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Showing posts from September, 2011

D'AccorD - Helike

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Helike is the second album by Norway's D'AccorD, formed, as they say themselves "...to capture the true essence of the early 70’s Progressive rock", so they fall into that often divisive category of regressive rock.

Helike is a sunken city off the Greek coast and often tagged the "real" Atlantis, and this two track album is its story writ large.

Of the two songs (Part I and Part II), the second is the better as it contains many more interesting instrumental passages, and the instrumentation is fuller than the first part. The overall production sounds a bit thin, particularly the keyboards, and dominating proceedings is the voice of Daniel Måge, who tends towards a Hammill theatricality, but lends enough of his own phrasing to make his voice fairly unique. On Part I he sounds a bit strained in places, but comes across far better in Part II. The cover informs us that the songs and lyrics were written by Daniel, and that he mixed, recorded and co-produced the…

Interview with Jan Erik Liljeström of Anekdoten

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Roger: Thanks to Jan Erik Liljeström of Anekdoten for giving us his time to do this short interview, no doubt taking time off from rehearsing for the upcoming European tour. (Go here for full gig listing) Speaking of which how are the rehearsals going, as I assume it is some time since you played together?

Jan Erik: Normally we meet regularly, typically once a week, but the focus for quite some time has been on trying to come up with stuff for the new album. We had a long summer vacation and the last thing we did on stage was a support gig to Messhugah on Easter Sunday. We only played 6 songs then, so we had quite a lot of catching up to do. We have rehearsed 18 songs from our back catalogue and some of it haven't been played for more than 3 years. This was evident in the first rehearsals, but now we are back on track and ready to rock!

Roger: Will there be any of the new material in the set? When do you think the new album will be ready?

Jan Erik: We discussed how we should go regar…

Asian Women on the Telephone - ICanT

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The album is available on Bandcamp as streaming and as a free download, play it as you read, but not advised if you've got a headache! 

Another band of art-noise-terrorists from Moscow on that home for the awkward and obscure waifs and strays of the Russian music scene, R.A.I.G. (Russian Association of Independent Genres) are the marvellously monikered Asian Women on the Telephone, a band for whom, as far as I can gather, musicallity is secondary to their theatrical stage shows.

Opening proceedings on this their second album is Pleasure dome, an eleven minute ambient piece that gently bucks and sways like a leaky and creaking Russian freighter leaving the listener feeling a bit sea sick by the end. Cabaret Voltaire proto-industrial minimalism infuses Otverstie-uchitel', echoed male and female voices weave in and out of the repetitive slow beat and single note guitar picking. The conjured spirit of Damo Suzuki, but more unsettling. At nearly seventeen minutes long, this piece d…

Steve Hackett - Beyond The Shrouded Horizon

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Steve Hackett, with a solo career of well over 30 years behind him is certainly not resting on his laurels with this album of both literal and metaphorical travellin' tales. Backed by his usual electric band Steve takes us on an Odyssey from Loch Lomond, the band marching over the hills on the back of an almost metal riff, to end with the epic symphonic tale of Turn This Island Earth, on the way visiting many exotic corners of the globe and indeed beyond and inward. Make of that what you will!

On the way we encounter all sorts of styles melded together to make an involving and cohesive whole, and without any of the tempo and mood changes sounding forced. A great blues-rock riff that puts me in mind of early Uriah Heep crashes into the almost sedate introduction to Prairie Angel, and throughout the album classical touches abound as do various world music influences. Possibly a balalaika on Waking To Life is later complimented by a distinct middle eastern feel, leading into some Ka…

Opeth - Heritage

Opeth are a band I once wanted to like, and indeed I have tried to in the past, but one thing kept putting me off - barbed-wire gargling, growling, cookie monster vocals, call it what you will. In my mind although this expression of aggression can and indeed does have its place, especially within the context of what I believe is risibly termed "death metal", when an album's entire vocals consist of unintelligible grunting, it comes across to me as pure laziness. Do these death metal bands have lyrics in their songs? If so why go to all the effort involved in the creative process only to have the "singer", and I use the term loosely, destroy any veneer of comprehension by growling and grunting all over it? I can see how judiciously used growling would have a good effect, but like I said earlier, doing it all the time and as a default setting puts me off completely.

Right, now I've got that off my chest, let us turn to the band in question, whose music is und…

Interview with Mike Sary of French TV

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French TV is a great band from Louisville, Kentucky, USA, who have been dispensing their twisted brand of avant-jazz-prog since as far back as 1983, and I e-flurried (©Robert Fripp) with founder and leader Mike Sary to come up with this doggerel....
Roger: Hi Mike, and thanks for giving us your time for this chat. For those unfamiliar with French TV tell us a bit about the history of the band. Mike: We came, we saw, we forgot to conquer. Sorry to be so flippant, but we're talking 20+ years here! Roger: OK folks, just go buy the CDs here - http://www.frenchtvonline.com/orderingdistributors.htm - if you only buy one, get the 2CD version of FTV 10 - it really is good!See my review for more info.
Roger In those 20+ years French TV has released ten albums of massively complicated and at the same time hugely enjoyable music. Would I be right to assume a Zappa influence with a large helping of the more convoluted end of Canterbury prog, and possibly a soupcon of Gentle Giant with some Eu…

Sleepin Pillow - Superman's Blues

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Sophomore albums come in four kinds, the first being those that are only a slight advancement on the first, and so a bit of a disappointment, those that are an almost mirror reflection of the first, and so tread water, those that sound rushed and as a result run out of ideas halfway through, and, rarest of all, those that make such a great stride forward that it takes the listener by surprise. Superman's Blues is such a beast as the latter, where the Greek acid rockers of the charming but obviously influenced Apples On An Orange Tree become a fully rounded group of their own making, taking those earlier influences and moulding them into their own complete sensory assault.

Darker and more mysterious than AOAOT, Superman's Blues is by turns brooding, triumphant, threatening, cynical and dreamy, taking the listener on a voyage through Sleepin Pillow's now own brand of progressive psychedelia.

The Superman of the title track is probably more Nietzsche's than Clark Kent'…

Kwoon - The Guillotine Show

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Kwoon, a rather fine French combo, first came to my attention thanks to my good mate Phill and I was especially intrigued by their quirky video for the splendid left-field pop song I Lived On The Moon. Now, with two well received albums behind them, comes this EP, released on 6th October, six tracks clocking in at just under half an hour.

The sound they make has a distinctive European feel, and the first song and title track The Guillotine Show opens with the tolling of a bell, the song making a spooky entrance in a waltz time, unfocused atmospheric vocals adding just the right amount of mystique to a Gothic tune.

Wark continues the Gothic feel, slow building keyboards backing mysterious vocals, the mystery added to by Sandy's accent making the English vocals sometimes hard to decipher, but this only adds to the atmosphere. Us Anglo types are suckers for a Gallic tinged vocal after all! The song eventually builds to a wonderful classic post-rock layered guitar assault.

Following s…

Sleepin Pillow - Apples On An Orange Tree

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Sleepin Pillow, a Greek psych band with a big expansive sound crashed through the headphones with this, their first album released in 2008. Aiming to create "modern psychedelic rock blended with Greek and Eastern traditional music, with English lyrics", this they do with a certain amount of style.

They possess a sound that is all indie rock and spaciness, while eastern strings conjure desert vistas. "There's an amplifier in my heart, feeds an ancient fire in my heart" as it should. A lot of modern psych takes early Black Sabbath as its template and seems to come from a heavy metal place rather than what to this mind is the true source of psych rock, as exemplified by this group. More predicated on English indie, with the bass sound in particular reminiscent of early Cure, combined with a healthy early Floyd presence, and with more than a smidgeon of 13th Floor Elevators to add to the potent brew, this group tick all the right psych boxes for me.

Drug is suitably…

The End Of The Road Festival - September 2/3/4 2011

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Located in Larmer Tree Gardens roughly midway between Shaftesbury and Salisbury and just inside Dorset, the End Of The Road Festival is a mid-sized event with a crowd of probably around 20 or 30 thousand (don't quote me, I'm hopeless at judging crowd sizes!), and is  now in its sixth year, and until about two months ago was a complete unknown to yours truly. A well kept secret is now out, and a charming thing it is too.


The weather in the week before had seen grey skies and plummeting temperatures, so I was more than pleasantly surprised to awake to find Thursday morning warm and sunny - a perfect early September day in fact. With my fellow campers, Russ and Derrick we arrive after a three hour trip on a sunny and warm afternoon, pitch the tents, an act which fellow tentees Russ and Derrick did in about ten minutes, me in about twenty after some cursing, as I'm a bit rusty in matters tent pole related.

Thursday evening was spent on a food and beer search. I have to say thi…