Skip to main content

August 2016 roundup

For those of you who are exceptionally perceptive, you may have noticed I rewrote the "What is It?" introduction to your right. In there I mention something about "monthly roundups". And here is our first one. I don't intend on writing lengthy dissertations here, though this first one will have much more explanation. In addition, as you see at the very end of this first roundup (personal update section), I'm not sure how active I will be going forward (all will be explained, nothing to be concerned about). BTW, if you have no interest in why I'm doing a roundup and what's in here, just skip down to the first "orange" line for updates.

But back to the monthly roundup concept. When I started this blog, it had been my intention to feature bands I like, with one post per band, somewhat to how the CDRWL evolved. As I began though, I ran into some dilemmas. For 1), I like to hear albums in my collection randomly (literally, using a random number generator). But what if I randomly choose an album with a large discography? Or by the same token, a band with a large discography just released a new album (or I just acquired an older album by that band). I felt compelled at that point to do a complete dossier of that band by reviewing each album chronologically. Problem? It takes forever. And I don't always want to hear the same band night after night, or even week after week. So the post stays in draft forever, almost to the point where at least in the "new album" scenario, it's too late. And with bands like Radio Massacre International for example, I couldn't possibly digest all that music in a short time.

Even with bands with smaller discographies, my solution to the problem had been to use an "Updated Post" teaser that linked back to the band. Two problems there: 1) It's messy; 2) Many folks won't click the link. They just won't. It's the modern way. The trouble with Blogs, and even worse with Facebook, is that the entities themselves have no sense of history. You can search for historical artifacts, but it's not intuitive to do such. Blogger is much better for this, and I can even turn this into a website. And I heavily use the "data keys" section on the right just for that purpose.

The solution? Twofold. 1) Any new albums by groups already featured here will have their entire post moved forward with new notes. This keeps the groups fresh and upfront. 2) As mentioned above, sometimes I'll randomly choose an older album by a group, or I will buy an older album I didn't have. If it's the first post for that band, I will create the band page just as before. But if it already exists, I will just update the older post..... And I will let you know I did that in the Monthly Roundups. Hey, we finally got to the point! LOL.

----Monthly Updates

Only one this month: Nebelnest. Added new notes for the debut album (a drop dead killer BTW, and essential. Bought it upon release and it's better now than ever). And I actually had some older notes to share for Zepto.

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

Now this section will not only include bands that we've already built a page for, but also on some that need  their own page!

Accordo dei Contrari. 4th album

Consorzio Acqua Potabile. 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 think this may have just been released. 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.

Eye - Vision And The Ageless Light. Laser's Edge. Actually had already moved it forward to highlight the band, but will do so again shortly once this album is released and I purchased it.

Gosta Berlings Saga. 4th album. On Cuneiform I believe.

Ingranaggi della Valle. - Warm Spaced Blue. Black Widow (Sept 28). Like Corima, I'm most curious about this one!

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.

Universal Totem Orchestra - Mathematical Mother. Big fan of their other two works. This will certainly force a band page!

According to my "projects" tab, I have another 22 band pages ready to create and 3 updates. The hard work is already done (the reviews/notes), so I have plenty in the can to keep this fluid. And I have way more than that ready for Unencumbered Music Reviews, so be sure to check over there as well. One post that was almost set to be published before I shut down last October was for the superb Russian band Vespero. Now I just need to hear their latest album, which has been sitting here for far too long.

----The A-List

So this is a concept I've been toying with for a very long time, going as far back to my personal website some 13 years ago. It's a bit nebulous, and I have to say it has be considered "very personal" to my tastes. I say that because I do not want to be exclusionary. And there are bands that I have featured here, that are not on the A-List, but do qualify for the 5 year rule. It is not an insult to not be in my A-List. It's a matter of musical preference only. If it seems I'm being overly apologetic, it's because we are in a very small niche as it is, and we should support each other as much as possible. And that's one reason I created this blog. I will not write negative reviews for this blog. I would rather just say nothing at all. If a band is written up in this blog anywhere, it means I do like their music! But not necessarily A-List level. So what is the A-List exactly? It's a set of rules, and it goes something like this:

1. Must have released a new album in the last 5 years (calendar, so to be qualified today, the band must have released an album since Jan 1, 2011)
2. Must score at least 4 stars on RYM or a Gnosis 11. This means "Excellent".
3. Exception to 2) is if I hear an enormous amount of potential, and give it a 3.5 / 10, then they get A-List status.
4. 1,2, & 3 compels me to buy the album upon release. I'm by no means super diligent on this point. I determine my "buy time" based on how obscure the release is. If it's on Rise Above, it can wait a while. If it's an obscure release on a private label, I may move faster. But rest assured labels and artists, I do BUY CDs (and LPs if necessary), and usually within a few months of release. It's just a matter of scope and scale.

So each year, I will obviously be removing A-List bands due to the 5 year rule. It's also possible to fall off if the musical direction changed dramatically. This section will also be used to highlight "new" A-List bands.

I have updated this blog in its entirety, and today there are 110 bands that qualify. And there are many more than that, that I just never put a page up for.

----Personal Situation

Been active here lately Tom, what's up? Yea... that. So let me catch you up on what the heck happened, and why this may not be a continual thing - and why I have been so active. I always see these blog/music activities as something I'll do in retirement. But I see myself at least 15 years from that. Anyway, explanation: For the last 9 years, I have worked for a "Fortune 10" company. Obviously it's enormous in size. The business unit I worked for was sold to another Fortune 10 company on Dec 31, 2015 (but the rumors started in January of 2015, so this has been going on for nearly 2 years). These are not your common "takeover" situations where everything goes over lock, stock, and barrel. I've been through those a couple of times, and they're much cleaner. This is more akin to ripping a huge piece of equipment out of the wall, and there's still tons of loose wires to deal with. The group I lead was one set of these "loose wires", and we were not part of the sale. At that point we went under "contract" to the other company while still employees of our company. It's all very "Dilbert-esque" to be honest. Anyway, that contract is set to finish by the end of September. As you can imagine, my role has been substantially diminished in the last few months. To the point that I had more free time on my hands than I've had in over 20 years. But I kept expecting it to end, or to have other duties, so that's why I decided to keep "shut down" for awhile and not restart. That never happened, and so here we are. It's been awesome to be honest (and I do truly love the company I work for). Which is why I've had time to create Purple Peak Records and get one sale off and another built; To build out various lists on RYM; To organize my collection (even further than prior) and began adding what I own piece by piece onto Discogs (I'm about 50% done). I even had time for chat boards, which has been rare of late.

All great, right? It won't last of course. No direction has been provided to me or my team, but eventually they will have to do something, and I suspect very shortly that will happen. The options are 1) "Redeployment" or 2) Severance. 2) seems likely. It's not the end of the world, but as mentioned, I do like this company. But what I do is far - far - from their core competencies. 2) will be generous, which is the good part. The bad part of course is that I have to hit the bricks for a new gig. And that won't be easy either. No matter the scenario, my life will have to change dramatically. If it's 1) I will have to learn an entire new business at a "high level" and if it's 2) it will be similar work to what I've been doing for over 16 years, but I will have to reestablish myself, and it's likely I'll be traveling again as I once did extensively. And 2) will also require 100% focus on getting something at all. All of this takes away considerably from my free time. And of course I'm married, and have a house, and all that goes with that... so if suddenly I disappear, well, you'll know why.

Alright - next update will be 1/10th this size, I promise! :-)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Litmus, England

Website
Samples 
ProgArchives

Litmus - You Are Here. 2004 private
Litmus - Planetfall. 2007 Rise Above. CD and LP
Litmus - Aurora. 2009 Rise Above. CD and LP
Litmus - Slaughterbahn. 2012 private. CD and LP

"You Are Here": Blazing out of the gates with a monolithic guitar riff, twee-twee-twee Moog knob twiddles, and a neanderthal 4/4 rhythm, I was immediately reminded of those 90s aggressive festival rockers Omnia Opera, minus any of their Floydian cosmic buildups. Or, of course, I could have mentioned the real inspiration at work here – which would be primo early 70s era Hawkwind, if Lemmy ran the band that is. They put the “B” in subtle, and pulverize most of the songs right through the wall. The keyboardist is the same gentleman who runs the excellent Planet Mellotron site, and so no surprise the mellotron gets more than its share of studio time. Though good luck in hearing it over the racket. I like my space rock a bit more cosmic and trippy me-self, but OK, that’…

Kenso, Japan

Website
Facebook

No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Egonon, Italy

Website
Samples

Egonon - Risveglio. 2011 private

Here's one courtesy of our Gnosis friend Eddie - the same gentleman that brought us all those wonderful Romanian albums earlier in the year.

The 1970's Italian progressive rock greats are regarded as such because of their innate ability to compile and distill the influences of their day. Namely classical, jazz, rock, indigenous folk, avant-garde, and canto. And a big old scoop of youthful exuberance. Considering this, Egonon are true to the philosophy of their ancestors. Rather than recreate the sounds of the 70s, as many Italian bands are doing today (and wonderfully so I might add), Egonon are assimilating their own influences. In their case, the list might look like: Heavy Metal, Alt-Rock, World Music, funk, and... everything that was also included in the 1970s Italian progressive rock scene, including the end result of said scene, which they clearly respect and pay homage to. It may be a restaurant with too many ite…

Happy Family, Japan

Facebook
Samples

Happy Family - s/t. 1995 Cuneiform (USA)
Happy Family - Toscco. 1997 Cuneiform (USA); 1997 Arcangelo
Happy Family - Minimal Gods. 2014 Cuneiform (USA)

---

Perhaps no band arrived with such an in-your-face sound as Happy Family did in 1995. Their fabled live shows were popular amongst the tape trading crowd of the early 1990s. So there was quite a bit of buzz on what their first CD would sound like. The band insisted their albums come out on the preeminent Avant Prog label Cuneiform, and were willing to wait until that label had room on their release schedule. By 1995, anticipation was high, and Happy Family not only delivered, but exceeded, most everyone's expectation.

Consider the first track 'Rock & Young'. Hard to imagine anyone delivering such a strong overpowering opening punch as Happy Family did here. If this track doesn't move your heart rate up a few beats, you're probably dead already, and no one told you (did Aunt Sally for…

Fusion Orchestra 2, England

Website
Samples
Facebook

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton in Armour. 1973 EMI
Fusion Orchestra 2 - Casting Shadows. 2013 private

Today we have a dual posting - with UMR doing the heavy lifting on the 1973 album...

Well, well, look who's back? I would not have thought of Fusion Orchestra that's for sure. Original guitarist Colin Dawson reformed the band, with 4 new players involved including the all important ingredient of a female vocalist - this time performed by the lovely Elsie Lovelock. Despite the new membership, the band sounds very much like an updated "Skeleton in Armour", which is all one could - perhaps should, given the moniker - hope for. Lovelock's vocals retain that husky soulful jazzy tone that Jill Saward brought forth in the early 70s. And it's nice to see Dawson continue to carry a psychedelic sound in his energetic guitar playing. On the keyboard front, Ben Bell, it appears, has decidedly gone with modern gear - much of it representing the sounds o…

Hooffoot, Sweden

News: Their debut album has finally been issued on CD! Something I plan on picking up. And references to a second album have been mentioned as well.

Website
Samples
Facebook
Location: Malmo

Overview: Hooffoot are a fantastic new retro prog band from Sweden. As of this writing, their debut album is the highest rated for 2015 on Gnosis!

Reviews (click on album cover)

Purson, England

News: Well... It appears Purson has broken up. One band member (George Hudson) has now hooked up with a new project called Flare Voyant. OK, let's see where all this goes. Bummer though, as Purson had enormous potential. Perhaps a reformation will happen. 

Facebook Samples
Location: Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Overview: The Circle & The Blue Door was an homage to 1971 England, whereas Desire's Magic Theatre seemed more geared toward 1969. They're going in the wrong direction for my tastes, but still intriguing enough to leave as an A-lister.

Reviews (click on album covers)


Atomic Simao, Ukraine

News: Hot off the press, Cosmic Eye of Greece have just announced they will be releasing the latest album from Atomic Simao on vinyl. Release date set for April 4th. Label says: ""Echo" is the second album from Kiev's ATOMIC SIMAO and we're privileged to issue it on vinyl, as a follow-up to their successful first LP "Nōdo" of two years ago.

On this sophomore effort, the band abandons the Hendrixian jamming of their debut and takes a long head-dive into funked-up spacerock. The style on this release is a complex instrumental mix of acidic guitar, psyched-out electronica and Middle-Eastern influenced laid back space-jazz feel. A multitude of rhythms are swirling everywhere, funky jazz grooves spice up the recipe the Funkadelic way, and a soaring sax brings the compositions to Gong's "Shamal" era territory and beyond. Adjectives to describe the listening experience: trippy, complex, eclectic, intense, surreal...

Overall, "Echo" is no…

Gösta Berlings Saga, Sweden

News: Their 4th album Sersophane was released at the tail end of 2016, and has garnered excellent reviews to date.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Stockholm

Overview: On their first couple of outings, Gösta Berlings Saga could be considered the perfect modern Swedish progressive rock band. They look inward towards their own country for melodic inspiration, rather than the UK/US style of groups like The Flower Kings. Recently the band has moved into Post rock / avant prog areas, which moves a bit outside of my enthusiastic zone. I haven't heard their latest, but I'm very tempted to try it anyway.

Reviews (click on album covers)


The Morrigan, England

Website
Samples

The Morrigan - Spirit of the Soup. 1984 private (LP); 1999 English Garden (CD)
The Morrigan - Rides Out. 1990 private (LP); 1997 English Garden (CD)
The Morrigan - Wreckers. 1996 English Garden
The Morrigan - Masque. 1998 English Garden
The Morrigan - Hidden Agenda. 2002 English Garden

I haven't heard the debut, so we start with "Rides Out"...

On paper at least, England's The Morrigan doesn't sound like my cup of tea. In essence, The Morrigan play rocked out versions of English traditional folk songs. Or self-penned tracks that sound like English traditional folk songs. Fortunately I happened upon "Rides Out" not long after the CD release, and was captivated immediately. Not only are these spirited reproductions - or originals - but there is definitely a psychedelic/heavy rock slant to their approach (and guitar sound), reminding me of some of the early 70s greats like Mellow Candle or The Trees. The female vocals and recorders - heck th…