Monday, December 26, 2011

Russian Circles - Empros

I love burgers, and I hate mediocrity. As a musical equivalent that meets these standards, this band is tops. I wrote a review , my last before my second son Arrow was born.

You know what you’re getting when you order a Russian Circle burger. High quality, grass-fed meat, home made bread, locally sourced ingredients and perhaps a special ingredient you didn’t expect make listening a high quality experience. A nutritious rock experience high in zinc and iron and low in saturated fat. The band concocts its jams with a degree of unpredictability (perhaps a pineapple ring? blue cheese curds? blackberry porter marinade?) but the satisfaction in listening comes via amazing chops and mature song writing. Considering how many changes that occur within each song, Russian Circles are very good at pacing their material.

starts strong, gets a little weird and a bit more brutal, and at the back end gets pretty. The confusion in properly orchestrating an album of mega prog metal has left the band. Empros succeeds in that it all sounds like one song; each begets the next naturally, which wasn’t always the case with previous records. The wide open expanse of “Batu” hits like the cool of tsaziki but it doesn’t distract from the strong palette of caribou and barbecue sauce established by total brain smashers like “309 and “Schiphol”.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Simon Scott - Bunny

This album is awesome. Read my well scribed review here. Or this snippet:

As in common in Scott's solo work, each song can be extracted and enjoyed out of context. This seems to be uncommon in ambient music, but the effect here is that Scott’s experimental sound collages come across as songs instead of soundscapes. This gives the album a discernable direction and arc. Instead of being buried in the ether, the songs are the ether - crackling, growing crystals, gasping for air. The textures that form are dynamic and moody, their origins mostly stemming from real instruments like guitar and piano.
Simon Scott - Bunny by miasmah

Incredible Musical Prodigy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Drift - Blue Hour

Late trumpet player and electronics maestro Jeff Jacobs implored his band mates to continue making music should he lose his fight with cancer, and that is what this San Francisco-based trio have done with their seventh release. Blue Hour is a classic example of how not just to keep pressing on, but to triumph despite the sadness. The album begins with a couple of the most muscular tracks ever heard from The Drift, as if to say that the first reaction to a close friend's death is to plow ahead, faking a sense of confidence. These uncharacteristic tracks make sense when they give way to a more familiar meditative journey. “The Skull Hand Smiles - May You Fare Well” is paced with piano and rhythmic textures before the guitar helps the song coalesce. It is incredible how much space and storytelling Danny Paul Grody can do with just one guitar. Within the layerings of “Luminous Friend” one can almost hear Jacobs’ trumpet. The patience and bardo-like cadence of closing piece “Fountain” demonstrates that these are special musicians, capable of weaving powerful passages of emotionally dynamic rock even in a state of vulnerability. This graceful record may not top the year end lists, but it’s a potent reflection of one of life’s most difficult truths.
Listen: The Drift - Horizon

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hidden Orchestra - Flight EP

An EP with one new song and four remixes? Sounds like a game plan for established fans only, but Edinburgh-based Hidden Orchestra hits it out of the park by opening with the spectacular "Flight". It's a song one can't help but play again and again. The synth-infused drama unfolds with a delicate thrumming bass-line provided by a cello and melodies handled by clàrsach (a small Scottish harp), saxophone, and a melifluously recorded clarinet. Castanets, twinkling chimes and shuffling electro percussion take the song to an exotic next level, making it completely natural for the remixed tracks from Night Walks to shine. And they do. The band's clarinetist Tomáš Dvořák doubles as Floex, whose remix of "Dust" is as fresh as shaved nutmeg on a frosted evening. The Colonel's take on "The Windfall" feels a bit redundant after Maddslinky's remix of the same track, but each has a very different style that they sort of blend into one longer piece. Each of the remixers has a clear understanding of Hidden Orchestra's groove and strengths, honoring the original tunes with a grace not often heard with this type of release. Not a dull moment to be found.

Hidden Orchestra - Flight EP by Tru Thoughts

Raw Landscapes.

Enrique Pacheco's "Raw Landscapes" is anything but raw ~ it's a smooth and beautiful travelogue of Iceland's most picturesque locations. Max Richter's music provides the exciting background.

~Richard Allen, The Silent Ballet

Thanks for directing me to this video, Richard!

Raw Lightscapes from Enrique Pacheco on Vimeo.