Absence Upon A Ground

SKU: ALT027
Label:
Altrock Records
Category:
Avant Garde/RIO
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Interesting new band led by Michele Epifani, keyboardist of Areknames. While that band is retro-prog, Subtilior is much more "serious" taking on a classical/chamber rock sound of bands like Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. Quite melodic and rather dark, Subtilior incorporates violin, cello, reeds, piano, organ, guitar, bass, and drums. Its all played out over 2 sprawling epic works.

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  • Exit one guitarist - enter one female singer resulting in a new avant garde direction. While the first album had a quiet classical side this is far more experimental. One can hear an influence from minimalist composers creeping in."Three years passed before Pierrot Lunaire recorded and released the follow-up to their debut album. They returned as a totally refurbished act, with guitarist Caporaletti out and mezzo-soprano extraordinaire Jacqueline Darby in. "Gudrun" is an album that drifts apart from the realms of bucolic melodic prog with a slight dissonant twist; now, the repertoire is design to defy structure and convention, in order to create a sonic journey led by the volatile ruling hands of surprise, radical experimentation, and free form. The link between all tracks is marked by the clicking of a photographic camera, as if each number of the repertoire was some kind of scenario immortalized by the machine and turned into a permanent reminder. If Pierrot Lunaire's previous album was some a catalogue of reflections about the inner world, now Stalteri, Chiocchio and Darby turn their eyes and look at the world in its splendorous chaos and multicolored facets. The 11-minute long title track kicks off the album with a great deal of synth layers and sequenced ornaments, over which Darby's singing, piano lines, stormy guitar leads, and some other occasional stuff lays its print in a daring amalgam. If you can mentally picture a mixture of Klaus Schulze, drumless RIO and Brecht's operettas, then you may have an idea about what I'm trying to describe here (perhaps not too successfully). In sharp contrast, now comes a subtle piano nocturne titled 'Dietro il Silenzio', which sounds quite Satie-inspired to me: a really beautiful piece where the silent voids are as important as the actual piano sounds. The following number is a two part chanting displayed upon disturbing guitar and synth soundscapes: in the middle, a piano and conga drums revisit Darby's line with an air of simplicity that seems to portray some sort of high-spirited joy. 'Gallia' is a Darby-penned number, mostly a showcase for her well crafted dissonant operatic stuff, while her fellow men once again indulge themselves in a background of random dissonances on electric guitar and synthesizer. 'Giovane Madre' is the most symphonic (or should I say the least anti-symphonic) number. It basically consists of a recurring attractive motif on organ and synth, solidly founded on a 6/8 pattern laid by Chiocchio's bass and guest drummer Massimo Buzzi; somewhere in the middle, a gentle, joyful Renaissance-like motif enters abruptly, creating a weird tension that directly defies its own delicate beauty. Simultaneously, you can hear Darby whispering or laughing in some places. Many times I've found myself listening to this particular track three or four times in a row only to take pleasure in the challenging effect that the structure of this track causes in me as a listener. The weirdness never ends. 'Sonde in Profondit├í' starts with the sound of an old radio speech, accompanied by a tenuous, evocative organ theme, with sitar, synth and acoustic guitar providing some additional colours until it all disappears under crashing waves. 'Morellia' begins with a Baroque-inspired piano solo, alternating with a Renaissance-like zither melodic line: then comes Darby, together with the piano, string synth, bass and drums (once again, guest Buzzi makes an appearance), delivering the most moving passage in the album. This same structure is reiterated, until a Cabaret-piano motif accompanies Darby's dramatic laughter. This piece is inscrutable, yet it manages to move the listener's heart in a way that they can't fully understand. Finally, 'Mein Armer Italiener' closes down the album with a successive combination of parody military march, psychedelic rock, pastoral stuff, slogan chanting - all comprised in an ambience of radical dadaist humour that may somehow remind us of Zappa's most theatrical pieces. An excellent but not recommendable prog recording due to its massively cryptic nature: anyway, "Gudrun" deserves to be regarded as a classic of the most experimental side of 70s progressive rock." - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • After spending some time battling (and winning) a life threatening disease, Andy Latimer has reactivated Camel.  The reassembled lineup consists of Andy Latimer (guitar, flute, keys), Colin Bass (bass), Guy LeBlanc (keyboards), and Denis Clement (drums).  Latimer recently took the band on a short European tour (it will be ongoing in 2014).  I'm not sure of the motivation to re-record The Snow Goose.  Perhaps it was so he had new merch to sell on the tour.  I honestly don't know but here it is.For the most part this new version is quite faithful to the original.  There are some new bits and pieces that integrate well and won't give you pause.  Of course each of the musicians add their own signature to the production.Good to see him back up and running full blast.
    $16.00
  • Third solo album from drummer/percussion/keyboardist Vic Stevens. For this iteration of his band Mistaken Identities, Vic has assembled a very potent lineup. Michael Manring is handling bass on the album - except on one track where Percy Jones fills in. Keyboardist Demetrious Pappas maybe familar from his work on Scott McGill's Ripe album. Guitarist Alex Domshot and tenor/soprano sax player Ken Gioffre provide many of the leads, and latin percussionist Hector Rosado appears as well. As you would expect, this is an all instrumental fusion album. It features quite a bit of variation in sounds - it's not just high energy fusion (although that is here) - there are some beautiful atmospheric parts as well like "Which One's Moe", the track with Percy Jones. It's abstract, weird and cool as all hell. This is a disc packed with more chops than a USDA slaughterhouse. Michael Manring fans have to hear this. There has been a drought of great fusion discs - this one fills the bill quite nicely. Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • New reissue of this US prog rarity.  Even the CD reissue from a decade ago is long out of print!  Considered by many to be one of the best examples of US prog."An overlookied US band, formed in early-70's and led by guitarist/keyboardist/sax player Robert Williams aka Roberts Owen (R.I.P.).The original line-up featured also multi-instrumentalist James Larner, keyboardist Mark Knox, drummer Jim Miller, bassist Paul Klotzbier and Jeff McMullen on lead vocals/guitars.Maelstrom had a private press LP out in Canada, recorded in 1973 at Fort Walton Beach in Florida and very rare nowadays, originally released under the title ''On the gulf''.Why this band is so overlooked remains a huge mystery to me, as Maelstrom had one of the most eclectic and intricate sounds back in the days.Every track shows a different amount of influences and musical approaches, always played under a very complicated yet well-structured musicianship, offering a huge and dramatic sound like a cross between ETHOS, CATHEDRAL and YEZDA URFA.There are strong amounts of melodies and acoustic passages in the vein of GENESIS, huge sax-based more improvised sections in the vein of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and SOFT MACHINE, smooth electric parts with delicate vocal harmonies as tribute to CARAVAN, complex interplays as GENTLE GIANT first ever presented and YES-like adventurous symphonic orchestrations with a superb atmosphere.Heavy loads of Mellotron and organ, jazzy-flavored sax atmospheres, dramatic orchestrations with good electric parts, instrumental battles and endless changing climates can be detected constantly, leaving the most demanding proghead satisfied.In 1997 Black Moon Records re-issued the album in CD format under the title ''Maelstrom'' and this work contains a couple of extra tracks recorded live by Maelstrom in 1980 at the ''Three Rivers Festival'' in Indiana with only Owen and Klotzbier from the original line-up along with keyboardist Kent Overholser and Rollin Wood on drums.''Opus one'' has a strong E.L.P. vibe with organs leading the way along with some dramatic synth work in a classic Symphonic Rock track, while the longer ''Genesis to geneva'' is a bit more of a loose instrumental composition again in a Symphonic Rock path but surrounded with some more Avant-Garde/Fusion atmospheres, where synths, organ and electric guitars are on the forefront.A fantastic discovery for all fans of adventurous Classic Prog.Interesting combination of Symphonic Rock, Cantebury Prog and Jazz-Rock, where so much is going on.Definitely among the finest releases of the time in the USA/Canada and highly recommended." - Prog Archives
    $16.00
  • Remastered edition of the second solo album recorded in late 1973. Beautiful fusion album that allows Tolonen to show off his prodigious gifts on acoustic and electric guitar. There is some beautiful interplay between the two reed players and rhythm section. "Impressions Of India" is a stone cold killer. With flute playing in unison with the guitars you can smell the patchouli in the air. Great disc.
    $21.00
  • "Strongly inspired by the likes of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, etc., the Berlin band Walpurgis hit blues rock and West Coast American styles against space music reasonably successfully. On their sole album QUEEN OF SABA, they opened with the aptly titled "Disappointment". But, from thereon, despite a cranky vocalist, it gets better and better, and the guest appearance of J├╝rgen Dollase (of Wallenstein) fills the sound out nicely, later taking the music on to Ash Ra Tempel and Agitation Free realms." - The Crack In The Cosmic Egg
    $15.00
  • Previously unavailable on CD, Hermann Szobel’s “Szobel” was originally released by Arista Records in 1976. Over the years the album has established a worldwide cult following and the mysterious Mr. Szobel has become a bit of an enigma. Szobel was a 17-year virtuoso pianist who arrived from Austria with aspirations to become a star in the world of jazz. He also happened to be the nephew of rock impresario Bill Graham. Originally intended for release on Arista’s Freedom jazz imprint, the decision was made by Clive Davis to release the debut album on Arista proper in order to give it a chance at a broader appeal. An extraordinary band was assembled to record Szobel’s highly complex music: Michael Visceglia on bass, Bob Goldman on drums, Dave Samuels on percussion including marimba and vibraphone, and Vadim Vyadro on tenor sax, clarinet, and flute. Szobel was highly influenced by Martial Solal and Frank Zappa. His compositions are rooted in jazz, rock and Western classical composition. They are extremely complex and the recording sessions were quite laborious. While he gives space to all of the musicians, his phenomenal technique as a pianist is clearly displayed. In the September 6, 1976 issue of Downbeat the review said that Szobel had "a conception and technique far in advance of most musicians twice his age." Upon its release the album did not sell well and Szobel’s behavior became more and more eccentric. In the middle of recording a second (still unreleased) album, rumor has it that he suffered a mental breakdown. He disappeared from the music world forever. Since then rumors have swirled and a mythology has been created. Unconfirmed reports have Mr. Szobel currently living in Austria. “Szobel” has now been mastered for CD release by audiophile engineer Bob Katz. Extensive liner notes by bassist Michael Visceglia unlock some of the mysteries of Hermann Szobel.
    $14.00
  • You might recognize this album...you should.  Like the rest of the Egg catalog, Patrick Vian's sole album was heavily imported into the US by JEM Records.  Back in the day, this album was everywhere.  In fact I still run across copies in the used bins from time to time.  It even made the Nurse With Wound list.  Originally released in 1976, it finally has found an audience and has been reissued by Staubgold.  Patrick Vian is the son of French jazz musician Boris Vian.  He was also a member of the underground rock band Red Noise, who made one album that is quite well known among prog and psych collectors.  Bruits Et Temps Analogues is actually quite an interesting album that has probably been taken for granted over the years.  Vian has assembled a high caliber instrumental quartet that includes noted percussionist Mino Cinelu.  Vian plays a variety of analog synths  - Moogs and ARPs.  George Granier is the second keyboardist and Ame Son's Bernard Lavialle plays guitar.  The music is flat out prog rock.  Vian's use of synths has a bit of a spacey quality but not in a textural way - he's playing laser-like leads while the band plays in a bit of a jazz rock style.  The rockier tracks sound a bit like Egg stablemates Ose and Heldon.  So you wind up with this weird amalgam of styles that come across like a mash up of Heldon and Gong.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • No major change of directions here. Roine Stolt and Co. serve up Yes influenced neoprog loaded with plenty of drama and instrumental prowess. If anything the tracks are a tad shorter than the past go round - and I think that's a good thing. For some The Flower Kings represent the future of progressive rock - you decide!
    $15.00
  • The Italian band The Watch are probably the pre-eminent prog band to capture the classic Gabriel-era sound of Genesis.  While the band tours doing covers of Genesis tunes hey write original material that could easily have been lifted from Nursery Cryme.  Tracks From The Alps is their latest.  It includes all original compositions except their reinterpretation of "Going Out To Get You", a track from Genesis' debut album.  If you like "the sound" The Watch will be indispensible.  I consider them a guilty pleasure and have enjoyed all of their releases.  Highly recommended.
    $17.00
  • Hot kosmigroov set from 1975 and my understanding is that its quite a rarity on vinyl.  Its a bit of an unusual lineup for this session: Roland Haynes (keyboard), Kirk Lightsey (keyboard), Henry Franklin (bass), and Carl Burnett (drums).  So you get dual keys - each one playing off another.  You like Fender Rhodes?  Its all over this album.  Lightsey uses a wah-wah pedal with his electric piano to get a distorted - almost guitar like sound.  Fingers are flying everywhere and the rhythm section is locked in and pounding.  This could almost (emphasis on almost) pass for a Alan Gowen - Dave Stewart jam session.  Reminds me a bit of National Health in spots.  
    $17.00
  • "One word to describe Universal Totem Orchestra would be unique. This Italian band, formed in 1998 by Uto G. Golin (drums) and Dauno Buttiglione (bass), who has since left the band, is anything but boring. The Magus is their second album, the first being Rituale Alieno. There is so much going on here, so many layers to peel back, that this music is extremely difficult to describe. For a record based in the Zeuhl genre there are a surprising number of melodic moments that find their way to the surface. Subtle guitar phrasings here, a beautiful piano melody there, well you get the idea. Do not get me wrong though, this is not what I would call easy music to digest. It is another one of those albums that will probably take a little time to fully grasp and appreciate, especially if you are unfamiliar with esoteric progressive music.Musically, the band combines a number of styles under the Zeuhl umbrella, such as jazz, classical, symphonic, opera and metal. Probably the most unique attribute of this band are the vocals performed by Ana Torres Fraile and various male performers. You will hear choirs, operatic (tenor and soprano) and traditional vocals all done very well. There is so much happening instrumentally that the listener really needs to pay attention. This would not be good background music as it is one of those albums that demands your full attention. Odd time signatures and sudden stops and starts allowing for different movements to take place is the norm not the exception. It is clear these musicians know how to play and a tremendous amount of work has gone into this piece of music. After all, there are not many albums just short of 80 minutes long so you know you are getting your money's worth. Sometimes with albums this long, the music gets tiresome and boredom starts to set in prematurely but that is not the case here. I never got the sense they made a long album just for the sake of it. All of the pieces fit the musical puzzle and nothing seems excessive or irrelevant. What makes this even more rewarding are some of the nice melodies provided by piano, guitar and saxophone."De Astrologia" gets things rolling with some electronic sounds before delving into some power chords and chanting vocals and a really cool, although short lived, synth solo. An angular lead guitar solo follows and that is just in the first 4 minutes. We also get to hear rollicking piano, some lovely melodies, a variety of singers, and dynamic tempo changes There is a marching rhythm underlying much of the song allowing us to use our imagination as to what the song is about. There is just a lot happening musically, it really is something that you need to hear for yourself, and I can say that for the entire album.One of the shorter songs on the album, "Les Plantes Magiques", begins with a lovely piano melody and great female vocals. This is the most delicate song on the album although the song does have some passionate moments especially in the vocals and drumming. This one has a lot in common with classical music and how movements are allowed to gradually build up in intensity. Sax provides the melody in "Ato Piradime" with nice playing throughout. Electric piano, sax and the voice of Fraile gradually intertwine creating some wonderfully listenable moments.Universal Totem Orchestra must be commended for making an album of such magnitude and scope. While this will not appeal to everyone, those of you who like to take musical adventures outside of the norm, would do well do give this a shot. I found this to be a fascinating and enjoyable listen. Highly recommended." - Sea of Tranquilty
    $16.00
  • This one came out of left field and hit me like a ton of bricks. Possible Album Of The Year candidate. Trioscapes is an instrumental fusion project conceived by Between The Buried And Me bassist Dan Briggs. He enlisted tenor sax player and flautist Walter Fancourt and drummer/percussionist Matt Lynch to do a cover of Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Celestial Terrestial Commuters" and it turned into a full length project.Briggs is an absolute monster bassist. He does some insane things with his axe, processing it to sound like a guitar at times. Other times he lays down some heavy Hugh Hopper fuzz bass. Fancourt and Lynch are also outstanding. Highly aggressive and propulsive, you won't miss any guitar I assure you. Briggs is a hard core prog rock fan and the other guys must be as well - you can easily hear the Mel Collins-era King Crimson vibe mashing up with Zappa-esque arrangements. Soft Machine and Mahavishnu Orchestra also come to mind. These guys create a big ruckus and its going to kick your ass from beginning to end. Lots of non-metal releases slipping out with the Metal Blade imprint lately. BUY OR DIE!!
    $12.00