Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Jorn - Starfire (2000)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Release Date: 2000
Label: Frontiers

The 2000 release Starfire is the debut solo offering from journeyman vocalist Jшrn Lande (ex-Vagabond, the Snakes, Millenium, Ark, Masterplan, Mundanus Imperium, Beyond Twilight, and a few others I've no doubt missed). For those of you unfamiliar with Jшrn, his vocal style is very (scratch that, VERY) reminiscent of David Coverdale with elements of Ronnie James Dio. Jшrn has become one of melodic rock and metal's best vocalists through both his session work as well as his solo career....

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Farmers Market - Speed,Balkan,Boogie 1995

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Folk, World, Jazz
Release Date: 1995
Label: Kirkelig Kulturverksted

Farmers Market released their 1st CD, “Speed/Balkan/Boogie”, 28th of February ‘95. The CD is a live recording of two concerts held by Farmers Market at Molde International Jazzfestival ‘94. Farmers Market brought with them four guest-musicians from Bulgaria of which two are singers in the world renown female choir “Lés Mystére Des Voix Bulgares”, now known as “Angelite”. The music on this CD takes the audience on a trip through the odds and even more odds of Bulgarian folkmusic. All is filtered through Farmers Market’s own musical upbringing.

Farmers Market thanks: Bulgarian sources of inspiration; musicians & moonshine-manufactors Molde Int. Jazzfestival ‘94; audience & promoters. Vesselina Illieva wishes to dedicate the CD to her sister.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Kitaro - Dream 1992

Format: ape + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Release Date: 1992
Label: Geffen

Joey Brown

Summary: Kitaro goes on a journey through time and space with Mozart and Jon Anderson.

It is a story forever written in the sands of time:

In the mid-80s, Kitaro, the world's leading New Age musician at the time, ran into Jon Anderson, former Yes-man and renowned cheese enthusiast, at a shady Beijing "business hotel." While staying at the hotel, the two promised to one day write an album together, one that would bring all peoples of the planet Earth together in unity, and in 1992 that dream finally came to fruition; it was appropriately titled Dream.....

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Leb i sol - Leb i sol (1977)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion, Jazz-Rock
Release Date: 1977
Label: PGP RTB

In the first half of the seventies of the last century, the music scene in Skopje was rather small so the future members of the LEB I SOL often worked in same bands. The first more serious project Vlatko and Garo had, was with the jazz-rock band BREG which leader was Miki Petkovski....

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Avishai Cohen - Colors (2000)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: 2000
Label: Stretch Records


Releasing already his third CD on the Stretch label, Avishai Cohen is further elaborating on the vision he revealed on "Adama" and continued through his second CD, "Devotion."

Make no mistake about it: "Vision" is the appropriate word for explaining the aesthetic he expresses on "Colors." Not only does Cohen possess an broad artistic perspective that becomes more evident with each release, but also he quite literally compares the music he embraces with the literal sense of vision. Indeed, in the liner notes, Cohen goes so far as to compare an E-minor chord to dark red and a G-major chord to light green. Now, that's a fairly detailed order within an overriding vision. Nonetheless, Cohen's appreciation of the inter-relatedness of art forms helps him borrow from experiences and sights for musical expression...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Alcatrazz - Live Sentence (1984)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Hard Rock
Release Date: 1984
Label: Polydor

Live Sentence (1984) was the only live album released by Graham Bonnet's Alcatrazz and contains some of the songs performed by Bonnet in his time with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. The live show was based on their previous album No Parole From Rock N' Roll and had the same lineup. According to Billboard, the album spent 16 weeks on the chart and peaked at #145....

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) - Zimbabwe (1987)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: 1987
Label: Enja Records

This was a nicely blended, somewhat mellow and seemingly quite finished recording by Abdullah Ibrahim with Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Essiet Okun Essiet (bass), and Don Mumford (drums) called Zimbabwe. Interspaced with non-originals were four Ibrahim compositions, most of which were inspired by the imagery from Ibrahim's South African roots.
~ Bob Rusch, Cadence

Craig Chaqico - Once In A Blue Universe 1997

Format: ape + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Release Date: 1997
Label: Higher Octave

Former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico is one of the most successful and reliable of the crop of rock musicians who have recently switched genres into contemporary jazz. His fourth CD, Once in a Blue Universe continues to broaden his jazz horizons while providing some very satisfying and distinctive music. Fans of Craig's first two albums ( Acoustic Planet and Acoustic Highway ),

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Adam Nitti - Balance 1998

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Release Date: 1998
Label: Renaissance Man Records

Adam Nitti has emerged as one of the cutting edge bassists and composers in the world of instrumental jazz and rock. Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, Adam currently has 3 CD's released on his own Renaissance Man Records label. Adam has toured with the Dave Weckl band, Jeff Coffin Mu'tet, the Justice League, and Angie Aparo, and has also performed with such legendary jazz artists as Scott Henderson, Peter Erskine, Jimmy Herring, Mike Stern, Kirk Covington, Wayne Krantz,

Friday, 18 November 2011

Art Blakey and The Afro-Drum Ensemble – The African Beat (1962)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: 1962
Label: Blue Note Records

Bridging cultures, Art Blakey combined powerful African rhythms and American jazz melodies on a session that Blue Note reissued recently because the album explores roots common to all of jazz. Blakey’s ensemble for this 1962 project included artists from both worlds: Solomon G. Ilori and James Ola. Folami are from Nigeria, Chief Bey is from Senegal,

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

IOMMI - The 1996 Dep Sessions 2004

Format: ape + cue + log
Genre: Metal-Rock-Blues
Release Date: 2004
Label: Sanctuary Records

When musical heavyweights join forces on collaborative projects, the outcome is often times a watered-down version of their respective bands’ previous efforts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for the purists among us it’s usually somewhat disappointing, as we’re accustomed to the genuine article. This is precisely why the infamous mid ‘90s Iommi/Hughes pairing is so fascinating: It is completely unlike the classic Black Sabbath or Deep Purple that aficionados are familiar with

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Japanese Traditional Music - Percussion 1990

Format: wv + cue + log
Genre: Taiko- Drummers of Japan, Ethno
Release Date: 1990
Label: KING Record

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fela Ransome Kuti - Fela With Ginger Baker Live! (1971)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Soul-Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Afrobeat
Release Date: 1971
Label: Universal

Baritone Saxophone – Lekan Animashaun
Bass Guitar – Maurice Ekpo
Composed By – Ransome-Kuti*
Congas – Akwesi Korranting, Friday Jumbo, Henry Koffi
Drums – Ginger Baker, Tony Allen
Percussion [Shekere] – Isaac Olaleye
Percussion [Sticks] – Tony Abayomi
Producer – Jeff Jarratt
Rhythm Guitar – Peter Animashaun
Tenor Saxophone – Igo Chiko*
Trumpet [Solo] – Eddie Faychum, Tunde Williams
Vocals, Saxophone – Fela Kuti

It's almost impossible to overstate the impact and importance of Fela Anikulapo (Ransome) Kuti (or just Fela as he's more commonly known) to the global musical village: producer, arranger, musician, political radical, outlaw. He was all that, as well as showman par excellence, inventor of Afro-beat, an unredeemable sexist, and a moody megalomaniac. His death on August 3, 1997 of complications from AIDS deeply affected musicians and fans internationally, as a musical and sociopolitical voice on a par with Bob Marley was silenced. A press release from the United Democratic Front of Nigeria on the occasion of Fela's death noted: "Those who knew you well were insistent that you could never compromise with the evil you had fought all your life. Even though made weak by time and fate, you remained strong in will and never abandoned your goal of a free, democratic, socialist Africa." This is as succinct a summation of Fela's political agenda as one is likely to find.

Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, north of Lagos in 1938, Fela's family was firmly middle class as well as politically active. His father was a pastor (and talented pianist), his mother active in the anti-colonial, anti-military, Nigerian home rule movement. So at an early age, Fela experienced politics and music in a seamless combination. His parents, however, were less interested in his becoming a musician and more interested in his becoming a doctor, so they packed him off to London in 1958 for what they assumed would be a medical education; instead, Fela registered at Trinity College's school of music. Tired of studying European composers, Fela formed his first band, Koola Lobitos, in 1961, and quickly became a fixture on the London club scene. He returned to Nigeria in 1963 and started another version of Koola Lobitos that was more influenced by the James Brown-style singing of Geraldo Pina from Sierra Leone. Combining this with elements of traditional high life and jazz, Fela dubbed this intensely rhythmic hybrid "Afro-beat," partly as critique of African performers whom he felt had turned their backs on their African musical roots in order to emulate current American pop music trends.

In 1969, Fela brought Koola Lobitos to Los Angeles to tour and record. They toured America for about eight months using Los Angeles as a home base. It was while in L.A. that Fela hooked up with a friend, Sandra Isidore, who introduced him to the writings and politics of Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver (and by extension the Black Panthers), and other proponents of Black nationalism and Afrocentrism. Impressed at what he read, Fela was politically revivified and decided that some changes were in order: first, the name of the band, as Koola Lobitos became Nigeria 70; second, the music would become more politically explicit and critical of the oppression of the powerless worldwide. After a disagreement with an unscrupulous promoter who turned them in to the Immigration and Naturalization Services, Fela and band were charged with working without work permits. Realizing that time was short before they were sent back to Nigeria, they were able to scrape together some money to record some new songs in L.A. What came to be known as the '69 Los Angeles Sessions were remarkable, an indication of a maturing sound and of the raucous, propulsive music that was to mark Fela's career. Afrobeat's combination of blaring horn sections, antiphonal vocals, Fela's quasi-rapping pidgin English, and percolating guitars, all wrapped up in a smoldering groove (in the early days driven by the band's brilliant drummer Tony Allen) that could last nearly an hour, was an intoxicating sound. Once hooked, it was impossible to get enough.

Upon returning to Nigeria, Fela founded a communal compound-cum-recording studio and rehearsal space he called the Kalakuta Republic, and a nightclub, the Shrine. It was during this time that he dropped his given middle name of "Ransome" which he said was a slave name, and took the name "Anikulapo" (meaning "he who carries death in his pouch") . Playing constantly and recording at a ferocious pace, Fela and band (who were now called Africa 70) became huge stars in West Africa. His biggest fan base, however, was Nigeria's poor. Because his music addressed issues important to the Nigerian underclass (specifically a military government that profited from political exploitation and disenfranchisement), Fela was more than a simply a pop star; like Bob Marley in Jamaica, he was the voice of Nigeria's have-nots, a cultural rebel. This was something Nigeria's military junta tried to nip in the bud, and from almost the moment he came back to Nigeria up until his death, Fela was hounded, jailed, harassed, and nearly killed by a government determined to silence him. In one of the most egregious acts of violence committed against him, 1,000 Nigerian soldiers attacked his Kalakuta compound in 1977 (the second government-sanctioned attack). Fela suffered a fractured skull as well as other broken bones; his 82-year old mother was thrown from an upstairs window, inflicting injuries that would later prove fatal. The soldiers set fire to the compound and prevented fire fighters from reaching the area. Fela's recording studio, all his master tapes and musical instruments were destroyed.

After the Kalakuta tragedy, Fela briefly lived in exile in Ghana, returning to Nigeria in 1978. In 1979 he formed his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People), and at the start of the new decade renamed his band Egypt 80. From 1980-1983, Nigeria was under civilian rule, and it was a relatively peaceful period for Fela, who recorded and toured non-stop. Military rule returned in 1983, and in 1984 Fela was sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of currency smuggling. With help from Amnesty International, he was freed in 1985.

As the '80s ended, Fela recorded blistering attacks against Nigeria's corrupt military government, as well as broadsides aimed at Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (most abrasively on the album Beasts of No Nation). Never what you would call progressive when it came to relationships with women or patriarchy in general (the fact was that he was sexist in the extreme, which is ironic when you consider that his mother was one of Nigeria's early feminists), he was coming around to the struggles faced by African women, but only just barely. Stylistically speaking, Fela's music didn't change much during this time, and much of what he recorded, while good, was not as blistering as some of the amazing music he made in the '70s. Still, when a Fela record appeared, it was always worth a listen. He was unusually quiet in the '90s, which may have had something to do with how ill he was; very little new music appeared, but in as great a series of reissues as the planet has ever seen, the London-based Stern's Africa label re-released some of his long unavailable records (including The '69 Los Angeles Sessions), and the seminal works of this remarkable musician were again filling up CD bins. He never broke big in the U.S. market, and it's hard to imagine him having the same kind of posthumous profile that Marley does, but Fela's 50-something releases offer up plenty of remarkable music, and a musical legacy that lives on in the person of his talented son Femi. Around the turn of the millennium, Universal began remastering and reissuing a goodly portion of Fela's many recordings, finally making some of his most important work widely available to American listeners. John Dougan, All Music Guide

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Luther Vandross - Dance With My Father 2003

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: R&B
Release Date: 2003
Label: J-Records

Given Luther Vandross's precarious state of health at the time of its release, Dance With My Father’s title track--a tale of yearning for a lost loved one--takes on added poignancy. It’s something of a centerpiece on an album that moves in several directions, reaching for varied constituencies, while ultimately staying focused on Vandross’s trademark buttery vocals. In addition to "Dance," there’s more adult-contemporary balladry ("Buy Me a Rose"),

Friday, 4 November 2011

TROUBLE - Trouble 1990

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Doom Metal
Release Date: 1990
Label: Def American

Following the conclusion of their recording deal with Metal Blade and three years of relative silence, few fans expected to ever hear from Chicago's Trouble again. But maverick producer Rick Rubin surprisingly entered the picture in 1990, signing the band to his Def American vanity label and helping them record the most consistent album of their career. As suggested by its eponymous title, the record found Trouble,

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Helmet of Gnats - A Helmet of Gnats II 2004

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz-Fusion
Release Date: 2004
Label: Ambient Records

The US band HELMET OF GNATS was formed in the early '80s. They started as a cover group, playing songs by Brand X, UK, Happy The Man and Return To Forever, amongst others, but later turned to all-original material. The band, as well as their label Ambient Records, presents this CD as their second (eponymous!) album, but doesn't give any concrete information on its predecessor, saying only it was independently released in 1996 and is now out of print.


Of course, the band's natural predisposition for Jazz-Fusion didn't change with years, and the experience they've gained while playing the works of the genre's brightest representatives has stood them in good stead. All this, however, does not signify that the album is done exclusively in the classic Jazz-Fusion traditions, i.e. not without the influence of the band's favorites. The music is highly original, with no cliches, not to mention borrowings. I would've been really surprised if it were vice versa. After all, this band has been around for nearly a quarter of a century. The album is excellent in its entirety, but the first two compositions: Almost Babylon and Chinese Leftovers (cool titles, as well as most of the others) are notable for some brave, really non-typical decisions. The parts of the rhythm section are mostly fixed, displaying a lot of hypnotic energy, especially when being accentuated by slow, pronouncedly heavy guitar riffs, which are available only here. The guitar and organ solos vary in tempo, tirelessly crossing the length and breadth of the basic themes and always contrasting with them. All in all, the music on said tracks appears as a really unique combination of quasi Jazz-Fusion and Cathedral Metal, though of course, it could have not managed without some leftovers:-) of Chinese music in the second case. Then follows Yesterday's Brain, where the guitar riffs and, thus, the heavy component as such, were out once and forever. The keyboards, particularly piano and synthesizer, apart from the Hammond, have not only widened their realms, but also prolonged the episodes with quiet arrangements, which resulted in the appearance of symphonic Space Rock and related textures. This is another brilliant composition in the set, though the story's climax is yet to come. On Crumbs and Misfit Toys, the number of composed themes and solos exceeds that of authentic improvisations, as well as everywhere on the album. However, these two are closer to a traditional Jazz-Fusion in sound. Partly, this event can be explained by the absence of Metal-related textures, though above all, it's due to the fact that here, the band often resorts to using such typical jazzy features (or methods, if you will) as swingy rhythms, syncopations, slap-solos on fretless bass, etc. Both are very good tracks, but aren't masterworks, as most of the others. Nevertheless, it's only the presence of Lesser Beings (among the Titans, figuratively speaking), which prevents me to rate the album with all the six stars I have. Performed by keyboardist Matt Bocchino alone, this short piece of spacey symphonic music, blended with synthesizer effects and naturalistic sounds, isn't bad, but being almost completely out of the general musical context, it looks like foreign matter here. In my view, the picture would've been more coherent without it. Although not as highly mesmerizing as the first two tracks, the 13-minute Chimps in Space surpasses them compositionally and is actually the highlight of this recording. The band shines with inventiveness and virtuosity, equally at easy working with improvisational and symphonic harmonies, sometimes turning even to Classical music forms, provided by the parts of acoustic guitar and piano. By the way, it's for the first time here that Chris Fox actively uses both of the guitars he has in his equipment.

Conclusion. Helmet of Gnats is a clever, genuinely inspired band, offering the listener a real progressive music, tasteful, original and highly intriguing all alike. Only to those frigid to Jazz-Fusion I wouldn't recommend this album. However, please note: this is predominantly a quasi Jazz-Fusion, with most of the themes and solos being thoroughly composed. Finally, here is the quote from the CD booklet. "The basic tracks for this SACD (Super Audio CD) were recorded live in the studio without the use of headphones. A highly analog multi-track tape machine was employed with no noise reduction at all, and all tracks were recorded to it as direct as possible. The mixes were made without the use of automation, directly to DSD (Direct Stream Digital). This SACD represents the sound of an all-analog production and can be played on any standard CD player, as well as on any SACD player." I don't have such a player, but I have ears to hear that this CD has an audiophile sound quality.

VM: Febrary 1, 2005