Sunday, 13 November 2011
“Double O Void” was the second album recorded by Sunn O))) around 2000. At that time the band featured Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, and on this release they were joined by Stuart Dahlquist (Goatsnake, Burning Witch), Petra Haden and Pete Stahl. For those readers initiated into the music of Sunn O))) this release will come as no surprise, and can be enjoyed as an early document of the origins of a group of musicians formulating their art. Those unfamiliar with the resonance of Sunn O))) should read carefully. Devoid of any perceivable rhythm or tune, each piece is built up of tectonic plates of sound shifting lugubriously against each other to produce sculptures of sound that, at the same time, are impenetrable and curiously alluring. The tectonic plates are built up of profoundly distorted bass and guitar lines that build upon each other, layer upon layer, to construct what can only be described as a colossal sound “experience”.......
Friday, 11 November 2011
The largely banded around term “progressive metal” has come to characterise music that is metal in origin but utilises complex time signatures, multifaceted song structures and elaborate instrumental showmanship. “An Abstract Existence” has all these elements and more. From Spokane, WA, Odyssey formed in 2007 and, in their own words, the music can be, “...brutal, melodic, technical, dynamic, mellow....” The casual listener should not be put off by the reality that “An Abstract Existence” is a collection of instrumentals, as each number, without being encumbered by vocal, flows seamlessly from segments of jazz, to mellow passages, to death metal and back often within the same track. Track lengths themselves vary and “Quantum Symbiotic Inception”, at some 20 minutes is a perfect example of how, even without lyrics, interest can be held from the intricate bass introduction, through the slow ponderous riffing, round the corner into the frenetic upbeat shredding segments......
Monday, 7 November 2011
Developing a strong allegiance with fans from his time in Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse must be praised for continuing to express his craft through the medium of symphonic progressive rock, despite the fact that this path has been well trodden over a number of years now. Featuring a band that includes drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatalantic), bassist Randy George and Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Kansas, Dixie Dreggs), Morse has assembled many ex-member of Spock’s Beard to trace his journey from formation of the band, through spiritual awakening to eventual departure. This is achieved over disc one in a conceptual piece over thirteen songs in three sections. Disc two, on the other hand, concentrates on Morse’s devotion to the Christian faith. In all fairness these elongated, epic soundtracks are far from progressive, but Morse creates his music with ardour and sincerity and must be applauded for doing so. For the listener who is unaccustomed to hearing long, complex musical narratives, the material on “Testimony 2” may be a long difficult journey, and it must be said that the musicianship on display is outstanding. The songs themselves are, however, predictable, and break no new ground......
Sunday, 6 November 2011
“Firefly” Deidre Cartwright and Kathy Dyson Tribute to Emily Remler SevenArts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds 6th November 2011
“Firefly” Deidre Cartwright and Kathy Dyson Tribute to Emily Remler
SevenArts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds6th November 2011
The American jazz guitarist Emily Remler, born 1957, began her guitar playing career, like so many players of the time, influenced by the likes of Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix. It was during her years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the early 70’s that she began to draw her influences from the hard bop style of Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Her first album as a band leader in her own right “Firefly” was released in 1981 on the famous Concord label. Between 1981 and 1982 she performed with the Los Angeles version of the show “Sophisticated Ladies”. As well as a performer and composer in her own right, Remler played with notable musicians such as Larry Coryell and Astrrud Gilberto. Allegedly a heroin addict, she died aged 32 of heart failure whilst on tour in Australia.
Deidre Cartwright and Kathy Dyson met 25 years ago when they realise they were the only two professional female jazz guitarists in Britain. Senior Lecturer and Leeds College of Music alumni, Dyson, and former presenter of television’s “Rock School” and member of The Guest Stars, Cartwright are noticeably influenced by the work and technique of the late Emler. Their set on this tour, which began in the small and intimate surroundings of SevenArts in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, is derived mainly from Remler favourites such as “How Insensitive”, “Stella by Starlight”, “Afro Blue” and “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise” and Cartwright and Dyson originals. The Wes Montgomery standard “Four on Six” is the perfect vehicle to display the empathy these two players have with the bop-to-blues style which became so much of a trademark for Remler. The two guitarists differing playing styles admirably complement each other, and the exchange of soft, floating lines is mesmerising. The atmosphere in SevenArts is convivial and conducive to bringing out the best in a style of music which benefits so much from the warmth of the audience and their acceptance of the music. There is indisputable communication between onlookers and performers, made more poignant when Cartwright wins a box of chocolates in the raffle. For the thirty or so people present, this was either the perfect introduction to the music of Emily Remler, or a touching reminder of what she brought to the world of jazz.
Two pieces that illustrate the beauty of Emily Remlers playing:
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Recorded in Calgary, Canada, “Prime” is the debut release from LeeSun, and is a magnificent menagerie of tantalizing tunes that from the first track, endearingly titled “Mickey Mouse”, are compelling enough to induce this listener at least into a state of deep affection. Often tinged with flavours of melancholy, track after track on “Prime” bring the listener further and further into their sentient being. Several of the tracks have a jazz sensibility about them, but that is not to be reductionist about the album as a whole. “Mountain Song” for example has a more urgent, frenetic flow, and yet again “How Long” and “Missing You Already” (despite the startling opening count in) have all the hallmarks of some of the fine new “country” acts that are being given recognition at the moment......
Leeds based Catscans, a four piece essentially consisting of former members of We Sell Seashells, have come up with a 3 track EP which, although displaying all the elements of what is now thought of as “post rock”, has a few surprises which hint at a promising future. The band themselves comprise Jonathan Edwards (guitar, voice and synthesiser), Christine Caulfield (violin, cello and Nyckelharpa or “key harp”/”keyed fiddle”), Michael Capstick (guitars) and Jake Wilson (drums). Although a mere 3 tracks give little room for a fuller appraisal, each of the tracks here are infused with a unique blend of strings and landscapes of soft, intelligent guitar.......
Mag Lev is essentially the work of Frank McLaughlin, Belfast based multi-instrumentalist, who has created a low budget, lo-fi EP of tunes that, in their difficulty to categorise, raises them above what many may consider to be an overcrowded market place for this kind of material. “Kabeesh”, which opens the EP collection, is driven on a riff that is supplemented by electronic passages, scorching electric guitar lines and changes in mood that expose the many layers and textures that go up to make the experience. Many of the interjections have a sinister overtone which brings to mind the soundtrack to a sophisticated horror film, and the catalogue of music that that genre brings to mind.....