Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jeff Platz, Low Light Filter, with Dmitry Ishenko, Dalius Naujokaitis

Guitarist Jeff Platz has been doing some great things and I have covered a few on these pages. He is back with another fine one, Low Light Filter (Glitch Records 005), a trio date with Dmitry Ishenko on acoustic bass and Dalius Naujokaitis on drums.

It is a nicely moody, quiet yet intensely focused date. The trio can tumble freely or drive subtly, with the emphasis on creating open line interactions that can be bluesy or chromatic but always worth hearing. The quality of the three-in-one is high, yet the focus much of the time is Jeff's winding improvisations and Dmitry's seconding of the line counterpoints in effective artistic spontaneity.

It's an album I find myself welcoming as I listen further. It is an absorbing showcase for the three exploring their own personal paths to jazz advancement.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Stick Men, Prog Noir

Stick Men is probably the most important avant prog unit operating today. No wonder. It has an all-star lineup of two of the foremost "stick men," that is, players of the "stick" or touch guitars and one of the very finest of prog rock drummers. Namely we have Tony Levin on stick and vocals, Markus Reuter on U8 and AU8 Touch Guitars and voice, and Pat Mastelloto on all manner of drums and percussion.

Their recent album Prog Noir (SMN1611) gives us an excellent opportunity to hear the band in full stride, with complex and startling instrumental togetherness, compositions-songs of a very high caliber, and a vocal-instrumental iconoclasm that goes past Crimson heights to a new feeling of being AHEAD.

It's a monument in the new prog developments and a solid gasser to hear.

Do not miss this!

Oh, and MoonJune Records, which is closely associated with this band and recording, has put together Fool of Music, a major 2.5 hour anthology of Markus Reuter music over the years. It's a free download. Go to to get it. Very cool stuff!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Eraldo Bernocchi, Prakash Sontaake, Invisible Strings

There are a number of ways, of course, that musical duos can flourish. One good way is through contrast. That is how the album Invisible Strings (Rarenoise RNR 069/RNRLP069) becomes a thing set apart. Eraldo Bernocchi appears here on baritone and regular six-string electric guitars plus electronics. Prakash Sontakke complements him on electric lap steel guitars.

The contrast comes out of Prakash's special neo-Indian brilliance on the lap steel versus Eraldo's spacy solo and ensemble orchestral guitars-electronics.

There is an ambiance to this music that puts it in a cosmic zone. The guitar work in such a setting has a neo-psychedelic spin to it that has much appeal. Prakash turns in some very beautiful work here; Eraldo finds just the right things to play in response.

The music has a magic to it that grows with every listen. Its cavernous beauty may well appeal to a wide audience, yet it does so with an integrity and artistry that will also please the most exacting of ears.

This is something to put on and drift with. Let it take you beyond where you are!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bobby Previte, Mass

One cannot help but reflect while listening to drummer-composer Bobby Previte's Mass (Rare Noise 072) how far we have come from the Electric Prunes' setting of the Mass, composed and recorded at the beginning of an incipient flourishing of rock as art in the later '60s. It was at the time a sort of cutting-edge proclamation that rock was worthy of serious attention as a musical form. Those who were not alive at the time or otherwise did not explore the art rock camp may have no idea of all this. But regardless the Bobby Previte work recorded on Rare Noise is miles beyond those early beginnings.

At the basis for this Mass is Dufay's "Missa Sancti Jacobi," an acapella choral work from the Renaissance. It is sung nicely here by The Rose Ensemble. Overtop, in between and around that is a heavy metal-avant-psychedelic score performed  by Previte and a formidable cast of modern electricians that include Jamie Saft, Marco Benevento, Reed Mathis, Stephen O'Malley, and others on electric guitars, keys, bass, etc.

Amazing to hear is the contrast of power chording and the counterpoint of the Dufay, both working against each other in myriad ways to forge something wholly other.

Previte's drumming is as advanced in the "heavy" zone as you'll hear. But the full totality of advanced psychedelics, post-Messianesque organ musings and Renaissance choir, the sheer viscerality of torqued guitars against clear and fresh choir is really rather superb in its shocking together-in-apart profundity. Perhaps without Charles Ives and his first disparately contrasting collages of musical elements we might have never come to this. But here we are.

This is incredibly beautiful metal. It is a landmark! I wonder what the Electric Prunes might think of it? I think they would approve.

Highest reccomendations for this!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kevin Kastning, Sandor Szabo, Perspectives

A lively world of extraordinary ambiance awaits you on the duo guitar album by Kevin Kastning and Sandor Szabo, Perspectives (greydisc 3531). Kastning has been enchanting us with his multi-string guitar music (see index to this blog for reviews) and he returns for a series of exploratory duos with multi-string guitarist Sandor Szabo. Perspectives (greydisc 3531) gives us nine structured improvisations that show off well the extraordinary capabilities of the two guitarists and their instruments.

Szabo holds forth on a 16-string classical guitar and a 16-string contraguitar; Kastning makes use of his 36-string double contraguitar, his 30 string contra-alto guitar and a 15-string extended classical guitar. The euphonious results are nothing less than extraordinary.

The vast capabilities of these guitars in the hands of Kastning and Szabo are beautiful to hear. Breathtakingly full harmonics, double-stranded notes, nylon versus steel stringed sonances, a full range of tones from bass to high notes, and the amazing possibilities available to the two are out front and potently present.

And the choice of notes, advanced and complex melodically and/or harmonically, makes for a modern music of deep profundity. Likely you have never heard anything quite like this, unless on a previous album by Kastning. The combination of two multi-stringed guitars and the talents of the two are unprecedented nonetheless.

Anyone who plays or even just appreciates acoustic guitar music will find this album exceedingly fascinating, beautiful and rewarding. This is tour de force music for super-guitars, played by two super-guitarists!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Morphine, Journey of Dreams, A Film By Mark Shuman, DVD

The band Morphine was that most rare of synergies, an outlandish combination of two-string slide bass, great vocals, baritone sax and drums and the musical genius of Mark Sandman to make it all work. Their brilliant, all-too-short existence is artfully and comprehensively documented on the Mark Shuman film and now DVD Morphine: Journey of Dreams (MVD Visual 93200) from the almost accidental beginnings to widespread critical and audience acclaim and the ever-difficult demands to obtain mass success that alternative bands were pressured into in the wake of the surprise mainstream presence of Nirvana.

Very good live footage of the band in action is sprinkled into the insightful narrative brought forward by surviving band members, close friends, family, music business partners and appreciative fellow musicians like Joe Strummer (of Clash) and Henry Rollins. 

The tragic death of Sandman and its aftermath is covered movingly. 40 minutes of additional interview footage adds depth to this DVD edition.

It is one of the smartest and well-paced rockumentaries I have ever seen. And as a fan of Morphine it gives me the full story for the first time. I recommend it to all similar fans and anyone interested in the rise of the alt scene.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Richard Pinhas, Tatsuya Yoshida, Matsami Akita, Merzbow, Process and Reality

I've found out thanks to my blogging that what guitarist Richard Pinhas does gets my attention and keeps it. Here today is a new one with Tatsuya Yoshida and Matsami Akita, a.k.a. Merzbow, Process and Reality (Cuneiform Rune 432). It's a noise art summit meeting, certainly, and an especially good one. Continuity and flow are crucial--there is a constant complex white noise and drone carpet from which sounds emerge--some great Pinhas space guitar, some Merzbow oscillating noise, some insistent Yoshida drum tatoos. This could go on forever and I would be happy if it did--not however my neighbors or my partner. The press sheet (thanks, Joyce!) says it is a "serenade for a society on the verge of collapse." A few years ago that might have made me laugh, but right now I am not so sure! Industrial collapse? Hell, probably.

And with all that doom is a sound mass that, swear to you, puts you in a kind of alternate reality if you listen closely. Paradoxically that's what modern, avant art has often been about, advancing a new consciousness within the Trojan horse of ultra-hive-insanity commerce.

Richard and some or all (or none) of them are touring Japan right now. But if you aren't over there just grab this dystopian masterwork!