Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A bit of the Avant Garde

Just out is the remixed/remastered debut album by Belgiums Univers Zero. The band are best known as being part of the RIO movement of the late 70’s, which they co-founded along with Henry Cow. Inhabiting a similar sound environment to Henry Cow, but much more based in the European classical music tradition. This is dark and unrelenting stuff. Mostly acoustic, but with great electric flourishes by guitarist Roger Trigaux, who works with the excellent Present.

The new remix/remaster sounds wonderfully detailed and dynamic, with an excellent bonus track in the shape of the live “Faulx”. The liner notes, partly compiled by the estimable Aymeric Leroy are exhaustive. Another great archive release by Cuneiform.

Staying with the Avant Garde, Fred Frith is just about to re-release his “Technology Of Tears” album. I have never heard this, but its early use of the synclavier sampler was highly thought of at the time, around 1987. I love a lot of Frith’s work. It can be a bit forebiding sometimes, but it is never boring and there is always a strong emotional element to his music, even the more extremely improvisational material. He is a true original and has produced some breathtaking work.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Progged Out!

Every so often I need a break from listening to prog. It’s a bit like eating too much chocolate. It’s sweet and tastes great, but too much and you kinda feel a bit sick! I just need another flavour for a while. To cleanse the palate.

So I have been listening to some other stuff, which seems to be taking the shape of more psychedelic rock, for want of a better term. I latched on to a Canadian band called Black Mountain who have just released their second album, “In The Future”. This is a cracking album. It’s a bit bluesy, a bit late 60’s/ early 70’s retro heavy rock. Lots of fuzzy guitars, you know the kind of thing. But then they go and add some mellotron and wobbly synths just to throw you off kilter a bit. The keyboard player, Jeremy Schmidt made a comment recently in an interview about the days when the mellotron was heavily used in rock music: “That period is a touchstone for all of us,” Schmidt says. “We all went through our dire goth phase in junior high school, and we listened to a lot of punk and alternative. But as we got older we came to appreciate the music that all that stuff was supposedly rebelling against.” That’s a very interesting comment by a young musician. Are musicians who are interested in doing something more adventurous seeing beyond what punk and journalists were supposedly trying to irradicate. Anyway, the album is not prog as such (I said I am having a break), but the song structures, arrangements and use of those keyboards does bring proto-prog to mind. They even have a 16 minute plus song on the album. I think this is a band with great promise.

Here is a list of some other stuff I have been listening to. But I will soon be back to prog as there is a new album from Beardfish coming up. Their last was one of my favourites from last year. There is also a new band called Demians who have received the Steven Wilson stamp of approval (which is good enough for me) and received an excellent review in the latest Classic Rock Magazine.

Howlin Rain ~ Magnificent Fiend

Six Organs Of Admittance ~ Shelter From The Ash

Battles ~ Mirrored

Earth ~ The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull

Comets On Fire ~ Avatar
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