Showing posts from 2012

Machine Mass Trio - As Real As Thinking

In which Belgian guitar monster Michel Delville and the highly experienced "tight but loose" jazz drummer Tony Bianco, both of jazz-space-prog maestros douBt lose the keyboard player and gain Jordi Grognard, a reeds player of some style, who also plays bansouri and electronic tempura, and become the jazz-rock beast that is Machine Mass Trio.

Originally conceived as a side project of douBt, MMT are no doubt (sorry) now a force in their own right. Kicking off in a languorous lounge style with Cuckoo we are soon introduced to Jordi's accomplished playing, from where we venture into more rocky territory on Knowledge with some tight ensemble playing as Jordi free-associates over Michel's spiky guitar theme, Tony pummelling out the beat while also skittering all over the shop. Fast'n'furious, this is a prime example of the group's power.

The album is full of mood changes and Khajuaro,with its meditative Arabian-Indian flavours wherein Michel picks u…

Marbin - Breaking The Cycle

Breaking The Cycle was the second album released by Marbin, back in 2011. This fine band take their name from two young Israelis; guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch, ably assisted by Americans Paul Wertico (drums) and Steve Rodby (bass), both multiple Grammy Award winners with the Pat Metheny Group; not to mention a few distinguished guests (see line up list below).

Back in 2007 the duo famously interrupted a family dinner at Paul Wertico's home by turning up unexpectedly - but presumably not uninvited! The two Dans soon put down their musical roots in their adopted country, and in 2009 as well as releasing their self-titled debut album, Wertico gave them starring roles on his lauded improvised album Impressions Of A City. Since then a seemingly endless list of gigs has established the band as one of the hardest working outfits of any genre, and their road-honed experience shines through on this album. The fact that two veterans of the jazz-rock scene such as W…

2012 - A year in review

Firstly, thanks to all of you for reading my typo-strewn and occasionally acerbic nonsense in 2012.

Another day, another CD, or so it seemed this year; as fast as I was putting CDs away they were arriving, the piles on my desk never getting smaller. Of course, I love it really, and 2012 was another year of great releases in ye olde progressive genres, rock or otherwise.

In very rough chronological order, here are the releases that impressed, linking to reviews. The cream of the crop are in bold, although everything here is top-notch.

Gavin Harrison & Ø5ric – The Man Who Sold Himself
This shouldn't work but it does, very complex but highly enjoyable. My big regret of the year was that due to flu I had to miss the gig, which also included Tony Levin's Stick Men...damn!

no-man - Love and Endings
Live document of the headline act at Burning Shed's 10th anniversary bash, the best gig I attended in 2011.

Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion
The first (or possibly the second) of 31…

Scott Walker - Bish Bosch

Prepare To Be Scared...and possibly Scarred

Album website

As I used to read "proper literature" avidly and still occasionally sit down with a heavyweight tome, I have always thought it is the duty of anyone who has ever considered themselves even a semi-serious bibliophile to tackle that weighty volume of impenetrable verbosity, James Joyce's Ulysses. This I have attempted on at least three occasions, but I have never made it past about a hundred pages, such is its sheer intellectual mass. In conclusion, I ain't clever enough, and I'll leave it to Joyce and the likes of Will Self who may well be a modern Joycean equivalent to bamboozle me, and I've no doubt quite a few of those in possession of a higher IQ than mine.

Much the same can be said of the serious alternative music fan and the latter works of Mr Noel Scott Engel. Although a vein of wilful artistic intent can be traced right back to Scott's first solo album in 1967, the true seeds of the creeping …

Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil...and other short stories

Apropos of nothing at all, that title, but...please let me ramble on...and in the meantime, care for your ears with the song of the same name...

...and now for some general blather and nonsense...

Back in the early to mid-90s when computers in the workplace became commonplace we were constantly being told what a boon to our leisure-time they would be as you could get your work done in a fraction of the time it used to take, thus freeing up swathes of our existence to take up seal boxing or kangaroo stitching, or any other fun activity you could possibly desire.

As we all know only too well, it soon became apparent that all computers did was enable us to produce more work in the same timespan as before, and as the flow of information increased exponentially our free time in fact became more restricted.

What’s that got to do with the price of fish, or indeed music, you would be justified in asking? Well, the all-pervading nature of that grey box on the floor or that harmless-l…

Porcupine Tree - Octane Twisted

It's fanboy time! But this time with a sigh, as right now Octane Twisted seems to be a logical conclusion to the career of Steven Wilson's long running mainstream prog rock band. You get the feeling that the music he's creating now is what he really wants to do, and continuing Porcupine Tree now that they have found a higher level of success could only result in artistic compromise, as the newer fans demand Fear Of A Blank Planet Part 2 (gawd forbid) or Another Incident (preferable, but it ain't Signify or The Sky Moves Sideways, is it?). There, told you it was fanboy time.

Back in October 2010 as we sat in the wonderful venue that is London's Royal Albert Hall, it seemed only natural that the pinnacle gig of Porcupine Tree's lengthy existence should have been recorded, and now, two years later we are treated to but three songs from that special performance on this album. According to Steven he felt that the performance back at the RAH was not that good, and s…

Neo-prog - a cryme too far

Neo-prog is a sub-genre that I have little time for, let alone understand why it even exists, so when I volunteered to be part of DPRP's "Round Table Review" for Galahad's latest waxing Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria I thought here's a chance to deliver some home truths. Then came the debacle in the aftermath of my good mate Baz's righteous shredding (pun intended) of prosaic prog-metal band Threshold's offering for the same site.

As we all know the internet is full of needy fat (in mind if not in body) nerds who seem to have nothing better to do than force their rancid opinions down the virtual gullet of anyone daft enough to engage them in conversation. One of the species, albeit a fairly mild example, took umbrage to Baz's ultimately bang-on review, and to cut a long story short, firstly I decided that my Galahad review, which would almost certainly have resulted in a similar feast of frenzy, was simply not worth the trouble; at the end of the day I …

Pokerface - Transeo

Pokerface is multi-talented Swede Stefan Heidevik and a plethora of session musicians and guests who have created a mind-melting mix of ultra-modern electronica and progressive musics that while at times redolent of the Pat Mastelotto/Trey Gunn project TU, has dug out its own deeply-ploughed furrow of synapse-stretching weirdness. That's a compliment, by the way!

You can listen to it here, while reading on...

Transeo by Pokerface

A mix of studio and live tracks, the latter sound more organic, more human, as indeed it should be. It seems a real drummer is used on Quicksand/Concrete in addition to electronic percussion and some really nice jazz trumpet.

Veering from future projected madly clattering Aphex Twin percussion to implied jazz and eerie soundscapes on Beginnings and Endings, this one track sums up the unusual auditory experience that awaits the listener on Transeo. This album is at once unsettling, edgy, discordant, but for all that strangely compelling.

The frenzied percu…

Dennis Rea - The Discography

...and now, following from The Interview, here's The Discography, in his own words, in chronological order, earliest first. Take it away, Dennis!

Earthstar: Salterbarty Tales(Moontower Records 1978)
My first appearance on record, as a guest contributor to my hometown friend Craig Wuest's electroacoustic project Earthstar. Craig soon relocated to Germany, where I later joined him for additional sessions. Earthstar had the distinction of being the only American group to participate in the German kosmische musik scene while it was still at its height.

Earthstar: French Skyline (Sky Records 1979)
The second Earthstar LP, recorded in Germany with electronic music legend Klaus Schulze producing and a cast of international musicians. I appear on a remix of a track that first appeared on Salterbarty Tales. (Titbit: This session was recorded on a recycled Popol Vuh master tape.)

Earthstar: Atomkraft? Nein, Danke! (Sky Records 1981)
The third Earthstar LP, also recorded in Germany a…