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Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Samurai of Prog - On We Sail

Since their formation back around in 2009, the multinational ensemble The Samurai of Prog considers Steve Unruh on vocals, flute, and violin; Kimmo Porsti on drums and percussion, and Marco Bernard on Bass. They have released four albums going back from 2011 to 2016. Their music is an odyssey. With renditions of Pink Floyd, Yes, Marillion, and Genesis to name a few. Appearing on a tribute album to the Floyd’s music, The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft, and the two part compilation albums of Decameron: Ten Days in 100 Novellas: Parts I and II.

This year, they’ve released their fifth album entitled On We Sail on the Seacrest Oy label. Now this is not a concept album, but the material on here, faces the challenges of the odds and scary seas that you as a listener, are about to embark on. The music and storytelling compositions that are on here, will take you through those rough seas to catch the wind and glide at the same time.

On The Samurai of Prog releases, they would bring some guest musicians including Roine Stolt (Kaipa, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), Guy LeBlanc (Camel, Nathan Mahl), David Myers (The Musical Box), Linus Kase (Anglagard), and Robert Webb (England). Here with On We Sail, new guests include; Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow, Alco Frisbass), Sean Timms (Unitopia, Southern Empire), Kerry Shacklett (Presto Ballet), Michelle Young, Brett Kull (Echolyn), Oliviero Lacagnina (Latte E Miele), and Roberto Vitelli (Ellesmere, Taproban).

This is both orchestral, symphonic, and folk influences that are on here. Not to mention the amazing artwork done by Ed Unitsky. You could tell it is a nod to the stories including Homer’s The Odyssey, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Jules Verne’s classics 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth that are all combined into one.

Now there are nine tracks including two clocking in at 9 minutes and one at 10 minutes. Listening to On We Sail, is like for me going back in the summer of 2001 as I was about to enter my Sophomore year in High School listening to the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis, Bill Bruford-era of Yes, and the golden Pink Floyd albums on a loop at times. But listening to On We Sail, isn’t just a prog album, but an adventure that is worth exploring.

Now I first became aware of The Samurai of Prog back in the summer of 2014 after I had graduated from Houston Community College when I bought The Imperial Hotel on the Kinesis website. When I was listening to this album, I wasn’t just in awe, but I knew that the genre cannot die. It’s a glowing flower that will die out. And it shows that you can imagine either a movie or an animated epic story set as a rock opera done in the styles of Don Bluth’s animation.

I love the nod between Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick and Acqua Fragile’s sole self-titled debut that is on the track, Growing Up. It has this reflection of going back in time to remember how amazing your childhood was by reading both Mother Goose’s stories and Dr. Seuss. Followed by the golden age of Television that had a few channels in both black and white and color at times.

The midsection for a brief few minutes is quite Italian Prog Rock and then back to Unruh’s violin as Brett Kull’s incredible lines on his guitar as the time signature gets into the ballad of 3/4 time. But Kerry Shacklett and Steve Unruh share the vocals and I could tell they blended very well together before fading away into the sunset.

Oliviero Lacagnina’s The Perfect Black is his nod to the spirit of Latte E Miele. Not only that but both Le Orme and Banco Del Mutuo Sorcosso. There’s this epic and some of the action moments of the waves and heading towards danger that is right upon you through those thunderstorms. The moog itself has these spooky sequences while classical guitars brings those calming moments of the waves crashing upon the ship.

It’s alarming, but well-written of bringing the spirit of Italian Progressive Rock back on their feet and you can tell perhaps that Poseidon is almost ready for another attack on the ship and it isn’t going to be pleasant. Meanwhile, Thedora which is sung by Michelle Young, it’s very much of a short story that she sings in her calming arrangement.

I love how it starts off with a metallic introduction thanks to Ruben Alvarez as Steve goes wah-wah mode on his violin followed by the Mellotron’s thanks to Luca Scherani’s keyboards. The opening title-track is making you get ready to set sail on a brand new journey.

It has this overture-sque vibe between the organ, church organ, and violin. Steve describes in his narration as they set the courses for bringing families aboard the boat as giving the listener the voyage that is waiting beyond the horizon. Guitars and Moog share a melody and delving layers before being transformed into the styles of Triumvirat thanks to Shacklett’s nod to the Prog trio. It’s a wonderful introduction and opener to get things going.

Ghost Written begin this nod between the Mellotron and Guitar to open up the rusty gates and see what lies ahead beyond those bars. Sean Timms’ arranging on here, is gorgeous and setting the bars and melodies that he wants Unruh, Mark Trueack, and Jacob Holm-Lupo to go into. Timms nails it down.

He’s like a conductor giving directions where he wants to The Samurai of Prog to go. The lyrics near the end have a Yes-like atmosphere as if it’s reminiscing Close to the Edge’s And You and I. It’s very well-structured and well-organized as Alvarez’s lead guitar solo fly off into the skies before Timms’ Piano concerto channels Gershwin and Keith Emerson and Unruh’s Celtic folk on the violin.

The closing 10-minute piece, Tigers recalls the styles of Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Genesis’ Wind & Wuthering-era. The song deals now coming back home and celebrating through the hardship that went on through the journey that you as a listener embarked on. And knowing the stories that they will tell their children of what they’ve embarked on.

Brett Kull knocks it out of the ballpark on his guitar as Daniel Faldt who sings in the vocals, is giving us a farewell by thanking us to being a part of this amazing adventure. No matter what went on, it was a ride they will never, ever forget.

The textures and story-line backgrounds as I’ve mentioned earlier in my review are the adventures to embark more and more to come towards. I’ll admit, I’m not that crazy about The Samurai of Prog, but On We Sail, is a journey that is on the edge of a lifetime that will be with you forever and ever.

The Knells - Knells II

The origins of the story of The Knells goes back in May seven years ago when composer and guitarist Andrew McKenna Lee went on an eight hour hiking expedition at the Joshua Tree National Park. According to Sid Smith's review in PROG Magazine back in 2014, Lee took some inspirations on his iPod by listening to three albums; U2’s The Unforgettable Fire, Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, and Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball. This was where Andrew was about to take these ideas and his next approach of a musical project which would become you guess it….The Knells.

Four years ago, they’ve released their sole self-titled debut album and that was where I discovered their music thanks to Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room and it was number one on his top 20 albums in PROG Magazine. And that was where I needed to check this band out. Now, whenever I would listen to his podcasts, I know something that might perk my ears right up by discovering not just the big names, but showing support to the little guy and peaking my interest.

Four years later, The Knells are back with a follow up with a second album entitled, Knells II. It shows not just the progressive influences, but chamber pop, psychedelic, and operatic vocalizations. And five enduring highlights that you might want to take note and show much Andrew McKenna Lee has come a long way. With Bargaining, Andrew’s guitar takes you through these structures and going up into its fantasy side as if it’s opening up a structure of an illustrated glacier.

You can tell it’s his nod to Rush’s opening atmospheric track Xanadu from their fifth studio album, A Farewell to Kings as Andrew channels the styles of Alex Lifeson’s guitar in this 2-minute instrumental. You can also close your eyes on Poltergeist. Imagine yourself being in the Steampunk-era as it begins in the early part of the 20th century. Heavier riffs, steel working pulse rhythms as you dig deeper, deeper, and deeper into the center of the heart of the Earth’s core.

The song, Could You Would You deals with the difficult decisions and finding courage as the vocals of Nina Berman, Charlotte Mundy, and Blythe Gaissert blend very well together as a team on their arrangements. It brings to mind the essence of the Northettes which were Canterbury-sque between Barbara Gaskin (Spirogyra), Ann Rosenthal (Hatfield and the North), and Amanda Parsons (National Health).

I also love how there’s this click-clacking sounds between the percussions and the drum patterns between Jude Traxler and Jeff Gertz creating this Italian Western vibe of the late ‘60s with Sub Rosa. There’s this galloping rhythmic vibe as if Clint Eastwood’s character, The Man with No Name is coming back after retirement and do one last showdown before final dying breath.

Pat’s sliding guitar and Andrew himself channel the intense scenario on what will Clint’s character will think of next before his heart gives out to him. Not only that, but it’s a nod to the Spaghetti Western scores of that era honoring the maestro, Ennio Morricone. And then we come to the opener, First Song. With the introductive track, there’s this backward guitar improvisation through a reverse tape before the volume increases as The Knells show a little nod to Moulettes’ music, but with a psychedelic adventure for a brief second towards the void.

As I’ve mentioned earlier in my review. The Knells have come a long, long way. It’s now my third and fifth listen to their second album and it is back for another journey with Andrew McKenna Lee’s project once more. Knells II is not just an impressive release this year, it’s all here with; Chamber Pop, Minimalism, Progressive, and Psychedelic approaches.

It is stirring, raw, and powerful. And that in my opinion, will keep the Knells’ spark growing inside of your pocket for many years to come and knowing what Andrew will think of next as it grows brighter and brighter to see what brainstorming ideas he will have next.

Crown Larks - Population

It’s been two years since I’ve heard from perhaps one of the most mind-blowing bands to come out of Chicago which is Crown Larks. Now back in 2015, I was on the edge of my seat when I listened to their debut album entitled, Blood Dancer and reviewed it here on my blog site, Music from the Other Side of the Room. It was this cross between Free-Jazz, Psychedelic music, Avant-Rock, Pop, Shoegaze, and Krautrock influences and taking those genres into a whole new level.

This year, they’ve released their second album which is a follow up to their debut album entitled, Population. Crown Larks are back for seconds and on their second release, they’ve up the ante even more. Jack Bouboushian’s guitar has this surreal and haywiring effect while vocals brings to mind of CAN’s Damo Suzuki. Echoing delay/reverb effects set up some of the most insane moments on here that brings to mind both The Velvet Underground and CAN’s first four albums in their early years and Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Gottsching.

Lorraine Bailey’s keyboard work at times sets up the psych/spacey approach of the styles between Jazz, Garage Rock, and Post-Rock voyages. Her flute playing reminisce between Mel Collins of King Crimson and Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues as if they were taking a dark and hidden force that would have made both of these bands work well together and making an album that beyond the singles and into something sinister.

You have some of these intensive melodies that is like looking through a glowing crystal ball that is about to burst at any second to find out what is going to happen next. Whether you’ll be sucked into another parallel universe or bright lights blinding you for six highlights that is on Paranomal that will make you as a listener, be a part of another journey with Crown Larks.

Swoon (For Hampton) has this Rhodes-sque keyboard delving into some heavy waters recalling Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three’s sole self-titled debut album as Bill Miller’s intensive drum sets the alarm clock ready to go off at any minute while Peter Gillette’s trumpet blares like a howling beast reminiscing of Miles Davis’ late ‘60s/early ‘70s sounds of his beginnings in the Jazz Rock territory. Meanwhile, Curt Owen’s baritone sax goes into various sections of the room.

He goes from one place to another as you can imagine it was something straight out of the sessions between Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and CAN’s Ege Bamyasi while Burn It Down feels almost as if it was something straight out of the 2-LP Nuggets compilation. Part-Garage, Part-Spacey, Part-Psych, and Part-Jazz into a blender while Goodbye has this organ beginning with an ominous atmosphere.

You can imagine if Crown Larks are doing scores for three films; Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and Eiichi Yamamoto’s 1973 surreal anime masterpiece, Belladonna of Sadness. Jack and Lorraine set up vocalizations between them for a mournful ceremony followed by feedback of guitars and then delving into delay/reverb effects to set up this deserted landscape.

You can imagine setting the scenery being in the hottest part of the day with small amounts of food and water with you as Jack hit these chords followed by Bill and Matt’s Bass following him before finding shelter in the coolest yet cold area to get away from the hot sun. Then there’s the ascending heavenly nightmarish opener, Howls.

Lorraine’s flute sets up the controls to embark the listener to be a part of Crown Larks’ journey back into Space. She comes up with these brilliant improvisations and vocal work as Jack goes into his nod to Michael Karoli and screaming Suzuki effects before the hay wiring free-jazz section then back into the outer limits.

With a catchy and vibrant introduction by Matt Puhr’s bass while Bill sets up the scenario on his drums, React sees Jack and Lorraine walking into this dangerous passageway of a bizarre forest while he goes through the screaming intensive moments twice before the band charge up the jump to hyper speed to hurtle through the cosmos again.

In a Hawkwind-sque style in the mid-section of their late ‘70s period, it’s almost as if they teamed up with Ash Ra Tempel to go beyond the solar systems with some killer electric keyboard improve that Lorraine does. Then, we come to closing number, Stranger (Unce Down to the New Store). Crown Larks takes you back hurling back down to Earth on the closing track.

You have these alarming synths that reminisces of Pink Floyd’s VCS3 loop from On The Run knowing it will be the perfect time to land at the exact moment at the right time. Lorraine takes the stage on her vocals and it hits one by one to be in the first line very early in the morning at this new location, to get new groceries and clothes that you badly need.

Mind-boggling, weird, and hypnotic, Population is Crown Larks showing that they are not  showing no sign of stopping. And the electrical voltages that they brought with them, is brighter and in your face. They are going to keep it growing more and more and you may never know what will the band think of next for their next adventure for many years to come.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Stick Men - Roppongi

This 2-CD set sees Stick Men back at the land of the rising sun again which they were on tour this year at the time promoting their new album, Prog Noir. This is the second time they brought along a member of King Crimson. They did that with violinist David Cross on the Midori album, this year they brought Saxophonist and flautist, Mel Collins to the forefront for those performances. These were two complete shows they did recorded live on February 21, 2017 in Tokyo at the Billboard.

It’s almost as if you are going back for another round with Stick Men. Since I have a love of King Crimson’s music, Stick Men are now one of favorite bands since last year after discovering them on Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room. Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, and Pat Mastelotto are like a band of brothers working together as a team.

There are so many moments on Roppongi I wish I could describe on third or fourth listen, but it’s a trip to listen more of the incredible band who not only are bringing the sounds of Crimson and Robert Fripp as he described it as a Way of Doing things, but bringing in new material also. In an interview that is published right now by Anil Prasad of Innerviews: Music Without Borders, Pat mentioned they want to move forward and write their own material.

There’s a huge amount of miles for Stick Men he said that wants to be together both on and offstage and show how much has depend in their relationship between all three of them. I think in my opinion, it would be very interesting to see something like that and not just play the music of Crimson, but bringing in some new material to see if they appreciate it or not.

But when you listen to these amazing live performances in Tokyo, you can feel the vibrations of not just Crimson’s music, but their own sound, their own music, and the future. And imagine yourself being in the audience just in awe of these amazing men carrying the grocery bags they bring to the Mighty Thor hammer with them. There are of course the classics including Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part II and the snarling intensive journey into the tidal waves whilst going into the outer limits on Sailor’s Tale.

But Mel Collins on the title track, his flute and sax brings you into a journey of relaxation into the rivers and forests that show a light of hope. He gives the audience a hypnotic texture to show where he and Stick Men are about to take them into. On the second show of the second CD, Prog Noir is a dangerous live version.

This is a much better version that’s better than the studio version. And as I’ve mentioned in my review of the album last year, Stick Men carry the nod of David Bowie’s Outside-era. Now I’ll admit this, Tony Levin is not a great singer, but he does a good job describing the spiritual aspects as Mel comes back into the center stage with Shiro.

He takes his sax by bringing some echoing reverb effects and walking on a dangerous tightrope for an electronic nightmare with bits of a sonic voyage. It’s jazzy, avant-garde, and up to know when the brick walls collapse to increase the heat gage and explode at any second. Level 5 where I almost heard the squeaky mice effect and dooming brutal forces by making sure that the battle is ready to begin. It has the nightmare scenarios, goosebumps, and hitting you right in the stomach as Markus raises the temperature up to 800 degrees. Stick Men never, ever does me wrong. 

And with Roppongi which translates to Six Trees, it shows the band even more since Midori.

While it shows another second round of performances of the two shows they did in Japan in February of this year, they bring the sinister, ominous, terrifying, and hidden sounds that creep up behind you. So get ready to embark on another adventure with Stick Men’s music for the mind-blowing sounds of Roppongi.

Wingfield Reuter Sirkis - Lighthouse

I don’t see too much between The Stone House and Lighthouse which is released on the MoonJune label this year. I always consider them in my opinion to be both Volume One (The Stone House) and Volume Two (Lighthouse), but that’s just me. The album was recorded last year also in February at La Casa Murada Studios which is the same place The Stone House was recorded. Listening to Lighthouse, is like a flaming fire that grows rapidly intense ready to erupt at any second.

This one is different. Bassist Yaron Stavi is not on here, but it’s a trio. Which considers Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, and Asaf Sirkis. This isn’t just a Jazz album, but more of a futuristic approach of the Progressive Rock genre with a Post-Rock vibe of the 22nd century set in a Blade Runner-sque dystopian wasteland. For me, this is another fresh intensive release I’ve listened to.

The moment when I put my headphones on, I knew I was about to embark on something quite mysterious and hypnotic right from the notes that Wingfield and Reuter do. I got to give MoonJune Records a huge amount of credit for making me discover these amazing musicians. Mark working with Yaron on Proof of Light, and him working with Kevin Kastning while Markus with Stick Men and Sonar, Lighthouse is album that will make you look at a crystal ball to see what the 22nd century will look like.

When you listen to the 14-minute epic Ghost Light, you can imagine the ambient/atmosphere approaches of a deserted hotel that is in complete rubble. Markus’ touch guitar creates these chilling moments of someone lurking behind the hotel that were once beautiful turned into ashes. You can hear echoes of Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht and King Crimson’s THRAK coming to mind.

Wingfield creates some of the most exotic landscapes on his guitar which have a Floydian tribe nearing the end of a shuttle ready to head back to Rick Deckard’s apartment. Now Asaf Sirkis’ drumming like a running man going across the landscape creating these intense grooves of a striking powder keg waiting to explode at any second with Magnetic.

He can go through those doors one-by-one with his drum kit as they open frantically to allow him to go in by welcoming him with open arms and go beyond the kit. The opener, Zinc begins by going into a travel towards the Sahara desert as the music goes into a middle-eastern King Crimson Red-era vibe thanks to both Wingfield and Reuter’s dooming notes and leading towards the dangerous tombs and seeing what lies ahead.

But I love how Wingfield creates a discovery on his guitar to letting the listener know that while all hope is lost, there is a chance of surviving. He’s making the instrument fight back tears on A Hand in the Dark. Mark is very good at this. He creates this scenery which is mysterious and spooky at the same time and the issue of a struggle to be free is a challenge.

Then, there is this chaotic tension in the last 3-minutes of the composition as he and Asaf blend in to getting out of the deep dark caves in the river and hoping to be back on the surface and for the first time seeing a full bright sun to come. This has been my second time listening to Lighthouse.

And I have to say I was very impressed from the pieces that the trio did. Wingfield, Reuter, and Sirkis brought some amazing and incredible yet haunting melodies and improvisations that is on here. It’s intense, in your face, chilling, and a dangerous adventure that shows that this experience can be worth exploring, but with a gigantic challenge to be prepared for. And it's not going to be easy.

Gilad Atzmon And The Orient House Ensemble - The Spirit of Trane

It’s been 50 years since we lost one of the influential and inspiration icons of the history of Jazz. And it would have been his 91st birthday if he were still here creating more musical landscapes and pushing the envelope for the amazing late great, John Coltrane. He once described music as the spiritual expression of who he was. Faith, knowledge, and being. Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble want to bring the tribute of Trane’s music by carrying his flaming torch and making it grow and making sure it doesn’t burn out.

Released on the Fanfare Jazz label, The Spirit of Trane was recorded in two days at Eastcote Studios in London of December last year. You can feel Trane’s presence between the Orient House Ensemble. To fill in for Chris Higginbottom, Italian drummer Enzo Zirilli who appeared on the Talinka album, worked with Antonio Forcione, Sarah Gillepsie, and Vittorio De Scalzi of Italian Progressive Rock group, New Trolls, comes into the forefront.

Listening to this album as I’ve mentioned before, Coltrane’s spirit fills the studio and on the album to fill in the pieces of the puzzle that match well into his work. And the six centerpieces on here, you might be prepare to bring some Kleenex with you on them. On the opener, In a Sentimental Mood, Frank Harrison’s opening classical piano brings to mind a lullaby introduction before Atzmon sends a smoothing relaxing atmosphere on his Tenor Sax to give the Sun a chance to rise up for a new morning.

The Sigamos String Quartet help out by reminiscing the new dawn and new day by nodding to the late great Henry Mancini with a late ‘50s/early ‘60s sound on the string section. Yaron’s double bass is walking on a fresh warm salt watery beach to get a glimpse of the first sign of a rainbow. And near the end, the sax is going over the area as the band delve into A Love Supreme nod.

With Minor Thing, the ensemble does a wonderful crescendo nod to the 1965 classic introduction of Acknowledgement (Part 1). It almost sounds very close to a continuation as if Atzmon wants the opening track to be moving forward to find the inner self by knowing who you really are. There at times he brings to mind the essence of not just Coltrane’s work, but the late great Elton Dean of the Soft Machine when he hits those high notes on his sax.

The string quartet come back for another beautiful lushful morning introduction of Soul Eyes. You can close your eyes and imagine being in a black-and-white film in the streets of Paris, France set in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s as if they were directed by both Louis Malle and Jean-Luc Godard. This piece of music has this setting of a scenario like something straight out of a documentary-sque feel of Paris in the night time.

I got this nod in which the Orient House Ensemble are not only paying a nod to the master but the essence of the music of Wes Montgomery also. Meanwhile, the band take you into an amazing 5-minute ride as they take on Trane’s finest work, Blue Train. Atzmon and Stavi follow each other as Gilad blares out incredible improvisations with some intense solos and making sure it would get John’s gigantic stamp of approval.

Frank’s Piano and Enzo’s drumming do this incredible duel while Frank really goes into the tunnels and seeing where his hands take him. Enzo’s drumming is not just staggering, but he around the area by a complete circle showing his influential touches between Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones.

Naima is a romantic ballad which appeared in Coltrane’s fifth studio album released in 1959 entitled, Giant Steps is named after his ex-wife Juanita Naima Grubbs. The string quartet and Gilad create this rich and exuberant beauty and making your heart tug at the exact moment to end of saying how much love of this person you want to be with for the rest of your life.

Then there is of course, Giant Steps. Here, this is a mid-slow walking take of the composition. Yaron Stavi does this ballad walking line on his double bass. He comes into the front of the stage to get a chance in the light and he goes into the styles of Paul Chambers and Charles Mingus and believe me, Yaron knocks it out every time whether he plays both electric and double-bass, he goes throughout those sections and knowing where his fingers on the string will hit next.

Say It (Over and Over Again) closes the album to give the listener a fond farewell as they head to the next bus stop to see where it will head next. Frank gives the nod to let everyone know it's to pack it in and head onboard the next station and see where The Orient House Ensemble will lead into next. Before Gilad's sax cries off into the night, the Bus drives into a new beginning also as the sun sets off into the west as Atzmon brings a wonderful romantic improvisation to close the curtains.

I’ve been an admirer of Coltrane’s music since re-discovering his work when I was in College twelve years ago, and with The Spirit of Trane, it’s one of the most emotional, beautiful, and touching tributes to the master that Gilad and the Orient House ensemble brings here. As he once said again about music, “I think music is an instrument. It can create the initial thought patterns that can change the thinking of people.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Pete Levin - Möbius

Pete Levin has been around performing and recording music along as a sought-after musician by recording both in the Jazz and Pop world from Paul Simon, The Brubeck Brothers, Jaco Pastorius, Charles Mingus, Annie Lennox, Judy Collins, and the late great Miles Davis. This year, he’s released his ninth studio album entitled, Möbius. The album was recorded live in the studio for two days as Pete captures the spirit and essence of Gil Evans.

Now I first became aware of Pete Levin after he and his younger brother Tony did the Levin Brothers album which was released three years ago on the Lazy Bones Recordings label and I was completely blown away how much the two brothers work well together not just as band members, but as a family by working one-on-one. Now with Möbius, Pete wrote eight original compositions and there are two covers which include one by Thelonious Monk and Tony Williams.

Not only Pete and Tony Levin are on the album, but it’s almost the who’s who that are on the album. You have guitarists Jeff Ciampa an Kal David (John Mayall), drummers Lenny White (Chick Corea) and Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, and Security Project), Erik Lawrence on Baritone Sax, Alex Foster on Tenor & Sorpano Sax, and Chris Pasin on Trumpet to name a few.

What Pete does on here, is to take his keyboards into unbelievable territories. Levin’s music is like walking on a different triangular section of the Rubik’s cube and it’s almost a trip to see where he, Tony and his band members go into those various sections of the doors that are ready to be opened with six highlights on here that are enduring and mind-blowing.

The opener, Promises begins with the Electric Piano going into a stereophonic mode going left and right then getting into the styles of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters-era meets Steely Dan’s Aja-era. The horn and sax section go into a workout mode plus some funk-rock rhythm guitars while Tony Levin channels a different perspective of the riff on Chameleon.

Pete then goes into the Rhodes city laying down some improvisational sun rising textures that makes it an excellent piece to start things off. Before the take of Monk’s I Mean You, Pete wishes Thelonious a happy 100th birthday and gives him his regard and saying “Hi!” to Gil for him. There is this walking dance mid-beat tempo between the Clavinet and the Electric Keyboard before the Horns and Guitar do a melody that rises up and down.

Tony then walks fast as the sax’s do a solo improvisation to give Monk the appreciation he deserves. When you listen to I’m Falling, at first you think it sounds like a film score that this almost a nod to the golden-era of the 1970s Blaxploitation films as you can imagine Richard “Shaft” Roundtree walking into the next building and following the crime scene for the next batch of clues which he would consider his last case before retiring.

But then, the mood changes into a lukewarm evening for the sax going into a pin-drop momentum as Pasin’s trumpet sets the blare by giving a Miles-sque surrounding in the nighttime sky before dawn approaches. Then, the 10-minute title track starts with the synth notes going up and down the stairs.

Tony brings his upright bass and gives Pete a helping hand. The Rhodes, Sax, and Trumpet along with the guitars going into some essence of Allan Holdsworth and Richard Pinhas’ exercise. Instruments do a thunderous roar as they take part in the melody before Percussionist Nanny Assis creates this intense/dramatic duel between him and the drummers.

While Pete and the band members rise up, up, and up before the guitar does a little bit of feedback, Tony comes into play through the strings and go around, under, and in. The last few seconds come to a dooming end from the synth and it hits a “BLLAARP!” note. Their tribute to Tony Williams with his cover of There Comes a Time, Pete goes back into the driver’s seat of the electric piano and works out more of his magical moments to give a nod up to Tony Williams up in heaven.

I imagine there’s more walking alleyways that Pete gives the band heading into those halls for another adventure with a bluesy twist. But it’s the guitar and Tony’s bass sharing the same alleyway near the last two minutes on the melody share structure as it ends with him and Pete closing shop. But it’s Way Down Yonder where Pete brings everybody into a circle.

Everyone gets ready to drive down into the highway one last time to drive off into the sunset as they are back in 1972 of Herbie Hancock's golden-era, but with an interesting twist of the harmonica and jaw harp style done by Rob Paparozzi. Pete heads into the Organ and plays some Blues/Soul style on the instrument as if the recording was done inside a church and laying down the gospel.

Pasin meanwhile goes into a plunger trumpet mode and bringing to mind of the late ‘30s style of swing at the end. Not only it’s a closing number, but it shows that Pete and his teammates are having a whole lot of fun. While as I’ve mentioned this album was recorded in only two days, Möbius is not only Pete Levin’s finest, but he brings the entire house down.

It is a well solid release that made my ears go up of how much accomplishment this is on as they jammed, relaxed, and creating wonders to see what Pete Levin will think of next.