Robert Wyatt – “68”
Chrome Hoof – “Chrome Black Gold”
There are solo performers, duos, and bands, and then there are concepts, bigger than and beyond any particular singer, central instrumentalist, style, or ego. Chrome Hoof is one such concept, an evolving organism whose singular approach spans progressive rock, electronic dance music (especially electro), metal, funk, classical music, and more. Like Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Sun Ra, Magma, Trans-Global Underground, and Afro-Celt Sound System, Chrome Hoof is an ever-developing affair, unpredictable yet with a drive and focus that makes their music (like the aforementioned icons) truly memorable. Moreover, Chrome Hoof serve up their sonic gumbo with a truly theatrical flair evoking the spectacles of Devo, Gong, George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic, Hawkwind, and Sun Ra’s Arkhestra, transporting their audiences on a Trip Into the Beyond. The result is a one-of-a-kind crossover prog, electro-metal, synth-pop, sci-fi, space-disco, psyche-Dalek spectacle. And now, this British ensemble is primed to detonate Chrome Black Gold, its newest slab of genre-explosive rock, on the American label Cuneiform Records. Chrome Black Gold, Chrome Hoof’s 3rd full length album and 1st recording on Cuneiform, finds founding member Leo Smee calling upon some of the UK's most gifted, diverse and prolific musicians. The album lineup includes band members Leo Smee, bass, guitar, and synthesizers; Alex Thomas (Squarepusher, Air, John Cale, Asia, Bolt Thrower), drums; Emmett Elvin (Guapo), keyboards; James Sedwards (Guapo), guitar; Andrew Gustard, guitar; Chloe Herington, bassoon and saxophone; Sarah Anderson, violin and viola; Chan Brown, vocals, and Emma Sullivan, Vocoder, trumpet, vocals, and percussion.
The Claudia Quintet – “September”
Drummer-percussionist and three-time Grammy nominee John Hollenbeck, one of the most distinctive and respected composers in jazz and new music, has created an estimable body of work since the late ’90s with his Claudia Quintet. Following up earlier celebrated albums including What Is The Beautiful?, Royal Toast, FOR, Semi-Formal, and I, Claudia - all on Cuneiform Records -and a self-titleddebut on Blueshift CRI, the Claudia Quintet returns with September, its newest Cuneiform release. In the lineup are two newer players: accordionist Red Wierenga, like Hollenbeck an alum of the Eastman School of Music; and (on four tracks) bassist Chris Tordini, a frequent sub for Claudia’s original bassist Drew Gress. Hugely in-demand as a sideman and an inspired bandleader in his own right, Gress appears on six of the 10 tracks that make up September. Clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Chris Speed and vibraphonist Matt Moran, both Claudia members from the start, play with stirring virtuosity and give Hollenbeck’s writing a sonorous warmth, balancing its more technical and rocking side. Unorthodox textures, fragmented beats and “bright tones filled with folky allusions and plaintive undercurrents” (Siddhartha Mitter, Boston Globe) continue to define the Claudia Quintet’s unclassifiable output.
Miriodor – “Cobra Fakir”
What does nearly three-and-a-half decades of exploration on the leading edge of progressive music and 25 years of creative partnership with one of North America’s longest-lived, most uncompromising indie labels sound like? Well, it sounds precisely like Cobra Fakir, Canadian experimentalists Miriodor’s latest album on Cuneiform Records and the band’s eighth studio effort overall. A cobra fakir is a snake charmer, who uses carefully concocted melodies to put the mighty reptile under a sort of sonic spell. That’s an apt analogy for what will happen to even the hardiest ears upon introduction to Miriodor’s newest eccentric-but-bewitching batch of tunes.
Miriodor is one of the core bands of what’s become known as the RIO (Rock in Opposition) movement, an international agglomeration of artists that started in the late ‘70s with groups like Henry Cow, Samla Mammas Manna, Art Zoyd, and Univers Zero. Its core tenet has remained a commitment to creating challenging music that freely incorporates everything from progressive rock and jazz to avant-garde experimentation and even elements of various folk traditions. Over the years Miriodor has appeared alongside almost all of the RIO stalwarts and their name has long been synonymous with the style.
Pixel – “We Are All Small Pixels”
We Are All Small Pixels - yes, that describes us all in this post-atomic digital age - but some bands pack a big sonic wallop. In the case of Norway’s prodigious indie jazz combo Pixel, the little elements cohere into a singularly arresting sound, combining the improvisational imperative and acoustic instrumentation of a free bop quartet with the impassioned vocals and incisive lyrics of indie rock. Following up on its acclaimed 2012 debut Reminder (Cuneiform), which established the quartet as a bold new voice on the international jazz scene, the young Oslo-based band delivers a stellar second album that makes a mighty big musical statement. Led by double bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Ellen Andrea Wang, the combo further refines its fervently creative vision with We Are All Small Pixels, a genre-smashing manifesto that translates ancient spiritual insight into the digital age.
Tatvamasi – “Parts of the Entirety”
Born out of cataclysm and nurtured in silence and solitude, the music of Tatvamasi reveals hidden depths of the 21st century Polish soul. Inspired by both traditional (Slavic folk music) and avant-garde music (genre-defying NY downtown groups like Curlew), and inflected by jazz, avant and progressive rock, and Delta Blues, Tatvamasi is an extraordinary instrumental ensemble that plays scorching, electric jazz infused with Eastern European rhythms and defined by searing tenor sax riffs, crunching electric guitar, and a loose and sinewy rhythm section tandem of bass and drums. With the quartet’s debut album Parts of The Entirety, released internationally on Cuneiform Records, Tatvamasi opens up new territory, bringing the narrative heft of jazz to the sturdy forms of folk music.
Zevious – “Passing Through the Wall”
Boundaries are meant to be crossed. In recent years, a wave of brainy, ballsy bands has begun to blur the lines between electric jazz, progressive art-rock, punk, and metal. Defiantly original in their approach and sound, Zevious are in the forefront of this movement, and their third album, Passing Through the Wall, is an emphatic, dimension-smashing statement of artistic purpose. Recorded in February 2013 at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York with producer Colin Marston, it’s a red-hot blend of intricate, locked-in three-way interaction and raucous energy that’ll remind you that sometimes you spell “punk” with the letters J-A-Z-Z and vice versa, and have you headbanging and cheering even as you ask yourself, “How the hell did they just do that?” Zevious is a trio - guitarist Mike Eber, drummer Jeff Eber (cousins, not brothers), and bassist Johnny DeBlase. They started out as straight-ahead-ish jazzbos in 2006, but after a couple of years and a self-released CD, they “went electric,” as the old folks say, with DeBlase putting down his upright bass and Mike Eber picking up the Telecaster that gives his tightly knotted lines their sting. The music they wrote shifted from jazz chords and head-nodding swing to tumbling, noisy rock that recalls instrumental-skronk powerhouses like James “Blood” Ulmer, Nels Cline, David Torn, Brandon Seabrook, and more. Released on Cuneiform Records, Passing Through the Wall is a ferocious 48-minute slab of muscular, intelligent instrumental rock that will thrill fans of progressive rock, jazz fusion, electric jazz, art-metal, and punk alike.
Robert Wyatt – “'68”
Some have called this - the complete set of Robert Wyatt's solo recordings made in the US in late 1968 - the ultimate Holy Grail. Half of the material here is not only previously unreleased - it had never been heard, even by the most dedicated collectors of Wyatt rarities. Until reappearing, seemingly out of nowhere, last year, the demo for “Rivmic Melodies”, an extended sequence of song fragments destined to form the first side of the second album by Soft Machine (the band Wyatt had helped form in 1966 as drummer and lead vocalist, and with whom he had recorded an as-yet unreleased debut album in New York the previous spring), was presumed lost forever. As for the shorter song discovered on the same acetate, “Chelsa”, it wasn't even known to exist! This music was conceived by Wyatt while off the road during and after Soft Machine's second tour of the US with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, first in New York City during the summer of 1968, then in the fall of that year while staying at the Experience's rented house in California, where he was granted free access to the TTG recording facility during studio downtime. Wyatt used multitracking, playing piano and organ as well as drumming and singing, and even a little bass - although the bass part of “Slow Walkin' Talk”, a song from his earlier band The Wilde Flowers, is played by none other than Hendrix himself. The bulk of the material - the two long suites - was eventually recorded within the context of Soft Machine, on their second and third albums, although the version of “Moon In June” on Third was largely a solo performance by Wyatt, with fellow Machinists Hugh Hopper and Mike Ratledge only coming in for an extended instrumental workout halfway through the piece, following the pattern set by the original demo. As for “Chelsa”, the music Wyatt wrote to existing lyrics from yet another obscure early song (not, as Wyatt incorrectly recalls in the booklet, by Kevin Ayers, but by yet another founding member of the band, Daevid Allen, the future leader of Gong), would resurface as “Signed Curtain” on the first album by his post-Softs band, Matching Mole.
(USA) / September 29, 2013
I Know You Well Miss Clara – "Chapter One"
simakDialog – "The 6th Story"
I Know You Well Miss Clara is an experimental jazz quartet, formed in the summer of 2010 and hailing from Jogjakarta, Indonesia. With such wide-ranging influences as Soft Machine, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Matching Mole, Focus, Ornette Coleman and many more, the group continues to break new ground as it discovers and defines its musical identity. Dark and foreboding; mysterious, suspenseful and unpredictable: their creations are a breath of fresh air for a genre clamoring desperately for such sincerity. Chapter One is a profound, monumental release: an album boldly (and easily) surpassing most of the genre's recent efforts in terms of ambition and accomplishment. It's songs are full of intrigue, expressed in a vibrant, urgent manner that - while paying homage to a host of stellar, profound influences - never sacrifices sensitivity and reverence of the moment for the sake of showing off chops. The band’s music goes places where few have been fearless- or capable- enough to venture. Their influences are unmistakeable, yet the end result is completely and uniquely their own.
The Sixth Story is the exhilarating, full-throttle follow-up to 2009's critically-acclaimed Demi Masa and 2007's Patahan (one of Mr. MoonJune's favorite album on the label), from the Indonesian progressive gamelan-jazz band simakDialog. Raising the benchmark in a genre known for its brilliant artists is no easy feat, but this album is up to the task: each composition is an exquisite master-class rendering of equal parts elegance and intrigue. This is modern progressive jazz at its most original, most far-reaching and most achieving. Referencing the discernible influence of a host of the genre's most innovative voices - from the great Miles Davis, to Return To Forever, to The Zawinul Syndicate, John Abercrombie Quartet, Tribal Tech, and even the late, great Charles Mingus - the band continues to push the musical envelope: leaping boldly into uncharted territories where progressive music has yet dared venture.
Generation Prog Records
(USA) / September 29, 2013
Alessandro Bertoni – “Keystone”
Circle Of Illusion – “Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms”
Alessandro Bertoni – “Keystone”
Blending progressive rock and jazz fusion, former Aphelion keyboardist Alessandro Bertoni assembled a fusion all-star lineup for his solo debut: Brett Garsed, Virgil Donati and Ric Fierabracci - with Derek Sherinian producing! Few have managed to start their solo career in a more impressive way than Alessandro Bertoni: The L.A.-based keyboardist gathered three of the best musicians of the international jazz/rock fusion scene for his debut album “Keystone”: Brett Garsed, guitar (Uncle Moe's Space Ranch, Planet X) Ric Fierabracci, bass (Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Dave Weckl) Virgil Donati, drums (Planet X, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai).
Circle Of Illusion – “Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms”
A progressive rock opera for the 21st Century: Circle Of Illusion debut with an epic concept album featuring 80 minutes of prog rock with a Hollywood widescreen sound. It always takes a lot of ambition to have a try at a concept album. Where other artists first dabble with the musical equivalent to comic strips, Gerald Peter and his band Circle of Illusion start off with what is pratically a musical novel: A filled-to-capacity CD with a continuous story that is further enriched across a 36-page booklet.
Generation Prog Records