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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! :-)

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The ongoing HiPo list

Read about this the purpose and idea of this thread at the bottom of this post. Feel free to opine on any of these albums as you wish.

New additions (moved forward with this post)
Cosmic Triggers (Russia)

Karakorum (Germany)

Kungens Män (Sweden) This band many releases already, and 5 are durable mediums. Looks like a group to check out at least one of.

Professor Tiptop (Norway)
Weserbergland (Norway)


Prior entries that have yet to be purchased or heard
Cherry Five (Italy) Reformation album, so won't consider this against the 1975 album.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Coraggio e Mistero (Italy) New album with Alvaro Fella (Jumbo!) on vocals. Considering this HiPo because of the Fella presence

Fatal Fusion (Norway)

Il Fauno di Marmo (Italy)

Hadal Sherpa (Finland)

Jordsjo (Norway) OK - just a quick update that Jordsjo will have a CD out in the fall. Yaay!

Merry Go Round (Italy)

Mythic Sunship (Denmark)

The Winstons (Italy)

Witchwood  (Italy)

Wucan (Germany)

Prior entries that have been hear…

Anglagard, Sweden

News: According to the band's website from October 8th: "The band has gone into songwriting mode after several concerts in North America (which happened to include full renditions of "Hybris"). In related news, Jonas, Johan and Erik have apparently started a side project with Thomas Johnson playing some sort of progressive jazz music. In terms of website news, the recent DVD releases have finally been added to the discography." Great - add a distraction there. These guys are hilarious. Probably by 2024 we can expect a new album then...

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Stockholm

Overview: Probably the foremost contemporary post 1990 band to capture and recreate all that was great about the early 1970s original progressive rock movement.

UMR notes

Omnia Opera, England

News: Omnia Opera are still kicking! They're actively looking for a new keyboard player, so it seems they're ready to get going again. They also have an offshoot band called 7Shades and they recently played with The Oroonies - yet another blast from the past. Both of these bands have old cassettes that are in dire need of reissue.

Website Facebook Samples
Location: Kidderminster (SW of Birmingham)

Overview: Omnia Opera can best be described as a heavier and more in-yer-face variation of the classic UK festival space rock sound. More Hawkwind and less Gong that is to say. About the only band I can think of that rocks harder than Ozric Tentacles in this genre.

UMR notes

Homunculus Res, Italy

News: It appears the new album from Homunculus Res will be coming in November, based on a comment back in August. So great news there. No title or cover as of yet, so I'll leave the second album up.

Facebook Samples
Location: Palermo, Sicily

Overview: Homunculus Res is a tremendous new Canterbury styled band from Italy that have perfectly captured the spirit of another era. Brilliantly mixing melody and complexity, with a jazzy undertone.

UMR notes

Secret Saucer, USA

News: Secret Saucer have just released their 7th album The Reset. It appears to be LP only at the current time (and released in Germany). I've lost track of Secret Saucer, as I haven't heard anything from them since Tri-Angle Waves in 2009.


Facebook Samples
Location: The band usually just state that are from Ohio, but if I recall right they are from near Cleveland in the northeast part.

Overview: Secret Saucer could best be described as a space rock jam band. Similar to Oresund Space Collective and  others of its ilk.

UMR notes

October Equus, Spain

News: There's talk of a new album, and in at least one post, it was discussed it might be without a rhythm section - a chamber type work. Nooo.... don't do it! Resist the temptation. :-) Permafrost, from 2013, remains the last album, and I never did get any notes down for it. I'm sure I will eventually.

Facebook Samples
Location: Madrid

Overview: October Equus'first album was almost like a psychedelic Present (Belgium), a very interesting combination that I found highly appealing. With each subsequent release, October Equus ups the ante on complexity, while toning down the more jamming aspect of their sound.

UMR notes

Nuova Era, Italy

News: Return to the Castle was released late last year, and has received mixed reviews. It would appear their controversial decision to move to English has divided the fan base.

Facebook
Location: Firenze/Florence

Overview: Probably more than any other band, Nuova Era can be credited with bringing back the classic early 70s Italian progressive rock sound... kicking and screaming into the 90s. The band has reformed in the 2010 decade, though strangely they've moved to English vocals, something that goes against the very core of the style. I haven't heard them yet, so can't say how successful the reformation has been.

UMR notes

Quaterna Requiem, Brazil

News: Quaterna Réquiem are very active on the live front in their home country of Brazil. No word on a new album though.

Facebook Samples
Location: Rio de Janeiro

Overview: Quaterna Réquiem were one of the first bands of the late 1980s/early 90s progressive rock renaissance to review the works of the Mediterranean bands such as Quella Vecchia Locanda and Gotic, rather than the standard English "Big 3" of Genesis, Yes, and ELP.

UMR notes

Lumerians, USA

News: Lumerians are very active playing live and touring. There's talk of a new album, but nothing since Transmissions From Telos Vol III from 2014 (which came after IV...) - an album I haven't heard yet myself.
Samples Facebook
Location: Oakland, California

Overview: Lumerians' rhythms are pure Krautrock motorik, straight from the Can and Neu! school. The dreamy vocals recall Barrett era Floyd, or perhaps more to the point, the early 90s neo psych of Sun Dial

UMR notes

Astrakan, England

News: In 2016, Astrakan released their 3rd album Hidden Agenda. I haven't heard it to date. Otherwise not much to report here.

Website Samples Facebook
Location: London

Overview: Astrakan are a fine band operating between Canterbury and jazzier forms of rock. Comets and Monsters adds an avant prog edge.

UMR notes