Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pink Floyd - Welcome To The Machine [1977]

So here is another one of my favourite Floyd boots/ROiOs. For ages i searched for a show that had a decent variety of tracks from both 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Animals'. Stumbled apon this beauty, which has both of those albums in their entireties, as well as 'Money', 'Us and Them' and 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene'. The quality is probably as good as you will find for any of the shows during the WYWH and Animals tours. It is not perfect however, the start is a little bit dodgy and might scare off a few but it does improve. There are also a few distracting bumps in Track 9 (Wish You Were Here) but other than those this is a very listenable and enjoyable bootleg.

For ROiO collectors note that this is in .mp3, how dissapointed you must be. The band was really rocking on this particular night. Dave in particular, seemed absolutely on fire pummeling out those solo's throughout the 'Animals' tracks. You can hear Dave and Roger fucking up at the start of 'Have a Cigar' and both share a laugh.

To thank the well-behaved crowd the band reward the audience with the extra encore "Careful With That Axe Eugene", the only time the song was played during the tour and the final time ever by the full band. It's a short version and the scream isn't as blood curdling as in the past. It is however very nice to hear the mature band pulls out this early classic.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sholi - Sholi [2009]

Ah yes, this is exactly what i was looking for. Not in the sense of this exact album or band, but in the sense that some unheard of band like this would jump out and absolutely blow me away in the early stages of 2009. It's my favourite album of the year by a new band thus far. I assume they are relative unpopular simply because i don't read of any noise being made of them anywhere (as well as this obviously being their official debut.)

Some would carelessly tag this as indie garbage but that simply isn't the case. The musicianship and songwriting is very unique, with each song comes a lovely melody as well as an excellent aggressive drive. Their style is balanced, emotive, hypnotic and intelligently composed. It's not as if other indie artists never get it right like this, but rarely do you get a band that strips indie of its bombast and production gimmicks and replaces that with instrumental interplay and musicianship.

Clearly Sholi can't be cornered by their influences and similar artists, as their sound has incorporated a range of familiar instrumental tactics without any of the associated baggage. The songs are certainly ecstatic and enjoyable, but with a level-headedness and reserved quality that similar bands forget during epic wankfests or heart-on-the-sleeve vocal performances.

Oh, and i didn't even mention the drumming on this record. Good lord, just download and listen to the dude tear it up! This will be in my top 10 at the end of the year, for sure!


Schicke Führs & Fröhling - Symphonic Pictures [1976]

I know what you're thinking and the answer is no, Al Pacino was not in this band. Stunning resemblance though isn't it? This album is very influential to say the least. If you've heard Anglagard's music, then listen to this record and i'm sure you will agree that SFF had to be a big influence on their sound. Frank Zappa himself was so enthusiastic about this bands sound that he was willing to produce their first album, but ultimately had to drop out to record his own album that was to be recorded at the same time.

Two members of this trio, Schicke and Fröhling, came right out from the ranks of Spektakel, joining forces in order to pursue a more focused kind of music, with one foot in the British symphonic melodic trend and the other in the cosmic realms of krautrock in a most stylish fashion. Once they casually met a young classically trained keyboardist named Gerhard Fürhs, the band was completed right after a common artistic goal had been properly agreed.

The music here is absolutely superb. Think of Novalis or 73-75 Floyd. Think of Moonmadness era Camel. There are also fusion elements, soaring synthetic experimentations and somber ambiences; just a few more ingredients in the band's magnificent sonic melting pot. Enjoy!


Woven Hand - Ten Stones [2008]

2008's 'Ten Stones' was my introduction to Woven Hand, as well as David Eugene Edwards all together. What can i say, it was long overdue cause these guys really do kick ass. For those who aren't familiar with him/them, you will find here ten untamed and mercy-drenched songs. From jarring folk to eerie bossa nova to fiery foot-stompers, the album forms a song-cycle that's singular in its breadth and eclecticism. The music of Wovenhand is utterly unique, dizzying those who encounter it, with turnings and lashings of shadow and light.

As for locking Woven Hand down to one single genre, it just can't be done. These guys have a very unique spin on all things folk, rock, experimental, dare i say Medieval Alt. Country haha. One of my favourites of the year that was. Looking forward to further exploring Edwards' previous work with 16 Horsepower.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Pink Floyd - Wembley [1974]

The interest in collecting and trading Floyd bootlegs all over the world is incredible to say the least. There are hundreds of message boards spread all over dedicated to just this. Of course there are a lot of horrible bootlegs, barely listenable but tolerable to the die hard fanatic. Every once in a while one RoiO will sneak through and sound absolutely amazing, making you wonder why it was never officially released. Such is the case with this, the Wembley Pre-FM master.

If your looking for a dsotm tracklist of great quality than this is the one you want. The quality is just amazing! Most tracks have been extended and they encore Echoes. This is easily my favourite Floyd ROiO. Check it out, you won't be dissapointed this time.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Elephant9 - Dodovoodoo [2008]

This is what i'm talking about! One of my many favourites from 2008 right here. This might be the Norwegian trio's debut disc, but we already know keyboardist Ståle Storløkken from his many years with Supersilent, and drummer Torstein Lofthus will be familiar to many as a member of Shining, those fellow purveyors of Gothic thrash-prog. It's only bassist Nikolai Haengsle who is unfamiliar outside Norway.

Subtlety is employed only occasionally, as the trio hurtles straight into the maelstrom that is the album's title cut. It's Emerson, Lake & Palmer territory, perhaps. The riffing is single-minded, but the structure is jerkily funky, or maybe funkily jerky. Recording live in the studio, Elephant9 careen along with spiny edges, knocking down any obstacles. Some numbers might begin sensitively, but their ultimate destiny lies in a thundering brawl. The only exception is Hymne, which remains in a creepy state.

I imagine their full damage is probably done during a live show, in front of a very worried audience. If you're up for a deranged session of acid prog headbanging, grab a hold of this!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The God Machine - Scenes From The Second Storey [1993]

This has been one of my favourite recent discoveries as of late. The God Machine, despite all it's Californian members, formed in England and were active for a short period of time in the early 90s. They released two albums in their career, both with their trademark dark and industrial-sounding alternative rock before Bassist Jimmy Fernandez suddenly died from a cancerous brain tumour. The remaining members then decided to split up and work on various other projects, which were never quite as good.

The debut is about as heavy and dark as AIC, but for one reason or another it winds up reminding me more of Jane's Addiction. The vocalist doesn't quite sing as high pitched as Perry Farrell, but give this a spin and you will see some similarities in various spots. This is an excellent mix of great metal riffs, lovely acoustic tracks and some crazy psych moments. Highly recommended for fans of the mentioned above bands.


Taï Phong - Taï Phong [1975]

I had a request the other day for some killer rare symphonic prog, Taï Phong jumped to mind. These guys' backgrounds are a little odd, in the sense that they are a French band founded by the Vietnamese brothers Kahn and Taï Ho Tong. The mystery here is not why this album was never very popular, but why it is not highly regarded among fans of the genre. This is truly a symphonic progressive masterwork, with plenty of good playing and writing, but mostly excelling in the arrangement category.

The music is an excellent mix of Yes, with added Floyd like atmospheres. Hell, lead singer Khanh has even has a higher vocal pitch than Jon Anderson and he is not afraid to let it rip! Be this good or bad it certainly is a thing to behold. The playing is absolutely first rate. These guys knew how to write and craft prog.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

ChrisGoesRock Has Returned!

Phew! You can breathe easily now CGR fans, Chris is back and has jumped from the blogger service that seemingly shut him down. His blog has been one of my favourites for a while now, and it was interesting to witness the immediate wide-spread panic through our music blogosphere after the word got out.

I imagine it will be a slow process to get back on top, but we all know Chris has the backing to make it happen in no time. Some advantages to come out of all this is some of the handy new features, including a user message board, a guestbook and an easy to use calendar.

Best of luck on getting it all up and running again Chris, keep up the awesome work!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Naan - Dokusa [2007]

Now to be honest with you, i don't know jack shit about Post-Rock. It's not as if i dismiss the genre as a whole, because there are a handful of bands i do enjoy (see Mono a few posts below.) But for the most part the middle is filled with too many uninspired, mediocre bands that i just find too boring. Maybe i don't get it? Am i so out of touch? All i know is i like what i like, and i damn sure like Japan's Naan, and their debut 'Dokusa'.

I took a chance on this Japanese band. Initially while not expecting much it turned out to be most excellent! It's more or less a fusion of Japanese and world sounds, loaded with lots of blaring sax and ethereal flute work. There are also the occasional falsetto vocals near the climax of the song but are used very sparingly and tastefully even though they remain a mostly instrumental band.

If you are like me and don't really get the whole Post-Rock thing, take a chance with this one. You will be pleasantly suprised.


Jan Dukes de Grey - Mice And Rats In The Loft [1971]

Jan Dukes De Grey are a forgotten relic of progressive music. Their brilliant free-form album "Mice And Rats In The Loft" was the pinnacle of their musical expression, a semi-improvised journey into madness.

The album opens with the awesome 'Sun Symphonica' which embodies everything that was excellent about this band. Starting rather lighthearted, bracing you for the sonic assault soon to be unleashed in your mind. Lots of clever instrumental work and 12 string strumming, Noy and Bairstow create a spiraling maelstrom with many different instruments including saxophones, flutes, trumpets, trombones, even a zelda chord. All made with the help of a backing orchestra, which gives the music a symphonic and epic feel. A more sinister atmosphere is revealed halfway through the song, describing the beheading of a young girl, made even more disturbing by Derek's theatric voice. An intense instrumental section kicks in after this, and we are taken on an incredible improvised journey. The song then reprises the beginning, but in a negative light.

The album never does return to the intensity of Sun Symphonica, but the last two tracks are still excellent. Highly recommended for fans of Jethro Tull, Spirogyra & Comus.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Dead Man - Euphoria [2008]

It seems i just keep stumbling apon excellent records from 2008, in 2009. This is another one i would have to include when i revisit my best of 08 list, without a doubt. With a name like Dead Man you could assume they are some ordinary death metal band, wrong. Their sound is an interesting mix of psych rock and folk, which is all brought together brilliantly. I first got a chance to hear them through their self titled ep which was available on the Melloboat cruise, i did not attend however.

These Swedes bring the same sort of organic psychedelic rock & roll that you would here from other modern bands like Howlin Rain and fellow Swedes, Dungen, but it's much easier to compare them to the founders of their sound. Granted it's not the most original thing out, but it's damn good.


Lotus - Lotus [1974]

The style of this little-known Swedish quartet from the mid-70’s is hard to describe as it escapes most comparisons; the closest would be Finnforest, and perhaps Danish fusion band Secret Oyster. This is fusion at its best: energetic instrumental jazz-rock featuring dual guitars, electric piano/Hammond organ, bass and drums, and stunning musicianship all around. After the release of their second album in 1976, the band split up.

Although the tracks on their first album are rather short, each one is chock full of ideas and beautiful catchy melodies based on tight, 70ish-like jazzy grooves, all charmingly and distinctively Swedish

If you’re a fan of early Zappa or like bands such as Kebnekaise, Camel, Finnforest or Trettioariga Kriget, don’t let Lotus pass you by.


Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind [2009]

Ah, here we are. This is without a doubt one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Just in time for their 10 year anniversary, Mono return with their fifth studio album, the absolutely massive Hymn To The Immortal Wind.

After touring almost non-stop for five years, the band hibernated for over a year to focus solely on writing Hymn. The result is their most thoughtful and eclectic album to date. Written and arranged with a hopeful, romantic narrative in mind, the songs string together like chapters in an epic love story. The music is naturally majestic, with Mono's trademark wall of noise crashing beautifully against the largest chamber orchestra the band has ever enlisted. The instrumentation is vast, incorporating strings, flutes, organ, piano, glockenspiel and tympani into their standard face melting set-up.

Recorded to analog tape with long time friend and producer Steve Albini, there is an intimacy captured here that is at once beautiful and a little terrifying. The creaking of old wooden chairs as the orchestra rocks in their seats (both literally and figuratively), puckered lips rolling along flutes, and even the conductor's opening cue can be heard during the hauntingly quiet opening moments.

This is pretty much the finest example of all things epic, check it out.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pure Reason Revolution - Amor Vincit Omnia [2009]

This one has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I've already expressed how much i enjoy this band in the past, and was very interested to see how they would follow up after their amazing debut. After a fair few listens i am a little dissapointed. It seems they have dimmed down the spacey Floyd influence and upped the modern day IDM glitchy disco sound. I'm not sure whether or not this direction was taken for more mainstream media attention, but i would of much rathered to see them build and expand apon that modern day prog-rock approach they had going.

All is not lost though. What is gone in delicious spacey interludes is made up with a tight flowing piece that ultimate packs a harder, and quicker punch. The multi-vocal harmonies are still as pleasant as ever. We previously got a glimpse at a few of the tracks on the live Nearfest recording, it's interesting to hear how they have been slightly tinkered with since then.

It will be interesting to see where PRR go next in the future. All in all a decent record, but truth be told i was hoping for something else.


Clear Blue Sky - Clear Blue Sky [1970]

The debut album from Clear Blue Sky was released at a time when the rock world was undergoing a number of radical changes. The psychedelic era was coming to a close with progressive rock taking over the mantle of rocks' leading genre. However, not all bands followed the modus operandi of progressive rock bands, using classical music and jazz music as the platform for their musical trip. Some bands, most notably those within the hard rock genre, used a form of heavy blues as their launching pad.

Clear Blue Sky were just one of these bands that have a most definite blues influence. However, their ability to introduce a number of variations within their musical structure such as subtle classical influences as well as a degree of complexity that went beyond the average band enabled their music to be appreciated by a wider range of audiences.

Highly recommended stuff. Dig that Roger Dean cover, dude.


Zombi - Spirit Animal [2009]

So here we go, the first 09 post from what i personally expect to be a fantastic year in music. For years now this Pittsburgh instrumental twosome (collectively known as Zombi) has put out a mesmerizing brand of synth-happy, goblin-esque prog. 'Spirit Animal' for the most part is the same, this time delivering warmer textures and ever more cosmic soundscapes. It all makes up for some delicious retro 70s stuff. With an outpouring of genuine emotion and melody, 'Spirit Animal' gives instrumental music the punch in the gut it needed by blending a genuine sense of warmth and emotion with the darkness the band is heralded for.

The drumming is also great here, as is the elephant on the cover, seemingly bounding through the cosmos. Check this out if you dig Jean Michel Jarre, Novalis or Goblin, or if you're just interested in exploring some great new instrumental stuff.