Friday, November 30, 2007

Calle Debauche - Potemkin Carnival (2007)

Rating: 7.1

Mohadev, guitarist and keyboardist for Calle Debauche contacted me about reviewing this album, noting that I enjoy the music of the bands that most influenced Calle Debauche (among them Sleepytime Gorilla Museum). Naturally, I couldn't say no, and, as a result, I now have the pleasure of reviewing one of the better CDs of 2007, a real gem of an album.

Right from the start, this album is a success. The cover art is abstract, beautiful, and engaging, three qualities I greatly enjoy in music, and thus, naturally, my interest was immediately piqued. Putting the CD in the player, I was overjoyed to learn that the album lives up to the impression created by the cover art. In short, this is an engaging, beautiful, and somewhat abstract album. It jumps all over the place stylistically, but unlike so many other genre-hopping bands, it really manages to tie everything together, and thus it is also cohesive, perhaps the most important quality a CD can have (and certainly one of the most important). On top of all that, with a running time of only 33:00, there is no room for unnecessary notes, and none are present. Rather than filling a CD for the sake of... filling a CD, Calle Debauche limit Potemkin Carnival to the ideas they have with no excess, and what wonderful ideas they have.

As I said, this album jumps all over the place stylistically, keeping me on my toes throughout. Even within one song, this is true. Take, for example, the track "Adults." It starts out beautiful and relatively soft, then explodes into a hard rocking fun before ending with a short, beautiful outro. All around, it is a well-constructed song. On the next track, however, we're in completely different territory, with a wildly avant-garde burst of instruments that leaves having developed itself fully and just in time so as to not become annoying, once again showing the band's well-developed sense of restraint. On "Hey Hotdogs!" we are once again off in new direction, this time looking towards upbeat, fast-paced jazz-fusion that is sure to delight (it's my favorite on the album). Adorned with silly vocals, this is the type of song that's sure to bring a smile to your face. And so on. Every track on the album is both similar in strengths and different in style, making for a wonderfully varied yet consistent ride.

I'd highly recommend this band to anybody looking for good modern music that holds the prog torch high without any of the stereotypical flaws associated with the 70s giants. By combining just the right amount of everything, Calle Debauche have proven themselves wonderful bakers in cooking up this CD. A highlight of 2007 by all criteria.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Al Di Meola - Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar (2007)

Rating: 4.8

Having been interested in the music of Al Di Meola for quite some time, when I saw the opportunity to receive one of his CDs to review, I naturally jumped. I might have been better off doing some research, however, as this is not Al Di Meola playing Al Di Meola, but rather Al Di Meola playing Astor Piazzolla, an artist about whom I know nothing. A bit disappointing (as you might imagine), but, on the bright side, it allowed me to be introduced to two new artists.

Sadly, listening to this album, I came away with two major impressions. First, that Al Di Meola is a *really* good guitarist (though I knew that already from what I had read). Second, that Astor Piazzolla's music, while performed wonderfully by Di Meola, simply isn't the type of music I enjoy listening to in general. It's certainly not bad - if you like tango music, you will probably really enjoy this music (from what I gather from the sparse liner notes, Astor's work is fairly highly regarded in the tango loving community). I can safely say that Di Meola does a good job of performing this music, both in the technical and emotional aspects, and thus, as a tribute to Piazzolla, this album probably deserves a higher ranking than what I have given it.

However, there is one key flaw with this album that hinders my enjoyment of it besides the fact that I just am not a fan of this type of music (though I certainly don't dislike it, I'm just not familiar with it). This album is solely for guitar, and thus it feels very much one dimensional. Di Meola does the best he can on guitar, and that's quite a lot, but it still feels somewhat dry and tasteless without any instruments, no matter how subdued they might theoretically be, backing him up. Thus, changes in energy are diminished in effect across the album, among other problems. Now, to be fair, Al Di Meola doesn't just play Piazzolla's music — he throws syncopated rhythms into the mix where they had been absent — but, having not heard the original music, I have no idea how this affects the album as a whole, and therefore cannot allow it to influence my rating.

While certainly not a bad CD, and even a rather pleasant one when I'm in the mood for something different, Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar is also certainly not the CD that's going to turn me on to Di Meola's music, Astor Piazzolla's music, or tango music in general. In that sense, while a nice tribute to Piazzolla, this album does not succeed in its aim. I certainly haven't given up on Di Meola (or tango), but I came away from this CD wondering if there really was a useful purpose served from it besides satsifying Di Meola's wish to perform the music of a friend.

New Rating System!

I have changed my rating system from a A-B-C-D-F system to a 10 point scale using steps of one-tenth. I have updated the ratings characterizations in the first post of the blog.

I am now off to update the older posts with the new rating system, and then I hope to get a few new reviews up.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Plastic People of the Universe - Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned (1978)

Rating: 7.9

The Plastic People of the Universe have one of the most endearing histories of any band. They formed in 1968 after the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, taking their name from the Frank Zappa song “Plastic People” (Source: Throughout their history, they had to overcome censorship and oppression, and still they managed to deliver some amazing avant-garde rock music. I have only heard Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned from their vast repertoire, but it is one of the most treasured albums in my collection, both for the story behind it and the music within it.

I was initially turned off from the band because I had read that they were important only because of their story, not their music. How wrong that statement was. The music on this album is stunning, full of emotion, played with more passion than most bands can muster. I’m sure this relates to their flirtation with censorship – that alone gave their music an inherent purpose that most bands have to search for – but it would be an egregious error to ignore that this is music that really lets you see into the hearts of the musicians. They poured their soul into this work, and it shows in the final result.

What we hear on the album is a mixture of post-psychedelic rock and free jazz. There are strong grooves that dominate the album, giving it a tremendous flow and an irresistible charm. Every song brings something unique to the album. We have songs like the slow, beautiful “Metro Goldwyn Mayer,” and we have songs like the upbeat closer, “Jo, To Se Ti To Spi,” not to mention all the songs that fall somewhere between those two extremes. Every song is a true gem, packed with emotion until it can’t take anymore. The technical value of the music (how difficult it is to play) doesn’t seem high, and the production is shoddy at best, but these minor faults (the first isn’t even a fault at all, really) fall by the wayside in the face of the fact that this album simply sounds good.

At this point, I really find myself running out of words for this band and album, and I don’t know why (it’s just not like me). So, to end, I will again pull from the source used earlier. “The amazing history of the Plastic People is so crucially intertwined with the history of Czechoslovakia that one can not fully understand the history of that country without knowing the history of the band, and vice versa. No other rock band has had to put up with the abuse and the obstacles that the Plastics did during their lifetime. Yet they did not plan to risk their lives for their music. As [bassist Milan] Hlavsa said, they were ‘dissidents against their will.’ Eventually, however, they came to the realization that what they were doing was historically important and their very existence through the hard times their country was experiencing was a powerful symbol of freedom to the younger generation of Czechs.”

Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned is a stunning cd that pleases me every time I hear it. This is an essential addition to any avant-garde prog collection, and it is accessible enough to fit in nicely into any prog collection. Highly recommended!

Martini Henry - End of the Beginning (2006)

Rating: 7.4

Martini Henry’s latest (and first, I believe) release, End of the Beginning, is an example of an album where the band does everything right. While they base themselves around a fairly standard alternative rock sound, they are able to take it further than any other band I know. Swirling effects, acoustic guitar, soaring vocals, and a tight rhythm section all come together to create a stunning product that is worthy of many listens. This album ranks as one of the very best ProgressiveEars has sent me to review, along with Quodia’s The Arrow and Sgt. Sunshine’s Black Hole. It’s not perfect, but it’s about as good as I’ve seen this style of music done.

Truth be told, I wasn’t too enthused when I read exactly what style of music this band played, especially since they are a power trio (a fine combo of instruments when utilized properly, but one that is far too often used to produce bland music). Once I popped the CD into the player, however, all of my doubts vanished. The music, while not particularly groundbreaking, simply sounds really good. The songs are catchy, perfectly blending standard alternative rock with progressive tendencies (such as shifting time signatures, I believe), creating an uplifting album that always brings a smile to my face.

Even as I say that this is a brilliant album, however, I also point out that the music is fairly standard. How do these two reconcile? Easy: the vocals. It’s not often that a band is graced with such a gifted vocalist as Martini Henry. Not only does Matt Groboski (who also plays guitar) have a beautiful voice, he really knows how to use it. His vocals are dynamic and passionate, pouring emotion into every syllable. They are warm and uplifting, able to take a catchy song that is merely good and turn it into something great. The lyrics that he sings aren’t anything special, but they’re leagues above most of the lyrics out there, which is a relief. Too often I hear a band with a lot of promise whose music is absolutely ruined by the appalling lyrics. Not so here. In part, the lyrics themselves are decent, but there’s also the fact that Groboski makes everything sound better when he sings.

Now that I’ve devoted an entire paragraph to Groboski, perhaps I also ought to mention Garrett Henritz (drums) and Ken Moore (bass), who comprise the awesome rhythm section that backs up Groboski’s wonderful acoustic guitar. I’ll give a particular nod to Henritz, who doesn’t fall into the trap of playing standard, repetitive beats that has really only been used well by the Krautrock greats such as CAN and NEU! (and even CAN weren’t that standard). Instead, Henritz plays varied beats that mesh well with each other while still holding my interest. The result is that the wonderful guitar and bass work is accentuated with an energy that helps (along with the vocals) to lift the music.

So, I really must ask, what are you waiting for? Go get this cd right away. Not sure you want to spend money on it? As far as I can tell, it’s available for free from their website ( For a band named after a type of rifle, Martini Henry show that violence does not always help music, taking reasonably gentle music and making it engaging. The only significant problem with this cd is that “Airaid” noodles for about six minutes before it becomes the awesome instrumental of the last ten minutes. Other than that, End of the Beginning shows an awesome band creating awesome music. There are some similarities to Porcupine Tree (minus the heaviness), except that whereas Porcupine Tree is a grim, almost morbid band, Martini Henry are uplifting. On their website, the band have said, “With the release of “End of the Beginning,” the group feels confident that they have produced a quality product worthy of representing the band after the show is over.” I must say, I agree. Recommended.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nurse With Wound - Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella (1980)

Rating: 8.2

Nurse With Wound (brainchild of Steven Stapleton) is a semi-legendary band that has traversed a multitude of genres (including but not limited to: industrial, ambient, drone, and krautrock) and helped advance techniques of tape manipulation. Not only that, but Stapleton’s band is known for the infamous Nurse With Wound list, a list of the bands that influenced Nurse With Wound (many of them rare and highly obscure). For many, this list serves as a buying guide, especially for those who want to own a CD from every artist on the list.

I don’t know anywhere close to all of Nurse With Wound’s output, but what I do know, I love. Whether it’s the eerie minimalism of Homotopy to Marie (often seen as Stapleton’s magnum opus), the tranquil yet evocative drones of Soliloquy to Lilith, or the all over the map A Sucked Orange (a collection of material from most of the band’s eras), Nurse With Wound seems incapable of disappointing me (well, the album Crocodile Crazy Glue is rather unimpressive in my view, but that’s it). Thankfully, this trend holds true for their debut CD, the strangely titled Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella (hereby known just as Chance Meeting).

Sadly, Steven Stapleton doesn’t consider this CD (or any before Homotopy to Marie to be a proper Nurse With Wound CD. At this point, Nurse With Wound was actually a band (with multiple members), rather than the name for Steven Stapleton’s solo work. I really don’t care what Stapleton thinks, however, as this is an incredible CD, one of the best industrial records you will ever hear. This music is timeless, and one of the definitive pieces of evidence that the eighties were actually quite rich musically, if only one cares to scratch below the surface of what was popular at the time.

With only three songs, Chance Meeting’s running time is surprisingly long (nearing fifty minutes), but most of those fifty are well spent. Look at the second track, “The Six Buttons of Sex Appeal,” if you need proof. Clocking in at roughly thirteen minutes, “The Six Buttons of Sex Appeal” contains crazed guitar screeches, burst of electronic noise, and a muffled drum beat the holds it all together. While certainly not structured in any conventional way, this song still has a sense of form that keeps it cohesive and interesting and makes it the standout of the CD. That’s not to say the rest is weak, however. While the first song seems somewhat inconsequential next to the other two, it’s certainly not bad, and “Blank Capsule of Embroidered Cellophane” is an absolute monster of a track if there ever was one. While not every idea contained in its twenty-nine minutes works, most of them do, and those that do work work exceedingly well.

Unfortunately, this CD is out of print and will probably cost you $35 (or more) to buy, so I can really only recommend it to those who already know and love Nurse With Wound or are fans of industrial music. For those who want to discover Nurse With Wound, start with the far more readily available A Sucked Orange. This album is certainly very good, another one of those lost masterpieces. While not a full masterpiece in its own right, it’s still well worth owning for fans of music that’s “out there.”

I rate it with a B+ (excellent).

And since it's OOP:

Chance Meeting...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jannick Top - Soleil D'Ork (2001)

Rating: 8.7

Jannick Top is probably not given the credit he deserves for his influence within the zeuhl genre of music. While it is true that zeuhl was mostly Christian Vander’s brainchild, it is worth noting that Magma’s glory years did not start until Jannick Top joined the band (before Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh) and that they ended when Top left the band (after Udu Wudu). His visionary bass work, focusing on low, throbbing pulses of pure energy, became one of the key characteristics of the zeuhl sound. He even composed some of Magma’s greatest songs, including “Ork Alarm” from Kohntarkosz and much of the Udu Wudu album, especially the epic “De Futura.”

Soleil D’Ork is the collection of assorted Zeuhl compositions from Top’s time with Magma, and, as such, many of the songs on here can be found on Magma CDs, particularly Udu Wudu. On those albums, however, Jannick Top is really a part of a single functioning unit, and, as such, his contributions are somewhat limited by that need to fit within the zeuhl framework laid out by Christian Vander. Not so on Soleil D’Ork. This album is purely Jannick Top’s baby, and it should come as no surprise that it features his strongest bass playing. The musicians backing him are certainly capable enough, but Jannick Top let’s us know that this is his show.

And what a show it is. The first two tracks, which are taken from a 1975 EP by Top, are similar to Udu Wudu, but with Top’s bass emphasized. They are of excellent quality, dark and yet groovy – classic Magma, in other words (though you should remember that this is not really Magma). With “La Musique Des Spheres,” we have a moody, atmospheric piece that is the closest thing to a group effort this album features, but it doesn’t feel out of place amidst the Top-centric pieces that dominate the rest of the album. These first three songs, while of excellent quality, are only the tip of the iceberg, however. They prepare us for the explosion that is about to come in the form of “Mekanik Machine.”

“Mekanik Machine” is, like the tracks before it, not featured on any Magma studio album, though it has found its way onto a live album (or maybe a compilation, I don’t remember). That’s really too bad, since it is one hell of a song. Unlike the dark, tribal chants of Magma’s Udu Wudu, this one will recall the bombastic operatic vocals of Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh, only more powerful. Add to that a mind-bending performance by Jannick Top on bass and you have yourself a nine-minute epic that stands up with the best Magma ever did. I have no hesitation in claiming this song as reason enough to buy this album. There’s just nothing else like it, not even in Magma’s extensive catalogue. It channels both the otherworldly and transcendental aspects of such majestic pieces as Kohntarkosz and the earthly awesomeness of the bass-freakout “De Futura” from Udu Wudu.

After a song of such magnitude, it’s only natural that Top will let up on the gas, but, as it turns out, the loss of energy is only slight. In addition, “Soleil D’Ork,” a track taken from Udu Wudu and reworked (and made much better, I might add), prepares us for what is about to come next. I don’t mean to discount the worth of this song, but when it’s sandwiched between two tracks like “Mekanik Machine” and “De Futura,” it’s only natural that it will be somewhat overlooked. Anyway, after “Soleil D’Ork” ends, we reach the one song that will probably divide fans the most. For his reworking of “De Futura,” Jannick Top does the unthinkable. He substitutes a drum machine for the amazing drumming of Christian Vander. “Blasphemy!” you think. But, as you think to yourself, “Jannick, how could you go so far astray,” you might miss how this version waltzes all over the original. The simplicity of the drum machine, which actually sounds about as organic as a drum machine can, really allows Jannick Top to shine, because if you know the original version of “De Futura” from Udu Wudu, you know that this song really is Jannick Top’s show. On this version of this classic Magma piece, Jannick Top plays with an intensity that makes the Udu Wudu version seem positively insignificant, Vander drumming or not. Honestly, you don’t really even notice that the drum machine is present, so astounding is Top’s bass playing.

And then we reach what is, for me, at least, the only questionable part of this album. “Glas,” which closes Soleil D’Ork doesn’t seem to fit very well, at least for the first few listens. After the intensity of the six preceding tracks, the comparatively lethargic pace of “Glas,” coupled with a lack of the type of bass playing that makes Top such a revered bassist, left me with serious doubts about the song. Over time, I have come to appreciate it, even like it, but I still wonder how the album would have turned out had Top chosen to end on a slightly more energetic note.

In the end, however, such pondering serves no purpose. Soleil D’Ork is a fantastic album by the second most important man in the zeuhl world, and it leaves little to be desired. This album really is a “lost” Magma work. If you are a budding Magma fan and thinking of buying Udu Wudu, admittedly quite a fine album, I advise you to look here instead, since this CD is more consistent, more alive, and a better feature of Jannick Top’s compositional and instrumental skill. While Udu Wudu is more of a group effort, it suffers from the fact that Jannick Top really is the star, but is forced to share the spotlight with his bandmates. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but, as it turns out, the songs of Udu Wudu work better when presented in solo format focusing on Jannick Top alone.

Jannick Top’s Soleil D’Ork has earned my highest recommendations.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NEU! - NEU! '75 (1975)

Rating: 8.8

Subtle atmospheres float over and around you like gentle waves on a beach. Pounding guitars assault you from all sides while drums add the finishing touch needed to make the beating complete.

Two completely different images, both contained within one CD. That is NEU!’s third and final (for a while, at least) CD in a nutshell. NEU! was composed of guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger, both of whom had their own idea for what NEU!’s music should be. Rother favored a subtler, more beautiful approach, whereas Dinger preferred all-out proto-punk assaults. On their self-titled debut, these two desires merged perfectly together and created a great album. On this album, however, the elements are separated, with each musician getting one side to show his own vision of NEU!.

On side one, Michael Rother shows his knack for finding beauty, creating three pieces based around gentle keyboards and guitar with slow, tone-setting drums. Though they are slow, these pieces are engaging, allowing the listener to sink into them like a dream while still holding the listener’s interest in reality. Not many bands/songwriters are able to do this, especially without vocals, but Rother pulls it off to perfection. The songs themselves may not be particularly revolutionary, but when put together, they show a unique pattern that will go on to influence modern bands such as Tortoise. As you wade across the gentle soundscapes of “Isi-Seeland-Leb Wohl,” a layer or two is removed between songs. This pattern of song deconstruction can be seen in the post-rock genre, particularly in Tortoise’s epic “Djed” (from the album Millions Now Living Will Never Die).

Somewhat surprisingly (given just how slow it is), I find that my favorite piece from Michael Rother’s half of the album is “Leb Wohl.” The utterly tranquil nature of the music is soothing beyond belief, and Klaus Dinger’s reminisces of good times on the beach add to the already beautiful atmosphere. The sounds of waves help you imagine yourself on the beach, lying on a towel with your love by your side, watching the most gorgeous sunset you’ve ever seen. While I have not experienced what I just described, this is the music I would imagine playing at such a moment. To me, this song redefines beauty. I will warn you, however, that this song will probably seem dull if listened to out of context, and even in context it will take a few listens to warm up to. Once you do warm up to it, however, it will you over the head like a sack of very soft bricks, creating a pleasant thumping sensation.

As for the sack of regular bricks that’s coming to hit you over the head, don’t you worry: that’s up next, for it’s time to move to Dinger’s half of the album. These three songs have all the subtlety of sore toe, but they are no less worthwhile than those on side one. Starting with the song “Hero,” which may well be NEU!’s best (earning competition only from “Hallogallo” and “Negativland,” both from the debut). Chock-full of proto-punk guitars and Klaus Dinger’s motorik beat, this song will sweep you off your feet after only one listen, and it only gets better from there. Dinger’s vocals will not be for everyone (though they are not nearly as dissonant as those on “Lieber Hoenig” from the debut), but I find them excellent, full of the energy required to go along with a song like “Hero.” Closing the album is “After Eight,” a song that is very similar to “Hero,” only not quite as good. It’s still a great song and I love it, mind you.

Sandwiched between these two rock workouts is the long, steady groove of “E-Music,” which will call to mind earlier such grooves (for example, “Hallogallo”), but with a more aggressive edge, as you would expect from Klaus Dinger’s half of the CD. While not as overtly a rocker as “Hero” and “After Eight,” “E-Musik” takes strength in that it mixes the proto-punk of Dinger with the subtlety of Rother, creating an excellent album worth owning by every Krautrock fan.

NEU! were, of course, hugely influential within the Krautrock explosion, and their influence has extended far beyond that today. Their pioneering electronic work has influenced bands such as Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, and Radiohead, not to mention countless others. While NEU! ’75 is perhaps the portrait of a band at war, the music itself is good enough to warrant a very high rating. This is a CD that belongs in every progressive music collection, Krautrock or not.

La STPO - Tranches De Temps Jete (2006)

I think I'll start with one of my favorite CDs, a masterpiece of an album released just last year. The CD is Tranches De Temps Jete (Slices of Thrown Time) by La Societe Des Timides A La Parade Des Oiseaux (The Shy Society at the Bird Parade).

It can be ordered from

Comments are always appreciated.


Rating: 9.6

Imagine that you have this band. Their music roughly consists of the staccato starts and stops of Etron Fou Leloublan (with a similarly awesome rhythm section and also similarly dynamic vocals). On top of this fertile background are post-punk explosions that would leave This Heat in awe. Interspersed into this volatile mix are post-rock (ish) sections a la Kayo Dot. Then, just for extra color, throw in the Dadaist ideals of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, but make them reflect in the music more. There you have a rough approximation of what La Societe Des Timides A La Parade Des Oiseaux (The Shy Society at the Bird Parade) sounds like on their 2006 masterpiece Tranches De Temps Jete (Slices of Thrown Time).

But that really doesn’t tell you much about them. With a band as original as La STPO, such comparisons are utterly useless. You’d be better off discarding everything I (and everyone else) has said and will say, and just hear this for yourself. If my words can’t convince you, their music surely will. Starting with a strange English monologue over a pleasant melody, La STPO create the illusion of calm on the opening track, “I Cuento Blumen.” Don’t be fooled, however. Not all is right at the bird parade, for “my home is dry; I want it wet.” And then we’re off on one of the aforementioned explosions, and from here there’s no looking back as we rocket through the magical world La STPO have created on this album. In this one song alone, I recognize English, French, German, and Spanish. Whatever parts of the album you can’t understand due to the language barrier, however, shine through in the music itself, because, as we know, music is the universal language. And this is a universal album.

Merely captivating me with the opening does not satisfy these guys, however. They still have five more songs full of awesome power and mystique left in which to display their wide array of influences and new ideas. And so we have the highly percussive “Cet à-Mort Vibre L’Air,” which, like its predecessor, provides a brief illusion of beauty before ascending into the madness that so defines La STPO’s existence. There are hints and snatches of familiar melodies here, but none last long enough to allow you a sense of comfort. It is La STPO’s goal with this album, or so I can only assume, to keep you on your toes for fifty plus minutes, never allowing you to guess what comes next, not even after you’ve heard it a hundred times. They achieve this by almost constantly changing tack, developing themes long enough to give the pieces a sense of coherence, but not long enough to allow for any sense of comfort whatsoever. Many bands try this and fail. La STPO try and succeed.

The rest of the album is both similar and vastly different. In its approach to music, the remainder of Tranches De Temps Jete is nearly exactly the same as on the first two songs. It terms of quality, again, the last four songs are the same as the first two (nearly perfect, that is). When it comes to what is actually being played, however, every song is world’s apart from its counterparts. “Jeune Fille Devant Le Miroir” explores the realms of avant-garde jazz similar to but distinct from early Henry Cow (LegEnd and Unrest) as combined with guitar riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place with some of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s less heavy work (the song “Formicary” from In Glorious Times comes to mind in particular, though “Jeune Fille” is far more effective overall). The catchy and the dissonant combine perfectly in this song, creating one of the greatest and most concise musical statements I’ve heard. Percussion is, again, heard in full force, calling to mind Charles Hayward and Pip Pyle in their more “tinkly” moments, but seemingly outdoing both (that’s quite an accomplishment, mind you; those are two of the greatest drummers of all rock/jazz music).

The rest of the album is no less exhilarating than these three songs, combining all the elements I’ve mentioned and more into one fantastic blend. On the whole, Tranches De Temps Jete is a fun and quirky masterpiece that manages to combine humor with fantastic musicianship, a host of formidable influences, and, most importantly of all, a seemingly endless well of innovation. Anyone who believes that modern music is dead needs to hear this album; it has more life than most of the bands of the 1970s combined. Of course, those who understand and appreciate the high level of innovation and intelligence present in modern music also need to hear this album, since it is among the very best of them all. It may be called Slices of Thrown Time, but I guarantee that no time spent listening to this album will be in any way “thrown away.”

Welcome to Folly's Reviews

You might know me from various progressive rock websites. Anyway, I am now creating a blog which will showcase my reviews of CDs I like (or am sent to review by I hope you enjoy.

Some notes about my rating scale:

9.4-10.0: Masterpiece
An album earning this rating has zero weak songs and is astounding all around. Under no circumstances should you avoid an album that I award a rating in this range. For the record, a 10.0 implies the album is perfect.

8.6-9.3: Near Masterpiece
These are albums that, for some reason (be it a weak song or a few average songs) falls just short of the masterpiece rating. Still HIGHLY recommended.

7.0-8.5: Excellent
Albums in this range are fairly consistent from start to finish and have at least one exemplary song (and usually more). Recommended, especially to fans of the genres.

6.0-6.9: Good to Very Good
These cds are worth owning, but generally only for fans of the genre. They are often plagued by inconsistency or unnecessary length.

4.3-5.9: Average to Above Average
The name says it all. Only for fans of the band and/or genre, really.

3.3-4.2: Decent
Nothing special, though.

2.0-3.2: Poor
Unimpressive on the whole, may show moments of promise, but is overall not worthwhile.

0.0-1.9: Terrible
Avoid these like the plague.

If you are in a band and would like to send me something to review, I would be more than happy to do so (though it may take a month after I receive it to actually review it). Give me an email address through which I can contact you, and I will send you mailing instructions.

That's all for this first post.