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2006 : VOLUME 18

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Cryptic Vision – Live at ROSFest 2005
 Cryptic Vision – Live at ROSFest 2005
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:ProgRock Records
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2006
Time:72:55
Info:Cryptic Vision
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Introspective / Contemplation [Excerpt] / Grand Design (14:35), In A World (16:07), Ascension (5:27), Keyboard Solo (2:08), Shock Value (4:09), The Progledy (13:55), In A World [Demo] (16:29)

It’s a brave and committed band that walks on stage at 11.00am on a Sunday morning to perform their third only live show together in front of a festival audience. To release a recording of the performance as the all-important second album is a sure sign of self-belief. That’s exactly what Cryptic Vision has done, and for no other reason than this I really wanted to like this album. Fortunately, for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. The band hails from the west coast of Florida, a long way from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where the set was recorded at the Rites Of Spring Festival almost exactly one year ago. The majority of the set is taken not surprisingly from the bands 2003 debut release Moments Of Clarity. That album passed me by so the material is mostly new to me, which is not a bad thing. It’s difficult to be subjective about live versions of songs without comparisons to the studio originals. Although the band line-up has changed since the recording of the first album, the two guiding lights remain, namely multi instrumentalist Rick Duncan and lead singer Todd Plant. As the principal songwriter, musician and producer Duncan is very much the cornerstone of the band, although on stage he takes up the relatively unassuming position behind the drum kit. Plant has an appealing tenor voice reminiscent of Steve Walsh. He is well supported by backing vocals from all band members with the exception of Duncan. Plant returns the favour by adding acoustic guitar and occasional synth to the set.

In truth there is nothing spectacularly original about the music of Cryptic Vision. They follow the path laid by Yes, ELP, Kansas and others, a path already well worn by the likes of Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard and Glass Hammer. There is nothing wrong in that of course. Their brand of prog is at the rockier end of the scale, tinged with AOR inflections typical of many US prog acts. They combine soaring vocals and strong melodies to produce a very entertaining and accessible sound. They’re no slouches when it comes to playing either, which is clearly evident from the opening instrumental. Swirling orchestral and electronic sounds from the keys of John Zahner dominate Introspective providing a stirring fanfare to the show. The synth sounds a little off key near the beginning, which at the very least proves that the recording has not been tweaked. When guitarist Timothy Keese makes his entrance he reveals a style that is equally at home with both metal and prog. This adds a harder edge to the mix, contrasting with the lush keys sound. The hesitant vocal harmonies at the start of Contemplation soon give way to a more confident style heavily influenced by Drama era Yes. Rick Duncan lays down a crisp drum sound whilst the bass of Sam Conable thunders and pulsates with more than a hint of Chris Squire. The opening segment concludes with Grand Design where the guitar adopts a gritty Trevor Rabin tone offset with Keith Emerson style organ flourishes. The icing on the cake is a tricky four part a cappella vocal section, which the band carries off in style.

The mini epic In A World is the sets standout song, and significantly is also the title track from the soon to be released second studio album. The term everything bar the kitchen sink springs to mind as the song goes through a myriad of changes. The opening symphonic keys are swept aside by an ascending rhythm pattern that builds the tension in much the same way as Yes’ Mind Drive. The band is really firing on all cylinders by this point. A brief but melodic piano theme leads to the songs memorable chorus. Spanish/Mexican references are introduced with a La Bamba like Latin rhythm early on, and later, Mariachi trumpet sounds courtesy of synths. Plant throws in a flamboyant burst of classical guitar that’s well received by the appreciative audience. Conable impresses on bass throughout, and the second half features a dazzling exchange of chops between synth and lead guitar. The piano theme returns to herald a magnificent vocal coda with a hook strong enough to land a whale.

Ascension is another fine song from the first album, featuring a strong mid tempo melody and an infectious staccato rhythm. The Keyboard Solo is just long enough for Zahner to demonstrate his synth abilities and classical piano technique. The riff driven Shock Value is the bands take on prog metal, and for me the weakest part of the set. The repetitive chorus doesn’t really have the strength to carry the song, and the mean and moody vocal posturing lacks conviction. It does however give Keese the opportunity to flex some guitar muscle.

The Progledy (‘prog medley’ geddit?) concludes the show in Dream Theater/Spock’s Beard fashion with a tribute to the “prog fathers” as they are affectionately referred to in the introduction. It’s very much a hit and miss affair that not surprisingly goes down a storm with the audience. They open with a worthy if truncated performance of The Water, although for me not the best of Spock’s Beard. The crunching guitar intro to Yes’ Your's Is No Disgrace lacks the fineness of the original, with the stirring organ and synth work fairing better. The majesty of Kansas’ Song For America is effectively captured with Conable excelling on bass. Spontaneous applause greets Dream Theater’s dark Erotomania, which includes some suitably heavy guitar volleys. Turn It On is not the most inspired of choices from Genesis, but Plant turns in a fair Phil Collins impression. With ELP’s Karn Evil 9 they’ve saved the best till last. Zahner delivers a stunning organ solo, and the guitar of Keese covers the tricky synth parts in style. The climactic ending draws an ecstatic and well-deserved reaction from the crowd and the band is clearly moved by the response.

By way of a bonus, the band has thoughtfully included a demo of In A World due out later this year. The studio recording gives it a cleaner sound with polished harmonies but lacks some of the power and urgency of the live version. Plant’s voice on this occasion recalls Toto’s Bobby Kimball, and guest guitarist Steve Lamagna, who has a style not a million miles from Keese, delivers some fiery licks. Its inclusion is also a good opportunity to hear again the stunning choral finale, providing a fitting conclusion to the album. If the rest of the forthcoming album is as good as this then I for one can’t wait to hear it. For now, this live release is available to enjoy. True, it has its weaker moments but they are few and far between. If for no other reason than the superb In A World, this album deserves its DPRP recommendation.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Cannata - Mysterium Magnum
 Cannata - Mysterium Magnum
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2006
Time:59:06
Info:Cannata
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Spirit Of The Four Winds (8:04), Kali Allah (2:48), Somewhere Beyond The Sun, (8:46), 4:17 [California] (3:37), King Of The Mountain (5:05), Promise You Heaven (5:04), Book Of Ages (4:39), Tears Of America (5:53), Wanted: Dead Or Alive (3:37), Life:101 (4:17), French (3:03), Reason To Live (3:29), Reprise: Kali Allah (1:05)

American-based singer/song-writer and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cannata has enjoyed a long, if slightly sporadic, career. In the early days of the art rock movement, he formed the ProgRock band, Jasper Wrath which featured James Christian (House Of Lords). Signed to MGM Records, and with their first LP receiving rave reviews, they toured extensively before the oft-quoted 'musical differences' led to the band splitting in 1976.

In the 30 years that have followed, Jeff's output has run to just four albums under the Arc Angel or Cannata banners. The most recent, Tamorok came out on the Artenzia label in 2002 and stands as probably my all-time favourite progressive AOR album. Huge melodies, beautifully crafted songs and Jeff's fantastic vocals make this addictive listening, but for some reason the album never seemed to get the attention it deserved. However, when I saw that he has waited just four years to produce the follow-up, I was at the front of the queue.

Mysterium Magnum, is a real tour-de-force that manages to draw together many of the elements from Jeff's career to date. Best described as a blend of ProgRock, AOR and melodic hard rock - this has barely been off my CD player for the past few weeks - and yet still manages to unveil new charms to me on each play! If you like your rock to encapsulate memorable hooks, great musicianship, progressive arrangements, thoughtful lyrics, and a great mix of atmosphere and energy, then you have come to the right place. Superbly played and written, there are plenty of classic 70's type arrangements but with an impressively modern feel to it all. Jeff plays a good amount of the instruments here, but there are more than a dozen guest musicians mentioned in the credits.

The opener Spirit of the Four Winds has a wonderfully catchy melody, as well as an assortment of keyboard and synth textures from both Jeff and Jay Rowe. I'm a just a sucker for the catchy, delicate hard rock melody that is the focus for King Of The Mountain (think Winger), or the more ballsy hooks that dominate Wanted: Dead or Alive (think House of Lords).

But it's the later track Life:101, which probably provides the best example of what this album has to offer. It has a great rocking melody, but around that, the music constantly changes pace and mood with dozens of small instrumental breaks, adding huge layers of interest. It's amazing what you can pack into just over four minutes. In sharp contrast Somewhere Beyond The Sun, is one of the album's most progressive pieces, mixing up elements of Jethro Tull, Kansas and Glass Hammer. Flutes, guitars, and synths all take turns to force the song into different territories, before being brought back home by Cannata's soaring vocals.

And it's the vocals that provide the icing on the Mysterium Magnum cake. Really distinctive voices, able to drift effortlessly from tender heartbreak to belting power, are few and far between - but Jeff Cannata has it all in abundance.

Elsewhere, the balladic 4:17 [California] allows Jeff to show off his lyric-writing with a polemic on life in the colourful American state, whilst Promise You Heaven reminds me of the stripped-down, vocal-led AOR that featured so heavily on Tamorok. Book Of Ages has a beguiling folk meets majestic rock sound not unlike early Magnum, while the two-part Kali Allah has some wonderful synthesizer and flute melodies that converge into a meeting of Jethro Tull and ELP - in the Middle East. There's only one track that fails. The prog-meets-electronica of French is just too out of place.

And it all comes wrapped in an impressive digipack containing great artwork from Ioannis. Mysterium Magnum really does provide a captivating listen.

If you're getting rather bored of the same old tried-and-tested names appearing at the top of the DPRP end of year poll, then this is an album, that if enough people are prepared to try something new, really deserves to be there. Cannata has the potential to appeal to a huge cross-section of people, especially those who enjoy accessible, melodic, progressive rock.

There are samples of every track, plus a video and details of how to get this release from the classy Cannata website. It will certainly be in my top ten at the end of the year. Love it! Love it! Love It!

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

ANDY READ



Mindgames - Actors In A Play
Mindgames - Actors In A Play
Country of Origin:Belgium
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2006
Time:66:54
Info:Mindgames
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Benefit of Anxiety (9:03), Dramatis Persona (10:05), The Statue (16:29), Sagittarius (6:47), Royalty in Jeopardy (11:53), Both Sides of the Show (12:35)

Now, some reviews pretty much write themselves. You listen to an album a couple of times, and decide that detailed breakdowns of the tracks, the lyrics, the musicianship and the styles would just be excess baggage. It may pad out the word count, but it doesn't really add much to the few descriptive phrases that are needed, to give a reader an idea of what an album sounds like, and whether they would be interested in it. This is a classic example of such an album.

It's been three years since the debut album, International Daylight, was released from this five-piece progressive rock band from Belgium. Clearly inspired by the classic British prog bands like Marillion, Genesis, IQ and Yes, their second release tries to melt all these sources into to a sound of their own.

Consisting of just six tracks, five weigh in at between nine and sixteen minutes and the other drops just short of seven minutes. That gives plenty of time for the band to twist and turn around instrumental passages, slotting in numerous melodic themes amongst a myriad of time changes. They certainly don't sound very original, but Actors In A Play is a listenable and often enjoyable effort.

The vocals of Bart Schram perfectly suit the music, although the narrative style of his singing at times, may not be to everyone's taste. On the whole the guitar is restrained, albeit with plenty of soloing and interplay with the keyboards. Elsewhere, flowing synths mix with church organ, recorder and acoustic guitar to give a good sense of dynamics. A clear production gives all the 'actors' plenty of space in which to perform.

Actors In A Play is a concept album about different characters, whom you are introduced to, one-by-one, song-by-song, before they all come together in the last track. I haven't heard their debut so I can't really compare like with like, but there are an abundance of musical treats on offer for fans of this genre. The opening two tracks, in particular, have a great sense of melody. There is also a huge sense of drama across this album. You can almost see the band dressing up in different costumes when they perform it on stage.

For lovers of epic progressive rock, firmly fixed in the 70s/80s, with an overdone theatrical edge, this is very well-performed and carefully-crafted example of the genre.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



Brainstorm - Desert World
Brainstorm - Desert World
Country of Origin:Australia
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Year of Release:2005
Time:72:15
Info:Brainstorm
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Light [Eunomia Sunrise] (11:22), Occupation (6:58), Unfathomed Darkness (4:59), Mutants (10:24), Shadows of The Past (7:02), Paradise Lost (8:46), Martian Chronicle (7:16), Goblins (3:44), Desert World (11:44)

Brainstorm are an Australian space rock band who first started performing way back in 1988 playing, amongst other things, covers of Billy Idol songs! They gradually developed their own style and identity releasing a self titled cassette in 1993, followed by a second cassette called Earth Zero two years later (subsequently re-released on CD in 2000), their first CD, Tales Of The Future, in 1998 and now, some eight years down the line, the follow-up Desert World. The quintet comprises Steve Bechervaise (keyboards and synthesisers), Craig Carter (guitars, vocals and keyboards), Vittorio Di Iorio (drums, percussion, keyboards and guitar), Paul Foley (vocals, flute and guitars) and Jeff Powerlett (bass and vocals).

The album is set in the future, the 26th century to be precise, where the human race survives only through Mars colonists that have mutated following centuries of eeking out a living on the red planet following a terrible war. The story of the album is the tale of "these eldritch creatures" as they undergo "planetary conquest, colonisation and despair". All sounds rather grim but in fact the album is really rather pleasant and laid back. Yes the musical components commonly associated with space rock are prevalent, swirly synths, treated guitars and lots of, well, er space. However the band have experimented with other instruments not commonly associated with the genre, for example flutes (on Mutants; and acoustic guitars on Unfathomed Darkness and Desert World; or both on Paradise Chronicle).

With the bulk of the songs ranging from seven to twelve minutes there is plenty of room to layer the music, building textures and varying the atmosphere within each piece. This is no more evident than on The Light [Eunomia Sunrise] which develops into a hypnotic groove bearing resemblance to Grobschnitt's Solar Music. Ironically, the two shorter tracks, Unfathomed Darkness and Goblins, are both instrumentals and somehow don't carry the same gravitas as the instrumental sections of the longer compositions. This is particularly true for Goblins which is rather too loose and improvisational. Martian Chronicle has an ethereal blissed out feel, featuring some of the best vocals on the album which, on the whole, are reasonable and fit in with the premise and concept of the album.

Anyone fond of ethereal space rock combos will find plenty to enjoy within the 72 minutes of music on Desert World. The approach of this Australian band is subtly different and decidedly more laid back that other groups in the genre and for that reason alone are worth checking out

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



The Vocokesh – Through The Smoke
The Vocokesh – Through The Smoke
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Strange Attractors
Clear Spot
Catalogue #:SAAH 034
Year of Release:2005
Time:65:08
Info:The Vocokesh
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Vibe #6 (6:31) Vocokesh Theme Song (6:16) 12 Monkeys (6:23) Through The Smoke (15:45) New Cropcircle Boogie (6:55) Nothing Implied (6:40) Sunday Afternoon (16:35)

American improvising space explorers The Vocokesh grew out of and alongside Industrial experimentalists F/I, starting as the side project of guitarist Richard Franecki, with fellow guitarist John Helwig and Rusty on drums. Bass is handled by the two guitarists, and synths are supplied by Doug Pearson. Although there are strong elements of the space rock of Brit pioneers Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, The Vocokesh are also indebted to Krautrock / Electronic acts like Tangerine Dream, and Ash Ra Tempel. For more modern comparisons, they lean more towards the tuneless end of the spectrum a la Subarachnoid Space, than the Hawkwind – inspired Quarkspace.

A word about the cover, it’s a recreation of a jazz LP from the late fifties-clearly a labour of love by the band, but its strong Beat/Bohemian flavour doesn’t really convey the message of what the music is like. To be honest, I’d skip right past this cover in a CD shop. Something more cosmic or surreal would surely have been more appropriate?

Getting down to the business of the music, Vibe#6 is a slow-burning space rock excursion, mixing early Pink Floyd with Ash Ra Tempel freak outs – it’s big on guitar soloing and is a solid enough opener, setting the scene for the rest of the disc.

Vocokesh Theme Song is somewhat atypical, having a chugalugging, garargy riff-rocking structure, like early Hawkwind, minus the overbearing synths, but with a dash of the sonic oscillations of The 13th Floor Elevators.

Freeform eerie noises plunge us into deep space for the unsettling random rattling and rumblings of 12 Monkeys – kind of like Tangerine Dream before the synths took over. Part way through, a drum rhythm appears, but the rest of the players pretty much ignore him, as his bashing appears unrelated to what else is going on. This gives me the feeling something has gone awry a little, and this track is my least favourite on the CD because of it.

Through The Smoke is a long (very long), loose improvisation with a druggy atmosphere so tangible you can almost smell the smoke. Minimal bass and lazy drums hide behind a fuzzed up and free-roaming guitar burn-out. With this on the CD player, my attention wandered in and out, occasionally being pulled back by more focused guitar soloing, but drifting away in the spacier sections. Really this kind of music is all about atmosphere, and is ideal as background for imaginative ruminations – or to be more prosaic, daydreaming.

Not particularly enticed by any track with the word Boogie in the title, I needn’t have worried, as Cropcircle Boogie is another drugged up guitar fest in the manner of Ash Ra Tempel, with spacey synth swooshes and driving bass – actually one of the more concise and focused numbers on the disc. Nothing Implied starts off in free fall but gradually coalesces into a more solid piece, again heavily featuring psychedelic, spacey guitar for a mind expanding trip to the outer reaches of the Galaxy.

The disc closes with another long-form improv but this time the rhythms are more constant and the guitar more melodic – this one’s more likely to appeal more to the average prog rocker as it is much more tuneful, and its rambling guitar solo is likely to reel in the odd Pink Floyd fan or two. It does lose focus a bit in the middle, but it all comes together again at the end, making Sunday Afternoon my favourite track on the disc.

Ending as it does on a rather high note, this CD has some crossover potential from the hardcore space-rockers (who should really eat this up), to the (slightly) wider market of Progressive Rock in general. My collection does take in most of the bands I’ve mentioned above, and there is a small niche with room for the likes of The Vocokesh. This CD should prove to provide an occasional sonic detour from my more usual, melodic, structured listening material, into the world of the free-form freakout and it’s quite enjoyable overall.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

DAVE SISSONS



Kinski - Spacelaunch For Frenchie
Kinski - Spacelaunch For Frenchie
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Clear Spot
Strange Attractors
Catalogue #:SAAH035
Year of Release:1999/2005
Time:73:07
Info:Kinski
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Staring (7:08), Floundering & Fluctuating (5:54), Lecker (7:45), Party (6:20), Jetstream (10:41), Losing Touch with My Mind (6:42), Bonus Tracks: Loud With Drinks (2:56), Let Me Know When We're Poor (3:32), Floundering & Fluctuating [early version] (6:12), E-Jam [Daydream Intonation] (6:20), She Always Made Us Work Like Dogs (9:35)

Kinski is an American band playing mostly instrumental tracks in a quite unique way. Indeed named after German actor Klaus Kinski which is proven very clearly by the E-mail address you can use to contact them: kinskiklaus@yahoo.com. But is there a reason to contact them or not is what I'd like to determine here, what does their music offer us? We at DPRP somehow totally missed the original, and all the other releases by Kinski, but can now make it up with reviewing the recent reissues of their first two albums. Their first album Spacelaunch For Frenchie was originally self-released back in 1999 in a limited edition pressing of 500.

Since that first edition has been unavailable for some time it was re-released in 2005 by Strange Attractors Audio House and the new label Intellectual Drunks Records founded by Chris and Lucy from Kinski. At that time the band consisted of three people, Lucy Atkinson on bass, organ and violin, Chris Martin (no silly, not the one from Coldplay of course) on guitar and vocals and David Weeks on drums and percussion. In this composition they recorded their debut in their rehearsal space on an Otari 8-track. The original closing track of the album is a cover of the Spacemen 3 tune Losing Touch With My Mind. This reissue includes 5 extra tracks, 4 demo tape recordings they made to book shows in Seattle, two of which they never recorded again and the other two were rerecorded and included on this and the next album (see below). The fifth track is an outtake from the sessions.

The album starts with some windy sounds to which a sort of repetitive guitar loop is added, which babbles along for some minutes until the 3:17 spot, (be aware!), where a bombastic cacophony of sounds bursts out in a way that mostly reminds me of Sigur Rós. After a while the over the top bombast fades away again and the rest of the song basically consists of a repetitive guitar loop dressed with some surrounding sounds. Floundering & Fluctuating is a vocal song that reminds me strongly of the Dandy Warhols, mostly because of the very similar and recognisable use of guitar and vocals. The only thing that distinguishes it from that more poppy group are the lengthy spinned out instrumental bits, where the song floats along on a certain motif for a while. The song Lecker (German for delicious, although it's not sure this was intentional) is a song that could have been from Porcupine Tree; an instrumental without a real structure, just nice guitar based soundscapes in various seemingly arbitrary directions.

Party does not really honour its title, or it must refer to a booze and dope dominated party that you can't remember afterwards, a pretty psychedelic song in a relaxed way (a good trip thus), but a quite good and varied one though. Lecker fluently flows over into Jetstream that also doesn't live up to it's title since it's a pretty slow song that easily could have been extended with another 20 minutes of continuing similar sounds - which Kinski wisely did not opt for, since it would have become boring then. Halfway through the song it seems to end and then you're treated to several minutes of silence - now if you listen carefully you can hear some distant sounds (sea or so?) in an extremely ambient way that keeps you wondering until the end of the song. The last song from the original album is a vocal one again and could also just as well been one of the Dandy Warhols, the similarities are striking although also some small differences can be spotted when you listen more closely.

Loud With Drinks, the first bonus track and demo tape recording, is a surprising up-tempo song that totally, unrightfully, was excluded from the Kinski albums. It has a strong resemblance with recent stuff of the Foo Fighters, not in the least way because of the frantic drumming. Let Me Know When We're Poor was more rightfully banned to the unreleased section since it's just a straightforward alt-rock song with not much excitement and variation to offer. The demo version of Floundering & Fluctuating is only interesting to those fans who can try to spot the differences.

The last demo song E-Jam is nothing but an early version of the song Daydream Intonation that eventually turned up at Kinski's next album (see underneath) and it's the only one of the 4 demo songs that's heading away from the frantic vocal alt-rocking style, towards a more progressive instrumental style in which they seem develop themselves quite clearly. Another song that didn't make it to the final album closes this reissue package and it offers us a pretty expanded tight-fitted, beat based track, poured over with a relentless continuing guitar hammering in various directions; not a bad track but lacking some variation considering its length.

For a debut album it's pretty interesting but hearing their second album it's quite clear they were a bit indecisive at this point which direction to follow, resulting in an album struggling between two directions, alt-poprock and instrumental progrock, that occasionally resulted in an interesting mix of both.



Kinski - Be Gentle With The Warm Turtle
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Clear Spot
Strange Attractors
Catalogue #:SAAH036
Year of Release:2001/2005
Time:48:00
Info:Kinski
Samples:Click here
Kinski - Be Gentle With The Warm Turtle

Tracklist: Spacelaunch For Frenchie (7:40), New India (7:00), Newport, (5:01), One Ear In The Sun (6:27), Daydream Intonation (6:42), That Helmut Poe Kid's Weird (7:49), Montgomery (7:19)

This reissue edition doesn't feature any bonus tracks and actually even lacks the track My New Worry which was included on the original U.K. release from 2002. The album is almost totally instrumental apart from some sparse vocals on the third track. For this second album from 2001 the band was reinforced by guitar and keyboard player Matthew Reid Schwartz.

The opening track strangely enough bares the same name as their previous album, perhaps a left-over from that album, inspired by that first album or is it perhaps just a joke? More remarkable is that this album starts almost in the same way as the previous one, just deleting the windy sounds. Instead of the startling outburst after a few minutes this time the song goes into overdrive more steadily, directly hailing the reference with Sigur Rós again. But real bombast is pretty limited this time as the song soon backs down to a, (after a while even boring), repetitive mellow guitar loop spread over a very soft bed of suppressed sounds that goes on for the rest of the song.

Salvation comes with track two, (New India), that introduces itself really after a few seconds with an Ennio Morricone-like single toned screaming guitar, soon to be accompanied by drums and bass that head into a seemingly jam-like outburst of over the top guitars and frantic drumming - and in a dreary and chaotic way. The bass lays down a steady heavy loop, the drums are beaten like severe punishment and the guitar whines on top of that all; a very thriven song thus, even though it's slow paced.

Newport is as mentioned the only track with some vocals. This song is pretty much in the style of the Dandy Warhols, Queens Of The Stone Age and Foo Fighters to mention a few, and some elements of Tool can also be found heard. It's has (again) a thriving tempo and a bombastic full sound that blows you away from the speakers and one that really won't please your mother-in-law (among others).

Tranquillity comes around again with One Ear In The Sun that starts off again with a repetitive guitar loop over a faint underline melody, but the song builds up soon enough when the keys, bass and drums join in. By now this combined full sound begins to become a bit to familiar and a lack of variation in melody becomes apparent. So if you like this kind of sound it's good and nice to listen to, but it's all a bit more of the same. Also Daydream Intonation that we know already from the demo version on the previous reissue album continues on the same path. Halfway the tempo is increased, but it actually only makes the second part a faster version of the first part. Especially this fast part is not for those with a weak nervous system, since it does blow out of your speakers with full force!

That Helmut Poe Kid's Weird offers a more song-structured melody, with both more tranquil as heftier moments, but it cannot take away the impression (after a critical hearing) that this song actually only consists of repetitions of riffs that could go on endlessly.

You would expect a bombastic ending of this album, but apparently Kinski decided to end with a more serene sound. The basic structure is the same again, an underlining carpet of bass/drums, this time slow paced, overlaid with some guitar melodies, but with this song I think they managed best to give the whole a little extra spark. There's just a bit more variation in it and the guitar playing is also more significant and clearer therefore giving a bit more of the appropriate contrast to the base rhythm. The song does float along in no particular direction like most songs, but in this case it just feels more as if everything is in place; a fine ending to this album.

I think both albums are mainly interesting for people who are into the music of groups like Dandy Warhols (only the first album), Porcupine Tree, Sigur Rós and Radiohead and any mixes between those.

Since Be Gentle With The Warm Turtle is more consistent as a whole and because of the instrumental style of it, I prefer the second album to the first, but the repetitive character of the melodies and sometimes lack of variation in the song structures limits my appreciation. But all in all I can't but call these albums very enjoyable.

Conclusions:

Spacelaunch for Frenchie: 6.5 out of 10
Be Gentle With The Warm Turtle: 7 out of 10

JORIS DONKEL



Quad - Quad 1
Quad - Quad 1
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Clear Spot
ACME/LION
Catalogue #:ACLN1006CD
Year of Release:1997/2005
Time:44:33
Info:Quad
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Improvisation #1 (15:07), Improvisation #2 (7:42), Improvisation #3 (21:39)

Quad is the alter-ego album project by psychedelic band Sun Dial who first came to light amongst the early 1990s 'Madchester' scene. That group, led by guitarist and vocalist Gary Ramon, released an album a year between 1991 and 1996 of what has been described (by the psychedelic authorities at the Freak Emporium) as "killer late '60s UK styled acid psych/prog with trippy wah-wah guitar, phased vocal effects, rippling keyboards long jams and druggy dreamy lyrics."

The group reformed a few years ago releasing a highly regarded new album, Zen For Sale. In the intervening years Ramon played in various groups such as Coil and Current 93 as well as producing and releasing material by other bands on his own Acme and Prescription labels, often in very limited editions.

One of those limited editions was the first album by Quad issued in 1997. Recorded over a period of five years and essentially a Ramon solo project, the original vinyl-only LP was released in a run of approximately 300 copies and came as a transparent album in a clear plastic sleeve - an obvious nod to the first Faust album that was released in similar packaging some 25 years earlier. Quad, like Sun Dial, were influenced by Krautrock but presented a more looser and ambient side to the band. Variously described as "drugged-out and trippy", "mesmerising", "spaced-out" and "a kind of dream-to-sleep psychedelia", the album is very loosely structured and obviously improvised (no hidden meaning behind the track titles then!). Featuring electric sitars, various drones and sustained keyboard washes, the music does absolutely nothing for me. I freely confess to finding the whole ambient/head/DJ scene terrifically boring and Quad do nothing to change my mind. The three tracks drag on endlessly with only the odd interjection of electric guitar to break the monotony.

The original album is apparently highly sought after and no doubt many fans of this type of music will be overjoyed by it's re-release on CD. Unfortunately I, and I suspect many other progressive rock fans, will be decidedly indifferent.

Conclusion: 4 out of 10

MARK HUGHES




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