Friday, July 29, 2011

Brian Ellis - Quipu (2011)

Psychedelic rock

Astra is a band renowned for their tribute to 70's psychedelic rock. It's rooted in their very sound, production, and of course music. While these guys have gained much attention among the psychedelic rock listeners today, there's still unheard of acts related to this band, not to be disregarded. Brian Ellis is the guitarist of Astra, and this is his newest effort.

The sound of the album is mostly dominated by guitars, and he gives himself a lot of room to experiment a little with his guitar, without it being all too over-the-top. There's a lot of spice too, provided by some uncommon instrumentation, but the ordinart rock band line-up is also a part of it. There's hardly any vocals, save for the last track which includes some odd chantings I have yet to understand what means.

Clocking in at a little over an hour, this is a trip completed by various interpretations of psychedelia, never really going too crazy. It's safe to say that this is in the calmer side of the spectrum of psychedelic rock. A sample of the album is featured here


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lemon Kittens - The Big Dentist (1982)

Lemon Kittens were a Post-punk band formed in 1977 in Reading, Berkshire, England. The Big Dentist, released in 1982 by then duo Karl Blake and Danielle Dax, is quite the ride of an album. Drawing often from such Post-punk influences as The Pop Group and Chrome, and even citing progressive rock influences such as Faust, Yes, and King Crimson, Lemon Kittens refuses to be confined to a single genre. The album even breaks down many times into a style reminiscent of the No Wave of Glenn Branca or DNA, at one point leaving Blake’s ominous vocals over chiming keyboards and a whining sax.

And “ominous” is the right word to describe the mood of this LP. A dark creeping tension is consistent throughout. The first track, “They Are Both Dirty” is a long, slow building, winder that alone seems to tell its own sort of dark and creepy story. And even the more up-beat tracks such as “The Hospital Hurts the Girl” and “Nudies” are tinged by a dark and even oppressive air.

I personally enjoy every track on this release. And it’s really not a difficult listen for anyone interested in the Post-punk of bands like The Pop Group or Swell Maps, or such No Wave artists as Theoretical Girls or The Contortions, or even simply one with a taste for the Avant-garde.

Get it here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Incredible String Band - U (1970)

Psychedelic folk

The Incredible String Band pioneered and fronted the rising British psychedelic folk movement in the '60s with more critically acclaimed albums such as The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, but U is definitely not a record to disregard. 
The concept of this album was a multi-media show describing the journey from heightened consciousness, to a low point, and back to a peak again (the shape of the letter U represents this, hence the name). Because of the live origins of the album, which took up the time of the band's members, not as much time was put into producing and perfecting it as the other albums, but in my opinion this usually does not disturb the listening experience.

The content of the later ISB albums tend to be of varying quality, and here this goes as well. Most of the songs are good or really great but there are some low points, songs that I cannot take seriously. Bad Sadie Lee is one such song. However, let us focus on some of the better, and longer songs. One of the biggest accomplishments that I find on this album is the first track, El Wool Suite. Although it is strongly rooted in Indian classical music, the overall shape of the song reveals influences from more western sources, giving it a more structured sound. This combination, along with the journey the band constructs in less than 9 minutes, make this track one of the best of the album. Many other fine tracks are also present on the album, such as Walking Along With You, Cutting The Strings and Rainbow, the album closer. Definitely an album to check out if you like the more experimental, succesfull or not, side of the folkies.

download link to be posted

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friendship Time - Friendship Time (1975, 2004)

Progressive Rock
Favorite Track: Anonymiteten
Friendship Time was a rather talented prog-rock band, who broke up before their only album could be released. All their music was recorded in 1975, however it took 29 years for it to be released. A shame, because this is really good.

Equal parts jam and groove, every part of the band gets their own solo at some point in time in the album, and all of them live up to the occasion. Give yourself a listen, you won't be disappointed

Grab it here

Jay Appleseed - Asteroid Blues (2011)

 Breakbeat, Experimental Hip Hop
Favorite song: Southern Sky

Asteroid Blues, for me, is an album that I can only describe as silky smooth.  From the opening track with it's soft beats and jazzy sax playing throughout to the heavy beats on Southern Sky, and almost distorted sounding grimey drums on Product Desolation this album truly flows well on every track.

It is the first EP from the 19 year old artist, Jay Appleseed.  It draws a lot of influence from the blues soundtrack of the anime series 'Cowboy Bebop' and it shows too, right down to the album cover.  Some tracks also have some gorgeous sounding vocal samples, in 'Surrounded by Stars' for example, which is a really chilled out remix of the post rock song 'Quiet' by 'This Will Destroy You'.

All in all I have a lot of praise for this album.  Lots of high quality samples layered to bring a refreshing mix of both hip hop and blues with a lot of other noticable influences thrown in.  I enjoy it whether I'm out cycling in the sun or just hanging out in my room at night.

Grab the album here and checkout the soundcloud here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sun Glitters - Everything Could Be Fine (2011)

Chillwave, Dubstep
Favorite Track: A Dragonfly in the City

A recent discovery for me, this is the summer album for me thus far. This album is, for lack of a better term, lush. Like sitting on the edge of a cliff and watching the sunset after walking through bushes. There's really no song on the album that doesn't sound good, the clipped beats and deep bassline really add to the feeling warmth that this album gives to us.

You can pick it up at their bandcamp, along with other releases of theirs that are definitely worth checking out too

Or here

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pochakaite Malko - Laya (2005)

Experimental, fusion, zeuhl, progressive rock
Favorite song: Laya

The second album from the Japanese band with the strange Bulgarian name which means 'Wait for a minute.'  With one less keyboardist and the addition of violinist extraordinaire Akihisa Tsuboy, Pochakaite Malko was prepared to create and release yet another catalogue of challenging, energetic music.  I once saw this band described as Magma (on steroids.) Even if Magmas influence is obvious, Pochakaite Malkos music is very different. And in many moments is more modern, more interesting and more experimental.  And ,possibly, it is the biggest compliment.

The music itself is a breath of fresh air for the zeuhl genre.  The melodic ideas in this album are as extravagant as they are captivating, full of exotic elements (Far East, Arabian, Hindu, North African) and filled with sudden and violent electric violin attacks, distorted piano, pulsating bass and some great jazz fusion and classic influence.

Recommended for any zeuhl fans or even for some heavy jazz fusion lovers.  Terrifically complex and delightful music.