Lee Speaks About Music… #97 — Lee Speaks About…

Treason – Gryphon Introduction… With the departure of Graeme Taylor and Malcolm Bennett things may have looked all over for Gryphon. But they was not about to give up just quite yet, and pretty soon they was to recruit 3 new members to the band, they even brought in a lyricist to make things run […]

via Lee Speaks About Music… #97 — Lee Speaks About…

New music: THE ELATION — The Rockin’ Chair

Summer 2018 will live long in the memory of The Elation. The first two singles from their debut EP garnered huge radio support across Ireland and the UK. “Clickbait” was then released in June via Top 6 and went straight into the Irish Indie Charts at #3. A milestone for most artists and labels. The […]

via New music: THE ELATION — The Rockin’ Chair

Soft Machine: Hidden Details

From its formation in the heady days of the 1960s to its final dissolution about 15 years later, Soft Machine rarely stayed in one place for long.  The British band’s journey through technicolor psychedelia, meaty jazz-rock and idiosyncratic jazz fusion (equal parts Mahavishnu Orchestra, Terry Riley and Jimmy Webb) took shape on the fly, in a blur of live gigs and album sessions — along with multiple personnel changes following founding drummer Robert Wyatt’s departure.  At the end, changes came so fast that the final album of the original discography, 1981’s Land of Cockayne, was Soft Machine in name only — effectively the first solo effort by composer/keyboardist Karl Jenkins, foreshadowing his eventual emergence as a classical crossover star (and a knight of the British Empire).

But starting in 2002, the persistence, dedication and improvisational spirit of MoonJune Records impresario Leonardo Pavkovic accomplished the extraordinary — bringing together Soft Machine alumni from across multiple incarnations, first as Soft Works, then in a long-running series of tours and albums as Soft Machine Legacy.  2015 brought about the resumption of the original band name, with the group consisting of 1970s Softs John Etheridge (guitar), Roy Babbington (bass) and John Marshall (drums), joined since 2006 by prolific saxist/flutist/keyboardist Theo Travis.  Hidden Details is their sterling new album, released to coincide with a worldwide 50th anniversary tour.  It’s an impressive addition to the Soft Machine canon; there’s fresh, exploratory depth throughout, coupled with the immediate appeal of fine players enjoying both each other’s company and the exquisite music they’re making.

soft machine band shot

The tracks on Hidden Details span a broad range of genre and style: there’s driving slowburn riff rock (Travis’ title track), thick chunky funk (Etheridge’s “One Glove”), even a sprightly pop groove with a psychedelic lilt (Travis’ “Fourteen Hour Dream,” complete with 1968 title reference).  True to previous Legacy efforts, the band revisits vintage Softs classics, too; Mike Ratledge’s “Out-Bloody-Rageous” from Third features exuberant soloing by Travis, one-man horn section licks from Etheridge and plenty of steam in the engine room courtesy of Babbington and Marshall.  Also present and correct: Ratledge’s “The Man Who Waved at Trains” from Bundles, updating original elements like Babbington’s hypnotic, cyclical bass and Travis’ reimagined take on Ratledge’s electric piano ‘cosmic tinkles’.

Even more exciting than the great tunes is the way the band works together throughout this album; tight but loose, the Softs listen to and play off each other in unexpected, delightful ways.  Travis is equally at ease trading thick piano stabs with snarling Etheridge guitar on “Broken Hill,” saxing it up over a stutterstep Babbington riff during “Ground Lift,” and weaving flute-based loops punctuated by Marshall for the closing duet “Breathe.”  Etheridge runs a gamut of sounds and styles as well, from the lyrical semi-acoustic arpeggios on “Heart Off Guard” and “Drifting White” to the full-on electrified power of “Flight of the Jett” and “Hidden Details” (complemented by Babbington’s nods to Hugh Hopper’s ground-shaking fuzz bass). And when the quartet builds music from silence — joining in one at a time on “Ground Lift” or engaging each other simultaneously on the epic free blow “Life on Bridges” — the results are extraordinary.

So the 2018 incarnation of Soft Machine has nothing to prove; for all with ears to hear, they bring their experience, confidence and musicality to bear on Hidden Details, and the results really are superb.  It’s a winning album, great material for these Softs to bring to North American and British audiences this fall — in the US, for the first time in more than forty years!  Check out the new album on Bandcamp for yourself, and don’t hesitate to catch them live.

— Rick Krueger

 

 

Burning Shed News (August 16, 2018)

 

Anthony Reynolds

Cries And Whispers 1983-1991 (book pre-order)


Cries And Whispers is the long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s A Foreign Place, Anthony Reynolds‘ hugely successful biography of Japan.

Detailing the fascinating musical adventures of Richard Barbieri, Rob Dean, Steve Jansen, Mick Karn and David Sylvian from 1983 to 1991, the book takes in Sylvian’s solo work, The Dolphin Brothers, Dali’s Car, the brilliant but ill-feted reunion release Rain Tree Crow, and more.

This limited deluxe hardback first edition (cloth-bound with a gold and silver foil debos) – designed by Carl Glover – includes many rare photographs, plus contributions from Bill Nelson, Johnny Marr, Bill Bruford, Robbie Aceto, Simon Raymonde, Ivo, Martin Fry, Michael Brook, Tim Bowness, Paul Morley, Thomas Dolby, the late Colin Vearncombe and others.

All copies will come with a postcard signed by the author.

Pre-order for 26th October release. To coincide, the softback version of A Foreign Place will be available at the special price of £13.99 until the release date of Cries And Whispers.

Continue reading “Burning Shed News (August 16, 2018)”

Subtle is Exquisite

Was reading this write-up on death metal – ironic that the genre itself might be in death bed, but it leaves us with over 30 years of music. We can actually spend a lifetime exploring that aesthetic defying trajectory. From Hellhammer’s punk coarseness to Decrepit Birth and Necrophagist like sophistication — seems like death and its variants were always an acquired taste. Just imagine, Morbid Angel and Obituary still play in basement venues and divey bars. Couple of years ago I saw Entombed with just 30 other metal heads at this venue in San Francisco. And these are like The Beatles of death metal!

It’s inaccessible not just because of the harshness. The main barrier is the subtle aesthetics and musicianship, other than over-the-top aggression there are no exaggerated elements. Absolutely no extended passages – structural progressions are in fact measured, convulsive and precise. In other words, very little about death is instantly discernible. The most complex of patterns is comfortably buried beneath a wall of rich chaotic sound. So, in spite of being substantive, intellectually and physically demanding, the uninitiated simply may not have the ear. We can appreciate the textures and the grand symphony only with some ability to abstract away that pulverizing sound. Actually mandates higher levels of cognition – sort of the mark of an ageing and civilized genre.

Image Attribution —–

© pitpony photography /

“Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God” — The Imaginative Conservative

Editor’s Note: Scored for a cappella choir, John Tavener’s “Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God” was composed in 1985 as the second part of a pair of Marian devotions. 347 more words

via “Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God” — The Imaginative Conservative

Best Concert Venues — Drew’s Reviews

The ultimate concert experience not only features a great band along with great sound but the venue plays a part in the overall success and enjoyment of the evening. Sure, professional musicians playing their best can certainly make up for a bad locale but how about that same concert inside a phenomenal place that begs […]

via Best Concert Venues — Drew’s Reviews