Friday, 21 September 2012

Sh*tg*n - Sh*tg*n

MoonJune Records are a label who love to take risks with hitherto little-known bands from all corners of the globe. A linking theme seems to be jazz-fusion or jazz-rock, either as the main element or as a fairly large influence.

Claiming to be "Psychotic Pompous Contemporary Heavy Metal" on their website, Sh*tg*n (pronounced, maybe disappointingly, "Shotgun") take the MoonJune template and shred it with an angle-grinder before gleefully dancing on the remains. To say this album is atypical of this fine label's output is somewhat of an understatement!

This band are undoubtedly heavy metal, but in a genre with as many confusing sub-strata as the Ganges Delta has tributaries, these angry Belgian loons seem to have created their very own niche. Name me another metal band that prominently features the vibraphone, if you can. I'm no expert in this murky nether region of rock'n'roll, but I'm guessing there aren't any. This strange coming together of jazz, punk, metal, and modern classical is the result of the very different backgrounds of the players, whom, as it says in the press release, just want to "let it all out".

The blackly humourous cover above and the track titles below give more than a hint of the vituperative nature of this odd band, who along with the vibraphone and electric piano feature the standard rock band line up that provides the backing for the idiosyncratic lead vocals of Fulco Ottervanger, who, in his high-register voice sometimes sings, fairly often screams, and occasionally delves into cookie monster territory. Imagine if you will Bon Scott doing a barbed-wire gargling version of Whole Lotta Rosie - Fulco's style takes a bit of getting used to, for sure. When he sings rather than shreds the band deliver a hard rock/punk/jazz-metal hybrid that shows the influence of Black Flag and the heavier side of The Mars Volta, but with less unnecessary convolutions in the time signature department than the alt-prog behemoths. The compositions here can be complex or straightforward or a combination of the two, but you could never accuse this group of being pretentious.

Recorded live with no subsequent edits or overdubs, the obviously very well-rehearsed musicians are given free reign to express themselves, and their wildly different backgrounds - band leader and keyboard player Antione Guenet has played with fusion band The Wrong Object for example - clash together in a maelstrom of metallic righteous anger. Or, to put it another way, if John Coltrane was a vibraphone player and he had invented heavy metal, it might have sounded like this.

While 99% of metal bands these days, that I'm aware of at least (ok, that's not many I'll admit, metal not being my particular poison of choice) tend to go in for low-register grunting and downtuned guitars, this lot go in for high-register screeching and normally tuned guitars, and it does make a refreshing change to an over-used and tired formulaic approach that was probably one of the reasons Opeth so spectacularly changed tack on their last two albums.

Yannick de Pauw shows that he can deliver more than just fast'n'slow slab riffing with a solo dipped in all kinds of psychedelic substances on A Glimpse Into Eternity (hear it up there ^) that puts me in mind of Omar from The Mars Volta.  This song shows that there is far more to this odd bunch than dull metal cliché, and for me it is one of the more likeable tracks from the album.

The most visceral of the lyrics are reserved for Esta Mierda No Est Democracia, a song with a Spanish title (This Shit Is Not Democracy) part sung in French and Dutch, as if trying to throw us off the scent. Actually, stench is probably a better word as the song rants and rails, with choice bursts of venom like "..with their brainless ideas you get nothing but crap coming out of their fucking mouths" being one of the more printable translations from this fiery sermon against the austerity cuts and capitalism in general (I think!). Don't you just wish you still had that youthful exuberance?! A very Black Flag influence abounds on this particular ditty, the riff in particular.

A youthful punky attitude is apparent throughout, and this is probably an album the younger listener would appreciate more than me, although there is something here for any lover of out-and-out spleen-venting set to suitable angry noises. If MoonJune are looking at attracting a younger customer, then this may well be the album to do it.

Find out more at MoonJune Records

Track listing:
Dead Baby (2:06)
Deejays Should Have Low Self-Esteem (4:24)
Eyjafjallajokull (3:18)
Shitgun (4:19)
Camera Obscura (6:17)
Shotgun (Afraid Of) (3:58)
Save Us From Bloody Women (1:07)
Erase Her Dad (3:01)
A Glimpse Into Eternity (4:31)
Esta Mierda No Es Democracia (3:12)
J33 (I Don't Wanna See) (4:42)
Black Beetle (7:58)

Line up:

Antoine Guenet - Keyboards, Vocals
Fulco Ottervanger- Lead vocals
Wim Segers- Vibraphones
Yannick de Pauw - Guitars
Dries Geusens - Bass
Simon Segers - Drums

Monday, 17 September 2012

Slivovitz - Bani Ahead

This will be first in a series of "catch up" reviews, where for one reason or another a growing CD pile has been allowed to partly obscure the right side of the monitor on my desk. Numero uno in the tidy up is Bani Ahead by Slivovitz. Enjoy!

Not so much jazz fusion as a jazz rock orchestra, Italian band Slivovitz released this, their third album and second on MoonJune Records last year to widespread acclaim, and it now falls to me to follow the praise others have heaped on this fine album.

The eight songs on Bani Ahead were written between 2009 and 2011 and were recorded almost entirely live at Zork Studio in Buccino in south western Italy and mixed by Peppe de Angelis at his studio in Sorrento, which is a truly beautiful part of the world to work in, the lucky sod!

The strange cover picture above may well vindicate the Romanian translation of the album title as "Money Ahead", who knows? If not, blame Google Translate!

Now for the important part, the music. Featuring a mixture of European, American and ethnic flavours, the opening song Egiziaca gallops into view trading syncopation between the guitar and the brass leading to a becalmed middle section where the trumpet echoes Miles Davis over eerie atmospherics,the drums hitting various off-beats to up the tempo as the intensity slowly rises before the tune is taken off the cooker and served up al dente with a skewed reprise of the opening theme taking us through to the close, starring some frenzied harmonica blowing. The harmonica gives the band a fairly unique weapon in its arsenal, as off the top of my head I can't think of another band that uses the instrument in the genre. This song serves as an indication of what is to come, a stew featuring many ingredients and not just those confined to jazz rock, as evinced by the Eastern tinges of Cleopatra Through, a thoroughly joyous romp in the desert, in 5/4 no less.

Having been around for over 10 years, Slivovitz are no slouches when it comes to tight ensemble playing, the preferred format here to soloing, which, when it occurs is mostly kept short and to the point. Whereas the opening two songs are lively affairs, Fat is a gorgeous slow-building European jazz-folk ballad with bags of soul, featuring some subtle and lovely guitar picking and swathes of very filmic orchestral backing, climaxing in a short and restrained guitar break. This could well be a soundtrack to an imaginary movie.

Latin inflections abound on the slow-burning Vascello, and some highly complicated time signatures on 02/09 remind me of Canterbury fusion. 02/09 gets heavy in an almost Crimsoid fashion at one point, showcasing the group's diversity; a love of stylistic flourishes that does nothing to lessen the overall cohesiveness of the album. Opus Focus is something that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Terje Rypdal's Vossabrygg, a strangely dark piece of avant-jazz soundscaping, and the following title song is a complete contrast being a sturdy Balkan dance number, the fast orchestration replaced by some gritty guitar before a choogling sax break. The ending sounds like one of those New Orleans funeral marches before speeding up to a cossack styled fury, stopping suddenly; all that was missing was voices shouting "Hey" at appropriate intervals!

Slivovitz is also a Balkan beverage we would call plum brandy, and like that drink the album is a heady confection that will get you dancing in no time at all. In conclusion this is a really interesting and fun record, and a must for all lovers of jazz rock.

Track lisingt: 

1. Egiziaca (6:57)
2. Cleopatra Through (5:23)
3. Fat (5:03)
4. Vascello (6:05)
5. 02-09 (5:37)
6. Opus Focus (3:51)
7. Bani Ahead (5:20)
8. Pocho (5:51)

Line up:
Domenico Angarano - Bass
Derek Di Perri - Harmonica
Marcello Giannini - Guitars
Salvatore Rainoni - Drums
Cirro Ricardi - Trumpet
Pietro Santangelo - Saxophones
Riccardo Villari - Violin

Listen to more, and buy at MoonJune Records

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Get 'Em Out By Tuesday

The date in the unspoken lyric in the classic Genesis song Get 'Em Out By Friday "18/9/2012 t.v. flash on all dial-a-program services" comes around on Tuesday, and this has the effect of making me feel really quite old indeed, as Foxtrot was the first Genesis LP I bought new, aged 14, some two years after its release, and the date "18/9/2012" seemed unbelievably far in the future at the time...ho-hum.

As if an excuse were needed, my good DPRP colleague and student of the prog, one Mr Basil Francis, thought this would be a good time for a small but perfectly formed feature on the most quintessentially English of the prog originals.

What we're going to do is list four key Genesis songs and a fave album each, because...well, because we can.

These are Baz's:

Stagnation (Trespass) - One of the key songs from this oft-underrated album (I believe Roger has the other one covered). One of Genesis' first 'musical journey' songs, Stagnation taps into many moods and dynamics throughout its nine-minute length. The opening three-minutes are incredibly beautiful and relaxing, yet still maintain direction. The rest of the song, sometimes bombastic, other times subdued, is also very evocative.

The Musical Box (Nursery Cryme) - Starting once again with an acoustic intro section, involving the flute work of Peter Gabriel, this track is perhaps the definitive Genesis track. Only a very talented bunch of songwriters could know how to reserve themselves for three and a half minutes before delivering a very satisfying wallop in the rest of the track. Despite (or perhaps because of) its storyline depicting a fantastical old man ravaging a young girl, The Musical Box stands as one of progressive rock's most powerful and best realised statements.

The Cinema Show (Selling England By The Pound) - Once again, this song has another extended 'acoustic' bit. My tastes are getting a bit formulaic right now. However, I'm not here to talk about Romeo, his basement flat or his chocolate surprise. On Foxtrot, I think the boys let themselves down a bit when they attempted to play in a certain odd time signature (see below), but here, in the second half of the track, Genesis fully redeem themselves by rocking out in 7/8. And this time they do it properly, and keep to the time signature, rather than have messy keyboards and drums everywhere whilst Steve and Mike can be audibly heard counting to nine on their guitars. As a drummer, I've found this track to be exceptional fun to play along to, along with Dance on a Volcano, also in seven. What a Jolly Good Time it is!

One for the Vine (Wind and Wuthering) - Ooh, controversial; I've gone for a post-Gabriel track. This was really getting to the end of Genesis' 'classic' era, but this track, clocking in at exactly ten minutes, proved that the band still had their songwriting chops at this late stage. Simply put, this track is as succinct and pleasant as storytelling prog ever got. I say 'storytelling', because the lyrics make complete sense once you can hear what Collins is babbling on about, and a damn good story it is too! A very beautiful and concise track, the closing piano notes recall the glory of Firth of Fifth (see below).

Now, choosing a favourite album is bloody difficult, because I simply can't put my hand on my heart and say that any of their albums are perfect. Genesis have some astonishing standalone songs, but consistency isn't really their thing. Even the revered Selling England by the Pound has it's share of dull and cringeworthy moments (Wha? - Ed). However, based crudely on the amount of what I deem to be 'enjoyable material' I suppose this album would have to do. I'm just ashamed that if I were to go to a desert island with just one Genesis album, that I'd be taking I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) with me. I'd certainly miss a lot of other tracks!

And these are mine:

The Knife (Genesis Live version) - The power and exuberance of this song showed a peak of energy this usually rather studious band rarely reached again. Even Mr Hackett must have wanted to stand up playing this. Bonkers and brilliant!

Supper's Ready (Foxtrot) - May be here for sentimental reasons as it was the first prog epic these old lugholes ever experienced first hand as it were, but Pete's Biblical tale still hits the spot some 407 years later; although according to Baz, Tony doesn't know how to play in 9/8, not that I care in the slightest.

Firth Of Fifth (Selling England By The Pound) - Any song from this album could have made it to this list, even More Fool Me, but I'll stick with this, as it sums up the band in its nine and half minutes: Pete's strange proclamations, some stunning Banks keyboard work, and Steve plays a truly lovely solo. And Phil keeps schtum! Wahey!

Back In NYC (The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway) - A difficult album to pull one song from, as they don't all work out of context, but it might as well be this. The fact that Eno had a hand in the production is all over Tony's Roxy-like keyboard sound. A tune you can idiot-dance, or indeed, dance like an idiot to.

And my favourite album is Selling England By The Pound, a succinct distillation of the progress the band had made up to that point, and as perfect a prog album as you're ever likely to get.

Oh, and so there's no doubt, Genesis ceased to exist as any kind of prog force when Steve left after Wind And my 'umble opinion, of course. The less said about what followed the better.

Well, there you have it...over to you...

Tales From The Bottom Of The Glass (1)

This is the first in an occasional series of cynical blasts and bile-filled spleen-venting from Roger McNasty, our man at the bar, located somewhere in the back of beyond of the cerebal cortex of Astounded By Sound!

McNasty, a man with the whiff of stale alcohol and with the lived-in look of a soon to be demolished tower block sits at the bar of the muso's pub of choice "The Taming Of The Crew" nursing a two-thirds empty bottle of JD while observing muso life walk in and out of his severely disturbed psyche.

Well, there I was sat on my usual bar stool...well, truth be known, I was stuck to it, but that's another story; when who should amble up to the bar but Chris Gentlemass, the nine-foot bass player with Yes copyists Suncottage Jelly Mallet, nine times winners of CRPP's Fragile At The Edge award. "'Ow do Chris?" sez moi "How's tricks in the world of slavish mimicry?" Then he regales me with this sordid tale:

Apparently their singer, one Jon "Akkers" Stanley has been poached by their raison d'être to replace Benny Davids as the latter had the temerity to sneeze on the tour bus and so was booted off with absolutely no ceremony at all. This leaves our heroes with the dilemma of finding a new high-pitched warbler, and let's face it, elfin-voiced blokes are a bit thin on the ground these days. Of course, Jon was delighted to be joining Yeah!, and so, arming himself with ten years' supply of anti-flu jabs disappeared over the horizon of sanity, never to be heard of again.

Anyway, Chris tells me he was wiling away a dystopian nightmare at the karaoke evening down his local sink estate watering hole The Lardarse And Feckwit when through a brandy induced fug he heard the note perfect rendition of I Know What I Like In Tha' (it was a Northern pub) Wardrobe. Forgetting that his band of musical pirates filched the Yes band and not the Genesis band, Chris stumbles over to said tonsil-wobbler and asks if he would care to join his group. The lad, whose barely feasible name was Steve Kafziel, was so good, sez Chris, that he was willing to overlook the fact that the new front man was so fat he could barely move and that he had a severe body odour problem.

Upon turning up at the band's rehearsal rooms; actually the shed on Chris's dad's was a tad cramped, the drumkit was on the cabbage patch outside; the rest of the band were horrified, especially guitarist Dave Who who had a such a bad reaction to the acrid smell of Steve's nasal hair shredding scent he had go outside and throw up all over Gentlemass Snr's rhubarb. Added to that was the hilarious sight of Steve getting stuck in the doorway, trapping the other band members inside. The fire brigade were called and the shed had to be taken down. The firemen wore gas masks as protection against Steve's increasing pong, now causing the runner beans to visibly wilt.

Retiring to the pub, minus Steve, who was taken away for a shower, drummer Alan Black (stepson of Jet) pointed out that a singer who sounded like Peter Gabriel might not work...but how about changing tack and becoming a Genesis copy? Great idea thought the rest of the band but we'll have to change our about Watch The Massive Charabanc?

Laugh? Well, I snickered a bit, laughter doesn't come easy to a cynical bastard like me. I then fell off my stool, leaving the seat of my pants stuck I was later told, I can't actually remember.

Until next time, yours witheringly, Roger McNasty.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Jay Tausig - The Trip Around The Sun

Or, to give it its full title:

The Art Of Ed Unitsky And The Music Of Jay Tausig

A Cosmic Journey Through The Zodiac
The Trip Around The Sun

One of the reasons I got into this reviewing lark was to satisfy an addiction for the new, the unheard. Well, this guy has made me realise that there are never going to be enough hours in the day, days in year, or years in a lifetime to do much more than scratch at the surface of the music that is out there. OK, I kind of realised that the hours and hours of music released every year, even within a genre, far surpasses the time available to any one individual to experience even a modest percentage of it. However, Jay Tausig alone alone has a discography that makes me go “woah!” A casual glance at his website reveals he has made 7 albums since 2004, as well as numerous appearances on various tribute albums, the first being 1995’s VdGG tribute Eyewitness, to which Jay contributed three songs. I bought this album when it came out, but in those pre-internet days it was difficult to find out who these mostly obscure artists were; Jay included. The fact that this appears to be the first generally released music by Jay is ironic in that until now he had disappeared under my radar. There may well be serendipity involved.

Anyway, rambling aside you may wonder why releasing 7 albums in 7 years is such a daunting prospect, and it is because added to that is his 2012 magnum opus (and if ever that phrase was justified it is now) The Trip Around The Sun, which as you can see from the listing above so far comprises 6 full-length albums, each dedicated to a sign of the Zodiac, and obviously there are 6 more to come! On top of that there is Jay’s third solo album Delirium scheduled for release this year. So much for the slacker new-age generation, then, eh? I’ll let Jay explain the writing processes involved:

The writing process for this project could be described as "Record as I Write". Getting the initial energy of a performance is very important to the way it ultimately flows, and sounds. Much of this music is built up from complete performances on any one given instrument...usually improvised and intuitive. A great deal of this is First Take.
Also, about 50 % of it is written "on the spot" this year, as we go. Whenever delving into other material from the last few years, the "timestamps" on the file allow me know when a particular song was recorded...because capturing the essence and feeling of any particular sign has turned out to be the ultimate focus and goal. The Guests are usually doing their work during their "Birth Sign" as well...Synchronicity is one of the things that makes so much of this project unique and special.
It's a journey, not so much a collection of songs, but an intuitive, highly focused, music and art road map to the myths and properties of the 12 Astrological signs.....

So there you have it; the music on these albums is ever-expanding in a way akin to our universe, and you can leap in anywhere you want and trip off to your heart’s content, which is just as well, as I doubt anyone is going to sit through all 12 instalments in one sitting. Recorded in the gorgeously named Studio Lemuria in Nevada City, northern California, Jay has composed and played nearly everything and is a more than capable drummer as well as a guitarist and keyboard player. He probably made the tea too. Assisting him throughout the series are various vocalists, such as “Rhi-Jenerate” and “Thom World Poet” to name but two who contribute singing and spoken word interludes linking the star signs to the cosmic wonderment, all in a suitably otherworldly fashion. Thom writes some of the lyrics, as does Keith Waye, but if I were to list all the movers’n’shakers we would be here all night! Contributing his trademark visually intense artwork throughout is Ed Unitsky, and this alone is a trip in itself.

The first thought that makes itself known to me, as I sit here typing away with part 6 Cancer - Shell of Silver and the Beehive Heart blasting away is how on Earth…or indeed in Space… can anyone write so much music in what appears to be a relatively short time and not run out of ideas? Well, I’m just going to have to immerse myself in the far-out world of Mr Tausig to find out, am I not?

Let’s rewind to the beginning, Aquarius. After the sultry-voiced intro from Ms Rhi-Jenerate, written by Remy Kiehn-Lindsey, as are all the cosmic astrological pronouncements, Uranus starts things off with a gentle space rock vibe that hots up into a percussion led charge through the dark matter. Jay plays all the instruments on this first album, from the bass-led thundering The Eleventh Hour to vibraphones (?) on Water Bearer he shows a fine ear for melody and subtlety as well as psych wig-out, the latter writ large on Amethyst. Then there’s the complex math-rock extrapolations of the title track The Revolutionist, and we’re only half-way through the first album!

Other names you might recognise helping Jay out are Billy Sherwood & Bridget Wishart (Pisces), who contributed to the writing of and play on the 8 minute space-prog mini-epic Twisting The Tail which has touches of Yes swimming with Gong, like a couple of playful dolphins. Lovely! Now, Let’s Focus On The Fish that follows is a fully-formed song of deft subtlety that gently scatters off in all directions in the middle in the manner of a disturbed shoal, before reforming, led by a simple organ-riff. Although not at all stylistically similar, and Jay’s voice is not at all related, I can somehow imagine Arthur Brown singing this. West Coast vibes with some nice clarinet from Bridget and acoustic guitar inform Vast Ocean Dream (Reprise) and this album has already taken a turn off the highway of space-rock. Strangely, the Reprise appears before the first version on the album but both are fine examples of blissed-out acid-folk. On Fins And Scales we change tack to feature some rather fine soaring guitar reminiscent of Be-Bop Deluxe era Bill Nelson. It’s the melding of styles to the themes of each star sign that works so well, and stops the project from being repetitive, as the aquatic nature of Pisces washing over the listener testifies.

Kerry Chicoine (aka Kerry Kompost) ex of Mars Hollow crops up on his song Vernal Equinox playing sax, guitar and bass on Aries – The Fire Within which is a varied album, moving from the hard riffage of opener Aries Ignited to the whimsical space-rock instrumental Focus And Flame, which has a Green era Hillage feel to it, to the fluid and funky guitar of Bill Berends on Aries Fire Horse. Some nice violin on this album is contributed by Cyndee Lee Rule, a classically trained violinist who has played with everyone from Dave Kerman to Nik Turner and most points in between, along with being a member of Spirits Burning, as is Bridget Wishart.

Taurus – Roots Of The Earth is full of some great dub reggae melded into space rock, with a guest appearances by the suitably named Natty Congo, who lends his throaty proclamations to Glorious Dub, and sundry others on this fine album. Space rock goes Rasta on Ode To Venus amongst swirls of ‘erb an’ t’ing…sorry I and I are getting a bit carried away. For someone who says this is his first skank with de reggae, Jay has got the sinuous bass riffs and the reverb guitar chord-chopping on the off-beat down like a seasoned pro. So far, this is my favourite album of the series; I’m almost dancing, which for me is pretty radical. Contributing drum programming to Glorious Dub is Steffe Sharpstrings, a name no doubt familiar to fans of free festival stalwarts Here & Now. I haven’t listened to much dub since the days of The Clash, and it sure brings back some memories; now, where’s that Blackbeard LP? Stoned reggae rhythms permeate this album like a warm embrace, and boy, is it smoky in here! Yeah, mon indeed.

Gemini - The Chaos And The Calm promises some good contrast but doesn’t quite deliver, and maybe misses an opportunity for a dose of schizoid aural delights. There are only 6 tracks on this 80 minute album, and the closer Two Sides To Every Coin part 2 is 43 minutes long! Kicking the album off, Two Sides To Every Coin part 1 at a mere 12 minutes fades in from some far-off galactic outpost, meditational chanting over more strung-out guitar hints that we have latched on to a trip that has been going on for aeons, A Mass In ∞ if you will, and this is how the album continues. Mirabel, while still strung-out gets more dissonant with some good sax squawking leading the way. Chaos And Calm tends more towards the latter than the former, but features some really good ivory-tinkling for all that. Two Sides To Every Coin part 2 is a gigantic Om Riff, Jay’s spoken and Kimberley Bass’s sung lyrics flitting in and out of the mix as synths swirl and occasional saxes blow looooonnnng notes. This is the kind of thing that would make perfect listening on a train journey across a hot foreign landscape, blissful as it is, yet eerie at the same time.

On Cancer, the first instalment of the two-part song Shell of Silver and the Beehive Heart mixes a distinctly angular Hammill vibe with solid riffing and melodic keys in a manner that gets me headbangin’ like the old days…well it would if I wasn’t afraid of putting my neck out; a really good and unusual take on the given space-rock template. Jay’s admits that Hammill was a big influence on him in his website notes to the aforementioned Eyewitness compilation, and that is no bad thing at all. The second part is more conventional slow-paced space-rock with some nice guitar work by Jay, whose acid-tinged and rough-edged style contrasts nicely with the highly melodic nature of the synth-led backing. This is probably the most “prog” of the albums so far, and on Shelter a quirky bass line takes the languid astral guitar along a different path from the one you might be expecting. That song is one of many on the project where Jay plays everything, and while “one-man-band” pieces can sometimes be a bit flat, that certainly is not the case on The Trip Around The Sun, a project of consistently high production values. A soulful vibe permeates everything, and The Trip has a lot of heart too.

There are many moods and styles covered in the first 6 albums that have so far been released and enough good ideas and imagination to hold ones interest which is a feat in itself for such a long piece of work.

Hopefully my “pick’n’mix” review has whetted your appetite, and you may be wondering how much what will in all probability end up being around 14 hours of music is going to cost? Well, during 2012 for a mere $30 you can subscribe to the whole lot as downloads, which sounds like a bargain to me. There are a load of goodies thrown in too, follow the link to Subscription details for more info.

Album list:
Aquarius – The Revolutionist (1:00:03)
Pisces – Vast Ocean Dream (1:12:08)
Aries – The Fire Within (1:11:09)
Taurus – Roots Of The Earth (1:12:14)
Gemini – The Chaos And The Calm (1:19:08)
Cancer – Shell Of Silver And The Beehive Heart (1:15:24)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Classic Prog Awards

While I grudgingly respect Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine for bringing a much-maligned genre some attention it wouldn't otherwise get, it lets itself down badly by being far too Brit-centric, favouring the same tired old clichés, and latterly but most off-putting by being hideously expensive.

Last night saw their first annual prog awards beano, an event that even got a report on BBC Breakfast this morning, so, again kudos for reminding the world at large that prog still exists. Then it shoots itself in the foot by having a ceremony that was...well, regressive rather than progressive.

Here's the awards list in full:

NEW BLOOD: TesseracT
I can't comment as I've not heard them. Would they be dominated by loud keyboards perchance? Oi, you there, stop being so cynical....;) Right, I've listened to them now....aaaarggh...a cookie monster. Not my cup of lark's vomit but not in the way I was expecting at all...ho-hum.

LIVE EVENT: Anathema
This category is ridiculous unless somehow they managed to go to every prog gig in the world in the last 12 months. But, restricting it to the UK, and again I doubt they went to every gig, I can think of one in particular that would have been hard to beat that I'll bet only warranted a couple of lines at most in the mag. Hey, but I didn't get to every gig either, the Anathema one included..

GRAND DESIGN: Pink Floyd Immersion reissues
Oh for fuck's sake! Over-priced, unnecessary, bloated and basically a marketing ruse to part the gullible from their wallets. Fling yer marbles at Waters with yer scarf, I say!

ANTHEM: Squackett A Life Within A Day
Anthem? What is this, the Stadium Rawk Awards?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Rush Clockwork Angels
Oh for fuck's sake again. At least it wasn't Grace For Drowning. Do these people listen to anything new, ever?

VISIONARY: Peter Hammill
Wahey! At last, one I can't disagree with.

A band who made their last groundbreaking LP in 1975 and split up in 1998. 'Nuff said.

VIRTUOSO: Carl Palmer
Daft category. This is prog, so "virtuoso" is a given, surely? Although Carl was no doubt up there with the best tub-thumpers 40 years ago, I'm sure there's dozens of young whippersnappers who could out-paradiddle the old boy nowadays.

GUIDING LIGHT: Steven Wilson
What does this category actually mean? Again, confined to the UK you have to say that The Hardest Working Man In Hertfordshire is probably the most innovative, at least. Where are you guiding us to then Steve? Hemel Hempstead?

PROG GOD: Rick Wakeman
Hahahahahaha. Grumpy Old Bloke becomes deity shock horror! Free takeaway curries for the poor! On ice!, back to work.

2019, the insanity grows...

Odd title for an annual music review, but them's the times. With these words I aim to provide you with an escape from the creeping madne...