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Monday, September 25, 2017

Talinka - Talinka


Supported by Robert Wyatt, Talinka is one of those releases that will make you tug your heart of beautiful, soft, and gentle releases that is very deep, distinct, and efficient that MoonJune Records have released. Back in August of 2015 in my review of Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble’s The Whistle Blower, I once described Tali Atzmon’s vocals was a nod to Combustible Edison’s Miss Lily Banquette on the closing title-track which showed their sense of humor. Listening to Talinka, it’s different.

You can feel Tali’s presence on Talinka’s sole self-titled release as if she’s singing right behind you as if you are walking through a ghost town as the pin dropped at the exact moment. Her vocals reminisce of the late great Peggy Lee. The album is this combination between Jazz, Folk, Tango, and the Great American Songbook. There are moments that the music is haunting and ominous at times with a chilling atmosphere at times.

With the album cover in which Tali did the image for, it’s very much a nod to Black Sabbath’s sole self-titled debut release in 1970, alongside Tali’s vocals, it considers Jenny Bliss Bennett on Viola de Gamba, Violin, Flute, and Vocals; Frank Harris on Piano; Enzo Zirilli on Percussion; Yaron Stavi on Double Bass; and Gilad Atzmon on Bass Clarinet, Soprano Sax, and Accordion. He also produced the album as well.

The album was recorded last year at The Fish Factory Studio in London in November last year and mixed there also in December of that year. You can close your eyes and imagine it’s either 1939 or 1942 in the smoky nightclubs and it’s something straight out of the movies between Casablanca or Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, Tali is hypnotizing the audience of her singing and it fascinates the crowd and giving her a big stamp of approval.

Not to mention the six highlights on here that just made listeners open the doors more and more opened than ever before. Invitation begins with this haunting introduction by Gilad’s bass clarinet followed by Stavi’s Brazilian bossa-nova bass line along with Jenny’s violin and Enzo’s brushes on the percussion. The accordion makes you walk along the sandy beaches in the Northwestern part of Brazil in a place called Bahia as the team follow Tali right behind her.

Losing Vision is a response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis that happened last year. Gilad’s bass clarinet and Jenny’s Viola de Gamba create this mourning loss as you can hear the cries and whispers and knowing the struggle of a cry for a change, is going to be a gigantic long and winding road. Gilad and Jenny make you walk into an empty street from an aftermath that just happened that was once peaceful, turned into rubble.

The chilling short instrumental Heimat is an eerie composition with crying vocalization and into the deep waters of classical-avant-garde jazz while the menacing tango vibrations of the Jazz standard, You Don’t Know What Love Is gives my arm-hairs go up at the right momentum as if they strike you like thunder crashing down towards the small little town with powerful notes.

When You Are Gone is a nod to Bali H’ai. It’s a sad and beautiful song that Tali does. You can close your eyes and imagine walking through a sad-and-lonely club of people who lost their loved ones through tragedy and sympathizing with what they had to go through and the struggle to move on, is hard and slow baby steps. The accordion, violin, and double bass set the scenario of what is happening.

The characterization of this person is coming to an end after what has happened to them. The music on here, I got this feeling that is this nod to perhaps one of the most amazing bands to come out of the Rock In Opposition movement thanks to Jenny’s improvisation on her violin, is a band called Univers Zero. And then there’s Baroque Bottom.

You have this soaring soprano sax and the flute delving into the bright clouds and hope there is a new day. The vocalizations set this characterization of a person at being at the lowest low, knowing as I’ve mentioned a second ago, there’s a new beginning and a new chapter for them.

Talinka’s self-titled release is a return to real good music and real Jazz music. For me, listening to this album, is like a breath of fresh air and knowing that there is some good music who want to keep the flaming fires of the genre of the sound of Jazz, Classical, Folk, and Tango alive and well. Talinka has done that. And I hope they will continue to do more in the years to come.

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius - Guilty of Innocence


I’m new to the bandwagon when it comes to new bands and artists. And one of them has suddenly landed on my lap which is Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius. They are a New York based band that formed 16 years ago and they have released their fifth studio album released on the Melodic Revolution Records label this year entitled, Guilty of Innocence. This is one of their frenzied and exaggerated releases I’ve listened from top to bottom and they’ve hit the erupt button in a big gigantic bang.

They’ve opened for artists such as Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre, Alex Skolnick of Testament, and Mickey Hart to name a few. While Joe’s vocal arrangements are brilliant, alongside his electric violin comparing to Curved Air’s Darryl Way, Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Jerry Goodman, and Frank Zappa alumni Jean-Luc Ponty, they take inspirations between Zappa, King Crimson, Yes, and Muse. Stratospheerius won the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, The Musician’s Atlas, and the Independent Music Award.

Testament's Alex Skolnick, Renaissance’s Rave Tesar, and The Fringe’s Randy McStine appear on the album to lend Joe and the band, a helping hand to show support and knowing they’ve got their backs. Alongside Joe Deninzon, it considers; Aurelien Budynek on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Jamie Bishop on Bass and Backing Vocals, and Lucianna Padmore on Drums.

The five highlights on here are enduring and make you imagine as I’ve always say, “A movie inside your head.” Face has this essence of Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste and Octopus-era on the introduction as the crashing waves hitting the sailing ships as Joe is almost the captain fighting the waves and thunderstorms hitting the boat as his bandmates make sure the ship is steady and try to make towards the surface and not plummet 5,000 fathoms below their sinking doom.

Their take of Muse’s Hysteria from their third studio album in 2003, Absolution is spot on. I love how they do this Spaghetti-Western nod to Ennio Morricone’s Man with No Name trilogy before it goes into interstellar. Jamie’s bass sets forward the space ship into the cosmos as Deninzon’s vocals honors Matt Bellamy with a nod to Frank Zappa thrown into the time signature mixes.

The spaghetti western comes back into the blender of adding the tension thanks to Lucianna’s drumming between Joe and Aurelien getting ready to draw their instruments as weapons in the hottest part of the afternoon of wah-wah violins and guitars for dueling riff at the O.K. Corral on a Game of Chicken while they head to the mothership with a funky groove of a reminiscing intro of David Bowie’s Word on a Wing with the Affluenza.

The lyrics deal with the issue on being betrayed and the real person who is doing the hurting is almost as if they are looking in the mirror to find out what kind of worst enemy or the monster they have finally become and knowing that their time is nearly up. Then, we come to the finale of the 12-minute epic, Soul Food.

It makes this jump to light-speed as the first six minutes of epic is part Supertramp’s Crime of the Century-era to Rush’s golden-era from 1975 to 1977. Alex takes center stage to lend Stratospheerius a helping hand as he takes the ship home back to Earth. Then the last five minutes becomes this classical, folky aftermath of coming home. It transforms into this piano concerto that Rave Tesar does that essence of Tony Banks at times.

It suddenly transforms into a rising melody with a nod to Queen II. The vocalizations near end is not only fantastic, but it’s almost as if they are cheering and supporting by throwing confetti for the heroes return for a job well done and then everything screeches at the last 30 seconds for this twist of thunderstorm and wind fade out.

Again, I’m new to Stratospheerius and Joe Deninzon’s music, but Guilty of Pleasure is right in my alley. I have to say I was very impressed the moment I put the CD on my old portable CD player. It was like a breath of fresh air all over again and going back and finding out some of the bands and artists to watch out for rather than watch some fail on American Idol. Guilty of Pleasure is not only great, but one of the most hectic and heart-stopping albums I’ve listened to.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gentle Giant - Three Piece Suite


By now, you’re probably know for my love of Gentle Giant since 2002. With Steven Wilson handling the new mixes and 5.1 mix he’s done with The Power and the Glory back in 2014, Octopus in 2015, and now this year the release of the Three Piece Suite, it’s going to be quite a very interesting experience to discover these 10 tracks that cover the first three albums when Phil Shulman was in the band before departing to start a family after the release of their fourth album, Octopus.

The first three albums (Gentle Giant, Acquiring the Taste, and Three Friends) were originally released on the Vertigo label from 1970 to 1972 and the band formed out of the ashes of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. The band wanted to move away from their pop/psychedelic sound into something that was complex, multi-part vocal arrangements, heavier, classical, and different time signatures.

The ten tracks came from the limited availability of the surviving multi-track tapes that Steven worked on by using Logic as the software and Universal Audio plug-ins while cleaning up the sound of bringing some clarity and information from the instrumental pieces that are on here. I’ve mentioned this many times, Steven is not trying to re-write history, but to honor and stay true to the original mixes as much as he can while bringing a different perspective on them.

Not everyone is going to like what he does on the classic albums on the 5.1 mixes, but it gives a sight on what was buried in those multi-tracks. You have the opening track Giant which begin with the lyrics “The birth of a realization/the rise of a high expectation.” It gives Derek’s vocals coming in front as he sings after the rising organ sound from Kerry Minnear, rumbling bass by Ray, and the booming drums done by Martin Smith.

The piece has this nod to Frank Zappa as if he was watching them just being in awe of what they’re accomplishing by doing a stop-and-go moments from the beginning and in the end section where it comes to an abrupt halt. The mysterious melody tones between, guitar, bass, and piano on The House, The Street, The Room is very clear in the remix as the song deals with scoring drugs while the nod to the story of The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel on Pantagruel’s Nativity, Minnear’s vocals shine followed by the Mellotron and the vocalizations between Derek’s haunting momentum and Gary’s riffs send a chill down my spine along with the xylophone and tambourine which is very clear, is mesmerizing.

Schooldays which almost as if it was recorded during the One Size Fits All-era, paints a retrospective looking back at the time the band remember their days as young man in school as both Phil Shulman and Kerry Minnear’s reverb vocals go back and forth followed by Calvin Shulman’s cameo vocals in the second half of the story. Gary Green for me, he’s been overlooked in the history of the Progressive Rock movement during its golden-era. He never gets the recognition he deserves.

When you listen to the 12-bar blues shuffle at the end section of Why Not? He mixing both Jazz, Classical, and the Blues rolled into one. From its rocking riffs with a Blackmore-sque style to the climatic end to delve into the Blues Rock momentum with Kerry’s organ in hot pursuit, he is powerful and the band give him a chance to come in front to deliver the goods from Wilson’s remix on the track along with the reverb midsection part of classical turned hard rock effects of Peel the Paint

Three Friends is a symphonic ending of the suite which you can imagine on their third album comes full circle. It has some of the King Crimson-sque vibes between Malcolm Mortimore’s drumming, Gary’s guitar, Vocalizations, and the Mellotron coming to bring everything to know that the road to moving forward is not always easy, but remembering the good times that you had as a youth.

The bonus track contains Freedom’s Child which originally appeared in the 2-CD set, Under Construction 20 years ago, has not only a ballad, but with a country, soul, and touching composition that Minnear wrote. It is not only a beautiful song, but you could tell that the Shulman brothers already went through that passage through their Simon Dupree years and wanted to do something to move beyond the singles. And the 7-inch edit that Wilson did on the acoustic eerie reflection turned mind-blowing composition, Nothing At All.

The liner notes are done by Innerviews: Music Without Borders writer Anil Prasad including interviews with the band, Steven Wilson, and Tony Visconti who produced the first two albums. Anil has also done the liner notes for the 2015 reissue of Octopus and of course Levin Brothers, but I’m off-topic. It’s a great history covering the first three albums and it shows how much appreciation they had working on these albums.

The DVD/Blu-Ray contains short films of the ten tracks which include the construction of a building in New York on Giant done by Yael Shulman, Noah Shulman doing an amazing animated storytelling with Peel The Paint, Lior Wix’s animation of a young woman looking at the river of reflecting back with Nothing At All, The pictures of the adventures of Gargantua and Pantagruel from the Pantagruel’s Nativity lyric video that I could imagine Terry Gilliam would one day do a film of, and pictures of the band members as they were young reflecting on Schooldays.

It also contains the first three albums in its original mix with a flat transfer and instrumental versions of the songs. You could tell watching these animated and live action music videos is almost as if Gentle Giant were carrying the torches of Disney’s Fantasia and bringing it to life done the right way possible. Let’s hope next year Steven does a 5.1 mix of their seventh studio album, Free Hand. And in the words of Francois Rabelais, “I go to seek a great perhaps.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

King Crimson - Heroes


For me, since 2000, I’ve been a huge admirer of King Crimson after buying their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King from Soundwaves that changed my life on real good music. Robert Fripp described King Crimson as “A Way of Doing Things”. Despite various line-up changes from 1969 and onwards, they’ve never done me wrong. Starting in late November, the band will start their Fall tour in the States this year on October 19th at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas.

And they’ve unleashed a 5-track EP entitled, Heroes which the band recorded at live performances in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna last year in their European Tour in the fall of 2016. It was also a heavier year after the loss of the late great David Bowie on January 11th, so it was quite an honor for Fripp who worked with Bowie from the Heroes album in 1977 to Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) in 1980, to show that he hasn’t forgotten him and knowing to keep his spirit alive.

Originally known as the “Seven-Headed Beast” line-up, Fripp takes it up a notch with now known as the “Double Quartet Foundation”. Which considers alongside Robert Fripp on Guitar & Keyboards, but Mel Collins on Sax and Flute, Tony Levin on Bass and Chapman Stick, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, and Jeremy Stacey on Drums. Not to mention Stacey also plays Keyboards. And Jakko Jakszyk on Guitar and Lead Vocals.

When you listen to the Heroes EP, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at those concerts and just being in awe of seeing Crimson for the first time or a dozen times and being in awe of seeing Mel Collins back into the fold. The echoing reverb effects kick into an emotional vibe from Robert as he takes his guitar creating the sustained sound that was in the original album to create the pitched feedback as Jakko nails the song down as a celebration for the Thin White Duke and the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall 40 years ago on the opening title-track.

The three drummers (Gavin, Pat, and Jeremy) come into the center stage in the performance in Vienna with The Hell Hounds of Krim. Listening to this track, you can close your eyes and imagine the sounds of Taiko drumming in Japan, but adding an intense and thunderous beats and tempos throughout their kit and cymbals. It’s almost as if they are taking you through a journey of world music on their instruments, creating the scenarios and making you believe that the beasts is right inside the caves and is ready for their feast to be served with a vicious roaring voice.

Easy Money is a classic live during those live recordings. It’s a fabulous take of the song performed live. Jakko is not trying to hurt the song, but to honor and stay true to the piece and honor the late great John Wetton in his arrangement which he almost sounds like him to give the stamp of approval. Mel’s snarling sax comes at you in various moments in the piece.

Almost looking and peeking through the keyhole and seeing what the corruption of the government has become all of a sudden, Easy Money creates the tension of the dark side of what they’ve never told you behind those curtains in that midsection. Collins does some free-jazz scenario momentum on his sax and it’s the tension that creates the mysterious atmosphere between himself, Fripp, and Levin’s dooming bass and the clattering drum sections.

The only criticism I have is with Starless. While it’s an edited version of the laid-back emotional pieces from the Red album, I wish it could have been 11 or 15-minutes longer as it goes through the jazzier and mellotron-sque sections of a dream-like landscape of the lyrics, it would have been interesting to hear a full-length version of this song as the band into uncharted waters to give the audience a mind-blowing performance.

For me, this is not a bad EP. Yes it’s short with five pieces, but it’s quite a small journey to see what questions and answers lay ahead for Crimson to delve into the waters for. But this is a small peek of what is about to happen when they hit the road again this October in the States. So be prepare to see King Crimson live when they hit the States again. And enjoy the Heroes EP

Monday, September 18, 2017

Machine Mass - Machine Mass Plays Hendrix


It’s been 47 years since Hendrix passed into the afterlife on September 18th. It’s a risk to cover Jimi’s masterpieces. Not only he was perhaps one of the most mind-blowing guitarist to come out of the late ‘60s after his breakthrough performance in America at the Monterey Pop Festival 50 years ago, but he opened the doors to carry his torch from the realms of Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Vai, and Lenny Kravitz to name a few. But this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of his landmark debut of Are You Experienced? It’s time for Machine Mass to honor Hendrix’s legacy.

With two albums in the can, they’ve released their third release on the MoonJune label this year and follow up to 2014’s Inti release, Machine Mass carrying Hendrix’s torch is a leap forward for both Michel Delville and Tony Blanco. And Antoine Guenet (The Wrong Object, SH.TG.N, and Univers Zero) as an additional member on keyboards and acoustic piano, would make the master himself very proud. Machine Mass takes it to a new level. And the six centerpieces on here, you might want to take note.

On You Got Me Floatin’ Michel delves into the stylophones whilst going into some electronic synthesized mind-control by sending Morse Code into a mad take of the piece as he takes his guitar near the end with a echoing reverb to delve into a hay-wiring effect. You can also hear Hendrix doing interviews which are evidential in the spiritual atmospheres of Little Wing and the closing laid-back textures of The Wind Cries Mary.

It’s almost as if he’s right in front of you almost describing life and what lies ahead for him. On The Wind Cries Mary, there’s this wah-wah groove on the clean tone of the guitar and Antoine’s acoustic piano sets the control for the ship to embark into the milky- way and towards the stars near the end. Purple Haze starts with a drum/piano improvisation both Tony and Antoine reminisces of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones before Antoine uses the piano for the tritone opening of the song.

And then Michel delves into the late ‘60s psychedelic hard-rock vibe of bringing Hendrix’s classic, not only a task, but showing true honor and spirit that would give his appreciation of Machine Mass’ touch of the song. The synths on Voodoo Chile represent the wah-wah intro that oddly reminds of a record DJ doing some scratches before it transforms into the guitar and the bass drum following suit and into the stratosphere while Antoine delves into a funeral/mourning ominous take intro on Burning of the Midnight Lamp.

You can feels the candles burning as it goes into the clouds. And then all of a sudden, it changes into this Funk-Rock mood with the Organ swirling in a psychedelia background of colors to shine light through a kaleidoscope to see its textures of a dazzling light show. This was my third time listening to this tribute to a master that Machine Mass has done.

And believe me, they’ve achieved it well and spot-on right. Some people may like it, some may not. But it shows that after a few listens of Machine Mass Plays Hendrix it’s quite obvious to get the three classic Hendrix albums (Are You Experienced?,Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland) out of the closet and put your old headphones on and let the record needle hit the first track on those albums and close your eyes and imagine it is the late ‘60s all over again on your old school Califone record player. 

Patto - Roll 'em, Smoke 'em, Put Another Line Out


By 1971, after the release of their second album, Hold Your Fire, Patto were in dire straits. Both of their first two albums, didn’t do well and soon they decided to move to another label which was Chris Blackwell’s label, Island Records after support from their producer Muff Winwood. With the release of their third album released in 1972 entitled, Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, this shows the band with a laid-back sound and having their sense of humor in their music.

Now with a reissue done by Esoteric Recordings, listening to their third album, is showing not just their sense of humor, but knowing they are having a blast and grand time between the four members. And the four centerpieces on the album that you might want to take note. Loud Green Song shows Patto going into a proto-punk mode while Ollie lays down some hard riffs and heavy lead sections as it’s this cross between Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power-era and The Groundhogs Split album.

When you listen to Mummy not only is it a weird and surreal piece, but there are at times the spoken dialog is going through at times a Dalek-sque moment. Just listen to the piece to the end and you get to find out what happens next and believe me, it’s bizarre, but funny at the same time. Turn Turtle is their nod to B. Bumble and the Stingers’ Bumble Boogie on the rockin’ thump with the piano.

Mike himself brings the soulful blues in his arrangement on the vocals, followed by a mysterious chorus section that is something straight out the shorts between Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery’s 1941 animated Bugs Bunny short, Tortoise Beats Hare. When you listen to, I Got Rhythm, it has this swamp rock intro in the styles of CCR and Clive’s dooming/fuzz tone Bass, Mike’s Electric Piano, 

Ollie’s sliding guitars taking you the Louisiana River’s in the hottest part of the summer.
It’s almost as if they’ve taken us down to both the Mississippi and Louisiana swamps by steamboat as Mike takes you to those areas as the band follow his lead as he both sings and speaks in the section on digging James Brown’s music and his roots between the Jazz and Blues while John Halsey’s drumming on the snare takes you to the circus. The three bonus tracks are BBC Radio One sessions recorded on January 24th, 1973 in which Patto did for the late great John Peel.

When you listen to General Custer, Ollie does this medieval riff, but lays down the blues rhythmic vibe followed by Dave Brooks’ sax following along. Halsall is often overlooked in the history of guitar players. He never gets the recognition he deserves, and he deserves a gigantic stamp of approval. Flat Footed Woman is much better than the studio version, this session is everything recorded live and it’s quite a nod to Steve Winwood and Traffic as the band honors their sound.

Clive’s bass on Singing the Blues on Reds comes to the forefront as he plays like a real bass player doing this incredible riff in the styles of Bootsy Collins and Herbie Hancock bassist Paul Jackson as Ollie follows his riff to capture the heavier blues rockin’ sound. Mike is nailing it down as I can imagine he goes back and forth between Ollie and Clive to know they’re an amazing collaboration together.

The 16-page booklet contains liner notes and an interview with John Halsey by Sid Smith. It contains photos, reviews, and concert promotions including one in which they opened for Ten Years After, Joe Cocker and the Chris Stainton Band, and one of Bill Graham’s posters at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. Listening to Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, is quite an overlooked gem that had been lost for centuries, but shows how much Patto were way ahead of the ball game.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Aaron Clift Experiment's IndieGoGo campaign

The Aaron Clift Experiment for me are one of my favorite bands to come out of Austin since listening to their second album in 2015, Outer Light, Inner Darkness. They are going back into the studio this year in November to record their new album entitled, If All Goes Wrong. Their using IndieGoGo raising funds up to reach their goal of $10,000 for studio time.

They were nominated for the 2016 Progressive Music Awards (not to mention being selected as the best unsigned artists for Prog Magazine in 2013) and this Spring of this year they performed at ROSFest (Rite Of Spring Festival) with sharing the bill with Unified Past, The Neal Morse Band, Anglagard, and their first time in America, The Fierce and the Dead. What Aaron and bassist Devin North wants to do in the third album is to be songs to perform and interest of what the Progressive Rock sound of giving the vintage of authenticity which is something is not as common in the history of the genre.

And with Grammy-Award winner Randy Miller in the production side who worked with Eric Johnson, Burt Bacharach, and Christopher Cross. Not to mention top sessions, string section, and recorded at Antimatter Studios in Austin. Please show your support by clicking the link and support independent artists and bands while keeping real good music alive. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dialeto - Bartok In Rock


The late great Hunter S. Thompson of Gonzo Journalism, who wrote Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, once said about music is “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a care with the gas needle on empty can run about 50 more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.

It’s the same thing with me, music has been with me from day one from the day I was born and I always know when the time is right to hear it. One of those bands since discovering them whilst I was at Houston Community College back in 2013 as a student, was a band called, Dialeto. It’s been 30 years since their formation and with three albums in the can, they’ve released their fourth album this year on the Chromatic Music label entitled, Bartok In Rock.

This shows Dialeto honoring the legacy of composer Bela Bartok’s music in ten compositions of his music. And with special guest King Crimson’s violinist David Cross on here, it’s a very interesting combination to bring him in to lend a helping hand. Opener, Mikrokosmos 113 (Bulgarian Rhythm I) gives David Cross in the forefront with some of the most intensive work on his violin with some of the shrieking midsections.

Then you have guitarist Nelson Coelho blaring the riffs and lead sections in his instrument near the end as he and David share a duel between each other. It’s almost as if they were looking at each other smiling creating the vibrations before getting back into the races by reaching the finish line. But on Mikrokosmos 143 (Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II), Gabriel Costa’s bass does a walking intro as it dances to the groove with Fred Barley’s drumming.

Coelho delves into the thunder and lightning rhythm and lead sections to create this climatic-climax scenario that is bluesy reverb with a soaring arranging. An Evening in the Village (10 Easy Piano Pieces No. 5) sees Dialeto walk into this ambient/atmospheric nod to Yes’ Close to the Edge-era introduction for the first minute and seven seconds.

Nelson then honors the essence of Steve Howe’s mesmerizing spiritual textures and channeling the infinite worlds that is something straight out of the poem by Samuel Taylor Coldridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner as if Dialeto made a score for one of his poetry set to music recorded in a deep dark cave. You can feel the vibrations and the dynamics that Barley brings the heavy military weapons with his drums going into an intense speeding motion on Roumanian Folk Dances 2 (Peasant Costume).

But on Roumanian Folk Dances 4 (Mountain Horn Song), Gabriel’s bass is in reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s instrumental Careful with that Axe, Eugene. It does have this early Floyd resemblance to their underground period in 1969 as if it was recorded during the Ummagumma period with its waltz ballad in 3/4 time. But the last fifth and sixth movement is where in comes into full circle.

Roumanian Folk Dances 5 (Roumanian Garden Gate) and Roumanian Folk Dances 6 (Little One), it is the calm after the storm for a new day. The fifth movement gets this Tears For Fears vibe that Nelson does on his instrument for the first minute and fifty-six seconds before seguing into the sixth movement as they move from that into the styles of Rush’s 1980-81 period from the Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures period to honor by tipping their hats to the Canadian trio.

Dialeto channeling Bartok’s music is like walking on a dangerous tightrope. And you never know if the rope is going to be loose or about to be cut, but Dialeto do something that is making the doors to erupt open with a gigantic yet big sound that will make you say “How in the hell did they do that?” And believe me, Dialeto opens more doors to see what will lie ahead for their next journey to embark on.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anil Prasad - Innerviews: Music Without Borders


Since the website launched back in 1994, Music Journalist Anil Prasad and does his homework very well and going beyond the spirit and the artists to go beyond the music business and the industry to seek their path in their spiritual guidance, philosophies, storytelling, and creative processes they go through to move forward. For me, Innerviews: Music Without Borders is my go-to website whenever something new happens when he interviews some of the musicians I admire and the ones I watch out for that might peak my interest.

In an interview back in April of 2011 on Echoes (NPR) by John Diliberto, at the time people were listening to Def Leppard and Van Halen, Anil delved into bands and artists like Brand X and Kate Bush to name a few from the record stores to show there was more than just the big names in hard rock when he was a young man. From 2000 to 2014 he was a contributor to magazines such as Guitar Player, Bass Player, and Frets. The book was released back in 2010 and it’s done in alphabetical order and it delves with amazing conversations with 24 artists in alphabetical order from Jon Anderson of Yes to the late great Joe Zawinul.

Whilst I enjoy his interviews, his book offers the interest of their perspective of bringing them close to the edge. There are some favorable moments in the book that opened my eyes. Japan’s David Sylvian talking about people opening up the context of creative music to work it out for themselves in whatever they want to decide which direction they want to delve into, McCoy Tyner’s key philosophies as a band leader provides enough room for the person to be comfortable to do whatever they want and both listening and responding are very important.

Bjork’s channeling brainstorming ideas into songwriting and listening and making the music can be a spiritual experience for her, and Stanley Clarke’s story on why he turned down to be in a group with Miles Davis along with his experience with Return to Forever in the 1970s as he looked back in his time with the band as a university. Prasad shows no sign of stopping from his journalism and research.

And 23 years later, he still is going strong with the web site. Whether it’s an interview with Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records, Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Tim Bowness, Peter Hammill, Julie Slick and Canadian Music Journalist, Radio, VJ, TV Host, and Author, Laurie Brown, Anil is a busy man. While the book may open people’s eyes to how these artist go through various ideas, the website is worth exploring.

Here's Anil Prasad's website, Innerviews: Music Without Borders
http://www.innerviews.org/

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Re-building after Hurricane Harvey

Hello fellow progsters, I would like to let everybody know that me and my family are doing okay and my House didn’t get flooded and we’re still going strong. As I was sleeping on my bed, hearing the wind, lights almost flickering from the winds of Hurricane Harvey that landed in the lone star state at August 25, 2017. I almost felt something was about to happen between me and my Dad at the house.

Watching the floods on KHOU Channel 11 and KPRC Channel 2 almost made me too emotional of watching the water flooding the houses, debris on the ground, I just almost want to turn it off. It has been ten days after Harvey made landfall here in Houston. Not only in my hometown state, but in Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas, and Beaumont to name a few.

Some love Texas, some don’t. For me, I’m born a Houstonian. Always a Houstonian, and will be a Houstonian until the day I die. The road to rebuilding is not going to be easy. It is going to take slow gigantic Baby steps to get everything back on track. When Harvey hit, I didn’t know I was going to continue blogging or not for Music from the Other Side of the Room which launched back nine years ago and next year will be it is 10th year.

I started this blog site when I was in Houston Community College after I took a course called Commercial Music Forum where I had to write five concert reviews. And the light bulb lit up in my head and I knew right there that was where I wanted to write about music. I’m still going strong with the blogsite. It went through various names including Progressive Rock Reviews and Progressive Rock &Symphonic Metal reviews. But then the name, Music from the Other Side of the Room suddenly hit.

Now I know I’m off-topic,  but where the name actually came from. The name was inspired by two people; Anil Prasad and Sid Smith. Anil has an amazing website entitled Innerviews: Music Without Borders and Sid Smith’s amazing blog site, Postcards from the Yellow Room. And I knew combining the two would be an homage to these two and it was simply named: Music from the Other Side of the Room.

Re-building Houston as I’ve mentioned before, is going to be a slow process. They came together helping out and doing good of getting people out of their houses that have flooded and surviving through those rough times. And big kudos to both J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans now has raised to his recent goal of $20 million dollars of his relief fund in which we (My family and I) donated to and Jim McIngvale (Mattress Mack) of Gallery Furniture opened his doors to his store to the victims from Harvey have stepped up as a shelter. It can be both as a store and a shelter.

I’ve been to conventions here in Houston including Oni-Con, Anime Matsuri, and Comicpalooza about five times now at the George R. Brown Convention Center and next year will be my sixth time. 

I’m a geek and always will be a Texas geek. Not to mention concerts here in Houston also from the Astrodome with Rodeo Houston, NRG Stadium, Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theatre, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Toyota Center, House of Blues, Revention Music Center, and Arena Theater to name a few.

I’ve seen bands and artists including B.B. King, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Dream Theater, The Musical Box (PG-era Genesis tribute band), Australian Pink Floyd, Zappa plays Zappa, Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band, Iron Maiden, Radiohead, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and the late great David Bowie in which I was in the pit at The Woodlands for his final 2004 tour in which he was promoting his Reality album.

While the hurricane was going on I was playing Steven Wilson’s music which was his fifth album To The Bone and Schooltree’s Heterotopia hoping that the light of hope will happened and it did on late Tuesday afternoon on August 29th. And I almost broke down knowing we went through a lot from Hurricane Harvey. I will never give up on Houston, Texas. I will stay in my hometown state until the day I die.

And I would like to close out a quote from Steven Wilson’s song Pariah, So the day will begin again/Take comfort from me/It's up to you now/You're still here/And you'll dig in again/That's comfort to you/It's up to you now/So pariah you'll begin again/Take comfort from me/It will take time.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Update

To everyone, I want to let everybody know that I'm doing okay. Hurricane Harvey landed in Texas on Friday and we got heavy rain Saturday night. My house didn't get flooded. But the reviews are now postponed until September. So....I will be back until September after the Hurricane is over. So I'll see you on the flipside.

Zack

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dusan Jevtovic - No Answer


MoonJune Records has been on a roll with me since 2013. Again, I have a love for this label after discovering them in the first of the Romantic Warriors series. It is almost as if Leonardo Pavkovic has won both the World Series and the Super Bowl when it comes to releases. One of the albums that has suddenly landed on my knees is Dusan Jevtovic’s new release this year entitled, No Answer. With two albums in the can including On the Edge and Am I Walking Wrong? He paired up with keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov and drummer Asaf Sirkis.

The album was recorded last year in two days in February at La Casa Murada Studio in Spain. This is something you might want to take notice of these amazing musicians that have never disappointed me from day one the moment I’ve put this album on my portable CD player that made me want to come back more and more. Listening to No Answer is walking towards the opened doors as if they have finally come out to embrace to see where the possible universes will take you.

The six highlights on here are revolutionary and make you embark to go back in time and seeing what the 22nd century lies ahead. You have the title-track which at first you can imagine Dusan tipping his hat to the genius of Alex Lifeson and the Frippertronics creating these ominous tones which reminisce of Cygnus X-1 from A Farewell to Kings. But it’s when Vasil and Dusan create these dark sinister yet dooming approach of film-noir.

The wailing moments that Dusan hits those tones, creates these dramatic sections before crashing with an eruptive volcanic bang. Vasil comes into the forefront and does a piano movement that lends through classical, blues, and jazz that at times is both honoring the Perry Mason theme and Nina Simone. And then, the last minute and 26 seconds brings everyone together and ending on a heavier note.

Lifetime sees the trio riding down the freeway in a deserted area with the Blues. Dusan cuts through the trees to chop them down one by one with his virtuosic improvisation while Asaf follows suit to keep on the mark on his drum kit as Vasil’s dooming Rhodes into the tunnels. Asaf Sirkis is an incredible drummer for me. Not only he’s great, but he hits those tom-toms, snare, and cymbals to keep up the ideas and brainstorming moments he would come up with.

It’s evidential on Prayer when he comes to the center stage as both Dusan and Vasil give him a chance to bring his electrical force and energy into the ring. He goes through various movements as if the three of them go into this middle-eastern sound by going into the pyramids to discover the tomb of the Pharaoh, Tutankhamun. El Oro is Vasil channeling the three Keith’s; Tippett, Jarrett, and Emerson.

He heads towards the Moog to make these sounds go into a low and rising sound that has some odd-time changes from the intro right into the very end and believe me, it is prog to the core! The opener, Al Aire/Soko Bira is the piano going through a loop between Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells-era and Italian Progressive Rock group, Goblin. It’s Vasil tipping his hat for both artist and band. Followed by Dusan’s roaring chords and mysterious vibes on the cymbals, the trio create this darker atmosphere and lurking behind you by giving the listener, the creeps.

And then there’s Frusci. It almost features the Tritone in the opening section by essence of early Black Sabbath, but then it goes something straight out the sessions between King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter from Houses of the Holy. Vasil creates on the Rhodes this delay/reverb effects along with the cavernous tunnels with his Moog. Dusan takes you on his Aeroplane and flying through the frets by creating magic and soaring into the unknown.

Jevtovic’s music never disappoints me. In my book, he takes the listener to various levels wherever he would them either high or low. There is some presence when you feel his appearance coming towards you by listening to his music. And with No Answer, he makes you looking at the Crystal Ball and seeing where your future will take you beyond and before.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Steven Wilson - To The Bone


Steven Wilson whether you love him or hate him, he is for me one of the artists I championed since re-discovering his work back with his time with Porcupine Tree in 2006 on Classic Rock Magazine and then as a solo artist in 2009 from the first issue of PROG Magazine. Not to mention his work with Aviv Geffen on Blackfield and with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on Storm Corrosion. And the 5.1 mixes with XTC, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Chicago, and Jethro Tull to name a few. With four studio albums in the can, he releases in what his known as a “pop” album entitled, To The Bone.

Now, mind you, this was not an easy album to review. After a few listens of To The Bone, I find this to be a very interesting release. There’s a mixture of inspirations that he mentioned including Tears For Fears' The Seeds of Love, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, and Peter Gabriel’s So album. He’s not going to be a gigantic phenomenon, nor going to hit the mainstream, but it’s a diverse release so far he’s unleashed. But, he’s moving forward to challenge new ideas. Same thing with bands and artists including David Bowie, Prince, Genesis, and Pink Floyd.

Walt Disney once said about moving forwards is that “Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That’s is what Wilson is doing, he’s moving on, and seeing what new ideas he will come up next for the years to come.

The follow up to his previous work, Hand.Cannot.Erase is not just a crowning achievement, but again in my opinion another return from the master himself. Again Permanating which will one day become a live favorite, crosses the barriers between Talk Talk, ABBA’s Mamma Mia, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Discovery-era, has this catchy melody with the major and minor chords on the piano with some emotional chorus and rising beats.

The opening title-track and Nowhere Now both co-written by XTC’s Andy Partridge showcases some of the powerful lyrics he helped Steven with. The first track features a blaring Harmonica sound done by Mark Feltham as the lyrics deal with opening the door as the truth has finally come out of the rubble and it’s not a pleasant site. I love how it brings this nod to Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell track, Keep Talking as if it was continuing the form.

Nowhere Now deals with that once for the hope of peace below has suddenly gone. But up above in the afterlife and living in the clouds of Heaven of what happening down there and being free from the violence and danger, makes you wonder that you’re no longer part of the hard and difficult situation. Wilson channels the essence of Pete Townshend-sque guitar styles and lyrics that gives you a tug with sliding guitars and punching riffs.

It segues into the beautiful Pariah. This is the second collaboration that Steven has worked with Ninet Tayeb since 2015’s Hand.Cannot.Erase. Tayeb’s vocals will give you chills and kick you right in the gut on her arrangements of her singing. The duet between her and Steven, brings essence to both Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s Another Day and Don’t Give Up.

While the song deals with depression, giving up, and renewal, the blaring eruptive roar after Tinyeb sings “It will take time.” You can imagine yourself falling into space and knowing that your time has come before someone grabbing your arm and looking at your loved-one pulling you to the surface and knowing there is hope for a second chance.

The intense heavy riffs on The Same Asylum as Before gives the situation on a gigantic reality check and being back in the same hell you were in before, is come to you and karma has come. And it is letting the listener know, that once you’re in, you can’t get out after pulling the same crap you did over and over again by becoming the worst enemy you are now.

And the chance of getting out is zero. Steven is describing to the character by asking the questions of “Was it really worth it? Do you need another reality check to be in the same shit? Or are you proud of becoming your own worst nightmare?” Elsewhere, People Who Eat Darkness has this very Space-Rock guitar riff that is almost a nod to Hawkwind’s In Search of Space-era and essence of NEU’s Michael Rother.

The opening line “I live in the flat next door/And I can hear you fuck your girlfriend through the wall.” That is very intense and knowing the subject of terrorism and danger lurking behind those hallways is not going to be a pleasant by giving a 5 minute chance of escaping, but it is too late. Blank Tapes is an ominous haunting acoustic ballad featuring the Mellotron with another duet between Tayeb and Wilson.

You can close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through an empty house through the rubble and there’s nothing left. Detonation presents Wilson returning back to 2009 from his solo debut with Insurgentes. The first 2 minutes and 20 seconds becomes this eerie atmosphere before it changes into these darken yet hidden corridors. It is an intense mid-section rumble as you run towards the door after you feel the creeps behind you.

The moment you open the door, The character’s eyes are in disbelief and seeing now what is the Divided States of America and seeing the violence, betrayal, and unexpected view and blaming the three gods; Greater, Pale, and Whining. Now is To The Bone, Steven Wilson’s finest? No. But it shows the textures and craft he brings to the forefront with his fifth album.

Some will love this album, some won’t and want Steven to return to his Prog roots, which is understandable. Again, it's a diverse album. But for me, as I’ve mentioned in my introduction of this review, I had a very interesting yet growing experience with To The Bone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mumpbeak - Tooth


I know right from the moment I put a CD on my old portable CD player from the RareNoise label, I can expect some amazing “holy shit!” moments that will take me to another scenario. And believe me, this is a label that has been on my map since 2016 and thanks to Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room that have opened my eyes more to the label. One of those bands is Mumpbeak.

This is their second album released this year entitled Tooth. It is their follow up to their sole self-titled debut album which was unleashed back in 2013. Roy Powell is the brainchild behind Mumpbeak. He had studied piano and avant-garde composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He released his debut album back 23 years ago with A Big Sky.

He moved to Norway and worked with Terje Gewelt and Jarle Vespestad with the release of Holus which was an album of free improvisational music back in 1999. Now I’m very new to Powell’s music and along with Mumpbeak, but Tooth is one of the most challenging albums I’ve embarked on from start to finish. With Naked Truth bassist Lorenzo Feliciati and taking over Stick Men and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto is Elephant9 and Shining drummer Torstein Lofthus.

There is some sonic and eruptive compositions that will take you on a journey towards the light. I was completely blown away by not just Roy’s keyboards and not just because he’s a killer musician, but he’s very much like a conductor and giving both Lorenzo and Torstein some ideas and where to come in and where to come out. For example like going to Point A to Point B.

The first 4 minutes of Caboose is arrangement between Roy and Lorenzo as it becomes this electronic Vangelis-sque 1980s atmosphere. You can imagine yourself walking across the wastelands and hearing some deafening alarms thanks to the Synths that Powell does. It then, suddenly changes with some intense bass lines and Torstein’s drumming along with Roy’s clavinet chords following each of the ghost-town hallways and no sign of life to be found.

The reverb heavenly clavinet improvisation, brings to mind a cross-over as if George Gershwin had teamed up with Gentle Giant’s Kerry Minnear as if they did an album together during the In a Glass House sessions. Torstein for me, is like rapid machine gun fire that is sweating bullets. It’s shown on Saw as he goes all around the kit including the tom-toms and snare. Roy and Lorenzo follow suit as Powell goes into uncharted waters with a fuzztone wah-wah tightrope.

His textures are in a way by reigning the essence of Mike Ratledge as if he is in awe of his insane but mind-blowing work on the keyboards. At times, when he plays the clavinet, it sounds like powder-keg riffs before he and Torstein go into a climatic end as it abruptly comes to a halt. Opener, Boot brings to mind a film-noir-sque score that Mumpbeak does knowing that the killer is still on the loose.

I love how Roy goes to the Moog Little Phatty improvisation that he does and it shows that the clues the detectives found just got even challenging, bigger, and difficult to know the killer left ginormous tracks for them to follow. They go from one door to another closing it off with a tidal wave ending crescendo.

Stone, which closes the album, sees Roy heading towards the Hammond Organ. It begins with a Koto-sque intro and bass lines before the wah-wah door comes open and the intense groove between Lorenzo, Roy, and Torstein is like jet engines ready for take-off all around the room. There at times stop-and-go moments as the Organ is rising from the grave. I always imagine Lorenzo brings the goods and carry the torch for both Jaco Pastorius and Geddy Lee into one giant blender.

It this little nod to CAN’s Vernal Equinox and then the finale comes right in as Mumpbeak delve into the waters of Van Der Graaf Generator’s The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other-era for an alarming crescendo climatic finale that brings everything into a gigantic circle.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to come out. RareNoise Records have scored another home run for me with Tooth. I hope one day to discover more of Roy Powell’s music, but this here’s a start with their second album. They are on my watch list to see what they’ll come up with next. Little advice, play this mo-fo up to a notch!

Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology


Jane Weaver, married to DJ Andy Votel, founder of Finders Keepers Records, visualizes the future sound of hypnotic cosmic-space-electro rock. Now, mind you, I’m very new to Weaver’s music since hearing her 2014 album, The Silver Globe album. This year she’s released her follow up to The Amber Light with Modern Kosmology. Released on the Fire records label, Jane takes you beyond the stratosphere with pop, surrealism, shoegaze, post-rock, and the Krautrock sound.

It has these late ‘70s/early ‘80s vibration the moment I put the CD on. And I knew right from the get-go, she was taking me to a whole new infinite world. The six centerpieces throughout the journey from the outer limits of space have taken me not just by surprise, but making my eyes open to discover more of Jane’s music. Loops in the Secret Society closes your eyes that takes you back to the golden-era between the experimental scene in Germany and the Motorik rhythm sound which is evidential with the essence of NEU and Michael Karoli-sque guitars.

Then, everything sets into a mysterious driving beat as if you were looking through the various doors to decide which one to open and see where it will lead us to with the futuristic trip on The Architect while Jane dives into the river of the psych-folk ballad on Valley. You can feel her voice behind you as if she’s giving you goosebumps down your spine as if she is hypnotizing you by walking through an abandoned forest.

The music itself brings to mind between Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother-era and the Beatlesque textures from the rhythm guitar that fits well on the composition. Jane herself honors the Krautrock sound. I could tell from listening to this from start to finish, she’s done a lot of research and whether you like her music or not, Weaver herself has been around from day one from her work with both Kill Laura, Misty Dixon, and her solo career.

Is there a stop sign for her? Absolutely not. She is definitely going to keep going and knowing what brainstorm she will come up with next. The homework she did is incredible between the essences of CAN’s Ege Bamyasi and Agitation Free’s 2nd as the synths set the location of the wasteland as if you as a listener walk through the rubble between the Bass, Drums, Guitar and Echoing effects from the percussion on Did You See Butterflies?

CAN’s Malcolm Mooney does this mourning spoken introduction that is almost poetic before the double-track reverb/effect vocalizations that Jane does as it comes across an Avant-Pop electro vibe as if CAN sessions between 1968 and 1970 on Ravenspoint as it segues to the closing track I Wish. The track continues with the Motorik sound from the drum machine as if to say the listener that a new day, a new beginning will happen to move forward.

I always imagine Klaus Schulze helping Jane out on the arrangements on here and giving some advice on where the piece needs to start and where it would end. You can always imagine a scene inside your head where the layers would go to next with the eerie synthesizers and explore what will happen next into the following pages after that.

This has been my second to third time listening to Modern Kosmology and I have to say I was very impressed from what I’ve listened from beginning to end. It’s mixtures again as I’ve mentioned before; New Wave, Krautrock, and Shoegaze music, it’s all there. And I hope to see and imagine what will Jane Weaver think of next. Modern Kosmology may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but this may be in my albums of this year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Saturn - Beyond Spectra


In the 2005 documentary of Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Tour manager Joey Severance said, “Metal is a brotherhood. That’s what keeps it alive. It’s in your blood. It’s the air you breathe.” And he’s 100% right. For me, Metal has been with me since I was a kid, teens, and through College. One of the labels that have always peaked my interest since 2009 after reading about them in PROG Magazine is Lee Dorrian’s label, Rise Above Records.

One of the new bands alongside discovering Blood Ceremony, ASTRA, Diagonal, Beastmaker, and Galley Beggar is a new band from Sweden called Saturn. They have released their second album this year entitled, Beyond Spectra which is a follow up to their 2014 debut Ascending (Live in Space). I’m new to Saturn’s music, but holy shit! These guys are very good.

The band considers Robin Tidebrink and Linkan Lindgren on Electric Guitars, Ted Carlsen on Drums, and Oscar Pehrson on Lead Vocals and Bass Guitar. The album cover which is done by Maldo Illustration to pay nod to Marvel’s own Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby as if it’s done right to give Sci-Fi a real kick in the gut. But let’s get to the music. Saturn honors the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as if the album was recorded between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

You can tell Saturn shows the inspirations between Judas Priest, UFO, Iron Maiden, and Angel Witch. You can imagine both Sounds and KERRANG in the early ‘80s had reviewed an album like this during the heyday of the NWOBHM movement and the album got reviewed, they would have gotten some word-of-mouth. Now in the year of our lord 2017, Saturn honors the legacy of the movement with Space and Hard Rock at it’s finest.

The guitars from Tidebrink and Lindgren are lightning rods to raise the thunder between the minds of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton; Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; and UFO’s Michael Schenker and Paul Raymond. Oscar’s voice has eye-lifting momentum and at times jaw-dropping for me. You can hear the essence of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond combined into a gigantic solar system in a parallel universe.

Listening to Beyond Spectra, you can close your eyes and imagine the ship is ready for ignition to be lifted off in space as if the band is receiving to prepare to hurtle through the cosmos with four centerpieces (reference to Ren & Stimpy’s Space Madness). The rumbling guitar riffs is riding down the highway with some revving rhythm sections on Still Young. The shuffling moments and duo guitar structures both rhythm and lead that makes it fucking good, is a nod to both Maiden and Angel Witch.

Opener, Orbital Command starts off with a classical spacey introduction for the first 39 seconds before setting the controls for the spaceship ready to make the jump to light speed and fly off into the outer limits. The double guitars are again eye-opening and in the 3 minute and 25 second mark, there is a melodic midsection, shows that they have landed into another planet and discovering that the aftermath of the battle is a gruesome mess and knowing they won’t come back from this.

Helmet Man features almost as if Saturn were doing a score for a Video Game as they continue to rev down the highway. It could almost be a theme to Marvel’s own Ghost Rider’s Johnny Blaze. He knows that the danger is near. And he has a plan ahead of everyone and doing whatever he can to stop the badness that is happening around and do justice his way and not the law.

It has this epic and militant sound thanks to Carlsen’s drumming as the guitars become a feeling essence between Ritchie Blackmore and Glenn Tipton while it becomes a warning with a terrorizing effect that are lurking behind their prey on Nighttime Badger. You can imagine the victim is tied up and knowing that their time is up and the lyric; “If you have seen the things that I’ve seen/You wouldn’t sleep at nighttime/If you had heard a word that I’ve said/You would not laugh at all.” 

It’s a chilling and disturbing lyric. This character in the story, I can imagine is an outsider and never fitting in with the cool crowd in School as he plans his revenge to those who’ve hurt, bullied, and tortured him through the rough years in High School. Not only that situation, but there’s also another moment of selling you soul for fame and glory and the heavy price you pay for to the bitter end. I’ve adored this album from day one. It is worth listening to if you admire Saturn’s influences. 

They’re not ripping off the NWOBHM movement, but they're honoring it and keeping the flames alive of the genre by making sure it is alive and well. For me in my opinion, Beyond Spectra is right in your alley. And to close out with the back cover disclaimer of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, “To Be Played at Maximum Volume.”