Reviews in this issue:
- Coheed And Cambria - Year Of The Black Rainbow
- Odyssice - Silence
- Nautilus - Fathom
- Altruismos - Imagen
- Nemesyz – Phase Zero
- Nemesyz – Live Phase 0.1
- El Hombre Astral - Tierra
- Made In Sweden - Made In England
- Redd - Tristes Noticias Del Imperio
- Tony Arnold – Selective Hearing
Coheed And Cambria - Year Of The Black Rainbow
Tracklist: One (1:54), The Broken (3:53), Guns Of Summer (4:48), Here We Are Juggernaut (3:44), Far (4:54), This Shattered Symphony (4:26), World of Lines (3:17), Made Out Of Nothing [All That I Am] (4:38), Pearl Of The Stars (5:05), In The Flame Of Error (5:28), When Skeletons Live (4:17), The Black Rainbow (7:32)
Coheed and Cambria’s line up for this album is Claudio Sanchez (vocals, guitar, keys and synth), Travis Stever (guitar, lap steel and backing vocals), Michael Robert Todd (bass) and Chris Pennie (drums and percussions).
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the fifth and final part of Coheed And Cambria’s sci-fi masterpiece. Year Of The Black Rainbow is the prequel to the other four albums already released by this band, based on the Amory Wars Saga which started out on its journey in 2002, based around two central characters Coheed and Cambria funnily enough. For me Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One is by far the best segment of this masterpiece, especially due to their approach in song writing, just throwing the book out the window and producing such a grandiose piece. So how does Year Of The Black Rainbow compare?
There is no let up in the intensity of this album after the opening moody keyboard instrumental One with the sound of distant explosions, things then take a turn with Sanchez’s signature guitar sound and vocals kicking in with catchy hooks and fantastic melodies which is something that we have grown to expect from these guys. The Broken is heavy and very guitar orientated, with some amazing solos interspersed throughout. Guns Of Summer has no let up either with the pounding drum work from Pennie, (former drummer with The Dillinger Escape Plan), driving this song along complementing Todd’s bass work galloping and pounding along in an Iron Maiden vein.
Here We Are Juggernaut, “Keep your secrets in the dark nothing matters anymore,” wails Sanchez as the guitars, bass and drums pound and pulse their way through the track. On completion of this track I feel like I’ve been hit by a juggernaut.
Far opens with spacey echo guitar riffs and a tribal drum beat with exquisite vocal passages for example, “I welcome this pain, bearing down on me, it is your eyes that choose not to see?” This is a pivotal and strong song, man you’ve just got to love this band. This is what modern prog rock is all about.
As the album progresses I find myself struggling with either trying to listen to what is being created musically or what has been created verbally and one of the best examples of this is on the very solid and proficient This Shattered Symphony. Finally being able to put both together as one offers such a reward of intense magnitude.
Pearl Of The Stars drops into mellow acoustic mode, a ballad of epic proportion, a heartfelt pouring of emotion to the one he loves. This is a track that works really well and would appeal to a wide audience, and having a sense of intelligence about it too.
In The Flame Of Error rallies the troops with some rather distinct guitar and drum work, presented throughout. This track probably has the most distinct vocal phrasing, making the audience sit up and really listen to what is being said. Once or twice I had to refer to the lyric sheet to confirm what I had just heard.
When Skeletons Live races along with twin guitars from Sanchez and Stever giving it a real classic rock feel without sounding mundane. The Black Rainbow closes the whole affair, “You are all that we needed”, croons Sanchez sharing more emotional guitar work and another powerful track. “Now I’ll never let this go .... I sang,” is the closing line and would end this movement on a real high if the do?
The Second Stage Turbine and In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 have been previously reviewed here and awarded 7.5 and 8.0 respectively and since then the band have moved on perfecting their craft with each album going from strength to strength.
I feel that this is a less stated album than the previous releases but looses none of its intensity. Claudio Sanchez vocals can take some time to get use to, (vocally Sanchez has more than a passing similarity to Cedric Bixler Zavala of Mars Volta and Geddy Lee from Rush), but are full of emotion and character having you sitting on his every word, anticipating where he is going next. One would imagine that if you have travelled the distance with this band you will be at ease with his voice. Great tune-smiths are one thing! Great word-smiths are another! Here we have both. This is stunning stuff and not one filler track to be found on this album. You really don’t want to miss out on this. This is another one for my top 5 releases this year.
People say you can’t have your cake and eat it. Well folks let me tell you. You can and I have. Thank you Coheed and Cambria.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
Odyssice - Silence
Tracklist: 21 (8:06), Memento (6:07), Chinese Waters (7:12), Colours Of Silence (6:49), Flags Without A Heart (9:13), Continental Motion (10:38), Swank (5:45)
It has been ten long years since Odyssice released their debut full-length album, the DPRP recommended Impressions. I'm happy to say that in the intervening years, Odyssice have remained true to their path and Silence once again provides some very fine instrumental progressive rock. Three of the quartet remain from the last album, Bastiaan Peeters (guitars), Jeroen van der Wiel (keyboards) and Menno Boomsma (drums) with new bassist Peter Kosterman completing the line-up.
I made comparisons with Camel in my review of Impressions, something which still holds true, mainly due to the fluid and atmospheric guitar work of Peeters and the way he interacts with van der Wiel, creating grandiose, sweeping landscapes of sound. However, this is just a reference point, an indication as to the style of the music rather than a suggestion that the band lacks any form originality. It should be taken as a guide to the quality, as there is no doubt that these chaps are up there with Latimer et al. as to their compositional and performance skills. To, temporarily, continue with the Camel comparisons, one should think more towards the Stationary Traveller era than earlier periods.
There are several very good reasons why one should consider investing in a copy of this album, but the best one goes by the name Flags Without A Heart. A tremendous piece of music that starts with piano, fretless bass and acoustic guitar and progresses (excuse the pun!) into a fantastically melodic series of guitar and keyboard solos that are supremely classy and wonderfully considered. However, no matter how good, an album will always be more than one track. Fortunately, the other numbers offer an immense amount to enjoy. Peeters comes into his own on Continental Motion and van der Wiel adds variety with some novel synth sounds on Memento. It is somewhat unfair to single out any of the four musicians for particular attention because, as the old saying goes, the whole is so much greater than just the sum of its parts.
Whatever the reason for this album taking a decade to appear, it was certainly worth the wait.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
Nautilus - Fathom
Tracklist: Blacken Gold (3:39), Baskerville (3:00), Blink Of An Eye (3:07), Swamp Life (5:12), The Anachronist (6:32), Heart Of Darkness (5:39), Goodwin Sands (4:46), Cadaver (10:42)
It's been over five years since the debut Nautilus album What Colours The Sky In Your World? was first released to the appearance of the second album Fathom. Recording started way back in August 2007 and the album was finally released in the middle of last year, although we only recently received a copy to review. On the positive side, it is released by Cyclops records, a label that many had thought had ceased to exist, happily not so! The line-up is the same as on the first album - Andy Challinor (guitars), Paul Blewitt (keyboards), Darryl Finch (drums) and Rob Tyson (bass) - although this time round they have enlisted the help of guest vocalist Peter Straker on four songs.
The opening two numbers are both instrumentals with Blacken Gold setting the tone, a heavy and ominous number that opens out into some fine guitar-keyboard interplay. This leads into the quirkier Baskerville which sounds something like what I imagine an instrumental Cardiacs would sound like if they played at half, or a third, of their normal speed. Quite odd in many ways but immensely enjoyable. Straker features on the trio of songs that follow, starting with Blink Of An Eye. He possesses a mellow baritone that is quite familiar (I know he released at least one solo album in the seventies, but the name is not that familiar). The song is rather melancholy (A billion billion galaxies, drifting further apart, a dying sun, a dying earth and my dying heart) but has a great guitar sound on the first solo. Swamp Life is rather disjointed and despite featuring a few nice ideas doesn't really hang together all that well. The next three tracks, The Anachronist, Heart Of Darkness and Goodwin Sands, are thematically linked relating to the voyage of The Nautilus and its cargo of slaves travelling from West Africa and ending up dashed on the rocks by Goodwin Sands in Kent on the East coast of England. As a 'suite' the pieces work very well with The Anachronist being somewhat over the top with some good guitar work from Challinor, Heart Of Darkness being more reflective and mellow, although I am not all that fond of the spoken section (in a fake accent which is more West Indian than African) which I think should have been left out with the message being left to the booklet lyrics, and Goodwin Sands providing the conclusion. One thing that did strike me from this last piece was that it seemed more akin to musical theatre; the ending in particular was pretty anticlimactic, possibly because the last track is supposed to round everything off. If so there was too much of a gap between the two pieces.
Cadaver is the number most like the music on their first album. At nearly 11 minutes and entirely instrumental it gives the band more opportunity to add in twists and turns and show off their prog credentials. All four musicians play well with Finch's drumming and percussion being of particular note, giving the piece a strong and forceful backing. Guest Phil Smith offers up a brief but pertinent sax solo that changes the mood and tone of the piece without causing any dramatic shifts in directing, the sax being echoed by Challinor's guitar. A strong piece of music that I think could have actually continued a bit further rather than being faded out.
On the whole, Fathom is a decent enough album that has more peaks than troughs and offers a different slant to the band's music from what was presented on their debut without losing the identity of the group. Their first exploits into the song form is largely positive but it is still in the instrumental form that the band excel.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Altruismos - Imagen
Tracklist: Introito Fieto (1:48), Factor Crisalida (5:54), Altruista (6:39), Erradia Cronica (8:28), Imagen (9:22), Comela (5:01), Panico En Deja Vu (14:09)
Tomas Pereda (Spanish and electric guitars), Facundo Nahuel Negri (drums and vocals), Frederico Esquivel (bass), Victor Julian Nocelli (keyboards) are all members of Altruismos who’s debut album Imagen is somewhat of a find. When I discovered that they were from Argentina, a bit of excitement crept in, as I have been recently been playing the BuBu album Anabelas which I thought was an amazing album. Here we have a band of young talented musicians that aren’t afraid to experiment with various styles and pull it off convincingly. We have music influences in approach and sound ranging from Return To Forever, Mars Volta, Planet X, Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny, Tribal Tech, LTE, and Dream Theater in places, and if that is not good enough to pull you in then there’s no hope.
Introito Fieto starts of the whole affair with a very dark sombre mood piece which doesn’t really prepare you for what is to follow.
Factor Crisalida starts off with some slow and rhythmic guitar, keyboard and drum work that sets the pace. The track builds into a sonically dynamic track with some very fluid guitar work sounding like an early 80’s Metheny in places building to a more rock oriented track with some great supporting drum work. On top of this Pereda throws in some very evocative Spanish guitar work which is very effective in the whole scale of things.
Alturista is a rockier track built on progressive jazz passages with Pereda being the leading light instrumentally, being fully supported by some outstanding drumming from Negri who sounds like he is highly influenced by Terry Bozzio or Mike Portnoy in style. The total feel of the whole passage is retro 70’s progressive jazz rock fusion, especially when the keyboards of Nocelli take the lead.
Erradia Cronica is both an ambitious and eclectic indeed, as ever all the instrumentation is impeccable, with some flashy guitar and drum runs in the vein of Petrucci and Portnoy. I just love the way that Altruismos throws everything into the pot, mixes it up and come up with something so strong, sounding like Mars Volta in places. It runs from progressive jazz fusion through to progressive metal without missing a beat like piecing together a jigsaw. Excellent stuff indeed.
Imagen has a prog metal foundation sounding not unlike Dream Theater or Liquid Tension Experiment in its approach. You certainly get the impression that this is a band influenced by Petrucci and Portnoy. Along the way the band never lose their jazz fusion intensity and style. Messer’s Pereda, Negri, Esquivel and Nocelli are all highly adept musicians and are on top of their game
Comela races off with a powerhouse of a guitar riff sounding like the Pereda’s fingers are on fire. As ever the whole piece just gels together with some majestic support work. I just loved the way all the whole dynamics just fit together, slap bass, frenzied drumming and passionate keyboard work, propping the whole structure up.
Panico En Deja Vu is the longest track on the album coming in at just over 14 minutes and features some vocal work by Negri. The songs opening comes across as a symphonic ballad having some very elegant passages, before dropping into some fantastic prog metal guitar work al la Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment, which just screams, “TURN ME UP”. The keyboard work just weaves its way through this piece of work along with some very strong guitar and drum playing. To me this is the stand out track on the album demonstrating what Altruismos are capable of. Hopefully the sophomore album will be even better. This is an album that will have you pressing the play button again for sure, due to the high quality of what’s on offer here.
This is a great starting point for anyone who is interested in finding out what South American prog is all about. Argentina is not really the first place you would think about if you were trying to discover new prog. I have generally found that this area of the world music map offers some absolutely fantastic progressive jazz fusion amongst other styles, which if you think about it musically, (jazz, rumba and salsa etc) are probably the basic build blocks of the Latin-esque countries musical history. The only down side in the whole affair to me is the production work, which to me could have done with being a bit more precise and cleaner. Other than that this is a faultless album.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10
Nemesyz – Phase Zero [EP]
Nemesyz – Live Phase 0.1 [EP]
Tracklist: Intro (0:51), Now (1:34), No More Fights (4:56), Then (7:35)
Nemesyz initially was a punk rock outfit but after a few line-up changes the band now consists of original members Stefan van Leeuwenstijn (guitar & backing vocals) and Joe Fabriek (drums). Completing the band are Roland Le Fevre (synthesizers), Tom De Wit (lead vocals, guitar & bass) and Joey Klerkx (bass). The studio CD [EP] features Moniek Roeloffs on bass (tracks 1 & 4). Individual members are known from their previous work specially Tom De Wit who has had a solo album reviewed by DPRP already in 2008.
Phase Zero: Musically speaking Nemesyz is not a band that brings something completely new to the world of prog and their music lies clearly within the reign of the heavy neo prog. The four tracks on the mini CD all are very well constructed, the hand of Tom de Wit clearly present here. Melody is ever present in all the songs and although none of the tracks really stands out, if I were to pick one song to nail the sound of what Nemesyz direction could become I would pick No One’s Child. To sum up the overall feel of the EP, I would say that Time is a melodic/symphonic song of the heavy kind, the heaviest of the tracks on the EP. Cold Light Of Monday has a stronger melody and has a heavy neo prog sound. No One’s Child is my favourite of the four tracks, starting with heavy synths, followed by slightly distorted guitars. Heavy neo prog all the way. Track four Like A Toy is the poppiest song of the lot, nevertheless quite nice. The production is very clean, clear voice and at some point maybe even too clear. And now for the verdict, good introduction to the band, definitely going in the right direction. Can only get stronger if the band can stay together to grow.
Live Phases 0.1: During the review process of Phase Zero I saw that the band had released a second EP at the end of March and this time a live EP. Recorded at a gig in Leusden. As I wanted everyone to be up to date with the status around Nemesyz I thought it a good idea to also review this EP. Again four tracks; the first one is only a spoken introduction, (in Dutch), by singer Tom de Wit. He introduces the next three songs as a complete suite called The Cage. And so they step into playing the songs - the other three tracks aka The Cage, which breaks up into Now, No More Fights and Then. Nemesyz is a live band, the energy is oozing from this EP. They are also a lot heavier than on the Phase Zero EP. The track is a nice heavy prog song, melody plays a prominent part as do the keyboards. Tom has a distinct voice, now and again Stefan does some grunting. Not too much, but fitting the songs. All and all the songs give a clear impression of Nemesyz live. Without seeing them live I get a certain Danzig feel, I know that Danzig is not prog, far from it I would say, the feeling originates from the energy within the music. The biggest influences in their musical style probably are Symphony X and Iron Maiden.
Phase Zero : 7.5 out of 10
Live Phases 0.1 : 7.5 out of 10
El Hombre Astral - Tierra
Tracklist: Bienvenida (4:46), Me Hablan Los Culos (3:50), Suerte (4:05), Hipocondria Razonable (5:02), Luz (4'18), Gruas (4:35), Reina De La Casa (4:36), Mudo (5:23), Tierra (7:02)
It may just be me, but so far 2010 has been pretty dire for releases on the more metallic side of prog. Only the new Votum has floated my boat in any positive direction. Such has been a dearth of material that I’ve been trawling my dusty shelves of CDs and looking into little-explored regions of Europe for some inspiration.
Hence this first dip into the waters of provincial Spanish progressive rock/metal. El Hombre Astral is the new project from one Cesar Diez, a bass player with Rao Trio, producer and studio musician from the Castilla-Leon provinces. My Spanish is about as good as my Dutch, but I think this is the band’s second album. Tierra has certainly offered plenty to sink my teeth into while it treads a variety of musical styles.
Whilst it’s not really an album that is going to dominate my play lists in the coming months or years, Tierra does offer an interesting and sometimes challenging listen.
Opening track Bienvenida is the closest the band comes to Dream Theater with a strong melody and heavy, semi-complex riffing. Me Hablan Los Culos has a quirky Pain of Salvation vibe with some odd time signatures, female vocals and a lovely guitar lick. The album’s most inventive piece, it’s sadly spoilt by some stupid farting noises at the end.
Suerte takes off in a more modern, groovy direction which brings to mind American newcomers Jolly. There’s a nice jazzy fusion twin guitar duel in the middle. The groove here really suits the Spanish vocals. The balladic Hipocondria Razonable possesses some more lovely guitar work amid a very Mediterranean progressive feel. Like many of the songs, it does lack that melodic hook which would bring listeners back for more. Another new direction is explored on Lux. It’s a somewhat unfruitful exploration. The blues-based melodic hard rock of Tangier or Mr Big simply doesn’t suit the band’s style or the Spanish tongue at all. The lack of catchy melodies is most acute here.
It’s in this mid-section that the band appears to loose its way a little. Gruas possesses some good dynamics but is rather dull. Reina De La Casa has more variety and some more tasteful guitar work. However the constant variation of styles is starting to get a tad confused. It’s not until Mudo that El Hombre Astral recovers its footing. This is the album’s best song with some great riffs, an inventive slower mid-section and a superb guitar solo. It brings to mind early Kings X with the groove of long-lost fellow Spanish band Grass and it’s found that melodic hook. The use of harmonies enlivens the vocals and the mixture of heavy and light works well.
Overall the songs are short, sharp and to the point. Only the closing title track extends much past the five minute mark. Tierra is based around a twisted and deformed bluesy riff with a heavy reliance on instrumental work to extend the playing time. There are some nice acoustics at the end but again the melodies are weak.
Being all sung in Spanish will naturally restrict the potential audience, something further restricted by the inability to pigeonhole a band that traverses so many styles.
I find the production rather dry and cold with the vocals too far back in the mix. The singer too tends to sit in the lower ranges. A wider use of harmonies and some keyboards would add a bit more depth and warmth to the band’s sound.
I feel the band is most effective when it either takes a modern, up-tempo groove or becomes more inventive and heavy. I’d certainly advise steering clear of the blues and the farting next time around!
Conclusion: 6 out of 10
Made In Sweden - Made In England
Tracklist: Winter’s a Bummer (5:31), You Can’t Go Home (3:40), Mad River (5:09), Roundabout (5:05), Chicago, Mon Amour (5:08), Love Samba (7:24), Blind Willie (3:31), Little Cloud (3:35)
I’ve been on a Greenslade kick lately, having recently discovered the band. Prior to this writing I had never selected an Esoteric release for review from our writers’ pipeline, but when I read on it that Esoteric’s reissue of Made In England, the third release from jazz-rock outfit Made In Sweden, was produced by Greenslade and Colosseum bassist Tony Reeves, I was hooked and opted to review the CD. Regrettably my cursory listen of the CD reveals a recording that is marginal at best, lacking any “wow” factor for this reviewer. If you are a fan of jazz or jam influenced rock, you may groove on this CD.
Made In Sweden was formed by Georg Wadenuis (Stubinera, Grapes Of Wrath, Lea Riders Group), Bo Haggstrom (Lea Riders Group) and Tommy Borgudd (Lea Riders Group) in the wake of the demise of Lea Riders Group in 1968. On Made In England Wadenuis plays guitar, organ, and piano and handles vocals. Haggstrom plays bass, mellotron and piano. Borgudd is the drumming and percussion man. A lineup not unlike modern Van Der Graaf Generator.
The jazz influence is evident on opening track Winter’s A Bummer, with references leaning to early King Crimson and some jam-based pointers going towards the direction of Badger. Little Cloud evokes early Traffic, and is a bouncy track that ends in a horn element flourish ostensibly generated from Wadenuis’ organ. Haggstrom’s mellotron makes things sound symphonic on Mad River, a slow piece which picks up into a jam groove with some skillful guitar soloing from Wadenuis as the tune fades out. Love Samba is one of the more interesting tracks on the CD, featuring a bass regimen from Haggstrom and drum showcasing from Borgudd, and soloing as well from Wadenuis on the guitar - the most prominent instrument on this CD despite the presence of two keyboard players.
The CD booklet is well-designed with extensive and informative liner notes and some comical photos of the band. Production and remastering quality of the CD is acceptable, taking the time of its initial 1970 release into account.
Short of a reunion, the “room for improvement” rubric of our writers’ guidelines does not apply here, as this group disbanded over thirty years ago.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10
Redd - Tristes Noticias Del Imperio
Tracklist: Reyes En Guerra (5:26), Kamala II (4:05), Kamala (4:08), Nocturno De Enero(3:31), Mattinée (8:04), Tristes Noticias Del Imperio (9:19), Parche Armónico Ensayo ~ Live 1977 (3:39), Después De Un Mes ~ Live 1978 (9:12), Tristes Noticias Del Imperio ~ Live 2003 (9:59), Mattinée ~ Live 2003 (10:01), Parto ~ Live 2003 (5:58)
Redd were an Argentinean prog band from the late 70’s and early 80’s having recorded two albums. Tristes Noticias Del Imperio was their first album, and reviewed here, being released in 1978 and is very zeitgeist. Their second and last album is called Cuentos Del Subsuelo, having been recorded in 1979. Here we have the album re-released as a 30th Anniversary edition with five bonus tracks. The first thing that struck me with this release was the quality of the packaging. Back in the heady days of vinyl a few albums would be presented as part of the experience having thought provoking artwork and packing. The first one that sprung to my mind initially was Hawkwind’s Space Ritual with the fold out panels. I remember spending hours just looking at it intently and not just the picture of Stacia. Redd prompted a happy memory from my childhood with this packaging and I have spent some time looking at it intently too, but for a different reason. Unfortunately this being due to the information about the band etc being in Spanish of which I don’t understand bar the odd word. This does by no means detract from the total experience. It’s just me being pedantic. Anyway I digress. Redd were a trio featuring Luis Albornoz (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Juan Escalante (drums, percussions, piano, synthesizers, lead vocals) and Esteban Cerioni (bass, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, vocals). The line up for the band changed for the second album retaining only Cerioni and Albornoz.
So what do we have here? Six studio tracks and five live. With anniversary releases it can be an opportunity for a band to delve into their vaults and release some gems, an opportunity that Redd seems to have missed. Mind you I am not too sure as to how large their vault would have been having only recorded two albums. The reason I say this is because the bonus cuts on offer here vary in sound quality. For example Parche Armonico Ensayo has only a poor bootleg sound quality and is for completists only, where the remainder are of much better quality.
Reyes En Guerra starts the whole affair off with a beautiful melodic bass line and interesting echo percussion work with some very intent guitar from Albornoz stopping starting as the piece builds. The sound is very laid back in nature as are the vocals sang in their native tongue. It’s a piece that sound’s very much of it’s of it’s time having a Zeppelin and Yes feel, that still stands up well today.
Kamala II has an earthy early Genesis feel to it with great guitar work which has been layered and featuring some atmospheric keyboard and bass work by Escalante and Cerioni, which interjects as opposed to flowing with the melodic guitar runs, creating a beautifully crafted instrumental piece. This is a very clean and precise recorded track, where you can hear the strings being caressed by Albornoz, which just sends shivers down my spine, a stunningly beautiful piece.
Kamala drops back into electric land with some with a pastoral feel to it, with some jazz fusion work being reinforced by the acoustic guitar. The approach and sound of this track is like a band of the early 70’s and not a band that’s was entering the 80’s, again sounding much like Genesis.
Nocturno De Enero is a ballad that oozes charm and serenity bringing to mind King Crimson in tone and approach. Melodies are just flowing from beginning to end. The vocal work doesn’t come across as being a predominant force in the whole affair, more being used more for effect.
Mattinée uses a very similar bass melody from Led Zeppelin's Dazed And Confused, with the drums and keyboards inspiring a blues and jazz feel with some really heady vocal tones that are somewhat understated which accentuates the song. Its also has some really nice guitar work thrown in to boot. This would be the type of song that you would have played in the 70’s to impress your college girlfriend by displaying your intellectual prowess of such international treasures, discussing its social merits. The song has a real King Crimson feel to it, being very laid back in its approach. I just love this song especially how it has been constructed. The Mattinée ~ Live 2003 version is nearly two minutes longer than the studio version but still looses none of its appeal even 23 years down the line. It’s just more jazzed up featuring that aforementioned bass line having a more structured blues feel to it making it more powerful as a package.
Tristes Noticias Del Imperio raises the tempo with a more jazz rock feel, being the longest studio track on the album. The synth is very predominant throwing in some weird passages and then there’s the galloping drum beats and complex bass fills, which are much understated but so effective. This has an improve / jam feel to it having no let up in the way it builds, changing tempo time and time again. Vocally this isn’t the strongest track but then again when was prog about vocal ability, especially when the musicianship is of a high standard. In saying that though the vocals are very effective. Tristes Noticias Del Imperio ~ Live 2003 brings the bands sound up to date. This time around the songs has a harder driving force, as technology is superseded so is sound quality and production. I almost got a feel of Zappa-esque guitar work in its approach and direction. This is a band that was revelling in playing their past glories and such a fine job they did too.
Parche Armonico Ensayo ~ 1977 this is a very ropey recording (bootleg quality), that rocks along having an early Rush feel to it in places with some outstanding drum work, which lets you get the feel of how this band sounded back in their day. The piece is for historical reference only really due to the poor quality which is a shame, as all in all it’s not a bad track and the drumming is very powerful and intense.
Después De Un Mes ~ Live 1978 is a slightly clearer recording with fuzzy guitar, bass and drum work weaving their magic following each other. As ever with most bands, live they do sound slightly heavier, again the vocal techniques used are more for effect and in the live arena certainly not as strong as the studio tracks. This track comes across as being very basic in structure and to be honest didn’t really hold my attention span.
Parto ~ Live 2003 is a rock out track with a quick tempo that bounces along with the drums and keyboards taking the lead. There is some flashy lead guitar work and the sound of the Hammond organ which is one of those instruments that always stops me in my tracks and is a fitting way for the album to end.
A lot of the album is instrumental, but as commented on earlier there are some vocal sections which are understated and to me accentuates the whole feel / sound surrounding the band. There is a lot of hat tipping especially to the likes of Genesis, Crimson and Zeppelin, who I would think were a big influence.
Unfortunately Juan Bautista Escalante is no longer with us as he passed away in 2005, but the live reunion recordings on offer here from 2003 certainly proved that they were still a force to be reckoned with and the music stood the test of time although having a heavier feel, and to be totally honest were better than the studio versions on offer, which to me usually defines whether a song is good or not.
Although this is a 30th Anniversary edition I did hear one or two pops and crackles on the recording, which lead me to question as to what source was used in the mastering of this album. All in all though, this is another good Argentinean prog rock album worth investigating.
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10
Tony Arnold – Selective Hearing
Tracklist: Trotline Recumbent (5:11), And In Arcadia (8:32), Wayfaring Stranger (5:13), Not What I Had In Mind (10:39), On The Embankment (8:42), Victory (6:48), Haunted Airstream (3:42), Gwenhwyfer (8:18), Custom Interior (5:59), Highroad To Hell (6:08), Owltown Reprise (8:31)
Tony Arnold is a singer/songwriter based in Athens, Georgia, USA and has been making music for a substantial period of time already. On Tony’s MySpace is a downloadable discography of albums, I counted ten all together with Selective Hearing being the ninth in the strain.
The music Tony Arnold makes may well be described as Art-rock or electic progressive rock music and the artist that springs to mind is singer/songwriter Guy Manning of Parallel or 90 Degrees / The Tangent and of course his own band Manning.
The music I hear on Selective Hearing goes straight in that direction, however I must add that Tony Arnold doesn’t always add lyrics to the tracks and most of the work on this CD are instrumental in nature. Food for instrumentalists.
As there is no mention of other artists working alongside of Tony so I imagine he does everything himself and here lies a big flaw, as the overall composition of the music is good but the CD was not very listenable. I tried a few times after which I thought I visit Tony’s MySpace page. Now listening to the same songs there gave me more satisfaction, therefore based on the CD I cannot pass good judgement. If I take into account that the album can be bought as a download version and the preview of the downloads sounds OK, I think the music is not bad, not bad at all. The CD production however was of abominable quality.
Therefore I will only make some overall remarks: All songs are stories although mostly instrumental. The physical CD for me is a no-brainer, downloads might be fine. Too bad for the quality of the production, which has determined my conclusion. If you are still willing to give it a try - listen to Tony Arnold’s MySpace and figure it out yourself.
Conclusion: 3 out of 10