Friday, August 31, 2012

Fridriк Kαrlѕѕon - Chillout Hεavεn (2007)

New Age chillzak to the extreme-o. Most of this bro's output is the stuff of dentist offices and message parlors, but this particular record tries a bit more on the composition front and thus comes rather recommended to the particularly laid back among you.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

T-Squαrε - 33 (2007)

Japan's top smooth fusion commodity released this excellent set of cuts back in 2007, and its got the chops to make it the ideal entry point into their mindbogglingly large back catalog. It's got a bit of everything: breezy synthesizers, acoustic and shred-friendly electric guitar, all kinds of percussion and plenty of brass for the purists too. Lots of fun improv going on here...and there's even a catchy melody or two ('Flying Colors') to keep the more casual jazz fan interested.

Pretty high up there on the quality front as far as smooth/contemporary jazz is concerned, and an excellent addition to any cruise catering playlist you've got on hand!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Tнrεshold - Woundεd Laиd (1993)

Merry old England's ecologically-minded answer to Dream Theater's Images & Words, and even in retrospect I find it a rather entertaining beginning for one of the world's mainstray progressive metal giants. The keyboards aren't pushed into the forefront quite as much as some of their contemporaries were prone to, and the guitar work here is wonderfully thrashy even at its most melodic.

Cult classic anyone?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DOCUMENTARY: Prog Rock Britannia - An Observation in Three Movements

Bloody excellent documentary detailing the golden years of Progressive Rock in the U.K. from the late 60's through the late 70's. 'Tis a bit lengthy I admit, but nevertheless a fascinating journey into a much-maligned genre.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thε Claus Ogεrman Orchεstra - Gatε Of Drεams (1977)

One of the loveliest sounding Third Stream albums ever made by one of the coolest cats around, Claus Ogεrman is considered top rate as far as classical composers and arrangers of the last half century go, particularly in his contributions to the studio work of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Frank Sinatra. 

In all honesty though, Claus's own projects and less prominent collaborations are far more interesting to these ears, with Gatε Of Drεams being premier among his own select works. Romantic and enthralling in equal measure, cuts like opening suite 'Time Passed Autumn'are on par in some ways with anything Bill Evans ever did, swelling under the bridge in some darkened town with spacious strings, leading into a nostalgic guitar sequence midway through the game to seal the deal.

Part jazz quartet, part romantic classical, part bossa nova and 100% class, albums like this paved the way and inspired the works of modern composers such as the renowned Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno, and there aren't too many things out there in the vast sea of music that measure up to this when the hour is right.

Hope you all enjoy this essential recording as much as I do!

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Piεcεs Of A Drεam - Lovε's Silhouεttε (2002)

One of the groovier contemporary jazz releases of the last decade and arguably POAD's best record from start to finish, Lovε's Silhouεttε is blessed in numerous ways: it has a punchy mix that gives an extra edge to the bass and keyboards and hooky songwriting that engages as opposed to not. On top of that, these guys had been together about twenty years or so by the time this record hit stores, and their chemistry is tighter than a fishing knot -- much to the benefit of the songs themselves.

Style-wise, arrangements fall somewhere between the Brazilian flourished Pat Metheny Group and the late 90's output of The Rippingtons as far as atmosphere is concerned. Cuts like the tempestuous 'Turnin' It Up', the nightwalking Bossa Nova groover 'Mystical Perception' and the spacey beat-laden 'Mission Possible' are prime time displays of excellence, about as good as mood music gets in this genre.

Contemporary jazz is a hard genre to get just right, but Lovε's Silhouεttε would be right at home on any decent chillout mix...and stands fairly strong on the whole as a record too.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

REVIEW: Crossfade - Secret Love (2011)

One of the cooler projects led by Swedish vocal powerhouse Goran Edman (Yngwe Malmsteen, Karmakanic, Street Talk, among other bands he's fronted), Crossfade specialize in a bluesy, prog-inflected approach on the late 70's/early 80's Westcoast sound perfected by Toto, Ambrosia and Steely Dan. This particular record, last year's Secret Love, is the group's kickass sophomore release and a late-to-the-party kind of addition to my steadily lengthening list of 2011's best albums.

From my point of view, Goran's voice has a gravely, hit-or-miss quality in his tone which has given me a love/hate relationship with most of his recorded output, but when it comes to this particular project he always seems to bring his best. The title track's backbone, led by a wicked Lukatherian guitar groove slithering through the mix, the soaring 'Don't Ask Me Why', the jazzy, sax charged 'Waiting For A Miracle' -- lots of strong points on this album, folks, and the gorgeous production quality certainly doesn't hurt it either.

While this lacks the infectious pathos of Ole Borud's astonishing Keep Movin' LP that served as my Westcoast pick of 2011, Crossfade have their own approach to the genre that sounds very modern, yet embellished in classic Los Angeles fashion. Don't pass it up, ladies and gents!

Buy It Here!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rεdεmption - Thε Origiиs Of Ruiи (2007)

A minor progressive metal masterpiece from the best Fates Warning offshoot of the 2000's. Typical instrumental setup, but with a delicious, layered sense of execution that proves more interesting than anything Dream Theater has cooked up since Images & Words all the way back in 1992.

Oh, and that's Ray Alder at the mic. How 'bout dem apples?

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Giиo Vαииεlli - Nightwalker (1981)

The last stone cold Westcoast classic in a five-string album run going all the way back to 1975's Storm At Sunup, this is a remarkable recording from the Canadian captain of all things strange and passionate, Giиo Vαииεlli.

Listening to these awesome songs is strangely comparable to a line in the opening title track: "dreaming at night is like chasing a madman's rainbow": the journey is a nonsensical mess you'll wake up from later, but while caught within it...there's nothing else that matters.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

REVIEW: Thank You Scientist - Maps Of Non-Existent Places (2012)

"Bizarrely beautiful" is one phrase that occurred to me after listening through this wonderful, wonderful debut after purchasing it a week or so ago. "Somebody really wanted to do a Coheed & Cambria/Mr. Bungle cover band" was another.

In reality though, there is no simple summation to an album as genuinely progressive as
Maps Of Non-Existent Places. It isn't afraid to blend anthems with atonal sax noodling, accessibility with the antiquated and uncommercially viable, or an emotionally charged chorus with violin/horn section brawlouts ('A Salesman's Guide To Non-Existence').

Thank You Scientist sound very, very very fresh in an era where its nigh impossible to stand out even when you do excel in your particular style. I do not have enough accolades for what these guys are doing, but don't take my word for it: check out their Bandcamp below!

Buy It Here!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Statε Cows - S/T (2010)

A dyed in the wool Westcoast classic for the modern age, at times even outgunning the big dogs in the genre from years past like Steely Dan and Toto in the songwriting department. We certainly are living in strange times though -- Swedes and Nords now do everything from jazzy pop to glam metal better than the country those genres originated in!

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