Reviews roundup ~ Flying Circus ~ Glass Alice ~ Faro ~ The Livesays ~ The Fellowship Of Hallucinatory Voyagers
I like Flying Circus. The German prog band that is, not the dreadful public schoolboy skit stuff. Their “1968” album was a real highlight and they’re back with a new one. Sort of.
See, this release is sort of a best of containing 15 songs going back to their debut in 1997. I say sort of because 7 of the songs have been re-recorded. Those were the ones that predate 2011. Then there are remixes of songs post 2011. Then there are the two tracks of “1968” which remain unaltered. And then there is a brand new song called ‘Dystopia’.
Thing is, for folks outside Germany, Flying Circus were a well kept secret up until recently, so this will come as a treat to people drawn in by their last release. And, of course, it sounds current rather than just a hodge podge of tunes thrown together from their back catalogue. My favourites actually open and close the record with ‘The World Is Mine’ slowly unfolding its majesty while the closing ‘The Jewel City’ shows that they were writing great songs as far back as their debut.
The arrangements are splendid so a special round of applause for keyboard player Rudiger Blomer who also plays the fiddle and even adds some oud to a couple of tunes. He also did the mixing and remixing. Good job, fella. To people knew to Flying Circus this will be a very welcome release and even fans of old will find a lot pleasure within.
Super Delicious Records
When is a debut album not debut album. When it’s a six track mini album fleshed out with a couple of demos. And so it is with Ohio based post grunge band Glass Alice. Actually, I say post grunge but if you’d heard this record back in 1994 you’d have thought “hello, here’s another band who want to be Nirvana”. To complete that authenticity they’ve even got a fella who produced Incubus and Hoobastank in to produce it. That’s dedication to your sound.
And it really is one for Nirvana fans, especially the guitars. Songwise, ‘Gravity’ is right on the money with a decent melody and all the loud quiet loud passages you may remember from back in the day. Mind you, I keep on forgetting how long ago that was as the folk who bought those records will all be in their mid forties know with kids of their own. Or if they’re from Glasgow, grandkids. So it might actually sound quite fresh to the kiddywinks.
The band are solid throughout and I quite like the gritty vocals of Mike Hermensky. I was struggling to remind myself which band a couple of the songs really, really reminded me of. It took some dying as the drink is doing a fine job of polishing my few remaining brain cells off but then it clicked. Art of Dying. Anyone remember them? I saw them supporting somebody about 15 years back. Anyway, if you like them, you’ll like this. They should have stopped after ‘Sickened’ which seems to be their attempt to write something a bit radio friendly as the demos don’t add anything. But as a mini-album it does a good job of introducing their sound.
A new Italian prog rock trio (to me) but they can trace their roots back to the mid nineties in an assortment of projects.
This is actually the second album from Faro although the debut dates back to 2011. They’ve also lost one of the main members in the run up to this so that lag is understandable. So what are you getting? Well it’s modern prog with a few tinges of metal around the outside. So fans of A Perfect Circle wouldn’t feel out of place here.
The music tends to be quite dense so even though it’s not out and out prog metal by any stretch of the imagination there is still a heaviness to it. Think later period Katatonia and you wouldn’t be a million miles away.
The vocals are really good and there is a lot of layering going on which adds even more intensity to the music that’s already going on. The songs themselves do have an underlying melody to them although don’t come here looking for a chorus. That’s not how they roll. The atmospherics are really good with ‘December’ probably the best example of what they do. With one exception (‘Down’) they don’t stretch out to much with the songs all kicking in under the 5 minute mark. To be honest, though, the one thing that holds me back from raving about this is the lack of a killer song.
There is a similarity to a lot of the songs and I kept hoping that one of them was going to break out and overwhelm me. That didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong though. I still really enjoyed this, especially as they don’t go for the overblown. It’s certainly one that fans of modern prog will go for.
The Rhythm of Love and Dysfunction
American pop / rock anyone? Well if you like that strain with a dose of roots then The Livesays might be for you. This is their fourth album in 10 years with bandleader Billy Livesay spending twelve years performing with Bruce Springsteen sax fella Clarence Clemons in Temple of Soul.
Knowing that and when you give this a spin and you won’t be surprised to learn that they also moonlight with a “Tribute to Asbury Park” show. Because a lot of the sound shares more than a few notes with Bruce Springsteen and his ilk. But the good Springsteen. You know, late seventies / early eighties. Try ‘There’s Something Coming Now’ for a taste of that. Of course, it helps that the band are all seasoned professionals who know their way around a song and their instruments. They can even carry off a Little Steven type swagger on a tune like ‘Let It Flow’.
i’m not sure that chucking on a couple of cover versions was the best idea though. I was quite enjoying this until ‘Woodstock’ arrived. And then I thought to myself “what a great song that is”. So it was hard to get back into their vibe. But I was managing and then ‘The Heart of the Matter’ arrived. And then I thought to myself “I’d forgotten what a great song that is”.
So it might have been better to stick to the originals which whilst definitely above workmanlike don’t quite match those. But if you like the idea of driving with the top down while some rootsy, heartland, pop rock is pumping out, then give this a go.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF HALLUCINATORY VOYAGERS
The Imaginary Gallery
The assorted members of Sendelica have kept themselves busy while we’re all imprisoned with an array of releases under an assortment of names in various permutations.
This one is a collaboration between Pete Bingham and painter Rhiannon Jones who exchanged music and art with each using the work to spark more paintings and sounds. It’s certainly an interesting idea and one that is well realised as you will see when you get your hands on the physical release which comes with a booklet of the paintings.
Musically, it’s very mellow, mainly comprising guitar and synths so when a drum arrives on Side 2 it comes as a helluva shock. It’s not all serenity though as some of the tunes have a darker side to them. So for every ‘Dancing With Waves’ which suits the wee island dweller in me fine, there is an ‘Excalibur’ which actually feels quite scary.
As befits a member of Sendelica it’s still psychy and spacy but with some post rock drone allied to moments of gentleness. You can’t listen to ‘The Moon and the Mermaid’ without feeling a few seconds peace. Fans of ambient sounds will find a lot to enjoy here but it neer tips over into the world of the dull. Very enjoyable.
No video so here’s some Sendelica
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton