Reviews roundup – Deep Energy Orchestra ~ Parasol Caravan ~ Vlad In Tears ~ Wattz n Ohmage ~ Alfred Rock Hernandez ~ Markus Reuter
DEEP ENERGY ORCHESTRA
World jazz prog fusion, anyone?
Well that’s what seems to be going on here with the second album from Deep Energy Orchestra. Not a complete surprise when you read the small print and see that the contributors include Trey Gunn (King Crimson, The Security Project), Fareed Haque (Zawinul Syndicate, Billy Cobham) and V. Selvaganesh (Shakti with John McLaughlin) among many others.
The mainman of DEO is Jason Everett aka Mister E who came within three letters of being on the end of a lawsuit from Mr H (aka me) but I’ll let him off as this is an interesting and entertaining release. He’s got a background in fusion although following on from the DEP debut, “Playing With Fire” he was commissioned by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra to score his music as well as pieces from Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, and Paco de Lucia and one of the pieces from that concert series is included on The Return. So you can add some classical elements into the aforementioned world jazz prog fusion mix.
The best of it all is the opening suite, the four part ‘Moksha’, which unfolds over 17 minutes and incorporates as many elements as humanly possible into a melodic yet challenging set. It’s a diverse delight which should be heard way beyond the world of fusion fans.
Now this is a good one. Classic hard rock from Austria but with a few doom and stoner influences thrown in. My kind of band.
This is their second release, four years on from debut “Para Solem” and it’s a good one. They know how to pull off the whole light / shade thing and when they kick into the stratosphere from a subdued breakdown it’s a delight.
Oddly, the vocals make me think of post grunge but they really work with the music which takes in 70s fuzz, 80s metal and a whole lot more as they storm through a tremendous set of addictive tunes. They can kick out the jams with ease, as on ‘Reason’, but then they’ll throw in what sounds like a vocoder solo played on a fuzz pedal* and your head explodes. They even throw in a groovy, psychedelic instrumental. Just because they can. *turns out it’s a talk box.
They’ve been around for over 10 years and supported the likes of Truckfighters which makes me slightly annoyed that they still reside in the who they file as sonically and songwise theirs is a magnificent sound. It’s a proper album as well. Eight songs, thirty five minutes. As God intended it. Stoner fans will love this but there is a lot for the wider world of rawk to enjoy as well.
VLAD IN TEARS
Dead Stories of Forsaken Lovers
Time for some vintage goth rock meets metal, courtesy of the 8th album from Berlin’s Vlad In Tears.
Of course it wasn’t that vintage when they started out. Heck, HIM were still having Top 10 singles back in those days. But music of this ilk is rarer than a hens tooth these days so when it does arrive, it’s just as well to sit back and enjoy it.
And it is very enjoyable. They do the whole gothy noir thing, they throw in some Depeche Mode mid-nineties electronics and you’re never too far away from a poppy melody. In fact, were this 15 years ago they could have been having crossover hits as well. Certainly songs like ‘Born Again’ and ‘Sleep Lover Sleep’ would have kept many a late night clubber just as happy as a daytime radio programmer.
Of course nowadays there is more of a selective audience for this sort of thing but they will be very happy wee miserablists with this to keep them company. You also get an additional seven tracks featuring six dips into their back catalogue and a cover of Alice In Chains ‘Man In The Box’ all done acoustic style. So plenty of melancholy for your delectation in this most melancholic of times.
WATTZ N OHMAGE
The World Turning
Messrs Wattz and Ohmage have been playing in bands in Colorado for 30 years and this record sees them turning back the hands of time with a set of (generally) pastoral prog.
Edgy at times but generally what you’re getting is some Gilmour era Pink Floyd with a hint of Caravan around the edges. And that’s a nice place to be.
They’re multi-instrumentalists so they’ve taken care of all the business on this record of all original material. Lyrically they’re just as likely to be singing about politics as they are peace and love while musically things stay generally mellow. Although they do get a bit Steely Dan jazzy in places and borderline discordant on tunes like ‘Just A Man’.
The vocals are warm and unobtrusive and it’s the kind of record I like to take into the attic with me of a night and play to the stars. Recommended.
ALFRED ROCK HERNANDEZ
It’s taken a while for this to get a release having been recorded over 4 years ago, a couple of years after his 2014 debut.
He’s actually been a working musician for nearly 20 years and as such, his music looks back to the glory days of 80s hard rock with a few nods into the alt rock world of the 90s. He’s actually played with an array of Mexican rock bands who over the years have opened for the likes of Doro Pesch so he knows his way round the rock.
Musically, it’s very rooted to those days with a lot of melodic hard rock that you would have heard from the likes of Bonfire and Scorpions back in the day. Which is nice. The songs are generally solid and he has a strong voice which you can hear best on songs such as ‘Tears In Your Eyes’ and the legally obligatory power ballad ‘Eternos al Fin’.
The production is good for an indie release, as you would expect from someone who produces for others as well as his own. It’s not spectacular but it’s an enjoyable melodic hard rock release.
Blimey! The 100th release from MoonJune records. So a big round of applause is due to Leonardo Pavkovic, the man behind the label.
And he doesn’t release rubbish so this latest from Markus Reuter is no exception. If you know the name Markus Reuter it’s probably from the work he’s done with the likes of Stick Men and The Crimson ProjeKct so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn that when he wears his solo hat, it’s off to the world of adventurous prog tinged fusion.
So while he sets about doing ridiculous things to his guitar, the bass and drums are left up to Fabio Trentini and Asaf Sirkis, both masters of their game. So when it comes to musicianship you’re not getting to get much better than this powerful trio. The skills are incredible if at times jarring. Take a listen to ‘Bogeyman’ and tell me I’m wrong. But then he can switch it up and take you to a place of beauty in the guise of ‘Be Still My Brazen Heart’. At times the band seem to be doing their best to play three different songs at once but somehow it all comes together in a place of synergy.
As someone who always tries to listen to the bass on any record I’d be hard pushed to hear anything better than the work of Trentini but the trio work together incredibly well and if you like your aural sensations to be challenged then this for you.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton