Obscure Knowledge

SKU: RUNE404
Label:
Cuneiform Records
Category:
Avant Garde/RIO
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"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

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    $9.00
  • With almost forty minutes of new material, AGUSA delivers a wide array of seamlessly-executed, organic rock on the aptly titled Agusa 2. The band’s tranquil output blends tripped-out psychedelic and progressive rock structures are inspired by more folk than occult influences, instilling visions of nature, the cosmos, and dreamlike passages, meandering into realms of a possibly supernatural or parallel existence. While not a fully instrumental recording, backing vocal mantras only seep in through purposeful cracks in the construction of these immense movements, adding an even more spacious feeling to the overall flow of the album.AGUSA was formed in the springtime of 2013, when Tobias Petterson and Mikael Ödesjö, former members of Kama Loka, recruited Dag Strömqvist and Jonas Berge for their early ‘70s progressive rock project. In the Summer, the outfit ventured out to the countryside where Dag lived, to a place called Agusa — virtually only a loose gathering of homes deep in the forest. Within these secluded surroundings, and the most amazingly sunny, warm Summer day, the new collective had an extensive, extremely inspired jam session which somewhat solidified the direction of their sound, so of course, the name AGUSA was simply perfect for the outfit.In the Autumn of 2014, the band went into the studio to record their first album, Högtid, which was released on vinyl and digital media in early 2014. After a handful of gigs during the Winter, Dag decided to leave AGUSA to travel around India, and following a number of auditions, Tim Wallander, also a member of blues trio Magic Jove, joined the band. In the beginning of 2015, the refreshed lineup went into Studio Möllan once again to record their sophomore full-length, this time having asked a close friend of theirs, Jenny Puertas, to play flute on the recording. The match was so perfect that the band instantly invited her into the band on a full-time basis, expanding their lineup once again. They began performing with this new arrangement weeks later, and have not looked back.CD mastering is courtesy of Bob Katz, done to his usual audiophile standards.
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  • "Soft Machine were one of the greatest UK avant/jazz-rock bands of all time and their work, whether their earliest performances as a psychedelic band, who were contemporaries of, and shared stages with Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, all the way to being one of Europe's best known 'fusion' bands, their work continues to be name-checked by today's hip experimentalists.By mid 1973, Soft Machine had gone through a tremendous amount of personnel turnover and a shifting in their sound over the previous year. The band now consisted of founding member Mike Ratledge (electric piano, synthesizer), Karl Jenkins (electric piano, piano, sax, oboe), Roy Babbington (electric bass) and John Marshall (drums and percussion). Having already collaborated with a guitarist, Gary Boyle (as documented on NDR Jazz Workshop), upon meeting guitarist Allan Holdsworth, then in the early stages of his professional career, in November, the group invited him to join the band, which he did, becoming the first guitarist to join the band in over 5 years!With the addition of a musician of Holdsworth's prowess, Soft Machine decided to take a fresh start and develop material that would feature their virtuosic new addition in a fitting manner. Jenkins and Ratledge composed a whole new repertoire which was road-tested on extensive tours of North America and continental Europe in the first half of 1974 and which would ultimately make up the Bundles album, widely acknowledged as a jazz-fusion classic alongside the best exponents of the genre worldwide.On July 4, 1974, Soft Machine were invited to perform at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, sharing the spotlight with such headliners as Billy Cobham’s Spectrum, Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. This alone was evidence of the band being a dominant presence on the now widely popular jazz-rock scene, which had evolved out of the unique and edgy sound that the band had pioneered a few years before. Switzerland 1974 is this performance, captured just a couple of weeks before the studio sessions for Bundles. The hour-long set is the only available visual document of the Ratledge-Marshall-Jenkins-Babbington-Holdsworth line-up, and it includes live versions of the entire album, most notably the classic “Hazard Profile” suite, augmented with individual showcases for each member as well as a collective improvisation and brief snippets from Six and Seven. As well as retracing Soft Machine’s transformation into one of the leading exponents of jazz-fusion, it provides a rare chance to witness the genesis of Allan Holdsworth’s unique, innovative and unbelievably fluid and dexterous playing, before he went on to universal acclaim with Tony Williams’ New Lifetime, the prog-rock ‘supergroup’ U.K., Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford and ultimately his own electric fusion groups.Caveat: Due to the age of these tapes and how they had been previously mixed, edited, used, and stored, there were multiple visual and audio sources of this show in varying lengths, each with their own flaws. While significant flaws could not be completely eliminated, very special thanks are due to our engineers Doug Moon and Udi Koomran, who worked from these multiple copies in order to make the final result as good as it can possibly be." 
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  • Utterly insane avant garde metal from The Netherlands.  A not so simple guidepost would be to think of Leprous meets Queen meets Mr. Bungle.  That's really just the starting point.  This one will keep you off balance and scratching your head in wonderment.  Brilliant and totally mesmerizing.  BUY OR DIE!!"You probably haven’t heard of Dutch Avante-garde prog metal band Schizoid Lloyd, which is a shame, as their two previously released EPs, Virus in 2009 and Circus in 2010, were incredible slices of metallic weirdness that blended the humorous stylings of Queen, Mr. Bungle and Frank Zappa, as well as a long and diverse list of more subtle influences (their Facebook page’s influences section is extensive and covers everything from Gorguts to Kanye West), resulting in something as unique as it is strange. This past year, the band finished work on their debut album and announced their signing to Finnish label Blood Music.The band’s debut, appropriately titled The Last Note in God’s Magnum Opus, is a monstrous slab of progressive metal that’s not afraid to go some very strange places, and while it can be cacophonous at times, the songwriting is good enough to hold together tunes that wouldn’t work if written and played by less skilled musicians. Songs like “Suicide Penguin” and “Avalanche Riders” careen from riff to riff while the rest of the band rides alongside. It’s all incredibly breathless and odd, but not without subtlety and emotional depth. The most surprising part of this record, in fact, is it’s ability to be catchy and emotional without losing an ounce of technical or compositional depth.That’s not to say that this is an album for casual listening or the uninitiated. The sheer amount of musical “stuff” going on at once can make your head spin if you’re not used to bands like Mr. Bungle or Diablo Swing Orchestra and their propensity for offbeat histrionics. Even so, going in with an open mind and no expectations beyond “Things are going to get weird” should allow almost anyone to appreciate the virtuosity on display. The multiple vocal stylings from three of the musicians are almost akin to Mastodon, if they spent way too much time listening to Queen and doing cocaine. Even at it’s most blisteringly odd, however, the compositions are rock solid and so tightly played it’s enjoyable to listen to even if you can’t get a handle on what’s going on, in much the same way riding a rollercoaster blazed out of your mind is enjoyable.Schizoid Lloyd wear their influences on their sleeves. Queen is evident in the vocal melodies and harmonies, Frank Zappa in the guitar compositions and Mr. Bungle in the song titles and bizarre atmosphere, but the band manages to take all these disparate pieces and craft an album that not only feels cohesive, but is both fun to listen to and possessive of a character all it’s own. These six Dutchmen are certainly no amateurs on their instruments or newcomers to the genre, and they manage to check all the boxes as well as go above and beyond and deliver something that feels fresh in a genre that can often feel burdened by it’s own strangeness and need to stay one step ahead of everything else. The Last Note in God’s Magnum Opus is fantastic, and it would be a shame if this was the last note from this band." - Heavy Blog Is Heavy
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  • Dedicated to Karlheinz Stockhausen so I guess you can figure out which direction this one is headed...
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  • Squonk Opera are an amazing art rock/performance art ensemble based out of Pittsburgh.  The bankd is led by Jackie Dempsey and Steve O'Hearn.  The ensemble has had world wide acclaim over the years and even had major label releases on EMI/Angel.  Hell - Squonk Opera even performed on Broadway in NYC for two months!  You might have even caught them auditioning on America's Got Talent.  The band's music has much in common with progressive rock, a genre the band has been a bit reluctant to associate themselves with since their beginnings.  The band did perform at one of the early ProgDay events and if I recall correctly spent a good part of the weekend disavowing any knowledge of prog.  Well I guess the time has come and Squonk Opera has decided to go with the flow and finally embrace their inner prog.  Pneumatica is their first instrumental album.  I'm sure if they read this they will cringe when I compare some of their music to Lamb-period Genesis.  Obviously there is a visual component missing - a very important component at that.  This tends to give the music a cinematic/soundtrack feel.  Keyboards tend to be used in a textural sense with most of the leads coming on guitar, flute...and bagpipes.  The only complaint is that the album length is very much on the short side and we've priced it accordingly.Sorry Squonk Opera - you made an excellent prog rock album.  Now you have to own the badge.  Highly recommended.
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  • "The Esoteric Antenna label is pleased to announce the release of the new album by internationally acclaimed British saxophone and flute player and composer Theo Travis 'Transgression' his first solo album in eight years, with his band 'Double Talk'. Theo Travis - who has worked with many artists in the Prog, Jazz and Rock worlds such as Gong, Soft Machine Legacy, The Tangent, Bill Nelson, Keith Tippett and with Robert Fripp in Travis & Fripp - has put together a band of progressive jazz stars for the record. Travis is well known for his collaborations with Steven Wilson, appearing on all four of his solo albums as well as recordings with Porcupine Tree and No Man and he has been touring internationally with the Steven Wilson Band from his first solo tour in 2011 up until the current tour. Transgression was recorded in January at Koolworld Studio and Steven Wilson applied his studio skills to the album as he mixed and mastered it in his own studio, just before launching his own 'Hand Cannot Erase' world tour. The album reflects many of Theo's inspirations, being instrumental and powerful bluesy progressive electric jazz with a strong 1970s influence. With influences of King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as late Talk Talk, and ECM artists such as Terje Rypdal and Palle Mikkelborg apparent, TRANSGRESSION is a unique album. The presence of musicians such as Nic France on drums (Steven Wilson's Grace For Drowning album, David Gilmour's Live At The Royal Festival Hall DVD and Kate Bush, Robert Wyatt, Alan Holdsworth, and Working Week), Mike Outram on guitar (Steven Wilson, Herbie Mann, Carleen Anderson, Jacqui Dankworth) and Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ (John Etheridge, Nigel Price, touring member of The Wonder Stuff and Catherine Wheel), ensures that TRANSGRESSION is a milestone in modern Progressive Jazz."
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  • "2 CD ANTHOLOGY BY THE LEGENDARY PROGRESSIVE ROCK GROUP CRESSIDA24 TRACKS REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL TAPES FEATURING EVERY TRACK FROM THE BAND’S TWO ALBUMS RECORDED FOR THE LEGENDARY VERTIGO LABEL BETWEEN 1970 & 1971WITH FIVE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED TRACKS – INCLUDING TWO FROM A 1970 BBC SESSION, TWO UNRELEASED DEMOS AND AN UNRELEASED SINGLE TRACK BOOKLET WITH FULLY RESTORED ARTWORK, RARE PHOTOGRAPHS & ESSAY. Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce a 2CD ANTHOLOGY by the legendary Progressive Rock group CRESSIDA. One of the finest groups to sign to the legendary VERTIGO label in 1969, CRESSIDA’s unique Progressive Rock style earned them a loyal fan base in the early 1970s, with their legend growing over the ensuing decades and their followers growing, with notable aficionados including MICHEAL AKERFELDT of the band OPETH. The roots of Cressida were sown in March 1968, when guitarist John Heyworth answered an advertisement in Melody Maker, and later travelled to London to join The Dominators. With vocalist Angus Cullen he settled down to some serious writing, eventually welcoming bassist Kevin McCarthy and drummer Iain Clark to the fold and now calling themselves Charge. In 1969, shortly after returning from a German tour, the band's organist Lol Coker decided to leave, and moved back to Liverpool to marry his Swiss girlfriend and take over his father's business. He had stayed just long enough to play on the band's first demo, which got them a recording contract with Vertigo Records. Peter Jennings then joined. At this point the band settled on the name Cressida. Their first gigs as Cressida were in Germany, including the Star-Club in Hamburg sharing the bill with Colosseum and East Of Eden, in the Autumn of 1969.The band’s self-titled debut album was recorded at Wessex Studios with Ossie Byrne producing, and was one of the earliest releases on Vertigo. Cressida went through a difficult phase when Heyworth was forced to leave in early 1970. He was replaced by John Culley. The new line-up recorded Cressida's second LP, Asylum, later in 1970 (again with Byrne producing, and with orchestral arrangements by Graeme Hall), but it was released pos-thumously in 1971, the band having broken up in September 1970. Noted jazz flautist Harold McNair guested on the song "Lisa" from the album. Heyworth sadly died in January 2010, but in 2011, three of the four surviving original members of the band, Angus Cullen, Iain Clark, and Kevin McCarthy got together again with Peter Jennings. This anthology has been compiled by the group themselves and is a fine tribute to an inspiring band and has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes, and features a booklet with new essay."
    $21.00
  • "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
  • Its been four years since this British ensemble's debut album.  Been a long time coming but there have been a number of personnel changes in the band.  Founding members Alex Crispin (vox/keys) and bassist Dan Pomlett left the band, while guitarist Nicholas Richards switched over to bass.  While the band went through a state of flux their core sound didn't really change a hell of a lot.  Yeah maybe its pared down a bit but it is still steeped in the sounds of the early 70s.  Mellotron, organ and reeds abound.  Guitar is a bit more dominant but still with that retro Vertigo vibe.  Vocals only appear on one track and they are OK.  Think in terms of an instrumental VDGG in a massive jam session with members of Soft Machine and Eloy.  As if!  I will be hard pressed to come across a better progressive rock album released in 2012.  BUY OR DIE!
    $13.00
  • Beautiful new 2011 digipak edition featuring a fresh remaster courtesy of the band. Essential seminal prog.
    $17.00