Prognosis – reviews roundup – Marbin vs. Dice vs. Clive Nolan vs. Tohpati Bertiga
Last Chapter Of Dreaming
And we’re kicking this progtastic session off with a fine old mix of prog, fusion, some hard rock, and even some jazz. Something that shouldn’t really work, but courtesy of Danny Markovitch (sax/keyboards), Dani Rabin (guitar), Justyn Lawrence (drums), and Jae Gentile (bass), “Last Chapter Of Dreaming” ends up as a really enjoyable record.
Nominally an instrumental fusion outfit, they’ve been opening shows for the likes of Allan Holdsworth and Scott Henderson over the last couple of years, but they take a more eclectic route on this recording, with songs such as ‘Blue Fingers’ and ‘On the Square’ turning the amp up to 11. But it’s not all muscualr riffing, and they can turn their hand to gentle, acoustic numbers like ‘Cafe de Nuit’ with ease. But before you know it, they’re breaking the laws of physics on ‘Redline’, with some insanely complicated performances.
Guitar fiend will adore the work of Dani Rabin as he can seemingly turn his hand to anything, but the rest of the band stick with him to make this a proper group effort, that fusion fans will just love.
Over in Germany, melodic prog rockers Dice have turned in their 99th album. Well, OK, it’s only (only?) their 19th, but there certainly seems to be no let up in the quality, despite having 15 studio and 4 live albums to their name.
It’s business as usual, although they seem to have added harp player Thomas Hanke to their ranks, and it’s certainly an interesting twist as not many prog bands can count a moothie player amongst their number. And it certainly brings an interesting dimension to the 20 minute plus ‘Flowing River Rain’, as he chucks in harmonica solos with abandon. They’ll always be vaguely Floydian, no matter what they do, but that’s a good thing when they keep up their standards like this.
As always, the arrangements are excellent, especially on my favourite, ‘Planet Paradise’, and with some judicious use of flute and saxophone from Jens Lubeck, there isn’t a dull moment to be found.
Jazzhands alert! You see, this CD from Pendragon, Shadowland and Arena keyboard player, Clive Nolan, is “a multidimensional musical project to be developed in numerous stages and forms. The libretto and the original story are both by Clive Nolan. It is a Victorian adventure set in 1842, with a sense of the dark and mysterious.” So it’s more Andre Lloyd Webber than it is Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Four years in the making, it seems that musicals are a labour of love for Clive Nolan, what with his earlier musical “She” having been in a similar vein. And although it’s chock full of top prog talent, such as, deep breath, Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq), Agnieszka Swita (Caamora), Paul Manzi (Oliver Wakeman, Arena), Paul Menel (IQ) and Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq, Strangers On A Train) amongst many, many others, it’s still more West End musical than anything else. So, it was right up my street!
Preceded by a series of fundraising shows, there was a full scale performance in Poland, which was filmed for a DVD release later in the year, and now this double studio CD. The story itself is a “Victorian Steampunk tale of adventure, passion, betrayal and revenge”. Professor Samuel King embarks on a quest to find the three hidden artefacts left behind by alchemist, Thomas Anzeray. Initially he is aided and later betrayed by Lord Jagman, who believes King to be dead. Jagman pursues the artefacts, with no heed for human life or feeling. He tricks some vital information from a helpless girl, Amelia, imprisoned in Newgate for unpaid debts. She finds herself double-crossed and sentenced for public execution, but as she is taken to the scaffold before the baying crowd, she is saved by a daring escape plan from King and his friends, Eva and William. It is now a race against time between King and Jagman to secure the artefacts and perform the long lost ‘Anzeray Resurrection’, which would open the doorway between life and death…
Ooh! That’s got you going hasn’t it. Musically, it is melodic prog mixed with musical theatre, and it really works well. If you’re not used to the structure of musicals or prog rock operas, it may take some getting used to, but when something is this ambitious, well thought out and expertly performed, you just have to give it a round of applause.
Finally, we’re off to Jakarta, Indonesia, to meet up with guitarist Tohpati Ario Hutomo, whose jazz fusion trio, alongside Indro Hardjodikoro (bass) and Adityo Wibowo (drums) are more than making a name for themselves.
Hutomo is an insanely talented guitarist, who mixes up straight jazz fusion with heavy rock and some of his own musical culture to make an incendiary fusion, which nods back to the likes of Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth and Robert Fripp, but looks forward to a futuristic power trio. There are some amazing guitar solos on offer, and although he sometimes strays a bit too far away from the melody for my liking, it’s always an interesting journey.
The CD was recorded live in the studio, and although some may not take to the occasional strays from the discipline, I found it actually brought across a human aspect to the musicians, which helped relate more to the inhumane sounds they were generating. If you’re looking for one song to ease yourself into their sound, then try out the copyright infringing ‘Rock Camp’ first.
Alchemy video below;