OK time to catch up on what I’ve been listening to lately…
Anomalous – Ohmnivalent (2011, Brutal Bands): I get caught up pretty easily in over the top reviews. I was reading about this record somewhere and got all worked up to hear it so I clicked over to their Myspace page and started listening. Holy Crap this record will melt your face! They obviously owe a ton to Meshuggah, but for some reason this holds my attention better than those crazy Swedes. Maybe it’s the quieter passages that allow parts of your face to creep back up where they belong that I like. They even have whole songs like “Mitosis” that offer you a welcome breather from the pummeling chaos.
Obscura – Retribution (2006/2010, Relapse): Another band I read about online and felt the need to investigate further. This is their 2006 album that was remastered last year. They have a new album coming out soon that is one of the most highly anticipated Technical Death Metal albums of the year. Some reviews are already calling it the best record of 2011. Based on what I’ve heard from Retribution and the teaser track up at their Myspace page, I look forward to hearing it. I’m kind o0f surprised that I’m listening to so much of this sub-genre of Metal as it’s not normally my thing. I think it’s the fact that they keep you guessing where they’re headed next. One minute everything is ultra fast and brutal and then an acoustic melody comes out of nowhere. I love the juxtaposition.
Scale The Summit – The Collective (2011, Prosthetic): I really liked their last album Carving Desert Canyons (2009, Prosthetic), but I like this one better. CDC seemed like it was Proggy for the sake of being Proggy…’too many notes’ if you will. The Collective takes its time to develop melodic lines and flows. I always prefer instrumental prog to vocal prog because lets face it, it’s hard to match the histrionics of guitars with a voice and most people tend to overdo it. I believe all these guys are very young too…impressive.
Grails – Deep Politics (2011, Temporary Residence): Their official site calls them the ‘Bob Dylan of instrumental rock’ or ‘Tibetan Crime Jazz.’ That just means none of the typical genre descriptions fit their music so you have to make something up. I’m not sure I can do any better in trying to explain what they do, so you’re better off hearing them for yourself. While you’re at it you should check out all the other cool bands on Temporary Residence. TR is one of those labels you can trust to always release quality work. Send them money.
Alice In Chains – Bilbao 7/9/2010: A great live recording from one of the few bands to not only survive the death of their iconic lead singer, but thrive. William DuVall has done a great job at preserving the sound of Layne Staykey while making the new Alice In Chains songs his own.
Brad Mehldau -Live In Marciac (2011, Nonesuch): A 2CD/DVD live set of solo piano recorded in France from one of the most prominent Jazz Piano voices working today. Brad continues to mesmerize me with his music. I first heard him with Joshua Redman’s group in the early 90s and then latched onto his first few trio records as a leader. He is one of those rare musicians that makes each song his own by getting inside it and romping around like a kid. His live work is especially joyous…one can almost hear the wheels in his head turning as he effortlessly dissects well known melodies (both old and new) into small masterpieces. I love when he seemingly hits on something by accident and you can hear him investigate it sonically. It may be a run of notes or just one key that causes him to pause and play it over and over and over in a way that never gets boring and in fact makes you smile. Then as if someone poked him on the shoulder to remind him that the audience is still there he bounds back into the melody. Brad has about a thousand records out and they’re all worth owning.
Nils Økland – Straum (2000, Rune Grammofon): Nils plays a Norwegian instrument called the Hardanger Fiddle. It is essentially a violin with the regular four strings that are played with a bow and four other strings beneath the fingerboard that resonate in sympathy making a droning type of sound that I instantly fell in love with. I first heard it played by Annbjørg Lien a fellow Norwegian. Straum is hauntingly beautiful which seem to be the two words that apply to almost any album featuring the Hardanger Fiddle, but it’s true. I prefer to hear it solo and this record has some solo tracks as well as a few with guitar and trumpet. There’s also wone track that features a loud pipe organ that is really out of place and quite frankly scared the crap out of me one night while I was listening to it half asleep.
Cyminology – Saburi (2011, ECM): I don’t know much about this band other than it appears to be a German piano trio with some female vocals. It has that quintessential spooky and cold ECM sound that I love. Some of the vocals get a little wonky in that new age kinda way, but it just contributes to the overall atmosphere.
Amplifier – Fractal EP (2011, self released): A couple weeks ago I posted the link for this free EP. Good late night improvised stuff from this UK band who have taken to releasing their own work. Go. Listen. Buy.
Various Artists – Afghanistan et Iran: Musee de l’Homme Collection (1956, Vogue): Field recordings made by J.C. & S. Lubtchansky, for the University of Indiana of all places. I can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s my belief that it is really hard not to like the indigenous music of any region. This is music played from the heart without any pretense. It’s the way all music should be played…everywhere…all the time.