Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rich Woodson's Ellipsis ‎– The Nail That Stands Up Gets Pounded Down (2005, CD, Usa)

Influenced by the likes of Tim Berne, Frank Zappa, and contemporary classical composer Charles Wuorinen, Brooklyn-based guitarist Rich Woodson traded his interest in hard rock and speed metal for a blend of creative jazz, avant metal, and contemporary chamber music textures in his Ellipsis quintet. Featuring Woodson along with drummer John Hollenbeck (Claudia Quintet), soprano saxophonist Peter Epstein, tenor saxophonist Aaron Stewart, and acoustic bassist Mat Fieldes, the group's recorded debut, Control and Resistance, arrived on the Cuneiform label in 2000. Across nine tracks and a total of 43 minutes, the ensemble maintained a herky-jerky momentum performing composer Woodson's head-spinningly brief and knotty multi-layered motifs in constantly permuting convolutions. The group's sophomore album, 2005's independently released The Nail That Stands Up Gets Pounded Down, featured Woodson again joined by Hollenbeck, Stewart, and Fieldes, but with clarinetist Anthony Burr replacing saxophonist Epstein. The Nail That Stands Up continued the conceptual thread of Control and Resistance, packing more of Woodson's ever-changing dense compositional textures into the album's 40-minute length. Although no further Ellipsis albums would be released, Woodson and company left fans of complex avant and experimental music with enough sonic material to warrant repeated listens for years to come.

Industrial Soup ‎– A Flagrant Display Of Subtlety (1995, CD, Usa)

From San Jose, California, Industrial Soup is a trio of keys+bass, drums, and vocals+sax, sporting a hard driving and quirky keyboard dominated sound that, together with the humorous lyrics (well... they made me laugh a lot!) and manic spoken / shouted vocals makes for a pretty unique musical journey. The music moves along in a herky-jerky rhythmic way with flashes of melody popping out during breaks in the lyrics, or competing with them for center stage; this release would fit in nicely with others on the FOT / Ponk label, totally over the top. Lyrically, I am sometimes reminded of that early 80s EP by Bedful of Metaphysicians, but I suspect that with songtitles like "Tiny Bladder" (its lyrics describe standing in the bathroom line at a football game) or a song about a bureaucratic encounter at the DMV, that there is at least a little Zappa / Beefheart influence hiding somewhere in the shadows. The music is urgent, aggressive and restless, and a good support vehicle for the lyrics on tracks like "Evolve or Die" or "Burrito of Love." In summary, Industrial Soup's opening shot is a lot of fun on a lot of different levels, and one that most should enjoy. exposé

Orchestra Ollamar / Rino De Filippi ‎– Atmosfere (1971, LP, Italy)

One of the darkest and on high-demand Italian Library records. From the infamous Fonit 7000 series here's the most obscure and deepest Rino de Filippi's production composed along with maestro Giancarlo Chiaramello. Very elusive LP featuring some of the darkest Italian Library sounds with obsessed Breakbeats like in the killer "OSTINAZIONE" with Fuzz Psychedelic guitar and amazing drumming tempo. More obscure samples on "PULSAZIONI". Spookiest guitar and basslines ever and scary atmospherics with screaming vocals too. Insane trippy LP!

Side A
A1. Pulsazioni (4:08)
A2. Ostinazione (3:26)
A3. Riflessioni (2:18)
A4. Ricercare (3:25)
A5. Antri (3:25)
Side B
B1. Attesa Spasmodica (1:40)
B2. Concentrazione (3:20)
B3. Alienazione (4:35)
B4. Frustrazioni (4:40)
Performer – Orchestra Ollamar (tracks: B1 to B4), Orchestra Rino De Filippi (tracks: A1 to A5)
Released on 500 copies

Sunday, December 10, 2017

LE GROUPE X ‎– Out Off (1978, Lp, Italy)

Experimental electronic prog-rock, Goblin like score to the obscure Italian movie "La Ceremonia Dei Sensi" aka Out Off (1978).

LE GROUPE X - "OUT OFF" (OST) aka Gianluigi Pezzera
La colonna sonora originale è stampata sull'etichetta RADIO Records, risalente al 1978. Eccovi una scheggia impazzita, un disco di una bellezza inaudita, quasi scioccante, e tuttavia miracolosamente sospesa, refrattaria alle categorizzazioni, che esplode in insani breaks elettro psichedelici, effetti FX studio sovrapposti a dar vita a paesaggi sonori perturbanti, movenze lievemente funky, bizzarre sonorità cosmiche, profondi ed ipnotici strati percussivi inquietanti, un'inusitata elettronica analogica, sequenze astratte di piano, violini, organo & flauto, motivi spettrali, a cura di una delle più creative menti dell'elettronica italiana, Gianluigi Pezzera, producer anche dell'album prog "Frrrrrigidaire". Questo miracoloso equilibrio genera spettrali paesaggi sonori con organo con un fondo cupo di voci (a)corali nella traccia ALLUCISERGICO, synths impazziti e dark in AGORAPHOBIA, dolci passaggi moog in BAILAMME, l'allucinato ed astratto ritmo marziale di METAMARCIA, le delicate movenze cosmiche di FANTACOPULA, la struttura ad echi FX studio percussiva e delirante de LA GRANDE BOCCA. Questa lucida follia elettronica ha fatto da colonna sonora per il primo (ed altrettanto folle) film di Antonio D'Agostino, "La cerimonia dei sensi", che appunto si chiamava "Out off" in lavorazione, che vanta nel cast il famoso ermafrodito Eva Robin's, la storia (o la storia sognata durante un coma) di un profeta che torna nel mondo realizzando la sequela Christi con tutte le enormi differenze ed eventi eclatanti e sanguinosi degli anni di piombo dell'Italia (!!) a partire dalla seconda metà degli anni

I.P. SON GROUP ‎– I.P. Son Group (1975, LP, Italy)

Appeared in 1975 on the legendary Ultima Spiaggia label during the mature stage of the Italian underground scene, the only album of the milanese band led by guitarist Marco Rossi looks like a experiment rather atypical of that period. The typical jazz sound of formations such Perigeo or Napoli Centrale, leave here considerable field for improvisation on suggestions of extra-eurepean ethnic flavor, enhanced by the masterful rhythmic section (without drums) curated by the African percussionists Nick Eyok and Mohammed El Targhi. The result was a complex work and full of nuances, in which the spirit of the free-jam is excellent for synthesis of influences and visions. Refined guitar riffs reveals strong blues roots that can blend with the elements and moods of the most markedly spiritual and exotic free-jazz (Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane or Shepp), while when the winds are perfumed of the Middle East flow as distant echoes with ideas of tribal rhythmic that seems to draw both from the rhythms of the northern Sahara as from more Afro-beat rituals of Yoruba ancestry. In the background so persist a poetic of intercultural exchange that approaches the I.P. Son Group to parallels projects such as those made by Aktuala, Arica or John Berberian.

Side A
A1 Raggio di Sole (03:56)
A2 A 'Ny (04:10)
A3 Al Sabri (01:35)
A4 Sahara (08:00)
A5 Flauti Al Circo (02:52)
Side B
B1 Fatimah (04:49)
B2 I Sing The Dawn (07:20)
B3 La Gazzella (01:13)
B4 Zighiny (05:38)

Mohammed El Targhi - Congas, Goblet Drum [Darbuka], Bells, Tambourine
Alberto Tenconi - Electric Bass
Marco Rossi - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Flute [Wood Flute], Percussion, Cover
Marco Merilli - Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Nick Eyok - Vocals, Percussion

Note: Recorded at Studio Ricordi May 14-15-16 / 1975

Sunday, December 3, 2017

SOTOS – Sotos (1999, CD, France)

SOTOS was one of those under-the-radar avant-prog bands that followed in the footsteps of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, released a couple albums and then disappeared from the scene. This all instrumental ensemble emerged from Bordeaux, France in 1996 and was composed of five musicians. Nicolas Cazaux on violin, flute & tambourine; Yan Hazera on guitar and djembe; Bruno Camiade on bass and djembe; Nadia Leclerc on violin and cello; Michael Hazera on drums and flute. Both Hazera brothers would later play together in their next band Zaar a decade later. All members attended the French National School of Music and required little time in finding a common thread to create their first eponymous album released on the French Gazul label.

Just like many in the more obscure corners of the avant-prog world, SOTOS marries myriad musical disciplines and drives them together with angular rock riffs, chamber rock atmospheres, post-rock compositional styles along with classical sensibilities in this case from the likes of Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky. While avant-garde is the first thing that comes to mind when a Univers Zero or Art Zoyd connection is made, SOTOS were disciplined enough, despite creating only four monster tracks all clocking in over 13 minutes, to encapsulate a roller coaster ride of interesting hooks that are allowed to play out and add the proper amount of tension before climaxing and shifting to another complex instrumental arrangement.

While the near 22 minute opener “Tango” may have elements of Argentina’s favorite dance music, it’s only a small part of the overall sound and fairly obscured with a healthy dose of violin and cello sounding more like a classical folk composition taken from the Hungarian countryside of the 19th century but also offers the angular rhythmic rock approach of the avant-prog tradition with a healthy dose of twists and turns that allow more energetic percussive segments than usually heard in this subgenre of prog. The second track “Gilgamesh” sounds as epic as the Akkadian poem from which the name derives. It begins with a rather Steve Hillage “Fish Rising” type of guitar riff accompanied by folky violin but turns into a more energetic rocker and also displays a fair amount of energetic tribal drumming along the way.

“XXVIIIeme Parallele” exudes a jazz guitar intro but is also quite classically inspired and then drowned out by a lamenting violin before spiraling off into a more upbeat parade of folk led flute and drums. As it ventures forward it sounds more like an early King Crimson type of eclectic jazz rock that becomes more progressive as time goes on with the angular rhythms becoming even more so and avant-guitar solos joining in with burst of bubbly zeuhl bass lines that climaxes with one of the most energetic outbursts on the entire album. “L’espoir Du Clan Des Huitres” at almost 17 minutes is the most frenetic track with insane echoey guitars, chugging zeuhl bass rhythms with less of the angular avant-rhythms but they do occur as it all slowly ratchets up into furious guitar frenzies. Like all the other tracks, there is plenty of time for it to breathe and take the time to build up the momentum.

SOTOS is fairly unique sounding. Not as scary as Univers Zero or Art Zoyd. Not as heavy as Thinking Plague. More varied than bands like Nebelnest but not as ambitious as 5uu’s. SOTOS utilizes just enough of several different elements to make it feel balanced with a lot of time paid to repetitive patterns that linger with subtleties joining in. Just a tad of rhythmic zeuhl alongside avant-garde angularities as well as the King Crimson proggy rock mixed with the Bartok classical folk elements. The music is definitely dense and complex but it is fairly easy to follow if the listener is actively engaged. Segments proceed in a logical manner and nothing really jumps out of the blue. Excellent music for those who love a more focused form of avant-prog that also offers a few twists and turns along the way. Review by
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Tango (21:56)
2. Gilgamesh (16:07)
3. XXVIIIeme Parallele (13:27)
4. L'Espoir Du Clan Des Huntres (17:05)
Total Time: 68:35

Line-up / Musicians
Nicolas Cazaux / violin, flute & tambourine
Yan Hazera / guitar & Djembe
Bruno Camiade / bass & Djembe
Nadia Leclerc / violin & cello
Michael Hazera / drums & flute