II

II

BY Aranis

(Customer Reviews)
$14.00
SKU: 5400711003539
Label:
Home Records
Category:
Avant Garde/RIO
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Second album from this  eclectic chamber rock ensemble from Belgium.  Right up the alley of any fan of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd.  Dark stuff.

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  • ""Two years after Iridule, finally the italian band Yugen comes back with its first live album. The cd captures the show at RIO Fest 2011, in Carmaux, France, and presents the group in an extraordinary seven-member line-up.As Sid Smith writes in the liner notes, Mirrors is "a dizzying cavalcade of turn-on-a-dime rhythms, intriguing harmonies and striking, anthemic melodies that have a habit of drilling down deep into the consciousness of the listener"."Yugen represents an exciting forward-looking trend in European music", Smith underlines, "marrying both intellect and emotion in one seamless and coherent partnership. How successful they are in this endeavour you can judge for yourself by playing this remarkable and frequently thrilling live souvenir.""
    $18.00
  • "From Guapo’s origins as an artsy noise-rock duo in the 90s to their current standing as a quartet, founder and drummer Dave Smith has steered clear of cliché and compromise. Albums such as Five Suns (2004), Black Oni (2005) and Elixirs (2008) chronicled the trio incarnation of Guapo’s attempts to define and expand a musical vocabulary rooted in a stripped-back, somewhat aesthetic RIO-style chamber ensemble.Yet as striking as these albums were, in hindsight they were but a preamble to 2013’s The History Of The Visitation. This marked a significant line-up change that saw Smith and bassist James Sedwards joined by ex-Cardiacs man/future Gongster Kavus Torabi and Chrome Hoof keyboard player Emmett Elvin. It also saw Guapo embrace a more demonstrative, gutsy rock aesthetic.That boldness continues on Obscure Knowledge, a single, continuous, 43-minute suite. The band’s take-no-prisoners attitude is obvious from the word go. The album opens with a four-note bass motif ascending through a blizzard of cymbals and fractious, sustained keyboard tones. When soaring guitar and circuitous MC Escher-esque organ riffing erupts and takes flight, there are moments where we get the answer to that burning question: what would Mahavishnu Orchestra and Van der Graaf Generator have sounded like if they’d ever joined forces? The suite evolved from the band’s weekly rehearsals wherein each section was slowly accrued from a process of trial and error and selective pruning. This isn’t cerebral jazz-rock; more scarily belligerent minimalism.After the initial airburst of establishing themes across a Fender Rhodes morse code tapped out by Elvin, Kavus Torabi strikes one ominous guitar chord more than 60 times in the space of five minutes. Wilful and provocative, it’s like a musical dare to see who is going to blink first. With each of those tolling repetitions there comes a sense of escalating pressure and constriction, an expert raising of the temperature inexorably leading to bursting point.Breaking down and reassembling as each new segment in the piece is introduced, Guapo’s restlessness is only stilled in the midst of some teeth-scraping sonics over halfway through the album. Even here, the fierce drones fluctuating with La Monte Young-style sonic whispers offer little respite.Unflinchingly adventurous and every bit as brilliant as its predecessor, Obscure Knowledge not only consolidates Guapo’s progress but sets the benchmark by which others can be measured." - Prog
    $15.00
  • "The discerning prog listener has been known to embrace music that may not initial appear to fall wholly within the boundaries of the genre. Therefore I would like to offer Aranis' Songs From Mirage as a contender for your attention.This is the third release from the band following up Aranis (2005) and Aranis II (2007).The core of the group of this Belgian group are Liesbeth Lambrecht (violin), Marjolein Cools (accordion), Stijn Denys (guitar), Jana Arns (transverse flute), Joris Vanvinckenroye (contrabass & composition). As Aranis undertake a number of different projects they then enlist the services of other musicians depending upon their requirements at that time. For Songs From Mirage these are: Els Van Laethem (vocals), Herlinde Ghekiere (vocals), Anne Marie Honggokoesoemo (vocals), Linde De Groof (violin), Axelle Kennes (piano)...Along with my opening remarks, a glance at the band members and their respective instrumentation you will already have an indication that this is not going to be standard prog fayre. Aranis perform often complex instrumental pieces along with more accessible multi-part vocal arrangements. Sometimes as separate tracks and others within the same piece of music. But Songs From Mirage is not just about complexity. We also have delicate and haunting, strident and absorbing, relaxing and draining... Perhaps Aranis' summation of their music may help:"The music is filled with contrasts and opposing themes. It's dark and light at the same time. It's beautiful and nasty, simple and complex. It has a personality of its own and nevertheless you can hear the influences from a multitude of different genres and styles. Never heard before and yet recognisable.It is through the combination of these opposing themes and influences that emerges a contemporary and vibrant sort of music with a very unique character."The opening Ouverture captures much of this character - starting with a menacing bass drone accompanied by angelic vocalisations. Gradually other instruments (initially violin) creep into the music, adding to the tension. The band maintain this grip for a little over two and half minutes. Enter the piano and the mood changes and the air is light and breezy with numerous instruments dancing playfully and held together by the sweet harmonising vocals. Five minutes in and the darker tone returns, although subtly different. Superb stuff. I'm convinced already. Fresia on the other hand is simply beautiful with a captivating vocal line and mainly piano accompaniment.Chamber Rock perhaps speaks for itself - complex, busy and excellent ensemble playing. The brief Reprise and Lullabyalso need little explanation. The latter however is one of the most engaging tunes on the album, with a simple bass line forming the backbone to yet another excellent vocal performance. The "marching" instrumental Airesym follows with light and shade throughout.Elsewhere we have Anyu with its playful flute, whereas Lever In Plakjes moves us straight into the realms of performance theatre. Jelimena is another absolute gem with great melodies and an uplifting spirit. As with many of tracks from Songs From Mirage there's a distinct Eastern European flavour present and Keria is no exception. Out Ama is the bands tour de force encapsulating much of what makes Aranis tick. Enjuminenna is another uplifting track which segues into the equally delightful Ilah. The flavours of English folk music along with the aforementioned Eastern European influences brought the excellent The Secret Language Of Birds album to mind.The grand Finale lives up to its title, but sadly I've run out of superlatives. As with many other tracks from the album, the main themes are recapped and reintroduced thus making it a fitting conclusion to the album.The CD comes in a fitting gatefold package, that is simple and tasteful. The production is also top notch.I've not singled out any individual performances from the album as all the musicians contributions are exemplary throughout. To be honest I couldn't find fault with this release from Aranis at all, just a shame I hadn't heard it last year as it certainly would have ranked in my top ten for 2009.Now I have pondered long and hard as to my final conclusion and deliberated whether a recommendation tag for this release would be appropriate - purely based on the nature of the DPRP site. And it was only at the point that Ian Anderson's The Secret Language Of Birds popped into my mind that the decision became clear. SLOB may not be considered by all as a progressive rock album, but it certainly rocks my boat and is one of my all time favourite albums. Similarly Songs From Mirage presses many of the right buttons for me.So on a personal note I'll say that this a truly fascinating album, a delight to listen to and certainly worthy of your attention.Oh yes - and recommended to all..." - DPRP
    $14.00
  • Francesco Zago's avant baby puts together another amazing collection of experimental/exploratory songs-- their first studio album since 2010's wonderful masterpiece, Iridule. Percussionists and a percussion-mindset seem to rule the day with YUGEN work, and Death by Water is no exception. The ubiquitous JACOPO COSTA (NOT A GOOD SIGN, THE LOOMINGS) and Giuseppe A. OLIVINI practically steal the show--though the wind section, piano of Marcus FASOLI (NICHELODEON, NOT A GOOD SIGN, EMPTY DAYS), and rhythm section of Stefano FERRIAN on 8-strings guitar & Chapman stick, Francesco Zago on electric & acoustic guitars, Alessandro CASSANI on electric bass and Matteo LORITO on double bass are the glue that hold it all together.1. "Cinically Correct" (7:48) This song, from its opening notes, makes me laugh. It is pure Yugen as only Yugen does it. Each musician contributes their individual lines as if to a conversation, a heated debate, a street brawl. Even the 'heavier' stuff that begins at 1:13 serve to move the development of the song along quite nicely. A relatively calm and predictable electric piano based section of about 90 seconds occurs in the third and fourth minutes, but then Dalila KAYROS begins to spit out rapid fire some odd vocal ejaculations (in Japanese?) Wow! That was unexpected! At 5:04 Dalila and Paolo "Ske" BOTTA team up to create a freaky space melody using voice and synthesizer, respectively! Awesome. More! The 'alien' conversation that occurs soon after is so funny--coupled with Dalila's machine gun spray of Japanese-sounding syllables. This is amazing! So creative! I don't know how these guys could/would ever replicate this in concert--it's seems so free form and diverse! They throw every thing at you but the kitchen sink! The final minute or two fall under the sway of the heavier rhythm section while all of the incidentalists throw in their epithets over, under, and in between the flow of the rhythmists. (9/10)2. "Undermurmur" (1:31) is a jazzy excursion in which playful piano, double bass and drum interact before horn hits and synth whizzes are added to the mix. Fun. A song that could be developed further. (9/10)3. "Death by Water" (5:06) is an awesome jazz fusion exhibition--like a PAUL WERTICO-led PAT METHENY GROUP song. I don't which drummer is working this song, Michele Salgarello or Carmelo Miceli, but they do an incredible job with the cymbal play. (10/10)4. "Ten Years After" (1:12) (8/10) is a brief foray into djenty-heavy metal territory that gradually fades into:5. "As It Was" (4:58) one of the two showcase pieces for the always precious Fancesco ZAGO-Elaine Di FALCO collaborations. I do think, however, that Elaine's voice is mixed just a little too loudly into the mix on this song. Her sonorous meanderings are a little too dominant, making it sound as if she is above or separate from the band and music. I'd like to hear this song in which her vocal line is mixed in, embedded within, the beautiful, intricately rendered, musical weave. It's still a great song--with an odd vocal melody that stays with you for days. It just . . . could be better! (9/10)6. "Studio 9" (2:36) is an odd little jazzy piece that sounds like a warmup exercise for a big band lineup from a 1960s jazz combo--or a Broadway pit orchestra warming up at the end of intermission. Fun and funny, loose and impromptu. (9/10)7. "As a Matter of Breath" (9:27) uses the more familiar YUGEN style of experimental jazz "un-forms." Though the drummer keeps a fairly steady rock backbeat for the rest of the instrumental dancers to tip-toe and riff and play over, the song is never what you would call 'danceable' as in social club dancing. These are for professionals! Piano--both grand and toy--have a grand time playing with time and interjection as does synthesizer, while horns play some of the more straightforward riffs--repeatedly. After a choir 'hit' at 5:26, the song takes a turn into a more eerie ambient or soundtrack of the macabre section. At times feeling as if the A Trick of the Tail GENESIS lineup were ready to burst out into the finale of "Los Endos," this song plays out with tremendous pent-up energy, waiting to burst forth, but then, instead, peters out and fades. Weird. But brilliant! (9/10)8. "Drum'n'stick" (2:12) is little drum and Chapman stick duet with all kinds of ghostly spacey sounds parading around in the wings. Really quite cool! (9/10)9. "Der Schnee" (6:05) is the album's real oddity in that vocalist Dalila KAYROS intersperses the music with all kinds of abrasive and aggressive vocalizations much like a combination of BJÖRK, NINA HAGEN and fellow AltrOck stablemate FACTOR BURZACO's lead singer, Carolina RESTUCCIA. The song opens with an eerie space synth weave over which lower register brass play long notes. Dalila begins throwing her voice around in the second minute. The final 90 seconds are quite ambient, even peaceful--in a 2001: A Space Odyssey-kind of way. Interesting--to say the least! (8/10)10. "A House" (1:25) opens with acoustic guitars being picked in folk song style as Elaine Di FALCO sings front and center and ethereal male and female vocalists whisp and willow in the wings. Quite beautiful! This is one I'd love to hear go on for five or six minutes: the vocal arrangements alone are beautiful and interesting in a Josquin des Pres kind of way. (10/10)The most curious thing about Yugen productions, to me, is that they are truly the brain-child of visionary FRANCESCO ZAGO, and Francesco is primarily a guitarist, and yet we rarely get to see/hear the guitar showcased! Is that selflessness or is it more attributable to the reality that Francesco is truly more of a conductor than an instrumentalist? Still, there is no doubt that when Francesco and his Yugen-mates get together to create music, they are fearless. On Death by Water the listener is treated to artistic expression of the highest order: modern in that dissonant, discordant way, yes, but still highly engaging and interesting. I find it mesmerizing.Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music." - ProgArchives
    $16.00
  • "After co-founding Univers Zero in 1974 and co-leading that group through their first two albums, guitarist and composer Roger Trigaux left Univers Zero in May, 1979, right after the completion of Heresie. His new ensemble, Present, was a more electric and a more compact ensemble. The band began rehearsals in 1979 and recorded their first album, Triskaidekaphobie (The Fear Of The Number 13) in January, 1980. The band began performing in the fall of 1980. Since Present only had about 35' of music written for the group, in their earliest days, the band also performed two 'covers' from Univers Zero's repertoire; "Dense" and "Vous Les Saurez En Temps Voulu". Recordings of these two covers, from a performance from 2/28/81 are included here as bonus tracks."
    $15.00
  • "Skewered blasts of noisome, Red metal shatters through rough and tumble landscapes of shuddering percussion, ominous, gravelly basslines and wheezing synths. An all-instrumental bulldozer of an album..." – i/eHappy Family first appeared in the early 1990s as part of the explosion of exciting, underground bands that came roaring out of Japan at that time, such as Ruins, Bondage Fruit, Tipographica and Boredoms.An instrumental quartet of keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, they released two albums of over-the-top, metal, King Crimson & Magma influenced avant-progressive rock for Cuneiform Records in 1995 (Happy Family) & 1997 (Toscco) and then fell silent...until now!Reforming with 3 of the 4 members of the group who appeared on Tossco:Kenichi Morimoto - keyboardsTakahiro Izutani - guitarKeiichi Nagasse - drumsand with new bassist Hidemi Ichikawa, 15 years later, they are back with a fantastic new release, Minimal Gods, and just as heavy and intense as they ever were and they still sound like no one else except Happy Family!
    $15.00
  • "The brain of Aranis is contrabassist Joris Vanvinckenroye (and on then you've got the five girls and her-anus ;o)p))) and outside his writing the huge majority of Aranis material, he also finds time to have his solo project. And when I mean solo project, Basta! I really mean solo: Joris stands alone on that album, alone with his contrabass and nothing else.Hey!!!! Come back!!! Don't run away! It's not boring at all?.As a matter of fact, it's quite fascinating, really. You never thought contrabass could be this fun, really. Well maybe not as fun as Aranis' first two albums, but still quite entertaining, coz it shows how you can exploit the instrument in a dozen of way. Of course there is double tracking and there are overdubs and?. Sometimes you can hear Joàris playing five things on that stand-up bass and it simply is never boring as he goes from almost medieval (with Sonan and the two dronal Folky Tunes) to almost free-jazz (with Delayed) and all the way to the grandiose SRP and Sleeping Dogs tracks and the Flamenco-flavoured Cycles. And the final eponymous Basta tune is probably the album's peak.Well, Joris' album is surprising, not conceited (unlike Jaco) and borderline fascinating and personally I prefer this to a former god of the electric bass. While not essential, this is still much worth the detour." - Prog Archives
    $14.00
  • "Four years after their first, the mighty band of Oakland, led by guitarist / vocalist Wally Scharold, presents its new production, with a renewed line-up that keeps faith with its distinctive style reaching a full maturity in avant-garde rock. The complexity of the melodic lines, broken and involving the whole ensemble (with a substantial role for the wind section), the incessant rhythm characterized by continuous changes of measure, the “dirty” vocals by Scharold alternating to that of saxophonist Jamison Smeltz, make this release a new milestone for lovers of RIO and the avantgarde."
    $18.00
  • "Sometimes you have to wonder… why do Ulver albums still get reviewed on metal blogs? After all, the band themselves haven’t had a shred of “metal” in them for a long time.Still, there’s a connection – and it’s more than just nostalgia or a sense of obligation due to the band’s “seminal” early years.I know quite a lot of metal fans who love the strange, otherworldy music that Ulver make, but don’t really have anything else even vaguely similar in their music collections.I think, ultimately, what draws people in, and what makes them stay with the band through all their digressions and deviations, is the boundless (stubborn, even) sense of artistic integrity they display. From poppy exuberance to dark psychedelia, they are a band who embrace, and revel in, contradiction. Each of their albums is simultaneously daring and difficult, challenging yet compelling, filled with a warmth of emotion yet governed by a calculating intellect.And Messe I.X-VI.X is no different, in that regard.Characteristically for the band, it’s an album of contradictions, eclectic elements woven together in perfect (dis)harmony, part avant-garde electronic expressionism, part organic classical composition.As they themselves say, “Much of this was recorded live, yet it is not a live album. We’ve spent long hours in the studio translating what happened that night”.Again – contradiction. The music here is the result of a pre-planned composition, performed live, then re-translated in the studio. Both dynamic and controlled. Calculated, but with the potential for chaos.Despite its seemingly contradictory nature, the struggling symbiosis between the organic and the electronic, each song on the album – each a movement in the grand ballet of sound and symbolism – has its place and purpose.Unusually (and perhaps once again re-affirming the contradictory nature of the band), it’s almost 25 minutes before we hear the first sound of Kristoffer Rygg’s magnificent singing voice, on the solemn “Son of Man”. Yet that’s not to say the album is an instrumental one. To call it that would be a mistake. It’s threaded through with a multiplicity of voices. It’s just that few of them issue from a human throat.Case in point, the lengthy and sombre orchestration of “As Syrians Pour In, Lebanon Battles With The Ghosts of a Bloody Past” uses its many instruments as voices, melodies rising and falling like phantom choirs of unseen angels. Above a moaning undertow of gloomy synths and soundscapes, the hiss and sigh and soft flutter of strings speaks with a universal tongue, cold foreboding building towards haunting rapture.In contrast “Shri Schneider” is the conscious antithesis of this, a sci-fi soundtrack of psychedelic electronica which pushes the subtle wailing of strings into the background, natural nuance giving way to artificial artistry.“Glamour Box (Ostinati)” brings the two together, first quietly – as the electronic elements twist the strings just so, and the orchestra respond in kind by moulding pulsing electronic rhythms into fluid forms – then louder, ebbing and flowing with a digital heartbeat so that the divide between the organic and the inorganic sounds becomes almost imperceptible.The aforementioned “Son of Man” makes full use of Kristoffer Rygg’s plaintive vocals – albeit only for the barest of minutes –  using them sparingly to set the scene for a Hans Zimmer-esque orchestral offering, cut through with an undercurrent of simmering electronic tension, building into a glorious fountain of emotion, loss and longing, and quiet desperation.“Noche Oscura Del Alma” is an oddity, waves of alien distortion cascading across a tapestry of low, rumbling, augmented strings. Its strange, cybernetic orchestration soon opens up into a piece of oddly disturbing ambience and unsettling atmospherics. Digital thunder crashes and symphonic shadows loom, as strange samples and broken shards of avant-jazz flit in and out of perception. It’s almost nightmarish, yet fits within the dreamscape atmosphere of the album.After this, “Mother of Mercy” is like a balm to the soul, as Kristoffer Rygg’s soulful voice returns once more, wrapped in a soft shroud of weeping strings. Subtle synths slowly make their presence known, introducing unexpected trip-hop beats that flicker and fade almost as quickly as they appear. As the song progresses, this soothing harmony of sound is distorted and disturbed, the translation of live organic sounds into digital expression slowly stripping away its warmth until, finally, entropy conquers…Messe I.X-VI.X truly is an album of contradictions – both modern and medieval, peaceful, yet agitated. It’s an album about love, and about the fear that engenders. Or it’s an album about fear, and the toll it takes on love. I’m not quite sure yet.The band state that “Shadows reverberates – It feels like a companion piece.” And I agree with them. It’s a similarly powerful experience, and one that demands a certain level of patience and openness from the listener to fully appreciate.If the stark minimalism of Wars of the Roses was in many ways a reaction to the languid, organic warmth and life of Shadows, then Messe must surely be its ghost, a haunting shade that follows after, as the night which comes with the setting of the sun. Where our dreams dwell and our fears linger." - No Clean Singing 
    $14.00
  • Second album from this  eclectic chamber rock ensemble from Belgium.  Right up the alley of any fan of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd.  Dark stuff.
    $14.00
  • 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.
    $9.00
  • October Equus are one of the more interesting bands on the so-called "avant-prog" scene.  Their music has a dark energy that often evokes the spirit of Present and King Crimson.  A lot of this is due to the angular stylings of guitarist/leader Angel Ontalva.  The clarinet, sax and keys infuse jazz rock elements.  This is their complete live performance at the R.I.O. Festival 2014.  Apparently this was a controversial performance among the attendees.  Not sure why.  Listening to this I hear a band burning with fire.
    $13.00
  • "Over a nearly 35 year-long career, Miriodor have continuously produced music that is intricate, melodic,challenging and filled with both humor and fire. Their albums are captivating new-music gems filled with great musicians, terrific tunes and a distinctive and personal sound.Miriodor have performed in front of thousands of listeners at major music festivals in North America and Europe.Cobra Fakir is the group's eighth studio album."
    $15.00
  • "Originally recorded in 1983, Present's Le Poison Qui Rend Fou (The Poison That Makes You Insane), the band's second and final album until their rebirth in the mid 90s, is a classic of complex, Rock In Opposition-style electric chamber rock.This reissue of Le Poison Qui Rend Fou includes the original album, newly transferred and remastered by the group's long-time engineer, Udi Koomran, and a 16 page booklet telling the story of the band and this album, with many never-before seen photos. Additionally, there is 25' of QuickTime movies of the group's final concert featuring bassist Christian Genet, from Livry-Gargan, France, 1/23/82, as well as a second disc that features the entire 80' concert from 1/23/82!"
    $21.00