Tuesday, 4 April 2017

TPA CD Reviews - March 2017

Moving Structures - Awake

You can read the full TPA Review here

...Moving Structures have created an album of instrumental scenes that bear repeated listens, Awake maintaining the interest through a number of emotional and musically well-structured pieces. I have been listening to this album a lot over the last few months and there is still plenty to explore. There’s intensity, delicate melodies, wall of sound power and creative soundscaping. Highly recommended for lovers of rhythmic instrumentalism with a modern edge.

A Formal Horse - Made In Chelsea EP

You can read the full TPA Review here

... There is plenty of variety within this EP which is spiky and epic all at the same time, and at less than 20-minutes it’s a real hit-and-run deal that doesn’t drag for a second, just making you want to hit ‘Play’ over and over. These guys are overdue for an album, but maybe that’s the secret; 20 or so minutes released at irregular intervals to keep the momentum going is the best way forward. All of their releases to date are worth hearing but this one completely nails it for me and I’m going to have to take steps to catch one of their live shows soon.

TPA CD Reviews: January & February 2017

Dolcetti - Arriver

You can read the full TPA Review here

...Sometimes the prescribed timings thing seem to be a disadvantage, good things cut off a little too quickly rather than coming to a natural conclusion. Having such strict limitations isn’t a major issue on an album which is so punchy and hit-and-run but it seems an odd route for the band to take. The playing is faultless with deft changes of time and unexpected flourishes, it’s all great fun and being gone in well under half an hour is never going to make it feel like it’s dragging.

The excesses often inherent in albums of this sort are largely avoided and as a result this is a guitar and drums technical wig-out for people who don’t really like that kind of thing. Molto Bene!

Pymlico - Meeting Point

You can read the full TPA Review here

...This is a distinctive and focused listen that displays the power of the basic Pymlico unit, and their willingness to utilise other textures as and when required. A highly enjoyable listen, very melodic and taking the music in a number of interesting directions.

Karda Estra - Infernal Spheres

You can read the full TPA Review here

...Infernal Spheres is another fine release from Richard Wileman who continues on the crest of a creative wave. His skill at taking chamber classical, jazz and rock influences and turning them into something new is beyond reproach and he continues to give his audience fascinating and intelligent music of real depth. It certainly makes you think, leading me happily to a nihilistic conclusion that ultimately, however important we think we are, our insignificance is underlined by the complete reliance we have on narrowly defined boundaries ruled by the physical laws of these Infernal Spheres and, like dust, they will soon put paid to everything we value or hold dear.

TPA CD Reviews: November 2016

The Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land

You can read the full TPA Review here

...This is psychedelia as it should be, charming and often dreamy with a well aimed sax giving it a boot now and then. The tone is ethereal with a surreal quality. The most heartening part of all this is that Tim Smith himself was able to play a part in completing On the Dry Land, supervising additional recording and the assembly of the finished album. One can only hope that his rehabilitation may continue and allow him to produce many more aural delights such as this in the future.

Mike Keneally - Scambot 2

You can read the full TPA Review here

...The scale of it all – the playing, the writing, the concept – just bends the brain. There is not one moment of Scambot 2 that appears as expected but it all makes sense when it clicks the gears in your mind to the right setting. If you struggle with this might I suggest some WD-40 and a little leverage as it is more than worth the effort. We are fortunate to have artists as singularly talented and with the vision of Mike Keneally – we are truly not worthy.

Holon - The Time Is Always Now

You can read the full TPA Review here

...This is a simply beautiful release, delicate and acoustic with a folk edge at times but with the dynamic range to rise to epic and full blown electric proportions for maximum effect. Most of the tracks are lengthy and use their time well with plenty of melody and tension in the compelling arrangements. The instrumentation is rich and the quality of the musicianship of a very high standard. Pedersen lets rip with some lovely guitar solos in varying styles and he is clearly a skilled musician and writer, Marsh adding the sprinkles of magic to allow the album to reach its full potential.

There is a melancholic serenity but this is not a miserable album to listen to by any means, more a joyous expression of what can be achieved when true talent is left to its own devices. Anyone with a liking for Scandinavian sounds is sure to find much to enjoy here in an album that comes very highly recommended indeed.

The Fierce & the Dead - If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe: 2016 Remaster

You can read the full TPA Review here

...Overall the album certainly benefits from the remastering and comes out shinier and more detailed than before, resplendent in new packaging with original paintings and drawings by Mark Buckingham. If you missed it the first time or have boarded the TFATD train at subsequent stops then this is a great opportunity to pick up the debut and see where it all started.

Zhaoze - Intoxicatingly Lost

You can read the full TPA Review here

...Soulful, poetic and exhilarating, Intoxicatingly Lost is a fantastically immersive collection with no weak points. It is ethereal yet grounded, a worthy representation of venerable traditions and how they should be allowed to evolve with time. I urge you to give Zhaoze a listen.

TPA CD Reviews: October 2016

Verbal Delirium - The Imprisoned Words of Fear

You can read the full TPA Review here

...There is breadth, scope, diversity and variety in these well executed songs that makes for a particularly engaging listen and this is certainly a release to get behind and be excited about. For all their influences Verbal Delirium are their own men and do their own thing in this sumptuous and compelling work that successfully delivers on the bands potential. Despite being older material this is definitely a move forward from last album From the Small Hours of Weakness and if you liked their previous releases then this one is a must buy. If you haven’t come across Verbal Delirium before just dive in with this one.

Birdeatsbaby - Tanta Furia

You can read the full TPA Review here

...The success of Tanta Furia lies in the fact that the influences are taken and moulded into a whole that is fully representative of the band as they now stand. This is not pastiche but a lovingly detailed and well crafted album of songs that work well as a whole and are jam-packed with noteworthy moments and choruses that burrow into the psyche. It’s a very appealing thing that has a punky bang and crash where needed but is not afraid of displaying its more sophisticated charms.

Overall Tanta Furia is a far more entertaining release than many more overtly prog things that I get to review, and for that I salute them. With songs that generally stick to the 4 to 5 minute limit they have grabbed the fun factor by the scruff and made it dance to their tune, giving it a swift kick in the arse now and then to keep it in line.

Circuline - Counterpoint

You can read the full TPA Review here

...There’s variety in the pace and approach that make Counterpoint a rewarding and entertaining listen.

TPA CD Reviews: September 2016

Homínido – Alados

You can read the full TPA Review here

...You can really get lost amongst the vivid images conjured up by this music. No show-boating, just precision playing with a live feel and all beautifully arranged. This is another winner from Homínido, give it a few spins and it’s sure to get under your skin – pure quality and an absorbing listen unlike anything else you’re likely to hear any time soon. A fantastic piece of work and a credit to all concerned, it is well worth your investment, Alados being another fine album that deserves to be heard far more widely.

Half Past Four – Land of the Blind EP

You can read the full TPA Review here

...As a complete listen Land of the Blind is tricksy but not for the sake of it, the endearing quirkiness steadfastly at the heart but with an easy to get into accessibility and this is what makes it work. As I’ve said before when describing HP4, free spirits playing with poise and precision.

TPA Interview Round up: Aug to Nov 2016

Marjana Semkina - Iamthemorning

You can read the full TPA Interview here

Rodrigo González Mera – Homínido

You can read the full TPA Interview here

Jargon - Verbal Delirium

You can read the full TPA Interview here

TPA A Different Aspect Round Up - Sep 2016 - Jan 2017

September 2016

You can read the full TPA Reviews here

Lion Shepherd - Hiraeth

A project for singer Kamil Haidar and guitarist Mateusz Owczarek, Lion Shepherd’s debut is an album which I have returned to a number of times since the start of the year. It has a wistful and spiritual quality with psychedelic overtones, all coloured with ethnic influences. There is welly where required but it’s used sparingly and the whole is beautifully restrained.

Shadow Factory - Thanksa

In their own words Shadow Factory, a trio from Devon, describe themselves as a “funky groovy jazzy kind of experience”. They’re not wrong, the website going on to say “We aren’t proud and we’ve found that appropriating styles from music we like is both satisfying and stimulating – so don’t be surprised if you hear the influences of cajun, punk, ska, African, Zeppelin or even Val Doonican”. Included here is a re-imagined cover of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side and live they use looping and sampling to build an interesting and varied sound which is successfully captured on Thanksa, an engaging, upbeat and fun listen.

October 2016

You can read the full TPA Reviews here

Adam Ironside - The Sky Painter

Based on Michael John Grist’s short story, The Skypainter is a largely instrumental project recorded almost entirely solo by guitarist Adam Ironside with added narration on two of the tracks to help flesh out the imagery. It’s an expansive work with well structured melodies and textures that starts orchestrally, allowing the listener to gather a feel for the story, before the epic second track sees Adam’s guitar come to the fore. There’s a metallic edge to a lot of the material but it stops short of becoming a shredfest, retaining masses of melody and with variations throughout to keep the listener engaged. Adam can certainly play but deserves extra credit for the skill taken in the composition and arrangements. Not for everyone but well worth giving it a try.

Pee Bee - All of Us 13

Pee Bee are a jazz collective based in Paris led by Italian saxophonist Claudio Pallaro and English bassist Gary Brunton. Named for the number of players, All Of Us 13 is their second album and it’s an upbeat listen. Straight jazz with a big band feel, courtesy of the large brass element, all done with an inventive enthusiasm. The performances are first rate and the pieces, in the main collaboratively written by the band, zing along with energy and humour. A number of the pieces are coloured by the French slam poetry of Damien Noury and the wonderful voice of Sandrine Deschamps is just a joy throughout, singing in French, Spanish and English, including on a lovely reworking of Janis Joplin’s Move Over. Well worth a visit for jazz enthusiast or novice alike.

January 2017

You can read the full TPA Review here

Various – Tripwave 2: Collection of Modern Russian Psychedelic Music

The title says it all, an invigorating glimpse into the hitherto hidden realm (to me at least) of Russian psychedelia. Trail Records have done a great job gathering together the nine disparate bands, the whole covering a lot of ground with all of those included having their merits. Of particular note are the reggae rhythms and soaring guitars of Ciolkowska, the heavier freakout sounds of Rada & Blackthorn that utilise female vocals and throat singing, Sonora’s slowly building sound, Cosmic Triggers’ wiggy psychout and the extended Eastern rhythms of Ole Lukkoye. 80 minutes of music to get completely lost in.