Archive for June, 2005
Thursday, June 23rd, 2005
Brann Dailor is the drummer for Atlanta tech/math/prog-metal band Mastodon. In an interview at SuicideGirls, he talks about some his influences and mentions the likes of Bill Bruford, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Neil Peart, etc., as well as Phil Collins, about which he says:
I guess the only surprise [in my list of influences], for some people, people that have never heard Genesis before the exit of Peter Gabriel, is Phil Collins. People just kind of chuckle when they hear me say that, thinking that I’m joking, being ironic or something. I’m totally not! He seriously was… I mean, they go “Sue Sue Sulio” [Laughs], but [that] being said, even some of the Genesis stuff that came out that was super poppy had some killer drums on it, if you listen to it. I know that might be blasphemy saying that, but it had the best drums in pop music, that’s for sure.
Good interview, by the way.
Thursday, June 9th, 2005
Three reviews of interest in the indie-rock Web press today. (For the interested, I scan five indie review sites each day: Pitchfork, Popmatters, Dusted, Stylus, and Splendid. All of these from time to time review more proggy or avant stuff, especially Dusted.) Dusted reviews the new Shining album, which I just ordered from Wayside; Splendid reviews the Blackfield album, and Pitchfork (Dominique Leone, to be specific) reviews Chris Cutler’s new one.
I particularly like the Blackfield review. I have not yet heard this album, but as it’s available at BMG, I might get it even though I’m not all that interested in the idea of another Steven Wilson project. Apparently, neither is the reviewer at Splendid, who says the album is “at best, an emo record with delusions of grandeur.” Ha! “It’s not that the songs are weak; they’re just sonically anonymous,” he says, which come to think of it would be a perfectly apt description for a lot of Porcupine Tree’s music that I’ve heard (though, I must say, Deadwing excepted).
Dominique’s review of Chris Cutler’s Twice Around the Earth manages to make it sound both extremely avant-garde and extremely interesting. I know my interest is piqued, at least. I find the concept of the album — taking field recordings that musicians around the world made of their everyday lives and synthesizing them into a whole — a recipe for disaster, but if Cutler actually pulled it off well, as Dominique seems to indicate, I’d be very interested to hear the results.
Tuesday, June 7th, 2005
There’s something about Finland. I posted today my review of the new Alamaailman Vasarat album, Kinaporin Kalifaatti, and their label claims that it has been doing well on Finnish pop music charts (”FINLAND ROCKS!” they claim, at least according to the Wayside catalog). Fortuitously, two other publications have articles on Finnish art today. Dusted’s headlining feature article is on the Avanto Helsinki Media Art Festival, in an article that briefly mentions “70s post-hippie progsters Haikara, Wigwam and Mummi Kutoo.” The festival sounds really fascinating, and the article is worth a read.
Also, The Washington Post has this “Finland Diary” thing going, in which two journalists write periodically on how Finland “has the world’s best educational system, produces such talented musicians and architects and has more cell phones per capita than Japan or America.” (Answer to the last item: because of the geographical difficulties of wiring the country for traditional phones, the Finnish government invested a lot of money in cell phone technology — hence Nokia’s predominance — early on in the game. So I learned in my “Sociology of Development” class in college.) This follows on an old article, I think in the New York Times, that tackled the issue of the Finnish people’s penchant for hiding emotion, which followed upon a fascinating comment that a G&S reader left for my review of Uzva’s Tammikuinen Tammela. Funny the fascination that this country has for so many folks, including me.
Monday, June 6th, 2005
The prog review watch (I read a lot of music review sites, both prog and mainstream, and there are always some interesting articles to be found):
First and foremost, the latest review of Fantomas‘ Suspended Animation at Progarchives is hilarious. So hilarious I’m going to paste it, verbatim, into my blog. I think this is clearly a product of some crappy free Internet translation program. Here:
CD completely bizarre, very wild, nothing has linking with nothing, is a very crazy chunk, of pra not to practically understand nothing, few melodies and much doidêra. Good record only pra who wants to “zuar”, but if you want to tan a good music, nor try to hear. He does not give nor “to beat right head”. He only listens to kill the curiosity, is wild, crazy, maluco, it are of control. Patton, only sings there for 10ª band, and exactly thus, they are one 30 seconds only. This obtains to surpass Hendrix and Frank Zappa in madness even though! Completely insane!
The great thing about Progarchives is that, like the prog.net of old, the reviews appear to be completely unmoderated and thus offer up a great dose of humor on a regular basis. Now if only we could dig up good ol’ Dennis A. to start contributing. But I digress: here are some recent reviews of proggish albums on mainstream websites:
- Review of Bob Drake’s latest, The Shunned Country, at Stylus. I usually hate these kind of gimmick reviews, but this one is kind of funny.
- Review of Orthrelm’s forthcoming OV at Dusted. On the avant-progressive list, former G&S reviewer Dominique Leone says this, a single brutal 45-minute track, is killer. I need to hear it.
- Review of Jaga Jazzist’s What We Must at Almost Cool, one of my favorite personal review sites out there.
- An older, scathingly obnoxious review of Happy the Man’s The Muse Awakens at Popmatters. This review typifies the mainstream view of prog, I guess. Although I do really like the phrase “analog synthesizers that seem to be permanently set on Silly.”
- Feature article about The Vandermark 5’s 12-CD live set Alchemia at Dusted. This is a real nice piece.
- Feature article about V∞redoms, the band that arose from the ashes of Japan’s Boredoms, at Pitchfork. Not surprisingly, Dominique is the author, and it’s a good article.
There are a lot more that I’m forgetting, but those are just a few that caught my eye in the past few weeks. On the non-Internet front, the latest issue of The Wire has some interesting stuff, including a review of Zs‘ Karate Bump and a capsule review of the (relatively) new album by former Progweed reviewer (and frequent r.m.p. contributor) Alex Temple. Check out Alex’s website for more info on this. The free sampler CD that comes with this issue of The Wire also includes a track from John Surman’s Way Back When, recently released on Cuneiform, and a track that features the vocals of none other than Clodagh Simonds, known to prog fans as one of the voices of Mellow Candle!
Friday, June 3rd, 2005
I’m all for the technique of comparing an album or band to another album or band in a review. It’s a useful supplement to straight-up description, especially since describing music is so damn hard to do anyway. The best reviewers use comparisons liberally but accurately. On the other hand, sometimes you get comparisons that just seem totally off-base or even misleading. For instance: in a new review of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s Of Natural History at ProgressiveWorld, the song “Phthisis” is compared to Paatos.
Paatos??! The only similarity whatsoever is the fact that Carla Kihlstedt sings on “Phthisis,” and like Petronella Nettermalm, who sings for Paatos, she is female. There is no other possible comparison. I just don’t see it.
Comparison can make a reviewer seem remarkably insightful or totally clueless. This particular comparison doesn’t seem very insightful to me, but then again maybe I’m the clueless one here. If anyone understands a similarity here that I’m totally missing, please fill me in. I’m not holding my breath, though.