Yes, sometimes one can discuss the quality of artwork. Personally, I do not like the cover chosen for this release. On the other hand, when it comes to music, and more specific playing the guitar, things turn around very quickly. As with the previous release from Bogert, from the get go it is obvious this guy is one heck of a player. And when you get help from Knight Area mates Pieter van Hoorn on drums and Peter Vink on bass, you know you will have all the foundation you will ever need.
What I like most about Mark’s playing is his use of melody. In that aspect he comes from the Satriani way of doing things. Opener Earning The Best is a great introduction to that. Very nice piano playing and then the guitar hits us with melodies. And okay, several flashy bits, but I never once thought he was pushing it too hard. And the same applies to most of the songs on the album. Nature Of Stone is another song that mister Satriani would be proud of. Great melodies and moods. Other songs show the influence of Vai, which of course is no bad reference either. And in songs like Friends On Holiday and especially Missing The Loved Ones, I cannot escape the absolute haunting delivery. Achingly beautiful!
So all lovers of great playing, this is a record you have to check!
In all honesty, I am not too keen on EP’s. But, as they say, no rule without exception. And to prove the point here we have the Arriver album by Dolcetti. Who are a self described crazy duo consisting of Gianni Rojatti on guitar and everything besides drums, as those are played by Erik Tulissio. And believe it or not, this duo plays live on a regular bases and despite the use of loops and stuff, manage to throw in improvisations in between their already virtuoso playing.
There are a lot of things to like about this album. For instance there are 8 tracks and 7 of them last 3:34. The last one, track 5 lasts 0:34. And if you pull a stunt like that off without sounding far fetched, you rank high upon my genius scale. And genius this is. It is very clear why mister Vai took them on board to support his tour. Or why they have played with the likes of The Aristocrats, Paul Gilbert or Tosin Abasi.
Yes, some out of this world playing and wizardry here, especially from Rojatti. And if you think this is all about technical display, you are wrong! No, they keep their eyes strongly on the delivery of songs and melodies. With exciting arrangements and flashy solos, but that is needless to say.
So there you go, a must have for people into the names mentioned. Brilliant!
Yossie Sassi is of course known as the front man of Orphaned Land. Recently he pointed me (via twitter) to this solo album I was not aware of and I am surely glad he did. For those that do not know, the man is a gifted guitar player and has a great feel for melody. So part of this album is instrumental and if I should reference it, I’d say think of Joe Satriani, but with a distinct Eastern flavour and sometimes a bit of Vai’s craziness and a touch of fusion to spice it up.
The result are songs that are easy to get into because of the catchy melodies and impress with their feel and sometimes flashy playing. Of course it is that Eastern flavour that gives Sassi an identity of his own. It runs in his blood after all. But he is not a one trick pony. For me it is obvious that he is a musician that knows how to express himself on multiple levels. And the result works brilliantly. Songs like Fata Morgana, Orient Sun or Azadi prove the point effortlessly. And how can we not applaud a man that wants to unite people instead of dividing them. Regardless of race, belief or country.
Amazing work if you ask me, and even when it is not as heavy as his band, I am confident that everyone into quality will agree that Sassi delivers the goods here. So make sure you pick up a copy!
In the world of guitar shredders, the two big names are of course Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Both have an instant recognisable style and have paved the way for many others. And yes, I know there are more, but fair´s fair, these two probably are the biggest sellers and most well known names.
Okay and now one Mark Bogert comes along with an all instrumental guitar album as well. You could know Mark from his days with Penny´s Twisted Flavour, or more recently Knight Area. So how does he hold up compared to the big guns? Well, I think Mark has a great and warm tone for one and a fluid style, both in rhythm as in solo´s. Second he puts more emphasis on melody than on strictly impossible guitar abuse. Which makes me think of Satriani more than Vai, although in some parts it is the other way around. And Mark incorporates keyboards, which sometimes even get a chance to shine a bit.
And it is because of the diversity in the material, that this has turned out to be a very enjoyable album. Yes it is a guitar album with plenty of notes, but I did not find it hard to like the songs and get into the album. Worth checking out and this is another release that label Freia Music can be proud of!
Independant label Rock Company has just presented the first video for their new project Earthshine. The project aims at delivering instrumental music with touches of ambient, new age and film music. Little guitars, but emphasis on piano, mellotron and synths. With drums and bass where needed.
The first album will soon be released. So for now welcome Earthshine:
Okay, the press sheet mentions this is progressive, ambient, instrumental, experimental rock. And that is all true. Adrian Jones is responsible for guitars, bass and guitar synthesiser and Michel Simons did the programming and the keyboards.
Some will probably hail this as one of the best releases of 2013. Because one thing is for sure, it is progressive in a true sense. It is original, combines elements of many styles and does not care if the masses like it or not. So that makes for authentic and pigheaded. And yes, especially the dreamy ambient parts are beautiful and moody.
Yet in all honesty, I am struggling with this album. For me the main thing lacking are identifiable songs. Thus resulting in 9 tracks of sounds and hints and ideas. When it gets noisy, to me it is just that, noise. Guitars screaming (which I normally do not mind at all) and drowning in effects? Maybe when served with certain substances it becomes a trip. Or maybe it is a state of mind and my mind is not open enough at the moment to enjoy this. I do not know for sure. Still I applaud the balls and the vision.
So for the open minded and the brave, this might prove to be an essential addition to your collection. All others approach with caution…
Ah, and just when you are talking violins, The Night Watch comes by. Not the famous painting from Rembrandt, but a Canadian band that have no singer, but instead a lead violinist that takes that role. This, their self titled debut was conceived since their start in 2008 and after much writing, performing, recording and producing now sees the light of day.
In a way the line up alone is testament of their progressive identity. It takes confidence to make instrumental music and stick to it. So I find it way cool this has turned out to be a very enjoyable affair! The quartet of Evan Runge (violin), Matt Cowan (fretless bass), Nathanaël Larochette (guitars) and Daniel Mollema (drums), must have done quite some soul searching, because their music, whilst not being overly complex, still has a lot of dynamics and a plethora of beautiful melodies. The way heaviness is used is interesting, but because of the violin played melodies you never lose sight of the song. So despite the lack of words, I found it easy to connect with the album. And especially the more intimate parts are plain beautiful. In a way, it is not hard to imagine this supporting some movie, it certainly has a cinematic appeal.
Congrats to the band, and all lovers of things progressive (or instrumental): do not hesitate and go check them out!
A recent new partner for the blog are Moonjune records. From first sight I think they specialize in more challenging music that is influenced by progressive rock and or jazz and often from bands under the radar, from places like the Far East, or Southern America. Challenging in the sense that it will take more spins to familiarize yourself with the music.
First example is Dialeto. One of the things I noticed in the artist info is the service to explain the pronunciation of a lot of names. For example the band´s name goes like “dee-ah-leh-to” , just so you know. This group consists of 3 members, Nelson Coelho on guitars, Jorge Pescara on touchguitars (bass) and Miguel Angel on drums and they hail from Sao Paulo, Brasil. No singer, so yes, this is fully fledged instrumental music. And one that takes no prisoners. It is quirky, unpredictable and rambles ahead with a lot of energy. And thus a prime example of an album that takes time. The fact that the production is fairly dry, only adds to that. But when you give it that time, you will discover that all that press talk does make sense. It is adventurous, filled to the brim with ideas and expert musicianship, moods and feel. Slowly the melodies reveal themselves and suck you into the album. So after a while you will say “actually, I really like this”…
Recently I met a guy that was able to turn my attention to guitar players that mainly play acoustic. Thanks to YouTube I got to witness some performances that rocked my world. Yeah I have seen and heard numerous great guitarists, but they all mainly play electric. And now it appears there is a whole new world out there with musicians that can do things on a guitar I did not know were possible.
One of the examples is Tommy Emmanuel. His playing is of a technical level that is almost out of this world, like on opener Cantina Senese. And still, a song like title track the Mystery is so beautiful it almost hurts. Some in this genre are a one man band. Playing rhythm, bass, chords and melody on just a single guitar, using only their ten fingers and their 2 hands. Great to hear, yet phenomenal to watch. Emmanuel plays mainly a sort of fingerpicking style on this album. There is also a chilling vocal track, The Wall, where he even sings, besides Elizabeth Watkins. On the digipack it says he took care of all instrumentation, so it could be that one man band phenomenon is at play here as well.
Well, I am heading into much more adventure now, and hope to encourage you to do the same. Guys like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee or Jimmy Wahlsteen (to name but a few) deserve it! Get it? Good!
It never seizes to amaze me how many undiscovered talent is walking the face of the earth. Take for instance Norwegian multi instrumentalist Arild Broter. Drummer, keyboards, guitar and composer of some intricate instrumental rock that shows a keen ear for infectious melodies and riffs, combined with an obvious love for intelligent rhythmic ideas. And to these ears influenced by the greats of seventies progressive rock. Considering he is of an age where most dudes just want to hang out with as much girls and alcohol as their body or parents lets them, makes his achievements even more impressive.
So this second album under the Pymlico banner (he released first album Inspirations a year earlier) turns out to be quite the treasure for people who have a knack for that type of progressive rock (think King Crimson, Pink Floyd et al), with some more modern ambient – new age typed parts thrown in for good measure. And should you not be aware, to make instrumental music sound as logical and easy to digest as vocal music, takes some effort and talent. Especially if you like to throw in some more complex stuff here and there as well.
My thanks go out to Arild for letting me in on his music. I love his work so far and hope he keeps himself entertained enough in his basement to keep releasing this quality work. And I suggest you all head over to his website and go check this out and buy it. This music needs listeners, as much as possible!