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Tommy Emmanuel, Music Gone Public, 2017

tommy emmanuel - music gone publicIf someone as awesome as Steve Vai describes watching someone play for the first time and being “stunned to silence”, you know there is something special going on. And Tommy Emmanuel is the man for the job. Not only is he not of this planet from a technical point of view, he also turns out to be a stellar entertainer and a really funny guy.

Should you not know who Emmanuel is (hey, I was only introduced to him a couple of years ago), this man is a phenomenon on nylon and steel stringed guitars, preferably from fellow Aussies Maton. And not only that, sometimes he is a one man band, providing percussive sounds and bass along his chords and melodies. And on top of that, he sings as well. How can we not be impressed by this man’s capabilities? And now we’re at it, his rhythmic prowess matches that of his guitar playing.

So I dare you to watch this DVD and not be impressed. Whether it are the 11 tracks taken from various performances in the US or the 5 bonus tracks, prepare to be blown away. Not only by dazzling technique, but also by wit and feel. Alone, or with friends, the man is born to play and perform. And in his own words, still trying to become good at it. Humbling!

Website

Semistereo, Trans Earth Injection, 2017

semistereo - trans earth injectionHoly Cow! Man, I just love how sometimes an album takes you by surprise and just blows you out of your socks. Yes dear readers, this album Trans Earth Injection from the Dutch band Semistereo did just that. And the best thing is, from the stunning artwork in the digipack, to the booklet, to the sound and most important the songs, everything is of the same high calibre.

And I have to be honest, until this dropped in my post box I had never heard of this band. And when you realise this is self produced and recorded around the globe, you become even more in awe of the result. Even when this turns out to be their third album already. Compared to the likes of Oceansize, Karnivool, Deftones and A Perfect Circle, the quintet managed to capture strong melodies, with atmosphere, depth as well as raw eruptions. So yeah alternative rock, but with a pinch of post rock and a tad of prog.

With 7 songs and over 50 minutes of playing time, this is a hammer that everyone serious about rock music should give a home. It is intense, it is powerful, it is mind blowing. And maybe even more. So no more chit chat, go out and buy the thing and immerse yourself in one of the best albums this year has yet seen!

Website

The Missing Piece, Dream Rider, 2016

The-Missing-Piece-Dream-RiderWith a band name coming from a Gentle Giant album, yes, this is a progressive rock album of sorts. And while the band was founded in the North West of the Netherlands in 2007, they experienced many line up changes. And after recording this album, their female vocalist left. So where does that leave us with?

Well to be clear, the music on this album is pretty accessible. And while lead singer at the time, Nanna Burger, might not have the most exciting voice, she does provide us with decent melodies. For me the best songs are the opening track Closed Doors, the title track and the song Destiny. My main concern with the overall impression of the album is that is seems a bit bland. Only with they shift to a higher gear (with Destiny and other more tranquil parts being the exception) and get the guitars rocking a bit, I am starting to feel energised.
But then again, I am aware that much of the genre fans love their material sticking to a certain sound and formula. So it might be just me. And I do have to mention they are self supporting, and did the recording and mixing themselves.

All in all it is a good start and I do hope this album will give them the confidence to push it a little bit further next time.

Website

Xavi Reija, Reflections, 2017

xavi reija - reflectionsThe previous album from Spanish drummer Xavi Reija was one in which he excelled in jazz and free form songs. On his new album he  works with New Yorker Nitai Hershkovits on piano and Pau Lligadas on upright bass. And while they both may be young, they already have an impressive curriculum. The result is an album that quite surprised me! And the first hint is that the 11 songs on the disk clock in at just under 40 minutes. Which in comparison to previous output is fairly short.

Now, when you start reading the inside text it reads that this is a recording of dance music. Though definitely not in a regular sense. But when you listen to the CD, it becomes clear that there is a certain lightness on offer here. Restrained elegance as it is so aptly described. While there are still parts that remind us we are dealing with virtuoso players who like to experiment and improvise, there is no denying that these songs speak easy to (at least) my ears.
So, while a drummer, bassist and pianist are reasonable common in jazz land, this trio have managed to come up with a rather delightful album. Joyous and emotionally charged, living and breathing music performed by authentic musicians.

If anything, this proves that music from the heart always reaches out and touches anyone who will listen. Wonderful album.

Website

Status update

As I have mentioned through my twitter account, updates on the blog have been extremely slow. This was due to the fact that I felt forced to switch host. As it turned out the performance problems that kept getting worse by the day, were due to the fact that the new owner of my ISP stopped updating the server and software. Thus creating an unstable environment for my blog to work under. Writing a new post was taking me a couple of hours instead of the usual time. Let alone the amounts of spam that were seeping through.

So after a lot of frustration I decided it was better to move on. And with the help of my new found ISP, the blog now has a new home and better tech specs than ever. Which I hope will make scrolling these pages even more fun / quick. Took a lot of time and money, so won’t mind if some of you hit that donate button on the top…

And now back to writing, have a lot of catching up to do!

Apologies to the artists waiting, hope you all understand.

Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis, The Stone House, 2017

Yes that are 4 names and thus four musicians. Mark Wingfield is an innovative guitar player who constantly is trying to create new sounds with his instrument. Markus Reuter plays TouchGuitars (put simple: 8 string guitar played like a stick) and is also a member of The Crimson ProjeKct and The Stick Men. Yaron Stavi plays fretless bass and Asaf Sirkis is the drummer in this collective. All are seasoned players with many years of experience.

And if Moonjune Records and or The Crimson ProjeKct rings any bells, you will already have a feeling about what you can expect from this album. Indeed there is a King Crimson influence floating around. Not the song aimed melodic KC, but the free floating soundscape version. Maybe with a little more guitar. Because these cats just set up shop in a studio and began improvising and recording. In that sense this is a 100% live album, resulting in 6 songs from 5 to 14 minutes each and a total playing time of an hour.

And while I applaud the stunning capabilities of these men, I also reckon this is not for everyone. It probably takes a certain level of listening experience to appreciate this. So for the adventurous a treat, others better listen in first.

 

Lost Lakes, Self Titled, 2016

Lost-LakesAlas I cannot remember for the life of me how I got this. And unfortunately I did not receive any info with it either. So with the help of internet I have found Lost Lakes to be a four piece band. Central is the collaboration between Corey Mathew Hart and Paul Mitch, who met at a songwriting competition and just clicked. The style is described as pop infused folk rock, which I believe to be pretty accurate.

So in general this is a lot more mellow as most of the stuff I have been listening to off late. But that takes nothing away from it feeling authentic and heartfelt. The 12 songs all clock around 3 minutes and sometimes even have a hint of Country, or Americana if you will. All arranged with the song in mind, so no room for musical indulgence. Lots of vocals and melodies that want your attention.
So while this isn’t something I would usually pick up, I must confess that it is no punishment to listen to the album. At all! No, it is very well done and sounds honest and pure. In a time where fake music seems the standard, this is something to applaud.

All songs are of the same calibre so if you have a listen and still like it after Digital Tears and slight personal favourite Can’t It Wait, just buy it. Very enjoyable.

Website

Tohpati Ethnomission, Mata Hati, 2017

tohpati ethnomission - mata hatiIndonesian star guitar player Tohpati has been featured here quite a few times with all he is involved in, and now he is back with his band Tohpati Ethnomission. Since this is released on the Moonjune label, yes this is an instrumental fusion / jazz rock album.

First thing worth noticing is that opening song Janger is accompanied by the Czech Symphony Orchestra. Besides that it is another fantastic slice of music, full of power, groove and melody. Next track Pelog Rock might be one of the more heavier moments ever recorded by Tohpati. But it is another corker! Tanah Emas is more mellow, the flutes give it that Eastern and folky feel. And the combination of folky melodies, rocking jazz and of course solos on all instruments involved can be heard throughout the album.
The result is another Moonjune album that is fairly easy to digest. All songs have melodies to identify them with and still enough going on to make the album grow on you with repeated play. Hey and in Amarah you sometimes think a prog metal band joined! So yes, also the solos are more flashy here than ever before.

So happy to report this album is a worthy addition to the Tohpati catalogue, Moonjune fans can buy on sight, but I would recommend to give it a try to everyone who likes fiery guitar coupled with a keen ear for melody.

Website

The Sighs Of Monsters, Lie, 2017

the sighs of monsters - lieOh yeah, I cannot help but like a band who clearly state they love albums and respect the album as an art form. That’s the spirit boys! So hailing from London UK we have this quartet and their second album (after 2014’s Ground).  On it you will find 12 songs with a total running time of 46 minutes. In a way one could consider this as an art-rock or prog band. But actually that would be selling them short as the songs vary too much to put into one category. On the other hand, that might just be a very progressive thing…

Listening to the album I was hooked from the first bars of I Hear Drums. Call it infectious, call it catchy, call it what you like, it is a damn clever way to start. From a bit of distance it is quite remarkable how 4 guys can deliver music so diverse and still sound spot on in every second of it. Whether it is a more elaborate track like Superman In The Silence, the almost Johnny Cash sounding Fight or the almost New Wave sounding song like Hello. And if you now think this is a patchy work, forget it. Don’t know how they do it,  but nothing seems out of place here.

So there you go, the album as an art form and The Sighs Of Monsters as the advocate, I love it.

Website

Age Of Aquarius see Mercury rising

Age Of Aquarius have released a second video from their Dawn Of The Age Of Aquarius debut. It is the dark yet beautiful ballad Mercury Rising, here fitted with simple and effective imagery. Have a look:

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