Mini Moogs: Micro Reviews, Part I
Some rather extraordinary physical CDs have arrived at progarchy HQ recently. Here’s a run-down of each, listed in no particular order—except how they’re stacked on my desk.
The top of the stack is from Estonia, Põhja Konn (meaning, in English, “The Dragon (or, strangely, enough “frog”) of the North”). This is pretty amazing prog, though I have no clue what the lyrics or the CD-booklet state. Embarrassingly enough, I thought the language was Finnish at first, only to realize—after some searching—that it’s Estonian. I must admit, I love the art of the packaging—a cross between an Phish’s JUNTA and Big Big Train’s THE UNDERFALL YARD. The music itself is unapologetically 1970s prog—with Squire-like bass, Howe-like guitar, and Banks-like keyboards. That I don’t understand the lyrics actually makes this release even more interesting, as it adds more than an element of mystery to this whole thing. Highly recommended.
Next up, some Irish prog—RISE OF A NEW IDEOLOGY by Zombie Picnic. Once again, I have to note the artwork of the CD. This is, especially compared to Põhja Konn, utterly minimalist. Yet, it’s equally attractive. The CD is designed to look like a vinyl LP, and it works! Sampling lots of talking heads pontificating about the decrepit state of the world, Zombie Picnic offers some stunning atmospheric guitar work, somewhat in the vein of early 70s Pink Floyd, but better. The guitarist is so good, he’s somewhat mind boggling. The drums and bass are equally well done, thus really bringing together some stunning music. But, the band is not content to stay in Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree mode. It jumps into what could only be called “surf music” later on in the album. Much of the engineering and production is pretty raw, but this only adds to the cool atmosphere of the album. Taken together, the album seems to me an X-Files soundtrack for 2018. Highly recommended.
Third in order (again, a completely random order, other than luck!) is Visionoir’s THE WAVING FLAME OF OBLIVION, “conceived, written, preformed, and produced by Alessandro Sicur.” Much to my soul’s contentment, this extravagant guitar and keyboard fest (think Dream Theater on steroids or early-period gothic King Crimson) is based around the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Antonin Artaud, and Dylan Thomas. And, just to keep up the cultural diversity of these releases, this one is from Italy. And, once again, highly recommended.
End, Part I.