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Monday, September 18, 2017

Machine Mass - Machine Mass Plays Hendrix

It’s been 47 years since Hendrix passed into the afterlife on September 18th. It’s a risk to cover Jimi’s masterpieces. Not only he was perhaps one of the most mind-blowing guitarist to come out of the late ‘60s after his breakthrough performance in America at the Monterey Pop Festival 50 years ago, but he opened the doors to carry his torch from the realms of Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Vai, and Lenny Kravitz to name a few. But this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of his landmark debut of Are You Experienced? It’s time for Machine Mass to honor Hendrix’s legacy.

With two albums in the can, they’ve released their third release on the MoonJune label this year and follow up to 2014’s Inti release, Machine Mass carrying Hendrix’s torch is a leap forward for both Michel Delville and Tony Blanco. And Antoine Guenet (The Wrong Object, SH.TG.N, and Univers Zero) as an additional member on keyboards and acoustic piano, would make the master himself very proud. Machine Mass takes it to a new level. And the six centerpieces on here, you might want to take note.

On You Got Me Floatin’ Michel delves into the stylophones whilst going into some electronic synthesized mind-control by sending Morse Code into a mad take of the piece as he takes his guitar near the end with a echoing reverb to delve into a hay-wiring effect. You can also hear Hendrix doing interviews which are evidential in the spiritual atmospheres of Little Wing and the closing laid-back textures of The Wind Cries Mary.

It’s almost as if he’s right in front of you almost describing life and what lies ahead for him. On The Wind Cries Mary, there’s this wah-wah groove on the clean tone of the guitar and Antoine’s acoustic piano sets the control for the ship to embark into the milky- way and towards the stars near the end. Purple Haze starts with a drum/piano improvisation both Tony and Antoine reminisces of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones before Antoine uses the piano for the tritone opening of the song.

And then Michel delves into the late ‘60s psychedelic hard-rock vibe of bringing Hendrix’s classic, not only a task, but showing true honor and spirit that would give his appreciation of Machine Mass’ touch of the song. The synths on Voodoo Chile represent the wah-wah intro that oddly reminds of a record DJ doing some scratches before it transforms into the guitar and the bass drum following suit and into the stratosphere while Antoine delves into a funeral/mourning ominous take intro on Burning of the Midnight Lamp.

You can feels the candles burning as it goes into the clouds. And then all of a sudden, it changes into this Funk-Rock mood with the Organ swirling in a psychedelia background of colors to shine light through a kaleidoscope to see its textures of a dazzling light show. This was my third time listening to this tribute to a master that Machine Mass has done.

And believe me, they’ve achieved it well and spot-on right. Some people may like it, some may not. But it shows that after a few listens of Machine Mass Plays Hendrix it’s quite obvious to get the three classic Hendrix albums (Are You Experienced?,Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland) out of the closet and put your old headphones on and let the record needle hit the first track on those albums and close your eyes and imagine it is the late ‘60s all over again on your old school Califone record player. 

Patto - Roll 'em, Smoke 'em, Put Another Line Out

By 1971, after the release of their second album, Hold Your Fire, Patto were in dire straits. Both of their first two albums, didn’t do well and soon they decided to move to another label which was Chris Blackwell’s label, Island Records after support from their producer Muff Winwood. With the release of their third album released in 1972 entitled, Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, this shows the band with a laid-back sound and having their sense of humor in their music.

Now with a reissue done by Esoteric Recordings, listening to their third album, is showing not just their sense of humor, but knowing they are having a blast and grand time between the four members. And the four centerpieces on the album that you might want to take note. Loud Green Song shows Patto going into a proto-punk mode while Ollie lays down some hard riffs and heavy lead sections as it’s this cross between Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power-era and The Groundhogs Split album.

When you listen to Mummy not only is it a weird and surreal piece, but there are at times the spoken dialog is going through at times a Dalek-sque moment. Just listen to the piece to the end and you get to find out what happens next and believe me, it’s bizarre, but funny at the same time. Turn Turtle is their nod to B. Bumble and the Stingers’ Bumble Boogie on the rockin’ thump with the piano.

Mike himself brings the soulful blues in his arrangement on the vocals, followed by a mysterious chorus section that is something straight out the shorts between Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery’s 1941 animated Bugs Bunny short, Tortoise Beats Hare. When you listen to, I Got Rhythm, it has this swamp rock intro in the styles of CCR and Clive’s dooming/fuzz tone Bass, Mike’s Electric Piano, 

Ollie’s sliding guitars taking you the Louisiana River’s in the hottest part of the summer.
It’s almost as if they’ve taken us down to both the Mississippi and Louisiana swamps by steamboat as Mike takes you to those areas as the band follow his lead as he both sings and speaks in the section on digging James Brown’s music and his roots between the Jazz and Blues while John Halsey’s drumming on the snare takes you to the circus. The three bonus tracks are BBC Radio One sessions recorded on January 24th, 1973 in which Patto did for the late great John Peel.

When you listen to General Custer, Ollie does this medieval riff, but lays down the blues rhythmic vibe followed by Dave Brooks’ sax following along. Halsall is often overlooked in the history of guitar players. He never gets the recognition he deserves, and he deserves a gigantic stamp of approval. Flat Footed Woman is much better than the studio version, this session is everything recorded live and it’s quite a nod to Steve Winwood and Traffic as the band honors their sound.

Clive’s bass on Singing the Blues on Reds comes to the forefront as he plays like a real bass player doing this incredible riff in the styles of Bootsy Collins and Herbie Hancock bassist Paul Jackson as Ollie follows his riff to capture the heavier blues rockin’ sound. Mike is nailing it down as I can imagine he goes back and forth between Ollie and Clive to know they’re an amazing collaboration together.

The 16-page booklet contains liner notes and an interview with John Halsey by Sid Smith. It contains photos, reviews, and concert promotions including one in which they opened for Ten Years After, Joe Cocker and the Chris Stainton Band, and one of Bill Graham’s posters at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. Listening to Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, is quite an overlooked gem that had been lost for centuries, but shows how much Patto were way ahead of the ball game.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Aaron Clift Experiment's IndieGoGo campaign

The Aaron Clift Experiment for me are one of my favorite bands to come out of Austin since listening to their second album in 2015, Outer Light, Inner Darkness. They are going back into the studio this year in November to record their new album entitled, If All Goes Wrong. Their using IndieGoGo raising funds up to reach their goal of $10,000 for studio time.

They were nominated for the 2016 Progressive Music Awards (not to mention being selected as the best unsigned artists for Prog Magazine in 2013) and this Spring of this year they performed at ROSFest (Rite Of Spring Festival) with sharing the bill with Unified Past, The Neal Morse Band, Anglagard, and their first time in America, The Fierce and the Dead. What Aaron and bassist Devin North wants to do in the third album is to be songs to perform and interest of what the Progressive Rock sound of giving the vintage of authenticity which is something is not as common in the history of the genre.

And with Grammy-Award winner Randy Miller in the production side who worked with Eric Johnson, Burt Bacharach, and Christopher Cross. Not to mention top sessions, string section, and recorded at Antimatter Studios in Austin. Please show your support by clicking the link and support independent artists and bands while keeping real good music alive. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dialeto - Bartok In Rock

The late great Hunter S. Thompson of Gonzo Journalism, who wrote Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, once said about music is “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a care with the gas needle on empty can run about 50 more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.

It’s the same thing with me, music has been with me from day one from the day I was born and I always know when the time is right to hear it. One of those bands since discovering them whilst I was at Houston Community College back in 2013 as a student, was a band called, Dialeto. It’s been 30 years since their formation and with three albums in the can, they’ve released their fourth album this year on the Chromatic Music label entitled, Bartok In Rock.

This shows Dialeto honoring the legacy of composer Bela Bartok’s music in ten compositions of his music. And with special guest King Crimson’s violinist David Cross on here, it’s a very interesting combination to bring him in to lend a helping hand. Opener, Mikrokosmos 113 (Bulgarian Rhythm I) gives David Cross in the forefront with some of the most intensive work on his violin with some of the shrieking midsections.

Then you have guitarist Nelson Coelho blaring the riffs and lead sections in his instrument near the end as he and David share a duel between each other. It’s almost as if they were looking at each other smiling creating the vibrations before getting back into the races by reaching the finish line. But on Mikrokosmos 143 (Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II), Gabriel Costa’s bass does a walking intro as it dances to the groove with Fred Barley’s drumming.

Coelho delves into the thunder and lightning rhythm and lead sections to create this climatic-climax scenario that is bluesy reverb with a soaring arranging. An Evening in the Village (10 Easy Piano Pieces No. 5) sees Dialeto walk into this ambient/atmospheric nod to Yes’ Close to the Edge-era introduction for the first minute and seven seconds.

Nelson then honors the essence of Steve Howe’s mesmerizing spiritual textures and channeling the infinite worlds that is something straight out of the poem by Samuel Taylor Coldridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner as if Dialeto made a score for one of his poetry set to music recorded in a deep dark cave. You can feel the vibrations and the dynamics that Barley brings the heavy military weapons with his drums going into an intense speeding motion on Roumanian Folk Dances 2 (Peasant Costume).

But on Roumanian Folk Dances 4 (Mountain Horn Song), Gabriel’s bass is in reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s instrumental Careful with that Axe, Eugene. It does have this early Floyd resemblance to their underground period in 1969 as if it was recorded during the Ummagumma period with its waltz ballad in 3/4 time. But the last fifth and sixth movement is where in comes into full circle.

Roumanian Folk Dances 5 (Roumanian Garden Gate) and Roumanian Folk Dances 6 (Little One), it is the calm after the storm for a new day. The fifth movement gets this Tears For Fears vibe that Nelson does on his instrument for the first minute and fifty-six seconds before seguing into the sixth movement as they move from that into the styles of Rush’s 1980-81 period from the Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures period to honor by tipping their hats to the Canadian trio.

Dialeto channeling Bartok’s music is like walking on a dangerous tightrope. And you never know if the rope is going to be loose or about to be cut, but Dialeto do something that is making the doors to erupt open with a gigantic yet big sound that will make you say “How in the hell did they do that?” And believe me, Dialeto opens more doors to see what will lie ahead for their next journey to embark on.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anil Prasad - Innerviews: Music Without Borders

Since the website launched back in 1994, Music Journalist Anil Prasad and does his homework very well and going beyond the spirit and the artists to go beyond the music business and the industry to seek their path in their spiritual guidance, philosophies, storytelling, and creative processes they go through to move forward. For me, Innerviews: Music Without Borders is my go-to website whenever something new happens when he interviews some of the musicians I admire and the ones I watch out for that might peak my interest.

In an interview back in April of 2011 on Echoes (NPR) by John Diliberto, at the time people were listening to Def Leppard and Van Halen, Anil delved into bands and artists like Brand X and Kate Bush to name a few from the record stores to show there was more than just the big names in hard rock when he was a young man. From 2000 to 2014 he was a contributor to magazines such as Guitar Player, Bass Player, and Frets. The book was released back in 2010 and it’s done in alphabetical order and it delves with amazing conversations with 24 artists in alphabetical order from Jon Anderson of Yes to the late great Joe Zawinul.

Whilst I enjoy his interviews, his book offers the interest of their perspective of bringing them close to the edge. There are some favorable moments in the book that opened my eyes. Japan’s David Sylvian talking about people opening up the context of creative music to work it out for themselves in whatever they want to decide which direction they want to delve into, McCoy Tyner’s key philosophies as a band leader provides enough room for the person to be comfortable to do whatever they want and both listening and responding are very important.

Bjork’s channeling brainstorming ideas into songwriting and listening and making the music can be a spiritual experience for her, and Stanley Clarke’s story on why he turned down to be in a group with Miles Davis along with his experience with Return to Forever in the 1970s as he looked back in his time with the band as a university. Prasad shows no sign of stopping from his journalism and research.

And 23 years later, he still is going strong with the web site. Whether it’s an interview with Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records, Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Tim Bowness, Peter Hammill, Julie Slick and Canadian Music Journalist, Radio, VJ, TV Host, and Author, Laurie Brown, Anil is a busy man. While the book may open people’s eyes to how these artist go through various ideas, the website is worth exploring.

Here's Anil Prasad's website, Innerviews: Music Without Borders

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Re-building after Hurricane Harvey

Hello fellow progsters, I would like to let everybody know that me and my family are doing okay and my House didn’t get flooded and we’re still going strong. As I was sleeping on my bed, hearing the wind, lights almost flickering from the winds of Hurricane Harvey that landed in the lone star state at August 25, 2017. I almost felt something was about to happen between me and my Dad at the house.

Watching the floods on KHOU Channel 11 and KPRC Channel 2 almost made me too emotional of watching the water flooding the houses, debris on the ground, I just almost want to turn it off. It has been ten days after Harvey made landfall here in Houston. Not only in my hometown state, but in Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas, and Beaumont to name a few.

Some love Texas, some don’t. For me, I’m born a Houstonian. Always a Houstonian, and will be a Houstonian until the day I die. The road to rebuilding is not going to be easy. It is going to take slow gigantic Baby steps to get everything back on track. When Harvey hit, I didn’t know I was going to continue blogging or not for Music from the Other Side of the Room which launched back nine years ago and next year will be it is 10th year.

I started this blog site when I was in Houston Community College after I took a course called Commercial Music Forum where I had to write five concert reviews. And the light bulb lit up in my head and I knew right there that was where I wanted to write about music. I’m still going strong with the blogsite. It went through various names including Progressive Rock Reviews and Progressive Rock &Symphonic Metal reviews. But then the name, Music from the Other Side of the Room suddenly hit.

Now I know I’m off-topic,  but where the name actually came from. The name was inspired by two people; Anil Prasad and Sid Smith. Anil has an amazing website entitled Innerviews: Music Without Borders and Sid Smith’s amazing blog site, Postcards from the Yellow Room. And I knew combining the two would be an homage to these two and it was simply named: Music from the Other Side of the Room.

Re-building Houston as I’ve mentioned before, is going to be a slow process. They came together helping out and doing good of getting people out of their houses that have flooded and surviving through those rough times. And big kudos to both J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans now has raised to his recent goal of $20 million dollars of his relief fund in which we (My family and I) donated to and Jim McIngvale (Mattress Mack) of Gallery Furniture opened his doors to his store to the victims from Harvey have stepped up as a shelter. It can be both as a store and a shelter.

I’ve been to conventions here in Houston including Oni-Con, Anime Matsuri, and Comicpalooza about five times now at the George R. Brown Convention Center and next year will be my sixth time. 

I’m a geek and always will be a Texas geek. Not to mention concerts here in Houston also from the Astrodome with Rodeo Houston, NRG Stadium, Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theatre, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Toyota Center, House of Blues, Revention Music Center, and Arena Theater to name a few.

I’ve seen bands and artists including B.B. King, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Dream Theater, The Musical Box (PG-era Genesis tribute band), Australian Pink Floyd, Zappa plays Zappa, Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band, Iron Maiden, Radiohead, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and the late great David Bowie in which I was in the pit at The Woodlands for his final 2004 tour in which he was promoting his Reality album.

While the hurricane was going on I was playing Steven Wilson’s music which was his fifth album To The Bone and Schooltree’s Heterotopia hoping that the light of hope will happened and it did on late Tuesday afternoon on August 29th. And I almost broke down knowing we went through a lot from Hurricane Harvey. I will never give up on Houston, Texas. I will stay in my hometown state until the day I die.

And I would like to close out a quote from Steven Wilson’s song Pariah, So the day will begin again/Take comfort from me/It's up to you now/You're still here/And you'll dig in again/That's comfort to you/It's up to you now/So pariah you'll begin again/Take comfort from me/It will take time.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017


To everyone, I want to let everybody know that I'm doing okay. Hurricane Harvey landed in Texas on Friday and we got heavy rain Saturday night. My house didn't get flooded. But the reviews are now postponed until September. So....I will be back until September after the Hurricane is over. So I'll see you on the flipside.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Dusan Jevtovic - No Answer

MoonJune Records has been on a roll with me since 2013. Again, I have a love for this label after discovering them in the first of the Romantic Warriors series. It is almost as if Leonardo Pavkovic has won both the World Series and the Super Bowl when it comes to releases. One of the albums that has suddenly landed on my knees is Dusan Jevtovic’s new release this year entitled, No Answer. With two albums in the can including On the Edge and Am I Walking Wrong? He paired up with keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov and drummer Asaf Sirkis.

The album was recorded last year in two days in February at La Casa Murada Studio in Spain. This is something you might want to take notice of these amazing musicians that have never disappointed me from day one the moment I’ve put this album on my portable CD player that made me want to come back more and more. Listening to No Answer is walking towards the opened doors as if they have finally come out to embrace to see where the possible universes will take you.

The six highlights on here are revolutionary and make you embark to go back in time and seeing what the 22nd century lies ahead. You have the title-track which at first you can imagine Dusan tipping his hat to the genius of Alex Lifeson and the Frippertronics creating these ominous tones which reminisce of Cygnus X-1 from A Farewell to Kings. But it’s when Vasil and Dusan create these dark sinister yet dooming approach of film-noir.

The wailing moments that Dusan hits those tones, creates these dramatic sections before crashing with an eruptive volcanic bang. Vasil comes into the forefront and does a piano movement that lends through classical, blues, and jazz that at times is both honoring the Perry Mason theme and Nina Simone. And then, the last minute and 26 seconds brings everyone together and ending on a heavier note.

Lifetime sees the trio riding down the freeway in a deserted area with the Blues. Dusan cuts through the trees to chop them down one by one with his virtuosic improvisation while Asaf follows suit to keep on the mark on his drum kit as Vasil’s dooming Rhodes into the tunnels. Asaf Sirkis is an incredible drummer for me. Not only he’s great, but he hits those tom-toms, snare, and cymbals to keep up the ideas and brainstorming moments he would come up with.

It’s evidential on Prayer when he comes to the center stage as both Dusan and Vasil give him a chance to bring his electrical force and energy into the ring. He goes through various movements as if the three of them go into this middle-eastern sound by going into the pyramids to discover the tomb of the Pharaoh, Tutankhamun. El Oro is Vasil channeling the three Keith’s; Tippett, Jarrett, and Emerson.

He heads towards the Moog to make these sounds go into a low and rising sound that has some odd-time changes from the intro right into the very end and believe me, it is prog to the core! The opener, Al Aire/Soko Bira is the piano going through a loop between Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells-era and Italian Progressive Rock group, Goblin. It’s Vasil tipping his hat for both artist and band. Followed by Dusan’s roaring chords and mysterious vibes on the cymbals, the trio create this darker atmosphere and lurking behind you by giving the listener, the creeps.

And then there’s Frusci. It almost features the Tritone in the opening section by essence of early Black Sabbath, but then it goes something straight out the sessions between King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter from Houses of the Holy. Vasil creates on the Rhodes this delay/reverb effects along with the cavernous tunnels with his Moog. Dusan takes you on his Aeroplane and flying through the frets by creating magic and soaring into the unknown.

Jevtovic’s music never disappoints me. In my book, he takes the listener to various levels wherever he would them either high or low. There is some presence when you feel his appearance coming towards you by listening to his music. And with No Answer, he makes you looking at the Crystal Ball and seeing where your future will take you beyond and before.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Steven Wilson - To The Bone

Steven Wilson whether you love him or hate him, he is for me one of the artists I championed since re-discovering his work back with his time with Porcupine Tree in 2006 on Classic Rock Magazine and then as a solo artist in 2009 from the first issue of PROG Magazine. Not to mention his work with Aviv Geffen on Blackfield and with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on Storm Corrosion. And the 5.1 mixes with XTC, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Chicago, and Jethro Tull to name a few. With four studio albums in the can, he releases in what his known as a “pop” album entitled, To The Bone.

Now, mind you, this was not an easy album to review. After a few listens of To The Bone, I find this to be a very interesting release. There’s a mixture of inspirations that he mentioned including Tears For Fears' The Seeds of Love, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, and Peter Gabriel’s So album. He’s not going to be a gigantic phenomenon, nor going to hit the mainstream, but it’s a diverse release so far he’s unleashed. But, he’s moving forward to challenge new ideas. Same thing with bands and artists including David Bowie, Prince, Genesis, and Pink Floyd.

Walt Disney once said about moving forwards is that “Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That’s is what Wilson is doing, he’s moving on, and seeing what new ideas he will come up next for the years to come.

The follow up to his previous work, Hand.Cannot.Erase is not just a crowning achievement, but again in my opinion another return from the master himself. Again Permanating which will one day become a live favorite, crosses the barriers between Talk Talk, ABBA’s Mamma Mia, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Discovery-era, has this catchy melody with the major and minor chords on the piano with some emotional chorus and rising beats.

The opening title-track and Nowhere Now both co-written by XTC’s Andy Partridge showcases some of the powerful lyrics he helped Steven with. The first track features a blaring Harmonica sound done by Mark Feltham as the lyrics deal with opening the door as the truth has finally come out of the rubble and it’s not a pleasant site. I love how it brings this nod to Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell track, Keep Talking as if it was continuing the form.

Nowhere Now deals with that once for the hope of peace below has suddenly gone. But up above in the afterlife and living in the clouds of Heaven of what happening down there and being free from the violence and danger, makes you wonder that you’re no longer part of the hard and difficult situation. Wilson channels the essence of Pete Townshend-sque guitar styles and lyrics that gives you a tug with sliding guitars and punching riffs.

It segues into the beautiful Pariah. This is the second collaboration that Steven has worked with Ninet Tayeb since 2015’s Hand.Cannot.Erase. Tayeb’s vocals will give you chills and kick you right in the gut on her arrangements of her singing. The duet between her and Steven, brings essence to both Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s Another Day and Don’t Give Up.

While the song deals with depression, giving up, and renewal, the blaring eruptive roar after Tinyeb sings “It will take time.” You can imagine yourself falling into space and knowing that your time has come before someone grabbing your arm and looking at your loved-one pulling you to the surface and knowing there is hope for a second chance.

The intense heavy riffs on The Same Asylum as Before gives the situation on a gigantic reality check and being back in the same hell you were in before, is come to you and karma has come. And it is letting the listener know, that once you’re in, you can’t get out after pulling the same crap you did over and over again by becoming the worst enemy you are now.

And the chance of getting out is zero. Steven is describing to the character by asking the questions of “Was it really worth it? Do you need another reality check to be in the same shit? Or are you proud of becoming your own worst nightmare?” Elsewhere, People Who Eat Darkness has this very Space-Rock guitar riff that is almost a nod to Hawkwind’s In Search of Space-era and essence of NEU’s Michael Rother.

The opening line “I live in the flat next door/And I can hear you fuck your girlfriend through the wall.” That is very intense and knowing the subject of terrorism and danger lurking behind those hallways is not going to be a pleasant by giving a 5 minute chance of escaping, but it is too late. Blank Tapes is an ominous haunting acoustic ballad featuring the Mellotron with another duet between Tayeb and Wilson.

You can close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through an empty house through the rubble and there’s nothing left. Detonation presents Wilson returning back to 2009 from his solo debut with Insurgentes. The first 2 minutes and 20 seconds becomes this eerie atmosphere before it changes into these darken yet hidden corridors. It is an intense mid-section rumble as you run towards the door after you feel the creeps behind you.

The moment you open the door, The character’s eyes are in disbelief and seeing now what is the Divided States of America and seeing the violence, betrayal, and unexpected view and blaming the three gods; Greater, Pale, and Whining. Now is To The Bone, Steven Wilson’s finest? No. But it shows the textures and craft he brings to the forefront with his fifth album.

Some will love this album, some won’t and want Steven to return to his Prog roots, which is understandable. Again, it's a diverse album. But for me, as I’ve mentioned in my introduction of this review, I had a very interesting yet growing experience with To The Bone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mumpbeak - Tooth

I know right from the moment I put a CD on my old portable CD player from the RareNoise label, I can expect some amazing “holy shit!” moments that will take me to another scenario. And believe me, this is a label that has been on my map since 2016 and thanks to Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room that have opened my eyes more to the label. One of those bands is Mumpbeak.

This is their second album released this year entitled Tooth. It is their follow up to their sole self-titled debut album which was unleashed back in 2013. Roy Powell is the brainchild behind Mumpbeak. He had studied piano and avant-garde composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He released his debut album back 23 years ago with A Big Sky.

He moved to Norway and worked with Terje Gewelt and Jarle Vespestad with the release of Holus which was an album of free improvisational music back in 1999. Now I’m very new to Powell’s music and along with Mumpbeak, but Tooth is one of the most challenging albums I’ve embarked on from start to finish. With Naked Truth bassist Lorenzo Feliciati and taking over Stick Men and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto is Elephant9 and Shining drummer Torstein Lofthus.

There is some sonic and eruptive compositions that will take you on a journey towards the light. I was completely blown away by not just Roy’s keyboards and not just because he’s a killer musician, but he’s very much like a conductor and giving both Lorenzo and Torstein some ideas and where to come in and where to come out. For example like going to Point A to Point B.

The first 4 minutes of Caboose is arrangement between Roy and Lorenzo as it becomes this electronic Vangelis-sque 1980s atmosphere. You can imagine yourself walking across the wastelands and hearing some deafening alarms thanks to the Synths that Powell does. It then, suddenly changes with some intense bass lines and Torstein’s drumming along with Roy’s clavinet chords following each of the ghost-town hallways and no sign of life to be found.

The reverb heavenly clavinet improvisation, brings to mind a cross-over as if George Gershwin had teamed up with Gentle Giant’s Kerry Minnear as if they did an album together during the In a Glass House sessions. Torstein for me, is like rapid machine gun fire that is sweating bullets. It’s shown on Saw as he goes all around the kit including the tom-toms and snare. Roy and Lorenzo follow suit as Powell goes into uncharted waters with a fuzztone wah-wah tightrope.

His textures are in a way by reigning the essence of Mike Ratledge as if he is in awe of his insane but mind-blowing work on the keyboards. At times, when he plays the clavinet, it sounds like powder-keg riffs before he and Torstein go into a climatic end as it abruptly comes to a halt. Opener, Boot brings to mind a film-noir-sque score that Mumpbeak does knowing that the killer is still on the loose.

I love how Roy goes to the Moog Little Phatty improvisation that he does and it shows that the clues the detectives found just got even challenging, bigger, and difficult to know the killer left ginormous tracks for them to follow. They go from one door to another closing it off with a tidal wave ending crescendo.

Stone, which closes the album, sees Roy heading towards the Hammond Organ. It begins with a Koto-sque intro and bass lines before the wah-wah door comes open and the intense groove between Lorenzo, Roy, and Torstein is like jet engines ready for take-off all around the room. There at times stop-and-go moments as the Organ is rising from the grave. I always imagine Lorenzo brings the goods and carry the torch for both Jaco Pastorius and Geddy Lee into one giant blender.

It this little nod to CAN’s Vernal Equinox and then the finale comes right in as Mumpbeak delve into the waters of Van Der Graaf Generator’s The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other-era for an alarming crescendo climatic finale that brings everything into a gigantic circle.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to come out. RareNoise Records have scored another home run for me with Tooth. I hope one day to discover more of Roy Powell’s music, but this here’s a start with their second album. They are on my watch list to see what they’ll come up with next. Little advice, play this mo-fo up to a notch!

Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology

Jane Weaver, married to DJ Andy Votel, founder of Finders Keepers Records, visualizes the future sound of hypnotic cosmic-space-electro rock. Now, mind you, I’m very new to Weaver’s music since hearing her 2014 album, The Silver Globe album. This year she’s released her follow up to The Amber Light with Modern Kosmology. Released on the Fire records label, Jane takes you beyond the stratosphere with pop, surrealism, shoegaze, post-rock, and the Krautrock sound.

It has these late ‘70s/early ‘80s vibration the moment I put the CD on. And I knew right from the get-go, she was taking me to a whole new infinite world. The six centerpieces throughout the journey from the outer limits of space have taken me not just by surprise, but making my eyes open to discover more of Jane’s music. Loops in the Secret Society closes your eyes that takes you back to the golden-era between the experimental scene in Germany and the Motorik rhythm sound which is evidential with the essence of NEU and Michael Karoli-sque guitars.

Then, everything sets into a mysterious driving beat as if you were looking through the various doors to decide which one to open and see where it will lead us to with the futuristic trip on The Architect while Jane dives into the river of the psych-folk ballad on Valley. You can feel her voice behind you as if she’s giving you goosebumps down your spine as if she is hypnotizing you by walking through an abandoned forest.

The music itself brings to mind between Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother-era and the Beatlesque textures from the rhythm guitar that fits well on the composition. Jane herself honors the Krautrock sound. I could tell from listening to this from start to finish, she’s done a lot of research and whether you like her music or not, Weaver herself has been around from day one from her work with both Kill Laura, Misty Dixon, and her solo career.

Is there a stop sign for her? Absolutely not. She is definitely going to keep going and knowing what brainstorm she will come up with next. The homework she did is incredible between the essences of CAN’s Ege Bamyasi and Agitation Free’s 2nd as the synths set the location of the wasteland as if you as a listener walk through the rubble between the Bass, Drums, Guitar and Echoing effects from the percussion on Did You See Butterflies?

CAN’s Malcolm Mooney does this mourning spoken introduction that is almost poetic before the double-track reverb/effect vocalizations that Jane does as it comes across an Avant-Pop electro vibe as if CAN sessions between 1968 and 1970 on Ravenspoint as it segues to the closing track I Wish. The track continues with the Motorik sound from the drum machine as if to say the listener that a new day, a new beginning will happen to move forward.

I always imagine Klaus Schulze helping Jane out on the arrangements on here and giving some advice on where the piece needs to start and where it would end. You can always imagine a scene inside your head where the layers would go to next with the eerie synthesizers and explore what will happen next into the following pages after that.

This has been my second to third time listening to Modern Kosmology and I have to say I was very impressed from what I’ve listened from beginning to end. It’s mixtures again as I’ve mentioned before; New Wave, Krautrock, and Shoegaze music, it’s all there. And I hope to see and imagine what will Jane Weaver think of next. Modern Kosmology may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but this may be in my albums of this year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Saturn - Beyond Spectra

In the 2005 documentary of Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Tour manager Joey Severance said, “Metal is a brotherhood. That’s what keeps it alive. It’s in your blood. It’s the air you breathe.” And he’s 100% right. For me, Metal has been with me since I was a kid, teens, and through College. One of the labels that have always peaked my interest since 2009 after reading about them in PROG Magazine is Lee Dorrian’s label, Rise Above Records.

One of the new bands alongside discovering Blood Ceremony, ASTRA, Diagonal, Beastmaker, and Galley Beggar is a new band from Sweden called Saturn. They have released their second album this year entitled, Beyond Spectra which is a follow up to their 2014 debut Ascending (Live in Space). I’m new to Saturn’s music, but holy shit! These guys are very good.

The band considers Robin Tidebrink and Linkan Lindgren on Electric Guitars, Ted Carlsen on Drums, and Oscar Pehrson on Lead Vocals and Bass Guitar. The album cover which is done by Maldo Illustration to pay nod to Marvel’s own Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby as if it’s done right to give Sci-Fi a real kick in the gut. But let’s get to the music. Saturn honors the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as if the album was recorded between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

You can tell Saturn shows the inspirations between Judas Priest, UFO, Iron Maiden, and Angel Witch. You can imagine both Sounds and KERRANG in the early ‘80s had reviewed an album like this during the heyday of the NWOBHM movement and the album got reviewed, they would have gotten some word-of-mouth. Now in the year of our lord 2017, Saturn honors the legacy of the movement with Space and Hard Rock at it’s finest.

The guitars from Tidebrink and Lindgren are lightning rods to raise the thunder between the minds of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton; Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; and UFO’s Michael Schenker and Paul Raymond. Oscar’s voice has eye-lifting momentum and at times jaw-dropping for me. You can hear the essence of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond combined into a gigantic solar system in a parallel universe.

Listening to Beyond Spectra, you can close your eyes and imagine the ship is ready for ignition to be lifted off in space as if the band is receiving to prepare to hurtle through the cosmos with four centerpieces (reference to Ren & Stimpy’s Space Madness). The rumbling guitar riffs is riding down the highway with some revving rhythm sections on Still Young. The shuffling moments and duo guitar structures both rhythm and lead that makes it fucking good, is a nod to both Maiden and Angel Witch.

Opener, Orbital Command starts off with a classical spacey introduction for the first 39 seconds before setting the controls for the spaceship ready to make the jump to light speed and fly off into the outer limits. The double guitars are again eye-opening and in the 3 minute and 25 second mark, there is a melodic midsection, shows that they have landed into another planet and discovering that the aftermath of the battle is a gruesome mess and knowing they won’t come back from this.

Helmet Man features almost as if Saturn were doing a score for a Video Game as they continue to rev down the highway. It could almost be a theme to Marvel’s own Ghost Rider’s Johnny Blaze. He knows that the danger is near. And he has a plan ahead of everyone and doing whatever he can to stop the badness that is happening around and do justice his way and not the law.

It has this epic and militant sound thanks to Carlsen’s drumming as the guitars become a feeling essence between Ritchie Blackmore and Glenn Tipton while it becomes a warning with a terrorizing effect that are lurking behind their prey on Nighttime Badger. You can imagine the victim is tied up and knowing that their time is up and the lyric; “If you have seen the things that I’ve seen/You wouldn’t sleep at nighttime/If you had heard a word that I’ve said/You would not laugh at all.” 

It’s a chilling and disturbing lyric. This character in the story, I can imagine is an outsider and never fitting in with the cool crowd in School as he plans his revenge to those who’ve hurt, bullied, and tortured him through the rough years in High School. Not only that situation, but there’s also another moment of selling you soul for fame and glory and the heavy price you pay for to the bitter end. I’ve adored this album from day one. It is worth listening to if you admire Saturn’s influences. 

They’re not ripping off the NWOBHM movement, but they're honoring it and keeping the flames alive of the genre by making sure it is alive and well. For me in my opinion, Beyond Spectra is right in your alley. And to close out with the back cover disclaimer of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, “To Be Played at Maximum Volume.”

Corciolli - Ilusia

With his 25-year career and 2 million albums sold, Corciolli is a unique artist in the instrumental music scene in Brazil. He’s opened doors to see which landscape he would embark on between Tibetan, Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Classical Music. He would take these genres with his arranging and composition to find infinite universes for the listener to see what is behind these various doors that are about to be open. His new album released this year is called, Ilusia and it shows his origins of the rock influences he grew up listening to.

Listening to llusia, it has this crossover between Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Steve Vai, Vangelis, and Tangerine Dream. With eight instrumental compositions, Corciolli brings layers and textures of the arrangements by a little help with drummer Ramon Montagner and bassist Mauricio Oliveira and the guitar sampled keyboards by Corciolli himself setting the atmospheres that what is about to happen in the five centerpieces on the new album.

You can close your eyes and imagine a Movie inside your head. Distant Living Memories has this sci-fi film noir featuring dystopian landscapes as you go towards the ghost-town deserted city that what once was, is in dust all of it. You can imagine the memories of the glorious city that was in which there was a time that was so beautiful, turned horrible.

The Man Who Disappeared in the Painting features an introduction between the synth and classical guitar introduction and it has this nod between the New Wave/Atmospheric mysterious arrangement between Acqua Fragile’s Mass Media-Stars, the Halo franchise, and late ‘70s Genesis coming to mind with the Fugazi-era of Marillion as Secrets of the Invisible is a haunting composition.

It feels like this early ‘80s film score as if both Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream did the score to the 1985 film, The Emerald Forest as the action sequences start on to attack before the piano and heavy guitar lines knows that the danger ahead of the outskirts as if something terrible is about to happen with some dramatic string sections. 

The nod to both the movie, TV series, and the book with Light Spheres in a Stephen King Mist imagines yourself as if you were trapped inside with an un-natural mist of these monsters waiting for the prey to come with some intensive danger outside of the heavy clouds along with alarming jazzy background from the piano and an eerie ending of a nightmarish lullaby. The Hans Zimmer and Vangelis approach has an epic approach for Midnight of the World at the End of Time.

You can imagine the two of them writing the score for the continuation of Blade Runner as if they wanted make a conceptual piece of the mystery surrounding of the disappearance of Rick Deckard as it has this futuristic setting for the end credits. I have to admit, I’m not crazy about this album, but it is a very interesting release that Corciolli has released and it may or may not appear on my top 30 albums of 2017, but he’s got something special with this. 

Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You

Originally released in the spring of 1969, Colosseum’s debut album entitled, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You which was originally released on the Fontana label and reissued this year by Esoteric Recordings, is an eruptive debut that came out of the same year King Crimson released In The Court of the Crimson King, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, The Who’s rock opera Tommy, and Miles Davis’ controversial classic, Bitches Brew.

Colosseum was different. They mixed Jazz, Blues, and Soul into a giant blender and creating these textures that were both Progressive and Hard Rock into one. Formed 49 years ago by drummer Jon Hiseman and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith in which they were a part of the Graham Bond Organization, Hiseman replaced Baker as both of them appeared on John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers album, Bare Wires released in the summer of that same year.

I’ve first heard Colosseum’s music when I bought the 3-CD compilation which was released in 2005 entitled Time Machine: A Vertigo Retrospective after hearing their explosive heavy riff powder-keg rocker, The Kettle. And I was hooked. It was like unleashing the beast right from the get-go. They brought along Dave Greenslade on Organ, Bassist Tony Reeves, and James Litherland on Lead Vocals and Guitar.

Not to mention guest musician trumpeter Henry Lowther who appears on the album. He appears on the opening track with a walking blues/jazz shuffle down the highway entitled, Walking in the Park. It’s one of Graham’s composition as you can imagine it being blared inside the train for the band to have an amazing time. Litherland can really sing his heart out and doing some killer guitar work.

Even though Henry appears on the album as a guest musician, he nails those trumpet parts down for that intro section in the beginning. He and Dick Heckstall-Smith work like a team blaring those moments bringing the roofs down on both Trumpet and Sax. Mandarin which is based on the Japanese soft scale, Tony’s arrangement on the Bass, sends chills down on my spine.

His bass playing shines well as it resembles between Jimmy Garrison and East of Eden’s Steve York with some fuzz and wah-wah moments between going from one to the other while the blues standard Backwater Blues he plays some of the amazing bass lines and comes into the forefront which shows his talent and power. Not to mention Dick’s blaring sax and Greenslade channeling Graham Bond’s organ work.

The Road She Walked Before features some of this Ray Charles-sque arrangement by Heckstall-Smith. The vocalization between Litherland’s vocals, Smith’s sax, and Greenslade’s organ and piano, delves into this Brazilian samba jazz groove into the sunset as the title-track is a nod to The Nice, James Brown, and George Gershwin. Greenslade plays a mean organ in the 12-bar blues and featuring the militant section for the Climatic battlefield in the Rome Amphitheatre.

Beware the Ides of March is essence to Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale which is also inspired by Bach, Heckstall-Smith’s sax blares into night sky channeling both Classical Music and Jazz along with Dave’s Wah-Wah Organ which almost has this Canterbury psychedelic feel and a soulful crunch to it. It then suddenly delves deep into the darker tunnels of the ominous piano, galloping drums, intense bass work, organ and sax improve before coming back to the warmth sun rising end.

The three bonus tracks which the band recorded at PYE studios in November of 1968 containing a demo version of the title track, a rockin’ composition of I Can’t Live Without You with some killer wah-wah guitar work and bass sharing a duel between each other and it feels like it was something straight out of the sessions between The Beatles White Album and Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

Their take of Quincy Jones’ In The Heat of the Night which was sung by Ray Charles, is a strong take from the classic opening of the 1967 film. You can close your eyes being on the train close to dawn heading to the station with Mister Tibbs to start the next case following after the events of the first film and knowing that the next case, will be intense situation that the danger comes around.

The name of the title comes from a Latin phrase which is well known as Ave Caesar, Morituri te Salutant. Which means Hail Emperor, Those About to Die Salute You. Which the gladiators greeted Vitellius and it’s a well-known quote. Esoteric Recordings have never disappointed me and when they announced some of the reissues of the Colosseum catalog on their website from Cherry Red Records, I knew it was going to be on my wish list.

It contains the original and new sleeve notes and interviews with Jon Hiseman about the origins of the band’s formation. The album reached number 15 in the UK charts and gave Colosseum word-of-mouth including a performance promo which is in the booklet, they did on March 20th at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Worth checking out? Absolutely!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Anthony Phillips - Slow Dance

This 2-CD/DVD set consists of Anthony Phillips release of Slow Dance. Originally released on the Virgin label, this showed his orchestral side to him. And it is a very interesting release that embarked on. Reissued this year by Esoteric Recordings, it is time to give Slow Dance another chance and give Anthony the recognition he deserves. He’s been overlooked from the history of his time with Genesis as an original founder.

Anthony Phillips appeared in the first two Genesis albums which were the 1969 debut of From Genesis to Revelation which showed their psychedelic-pop, Bee Gees, and pastoral baroque music. But it wasn’t until they released their second album and signed to a new label with Charisma Records in 1970 with Trespass that showed their beginnings of their progressive rock roots digging deep into of complex music with a story that had a beginning, middle, and end.

Anthony left the band to pursue studying Classical Music. While he lacked Theory-based music, he practiced eight hours. But let’s get straight to Slow Dance. It started back in June of 1988 when he worked on the album. He wrote the pieces for the material very quickly. Just as Slow Dance was almost done, Ant went to the States for a few days to be with his family. And then the news came to him that Passport Records in which they released his solo albums, ceased.

This wasn’t good news. Not only Anthony was without a record company, but he had to pay a debt to management of repaying the money. Now he had no idea whether or not he wanted to delay the album and look for other work, but he decided to plow on. After Tarka was completed with guitarist Harry Williamson, Engineer Simon Heyworth who worked with him since The Geese and the Ghost, helped him out on the Slow Dance project.

He also used a real string section on his album during the recording at CBS studios in February of 1989. And then, he signed to Richard Branson’s Virgin label at the spring of 1990 as the album was released in September of that year. It was a long process in the making to bring it to life. As I’ve mentioned, Anthony Phillips’ music is different from his time with Genesis.

It was very different from his previous albums on Sides, The Geese and the Ghost, Wise After the Event, and 1984. It showed Anthony’s orchestral side that showed elements between Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, and Jean-Michel Jarre. It took me a few listens to delve deep into Slow Dance, but it grabbed me more and more to understand why he was ahead of his time. It may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but it grows on you.

The first movement begins with ambient strings coming in with a heavenly introduction. Ant’s classical guitar sets gentle tones along with wind instruments. It feels that you have walked through the forest of lost hope as the images come through your head of what’s happening. There are some moments of early Genesis and bits of The Enid’s In The Region of Summer Stars.

Phillips takes you for a ride towards scenes for a fantasy film that’s been done right. The synths delve deep, deep into the watery tunnels with no chance of escaping. There is some alarming organ notes, percussion, and clapping rhythm sections. Along with the vocalizations from the keyboards and fanfare sections, Phillips brings the sombering electric-classical guitar for this melancholic sound.

It’s almost at times from the first movement. set to a scene of the continuation of Disney’s Fantasia. The last three minutes of the pieces shows Anthony giving the listener a chance of hope of knowing that a new day will happen and it will start over again to be back of where you were.

The second movement starts to open doors to another parallel infinite universe as if you can imagine something terrible has happened with ascending and descending guitars and militant drums. But all of a sudden, it rises up from the ashes of the electronic drum pads. There is this very interesting Jazz section for a little bit as Anthony shows a teensy-weensy bit of a Allan Holdsworth-sque vibe into the mix.

It changes at the 14 minute and 17 second mark as it becomes a battlefield featuring the string section. It’s a bloody uphill battle. Epic fanfare horns and knowing its going to be hard, difficult, and brutal and thanks to the drum program it is again an epic moment in the second act. You can imagine Ant is a conductor at heart to create this scenario of what’s happening.

Now let’s be honest Anthony is not Leopold Stokowski, but he is bringing the magic and ideas in his head come to life. You can imagine the men who are making the sacrifices in the battle sequence, knowing whether or not it is going to be their last goodbyes they say to their families. It then changes into an aftermath of what has happened. The strings come forth near the end of watery effects to give the second movement, a mourning farewell.

The second disc which is Slow Dance Vignettes. It contains nine pieces during the making of the album. And three of them stood out for me. The Guitar Adagio from Slow Dance is a penultimate section from the first movement that has the gentle tone. You can close your eyes and imagine a sun rising through the west as Anthony channels Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi’s acoustic side with both Laguna Sunrise and Fluff.

With Clarinet Sleigh Ride, Ant delves into the waters between both Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk in the background. It’s an unearthed track from the sessions that I’ve never heard before and it’s very interesting to have some of these melodic rising pieces as if Anthony Phillips was doing a score in the late ‘80s for a special on PBS.

Then, there’s this newly mixed version of the string parts with an emotional heart-tugging stir between the crossover of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and Bach’s Air on the G String with Lenta Chorum. There’s also a DVD containing a 5.1 mix of the album by also. When Slow Dance was released in that year in the UK on September 24th, it was the last album to be released on Vinyl, Cassette, and CD. It’s been considered a fan favorite along with Ant himself.

I hope one day Anthony Phillips goes back and revisits this album and moving from the electronic parts he used on the album and bring a real orchestra to give Slow Dance a chance to be reborn. The package is amazing. It contains the 2-CDs and the DVD, followed by a replica poster, a 16-page booklet containing promos of the album in Japan, original master tape, liner notes by Jonathan Dann interviewing Phillips about the origins, making, and release of the album, and a note written on manuscript paper that says “NO WAY OUT. PIECE V”.

If you love the music of Anthony Phillips, then Slow Dance is really worth exploring and highly recommended to show again Anthony’s orchestral, new age, and symphonic side to him.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rachel Flowers - Listen

Rachel Flowers is for me one of the most brilliant composers and multi-instrumentalist I’ve discovered. I first became aware of Rachel after discovering one of her interpretations on YouTube of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus, The Endless Enigma, and Trilogy. And I was blown away by her. This was mind-blowing of her to take on a huge challenge of playing their material and not to mention playing Keith Emerson’s modular moog which I can imagine it was an honor of her to play it by getting permission.

For her, it is a blessing. She’s performed with Dweezil Zappa with Zappa Plays Zappa in April of 2015 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s album, One Size Fits All. There are clips of her performing on keyboards with Inca Roads, Evelyn, A Modified Dog, and on guitar with Montana. She played when she was 10 years old, for the late great Ray Charles, and meeting people including Stevie Wonder, Greg Lake, and of course, Keith Emerson.

Rachel lost her eyesight when she was very young, but she never gave up. She has an amazing ear, and a perfect pitch. That and her debut album entitled, Listen, Rachel has created her own sound, beauty, and textures. The genres of classical, jazz, and progressive rock is all here on Listen. It is at times an emotional journey that Flowers herself will take you on.

Greg’s Favorite which is a tribute to the late great Greg Lake, has this 3/4 time signature of a ballad and waltz. It has some symphonic touches. Her vocalizations at times brings to mind of the Canterbury scene with The Northettes who appeared on Egg’s The Civil Surface and Hatfield and the North’s sole self-titled debut album. She plays beautifully on the piano and rising sounds from both the strings and drums.

The spirit of Keith Emerson is flowing in her and is letting Rachel know that he will always be with her wherever the yellow brick road will take her into. You can imagine Flowers is doing her own style of doing a score to the follow up of The Peanuts Movie showing some essence of Vince Guaraldi.

Goes To Eleven is almost a nod to the 1984 cult classic, This Is Spinal Tap’sMarshal Amps going up to 11 spoken by Nigel Tufnel. This is a cross between Jazz, Fusion, and Prog-Rock. With melodic elements between guitars, horn sections, and string section, Rachel playing guitar is jaw-dropping. She is a virtuosic master carrying the styles between Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth, and Steve Vai rolled into one.

The two-part suite Aloha is an orchestral jazz atmosphere. The first part has this classical touch and you can imagine the sun coming over the horizon for a brand new day. With glowing moments from the symphony between the fanfare and its epic touch. You can imagine Rachel bringing Disney’s Fantasia back from the dead and making sure they were continuing a follow up to Fantasia 2000.

It then moves onto the second part in the Jazz world with a Bass playing a simple line. It is this cross between Miles Davis and John Coltrane if he hadn’t passed away as if the two of them were working together and creating something that was beyond their Bebop Jazz roots and delivering the spirituality journey to continue. Rachel is taking the listener to the spiritual adventure that is special and finding their inner selves.

She is very much like a painter drawing a simple line and never knowing she will stop. And the bass improvisations that reminisce between Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius followed by a flute improvisation she does. And then there’s, Run For Miles. Rachel shows her nod to the late great Miles Davis. You can hear the howling of the trumpet calling for a sign.

You can hear some Holdsworth-sque improvisation on the keyboards. Not only it is a nod to Miles, but she pays a nod to Kind of Blue as if Rachel was using the SynthAxe to carry the torch for Allan Holdsworth and keeping his legacy alive. I had an amazing time listening to Rachel Flowers’ Listen. This is a very good release that unleashed last year.

She will be performing near the end of July in Birmingham, England entitled, Keith Emerson – A Musical Celebration of his Life and in October 13th to the 15th of this year for the three-day ProgStock festival in New Jersey with Echolyn, Glass Hammer, Karmakanic, EchoTest (featuring Julie Slick), The Tea Club, and Rani Chatoorgoon to name a few. She is going to be very busy this year. So please check out her debut album, Listen.