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Monday, May 14, 2018

The Fierce and the Dead - The Euphoric



The Fierce and the Dead have released their third studio album released on the Bad Elephant label this year. The quartet have shown no sign of stopping. It’s almost like a Rubik’s cube to see what mysterious passageways and parallel universes the band would discover to open these doors to see what lies ahead in these infinite worlds and decided where they would go to next. 

And The Euphoric is like that. They’ve created this alternate score with some of the post-punk, ‘80s new-wave sound that has made me come back for more on their adventures since listening to their first instrumental track released eight years ago simply titled as Part 1.

Matt, Kev, Stuart, and Steve have shown that they are new captains of the millennium falcon and being a part of their ride as they make the jump to light-speed into the cosmos. Not to mention the incredible album cover done by comic book artist whose best known for his work with Bill Willingham’s Fables, Mark Buckingham.


The opener, Truck  gives Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton a chance for their guitars to rev up to get the car ready for the sun to rise. It has these Russian Circles-style of the quartet into the desert highway at dawn. Alongside Steve and Matt doing the driving, they do this midsection that is a stop-and-go sequence before going back into the Falcon for another adventure.


With 1999, Feazey’s synths and bass creates this score as if he was doing the music for John Hughes’ 1985 classic, The Breakfast Club. It has these textures between NEU!, Ultravox, and XTC combined into one for the Fierce and the Dead to carry their torches for them and making sure their legacy will keep going for many generations to come.


Kev pays nod to both Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express and Vangelis’ score to the 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner with Dug Town. It then changes near the end for the rhythm and lead section to create this intensity as Stuart follows suit on the drums on knowing once they leave the city, they can start a new beginning.


Verbose is Gothic and Post-Punk to create this level for some of these ominous surroundings thanks to Feazey’s dooming bass work. It creates this ride that is more and more increased the get the energy levels up. The Fierce and the Dead have always been one of my favorite bands. And it is always wonderful to hear what the quartet will think of next.
 
I always wonder what Matt Stevens himself will think of next since I was blown away from his solo debut release of the Echo album released back in February of 2010 which I reviewed here on my blog site. He’s come a long way. And for him to be not just part of the label with Bad Elephant Music, but The Fierce and The Dead are in my opinion are a family that works together. And The Euphoric is the growing spark.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Terry Draper - Remarkable Women



Terry Draper is best known for his work with the most brilliant band called, Klaatu. They have released five studio albums from 1976 to 1981 and best known for their song Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft which the Carpenters covered in their 1977 album, Passage. And not to mention one of my favorite albums that I discovered while I was in Houston Community College eight years ago, Hope.

When Klaatu folded in 1981 after the release of the fifth and final studio album, Magentalane, Terry returned home to his recording studio as a solo artists at Oak Ridges, Ontario. He has released ten studio albums as a solo artist that one of them included some of the members of Klaatu that appeared on his debut album in 1997 entitled, Light Years Later.

Last year, he released his new album entitled, Remarkable Women which is a follow-up to his 2016 album, Searching. The theme of his new album covers the subject of the Women that were remarkable and ahead of their time. The album is released in a guitar-shaped USB format. The themes of Terry’s new album is very interesting and very good.

You have this psychedelic baroque pop flavor of Younger Girl in which Draper brings the late ‘60s to life and paying a nod to The Cowsills’ The Rain, The Park, & Other Things in the lyric to pay respect to the group while he delves into an automatic Arena Rock approach in the style of AOR (Album-Orientated Rock) on Shy Girl. It has this late ‘70s/early ‘80s style with some Hendrix-sque guitars and Foreigner’s first two albums into the mix and followed by some ascending midsection approaches.

Terry also has a bit of humor in his music. When you listen to Annabella, he’s going into his Jimmy Buffett and Calypso surroundings as you dance to the groove to watch the sunrise go down as She’s All Mine is dedicated to his wife. It has the Klaatu atmosphere with some guitar work, organ, and stomping drums.

With some Beatle-sque arrangements on his vocals, the lyrics and the story based on the love of his life, shows that the two of them have been there from day one and they will be together with each other, forever and ever. Dragon Lady is a haunting and stirring composition that is almost set in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It has the subject issue of the dangers of the characterizations of this creature that lives underground and what she can do to lure their prey featuring some Mellotron-sque moments, snarling guitar work as if Terry is letting the beast come out and ready to attack the city with her powers. The keyboard program on Maria, sounds like Ottmar Libert’s extraordinary guitar playing. Is it Flamenco-Pop? If it is, it’s very interesting for Terry to delve into.

Draper’s singing for the two characterizations doing this Tango-sque dance between each other as he does this little tug in the midsection to Graham Bond’s Love is the Law before the fanfare finale from the keyboards sounding almost like the horns to do one last hurrah. Abigail is a nod to the Music Hall and Salad Days essence of Vaudeville as Draper is singing through this megaphone-sque sound on his vocals before the Mellotron sets up the scenario of the golden years and a nod to Stackridge’s Dancing on Air.

Terry Draper’s new album, I will have to admit, after listening to it about six or nine times of Remarkable Women, it didn’t grab me, but it shows that Terry himself shows that he’s come a long way from both with Klaatu and as a solo artist. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, but it is a very interesting release and it’s a not-so-bad album, but pretty good, but it’s what Terry does and he shows he is more than just a member of Klaatu and doing what he wants to do.

Laura Meade - Remedium



IZZ’s Laura Meade has released her solo debut album this year entitled. Remedium. There is some sorts of Art-Pop, Progressive, and Electronic atmospheres on her solo release. But there’s a theatrical background that Laura has brought to her music. It’s sort of similar to what Schooltree had done on their 2013 debut, Rise. Laura has shown that she’s just a member of IZZ, but beyond the band and taking her music on a journey she takes the listener into.

Now I will have to admit, the only IZZ album I reviewed was in March of last year on my blog site of Ampersand, Volume 2 on Music from the Other Side of the Room, and while I’m not a gigantic IZZ fan, I do respect the accomplishments they’ve achieved. Remedium shows Laura spreading her own wings to fly and see what is out there beyond the far horizons.

The opening track, Sunflowers at Chernobyl, begins with this synthesized electronic loop done by John Galgano and showing that while there might be a sign of hope, the radiation shows that there’s no chance of returning home. It then changes into a prog-pop moment for Laura Meade as she channels Klaatu’s Hope-era as Galgano’s bass and drums sets up the countdown reminiscing of The Loneliest of Creatures and Prelude.

There’s this trip-hop section that makes it futuristic of what will happen in the near future of the 22nd century of Pripyat. The nod to the Canadian Progressive Rock band of Klaatu shows Laura tipping her hat to them and knowing it’s time to give the group the recognition they finally deserve. There’s this cross between Country-Folk and Jazz combined into one on Conquer the World.

Galgano’s guitar sounds at times like a mandolin before doing a Thelonious Monk section in which he also tips his hat to the master as he does this walking jazz section before going back into the country yet folky approach again. The Old Chapel at Dark gives Galgano channeling Gyorgi Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata on the 2-minute instrumental with an eerie piano before seguing to the acoustic guitar with the 11-minute epic, Dragons.

Laura sings this beautiful lullaby in a surreal Ligeti twist. Laura is warm, gentle, and relaxing in her vocal arrangement as if the calm after the storm is finally over but then the nightmare is revealed with an experimental twist from these hay-wiring effects as an homage for a couple of seconds to Web’s Concerto for Bedsprings on their third studio album in 1970, I Spider.

You have this trippy effect and the dystopian scenario that is coming at a larger approach with a new-wave pummel as Laura’s vocals becomes a little operatic and her characterizations on here is that she becomes the new ruler of this wasteland and she rules with an iron fist. The music becomes a surreal fantasy between Radiohead’s Kid A and Bjork’s Homogenic combined into one.

Near the last couple of minutes of the epic, it switches back into a mournful piano section a-la Schooltree in the style of Heterotopia as if Lainey and Laura had worked together by collaboration and bringing this theatrical conceptual storyline to life as if the flower itself has grown brighter and brighter.

Every Step is Laura’s nod to both Jane Siberry and Tori Amos. She goes through these haunting passageways as the drums, piano, and bass go inside this deep cavernous location and it is setting up this ominous presence that is every walk that you take through these haunted corridors.

Remedium grabbed me through and through and bit by bit. Laura shows her amazing chops between the art, pop, and theatricality she brings to her solo release this year. And I hope that she continues to do more as both as a solo artist and her work with IZZ for many years to come.

Gazpacho - Soyuz



It’s been three years since Gazpacho released any new material since their 2015 album, Molok. Since my introduction to their music came back four years ago when I was entering my final semester in Houston Community College after hearing Demon, Gazpacho are still the band to bring the stories to life. And they tell it through the ambient, experimental, atmospheric, art, and experimental vibrations from start to finish.

Soyuz is their tenth studio album released on the Kscope label. The themes behind their new album is about how the moments that we had, we’re beautiful, will soon be gone. The people are stuck in this time frame that describe the situation that there’s no chance of going forwards and being stuck in both the past and the present. The name comes from the tragic tale of the Soviet Space Program that launched into Orbit on April 23, 1967 carrying Colonel Vladimir Komarov who was the first crewed flight on the space craft.

Gazpacho’s new album grew on me more and more for the stories they would bring to the kitchen table and Soyuz is another return for another adventure with the band. Hypomania begins with this Morse Code guitar introduction and it goes into this post-rock version of The Smashing Pumpkins Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness-era as Kristian Torp’s bass delves deep into a rhythm followed by the alarming guitar riffs and heading into the nod of Billy Corgan’s rhythm on Zero as it hits perfectly like a ship that is exploring infinite universes.

Exit Suite starts off with this mournful Monk-sque chant introduction before the piano and strings set up the moment for the credits to roll and showing there’s a sign of hope while Emperor Bespoke which is based on Danish author Hans Christian Andersen has this banjo-sque folk-like tale featuring a brief ‘80s synth for a brief-second on the introduction before Thomas Andersen takes the piano and delves into Hans’ stories.

I felt that Gazpacho were doing this score to the non-disney version of The Little Mermaid as Jan Henrik Ohme’s vocals sends shivers down my spine whenever he sings. And he does it perfectly. But the 13-minute composition of Soyuz Out is where the ingredients come out to make the perfect slice of cake. It has these mysterious and trippy atmospheres that Gazpacho do on the track.

It’s psychedelic, heavy, and electronic. And it’s almost as if the band are putting the puzzle pieces back together in one place. The band are like detectives searching for more clues to see where the evidence is leading in this setting of the futuristic dystopian wasteland. The clues get even bigger and bigger thanks to the rhythm section as Robert Risberget Johansen who makes his return to the band on the new album doing these militant drumming as Jon-Arne Vilbo’s guitar and Kristian’s Bass bring the twist to life.

Soyuz is not an easy album from start to finish, but for me it’s another adventure for Gazpacho to bring this new release to life. It took me about six or seven spins to enjoy this from start to finish. Gazpacho never disappointed me with their new album this year. And I hope they’ll do a score for either for a movie or a video game in the near future. Let’s see what they’ll cook up with next.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Joshua Trinidad - In November



Joshua Trinidad is from Denver, Colorado who has performed with bands and artists such as The Mars Volta, Cake, OK Go, George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic, and The Colorado Wind Ensemble. He took the Trumpet when he was seven years old and studied from the masters including Hugh Ragin, Walter Barr, Al Hood, and Ron Miles. Not only that he worked with them, but it helped him on where he is right now.

This is seventh release and his making his debut with the RareNoise label with In November. It was a dream that he brought to life. The collaboration between him along with ECM artists that included guitarist Jacob Young and drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, it is in my opinion, a perfect match, perfect team, and a perfect combination to bring the ingredients to the kitchen table.

Recorded in four days in November of 2015 at Ocean Sound Recording Studios in Ginske, Norway, the album nearly sent chills down my spine. And it shows the trio almost as if they recorded the album inside a cottage in the middle of Oslo as temperatures dropping down to minus 22 degrees in the coldest yet iciest weather that makes it the perfect atmosphere throughout the entire album.

Josh’s trumpet takes you those areas as if he along with Jacob and Stale are following with you by going to those locations that are at times stirring, warm, and shivering throughout the 11 compositions that are on the album. I like how Jacob’s guitar goes from electric to acoustic. Not only that he’s brilliant, but on the electric parts he uses his wah-wah pedals to create these isolated scenarios as Trinidad’s trumpet follows pursuit in these echoing yet haunting cavernous effect.

I can hear bits of Terje Rypdal, Robert Fripp, and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood in Young’s playing and I can feel my arm-hairs going up a bit when plays his improvisations and the chords that he would do along with some bits of flamenco touches on his acoustic guitar. Solberg’s drumming would set up almost like a crime scene that just happened.

He would take his kit through a crescendo fill, but turning it into some calmer effects by using his brushes to get a chance to relax from the intensive snowy vibes. There was also at one point where he would use his brush to make it sound like fire crackling from the wood to bring some of the heat that is needed inside the cottage to take a break from the cold.

In November is an interesting release from Joshua Trinidad. RareNoiseRecords have never disappointed me with some of the releases this year. It took me a few listens to appreciate Trinidad’s work, and while I’m not crazy about it, Joshua has come a long way. If you admire the electric fusion-era of Miles Davis from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and Terje Rypdal, this is a powerful and haunting release that you might want to sink your teeth into.