Contrari - Violato Intatto. Date to be announced.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Coraggio e Mistero. On Black Widow. New album with Alvaro Fella (Jumbo!) on vocals. This could be very special. Theoretically released Oct. 20. Haven't seen it myself yet.

Corima - Amaterasu. Soleil Zeuhl.  Released / November 2nd.

Eye - Vision And The Ageless Light. Laser's Edge. November 18.

Gosta Berlings Saga - Sersophane. Not sure of label. Guessing Cuneiform. Looks like the label is Icosahedron Music. Release date is set for December 16th according to sources.

Universal Totem Orchestra - Mathematical Mother. Black Widow Records. We're now hearing of a December release.


----The A-List

(See August 2016 Roundup for full explanation of this section)

Haven't had a chance to focus on this lately, though I did add Spettri to the list.


----Personal Situation

Much shorter update. Just started the 7th week of the job search. I had one firm turn me down 2 weeks ago after being fast tracked through the process. I do have an offer (confirmed) from another firm coming tomorrow after 6 weeks of intense interviewing, and most likely a second one from another company a bit later than that - also after 6 weeks of intense interviews. So the ordeal appears to be coming to a close. If all works out, this has been a total blessing. These are big jobs, so it's going to be a very interesting next/last phase of my career.

As for Purple Peak Records, I'm still awaiting my path forward before launching the sale. It's all ready to go. I just need to ensure there's a clean weekend to have it. Still hoping for sometime this year.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Spettri, Italy

Website
Samples
Facebook

Given the age of the band, it will be curious how much more activity we'll see from them going forward. I have yet to hear the archival release, though almost all reviews state their new album is a considerable improvement.

Spettri - s/t. 2011 Black Widow (CD; LP). Archival recordings from 1974
Spettri - 2973: La Nemica dei Ricordi. 2015 Black Widow (CD; LP)

----2973: La Nemica dei Ricordi

Apparently Spettri were formed in the year of our Lord 1964. Coincidentally, that's when yours truly was born. And since I'm no spring chicken, it wouldn't be a stretch to then figure these guys are all in their early 70s. Of course, their founding was probably at age 12 with a teen beat band named The Specters. Details are scarce. But I don't want facts to get in the way of a good story, so I need the plot to stay on this 70s thing. It's a key number. As in 1973. Or, as the band suggests, 2973. Most bands that reform from the 1970s seem to have this irrational desire to be relevant in today's music culture. There's something just silly about watching old guys perform on "laptop". Spettri avoids that trap, and manages to obtain hipster status with a bonafide Italian retro prog classic (one would presume by pure happenstance). Time has stood still as the band - and yes, mostly with original members intact - has created an album that would have stood tall in 1973 much less 2015. All the hallmarks of the scene are present: Hard rocking guitar with massive breaks, crunchy organ and soothing mellotron, creative rhythms, and gravelly impassioned vocals sung in the native tongue. The compositions are complex, melodic, and memorable, perfect for repeated listens. As the gentleman of the first review notes, this really is a comeback out of nowhere. One begins to wonder about time travel and phenomena of that nature.

Spettri have created an album that needs far more attention than it's obviously received to date.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lizard, Poland

Website
Samples
Facebook

Lizard are still going strong with a new album released this year. As noted below, strangely I have not kept up with the band after the debut. This is something I may address in the near term.

Lizard - W Galerii Czasu. 1997 Ars Mundi (CD); 2003 Metal Mind (CD)

As noted in the prelude, Lizard have at least 7 more albums. In the interest of time, I'm just going to list the one I've heard and will update this post as I go.

----W Galerii Czasu

Lizard's debut is an unusual effort coming from the late 90s. Most of Poland's progressive rock scene were following along in the footsteps of Collage, and performing UK styled neo-prog. And there is definitely some of that sound present here, but there's also a bit of heaviness (not metal), perhaps paving the way for future stars like Riverside. But most interesting to me is the look back to the Iron Curtain years, and there's a distinct melodic songwriting as you might find on a late 70's SBB album, or even from the Czech group Modry Efekt. Odd combination, but it works.

I bought this CD upon release, and enjoyed it immediately. Strange that I never pursued anything else by the band (though it didn't help that some of their initial followup albums were "official bootlegs", which is rarely a good thing). Time for some research. The band is still around, and releasing albums, but they appear to have fallen off of everyone's radar. No idea if the quality is the same though. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Architectural Metaphor, USA

Website
Samples
Facebook

Their website promises a new album as of May 2016, but it doesn't appear to have materialized yet.

Architectural Metaphor - Odysseum Galacti. 1994 ArcMet (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Creature of the Velvet Void. 1997 Black Widow (Italy CD; LP)
Architectural Metaphor - Viva. 2000 Kairos (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Other Music. 2004 ArcMet (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Everything You Know is Wrong. 2013 private (CD)

I once owned Odysseum Galacti, but sold it many years ago. I never did hear anything beyond Velvet Void, as noted below. If I do, I'll update this page.

----Creature of the Velvet Void

Architectural Metaphor were a space rock / Krautrock band from the Boston area, that are long forgotten today, but had a bit of momentum during the late 90s space rock renaissance (most notably playing in the festivals of the day plus various compilation albums). Generally Architectural Metaphor performed as a trio, with loud electric guitar, effects, found sounds, and pounding drums. The latter is unique in that they are provided by a female, who also is their lead singer and "space whisperer". Creature of the Velvet Void is their second full length "proper" album, and marks a distinct improvement on their debut Odysseum Galacti. Musically, Architectural Metaphor are clearly informed by the early Kosmische Musik scene, such as Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers, et al, as well as the usual space rocker suspects like Hawkwind and Gong. They're not the most accomplished musicians you'll ever hear, but for the type of music they play, a bit of raw amateurism plays to their favor. Besides, any band that names a tune 'March of the Wooden Potatoes' has to be onto something special...

I bought this CD not long after release, gave it a few listens, and filed it. It's been nearly 20 years since I last heard it, and I had forgotten just how good this album is. Apparently I need to investigate the albums they released afterward as well.

Bernd Kistenmacher, Germany



Website
Samples
Facebook

Bernd Kistenmacher - Head-Visions. 1986 Cosmic Sound (LP); 1992 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD); 2012 MIRecords (CD; LP);  2015 Bureau B (CD; LP)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Wake Up in the Sun. 1987 Cosmic Sound (LP; CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD); 2015 Bureau B (CD; LP)
Bernd Kistenmacher/Mario Schonwalder/Rolf Trostel - Musique Intemporel. 1988 Timeless Sounds (LP; CD)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Kaleidoscope. 1989 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Outlines. 1991 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1998 Green Tree (CD)

This is as far as I'm going to type his discography out. Bernd Kistenmacher is rightly known as the second generation Klaus Schulze, and this comparison can also be drawn to his prolific amount of releases. He has well over 20 more albums than what is listed above, and is still going strong as I build this page out. In addition to the 3 albums I've included here, I also own the CD of Wake Up in the Sun (and will add notes once I revisit). I used to own Musique Intemporel on vinyl, but that was well over 20 years ago, and recall little about it. If I have the opportunity to hear any of his other works, I'll be sure to update this page.

----Head-Visions

No discussion about Bernd Kistenmacher can be had without at least a passing mention of one Klaus Schulze. Especially at the time of Timewind or X, arguably the Master's finest moment in the sun. Head-Visions contains 3 long tracks of Berlin School goodness complete with full-on sequencers, and various other analog/digital tones drizzled on top to add much needed color. While Schulze himself was busy messing about with digital technology and an unhealthy love of beats, Kistenmacher was trying his duly best to bring back the glory of the original movement. And he succeeded mightily, as others followed suit shortly thereafter. Be sure to get a hold of one of the CD reissues (mine is on Green Tree), which contains the 11+ minute 'Dreamdance', as fine a track as any on the album proper.

----Kaleidoscope

Old skool Berlin School music heavily influenced by Klaus Schulze circa Blackdance, with a good dose of Ashra's New Age of Earth added into the mix. Plenty of analog synthesizers, and some modern ones including electronic percussion, with a bit of acoustic guitar to offset the machines. Easy recommendation for fans of the genre.

----Outlines

Bernd Kistenmacher was one of the leading lights of the new wave of Berlin School electronic solo artists coming from Germany in the middle 1980s. Comparisons to Klaus Schulze are unavoidable, though Kistenmacher wisely borrowed from Schulze's late 70s output rather than the programmed sound he preferred at that time. By 1991, Kistenmacher himself was somewhat marginalized as his influence - and others - ushered in a boatload of new artists in the genre. This was a good time for Kistenmacher to take a break, as his sound was beginning to sound all too familiar, just as his idol had done before him. This is a nice, and varied, elektronik album performed by a seasoned veteran, and well worth the expenditure to own.

Gestalt, Japan

Gestalt - Gomorrha Vs. Khan. 1999 Phalanx/Disk Union (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)

Gestalt were a band from Japan, who released this one long forgotten album, and into the mists of time they went. With a title like Gomorrha vs Khan, one might hope for a hard driven Krautrock sound melded with the melodic playfulness of the Canterbury scene. No such luck. Their sound isn't atypical of the 90s Japanese scene, and at first reminded me of Golden Avant Garde, a band that calls themselves "cyber rock". And the alien textures and clipped mid 70s King Crimson clinical sound does give off that impression. It's a bid tough sledding at first, but as the album goes, the ears warm up to it. And then comes the fantastic 'Wakt El Istikhad' which reminded me of the brilliant Happy Family. The Gomorrha side (latter half) has more of a Middle Eastern space rock sound, though again it's more crisp and darkly textured - not psychedelic in the least. 'Black Hole' is the highlight of the latter set. There is a Zeuhl underpinning here, but only in its most aggressive state. A fine album that will appeal to fans of turn of the century hard driving Japanese prog rock. Somewhere between Bondage Fruit, Ruins, Happy Family, and Koenji Hyakkei you will find the sound of Gestalt. Buy it if you see it, though product is scarce these days.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September 2016 Roundup

OK, as promised, I'm back with a monthly roundup. And yes, career events did occur that caused an immediate shutdown of most music hobby activities. More on that in the Personal Situation section (hopefully not a recurring feature - believe me!).

----Monthly updates on existing band pages

Not much here naturally enough. However, soon after publishing my band page for Deus Ex Machina, it was announced that all of the "Kaliphonia" era CDs will be re-released shortly.

----Under the Radar bands with new albums on the way

Here are some new announcements since last month:

Goat - Requiem. October 7. One of the more mainstream acts for UTR, but one very worthy of checking out. Eventually I will get a band page up for them as well. Great band as far as I'm concerned!

Nuova Era - Return to the Castle. Late October. One of our favorite Italian prog bands from the late 1980s and early 90s returns with their first entirely new album in 21 years (there was a semi-archival release recently). Hopefully the title doesn't indicate a move to English vocals. In any case, we'll definitely get a band page up here if the early reviews sound promising.

Syd Arthur - Apricity. October 21. Another one of the more "mainstream" acts that I'm quite fond of.

Unreal City - not yet titled. Spring 2017. And here's one of our favorite bands of the last few years! Great to see a new album in the works. Looks like I never updated this post for the great second album either. Looks like we'll have a reason to do that now.

Wolf People - Ruins. November 11. This has been a good month for updates on the more "known" bands  in the psychedelic progressive space. Another great band!

The below were announced previously. Updates are in green.


Accordo dei Contrari - Violato Intatto. We now have a title and the new album is being mixed in October.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Coraggio e Mistero. On Black Widow. New album with Alvaro Fella (Jumbo!) on vocals. This could be very special.

Corima - Amaterasu. New album on Soleil Zeuhl. For me, one of the most anticipated!

Electric Orange - Misophonia. I do have one review of an Electric Orange album already on UTR, from when I had moved away from "band pages". But I have notes on a few of their releases, and was already working on a post. Just awaiting this release now to finish it. Released July 22. I'll remove next update.

Eye - Vision And The Ageless Light. Laser's Edge. To be released November 18.

Gosta Berlings Saga. - Sersophane. Not sure of label. Guessing Cuneiform.

Ingranaggi della Valle. - Warm Spaced Blue. Black Widow.  Like Corima, I'm most curious about this one! Released on September 28 as announced here last month. Will remove next update.

Kaipa Da Capo - Dårskapens Monotoni. This one came out of nowhere. Kaipa Da Capo is the continuation of Kaipa after the Solo release and will not feature Hans Lundin. With the lyrics all in Swedish, this promises to be a good one. Released September 20. Will remove next update.

Universal Totem Orchestra - Mathematical Mother. Black Widow Records. Big fan of their other two works. This will certainly force a band page! Supposed to be released on September 28th with Ingrannagi della Valle. Not finding evidence of such.


----The A-List

(See August Roundup for full explanation of this section)

I do have updates for this section, but nothing added to the blog this month.

----Personal Situation

Alright, here we go. No surprises, but Fortune 10 company did decide to surplus our entire team. Gross negligence is really what it is (my team is very senior and quite excellent at many things), and many of us could have helped other parts of the business immensely. It's a pity the company doesn't follow their own HR policies for high performers (oddly Fortune 10 company actually agreed with me on this point, which I didn't expect. Rarely does HR go "off script" like that). Whatever the case, I'm not one to be bitter (it was hardly personal), and I'm very grateful for the last 9 years from said company. I've accomplished all my personal goals in that time frame. So it's all gravy now. And they are giving us all a "package" and it's generous. Nothing to complain about honestly. But notice has been served, and it's time to get serious about finding other work. Things happen for a reason, I truly believe that. I'm not one to sit around, and I'm too young to retire (and besides wife and I could use some more scratch for comfort - who doesn't?). I don't want to retire in any case. I'm fit as a fiddle, and it would be a pity to waste all that industry knowledge and experience. Plus I find I enjoy our music hobby more when it's a "get away".

So we received the "notice of notice" mid month (LOL - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried), with formal notice just yesterday. Mid month notice was my signal, and since then I've been lighting up my network, as well as doing my diligence with online applications. Both "fronts" as it were are working, and much activity has commenced with 7 viable opportunities in the works (interviews have started), and 25 more potential in play. But it's still early, and without a job secured, this dedicated effort will have to remain in place. If I'm fortunate enough to land a similar (or better) position soon, then I'll have to focus entirely on that until I can get that business established. That will likely take a year or more. And there will be considerable business travel almost assuredly, so that's more distractions.

What I've learned about myself in the last few years is I have two entirely different "modes of operation" and they do not mix at all. One is the vacation/weekend/evening music/food/beer mind. You'll know I'm there when I'm actively writing reviews and updating these blogs. It signals that I'm content, and not distracted. Fat and happy as it were, minus the health implication of the phrase. And I've been in that mode for most of the last 7 years, with some notable exceptions. The other me is one that is zoned in completely on business. My brain goes 10x what it would be in contentment mode. Zombie eyed almost. And when I'm there, I find it hard to enjoy my hobby. It becomes all consuming. And with circumstances as they are, it's affecting the evenings, and even the weekends. I'm listening to music in the evenings still, but almost forcing myself to do so. In addition, I've curtailed all buying activities. I'm just super conservative that way. And honestly it's not near as much fun without new product walking in the door. For me at least. I think once I do get settled, at least I'll be able to relax a bit more, and we'll be back in business here on the blogs, but at a reduced rate I would imagine.

For the time being, I'm going to try to update the blogs in batch over the weekends. I still have plenty of content still not published. Especially for Unencumbered Music Reviews, where I have already written notes from 2015 still, much less all of this year.

As for Purple Peak Records, there's still a good chance for a sale this Fall. It really depends on the timing on how things go. I'm not quite done grading and pricing Jeff's LPs, but it's within reach at least. Everything else is done, as I worked on it throughout the summer.


And I did manage to get 98% of my collection into Discogs, and I'm still adding a few more editions to their database. So that's done for the most part.

Stay tuned.... if I go completely silent, you'll know what I'm up to!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Obskuria, Germany-Peru-USA

Facebook
Samples

Their facebook page hasn't been updated since 2012, so it appears this side project is on ice for now. I've only heard Discovery of Obskuria to date.

Obskuria - Discovery of Obskuria. 2007 World in Sound (Germany CD; 2 LP)
Obskuria - Burning Sea of Green. 2011 World in Sound (Germany CD; LP)

----Discovery of Obskuria

Obskuria, a moniker that is most certainly appropriate, was born out of some impromptu jam sessions that took place in Mannheim circa 2006. The core group is made up of Peru's La Ira de Dios along with the keyboardist from native Karmic Society, and the guitarist from Cleveland, Ohio's Dragonwyck. So not only do we have an international space rock troupe, but one that crosses multiple generations. Most of the music is a fine example of instrumental Krautrock, with Hammond organ starring in a major role, and some fine acidic guitar leads with tribal drumming. It is this element that I would think will be of most interest to potential future buyers. The rest, including the two openers and closers, are cover tunes that give the project a novelty feeling, which is rarely a good thing. Though I have to admit the maudlin cover of Metallica's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' was intriguing, and interesting to hear the tune swathed in organ. Overall, a very good album for fans of that early 70s German Krautrock sound, without too many surprises.

I currently own the LP, which is a 2 disc set, that comes in a fine high quality gatefold as one would expect from World in Sound. The LP does leave off the final track however, though it's one of the cover tunes as mentioned above, so I'm not sure how essential it is in any case.