Sunday, 21 October 2018

Swedish pianist Berndt Egerbladh: Nybyggarland and Kristallen Den Fina

The top photo takes me back to my childhood so vividly.  Too bad today's kids (including mine) to be found only in urban niches like the common pigeon or the raccoon will never share that same sentiment.

This pianist mixed classical and folk songs with a slight jazz tinge.  I like when he pulls out the electric piano for some track, the tension between composed fugue-like structures and the modern (maybe not anymore!) Roland sound is quite entertaining to me.

From the first album, the third track, Lullaby from Vasterbotten:

Note the involvement here of the great Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer (who himself made a string of lovely fusion albums in the seventies up until Presens).

The title track from the second album:

Friday, 19 October 2018

Finally, the EGBA Omen upgrade [with lossless]

I won't say much except to comment that Ulf Adaker, whose eighties work Chordeography I posted a short time ago, wrote virtually all the music on this 1981 record except track A3 (which is by keyboardist Stefan Blomqvist).

Just crank it up and think back to a time when educated composition, extreme originality, and electric instruments worked together to create such perfection for us, for one short, short period that was very soon fated to end completely.

I've included a wav for lossless lovers for that express purpose, and listen to the lovely textures of Egeiska Havet-- beginning with that odd scale on the reverbing electric piano leading into the octave-walking bassline and the laid-back Sunday-afternoon groove:

It's a strong album, and I could've selected any one of its tracks as an exemplar. Shame on the person who ripped it in mono so long ago...!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Back to the dreaded Lajos Dudas with Monte Carlo, 1981

This is the third album to be ripped in this series and it's from 1981 (I think?).  Earlier we had Sunshine State feat. Toto Blanke, and Contrasts.  Here as marked on the cover he is accompanied by the great Hungarian guitarist Attila Zoller who had a long and prolific career in the German jazz scene playing with such famous names as Doldinger and Mangelsdorff since way back in the mid-60s.  (He even made a duo album with the Japanese pianist Masahiko Satoh in 1971 which I'd love to hear.)

At times, they really approach the dynamic inventiveness plus free freak-flag-high jazz spirit of the early Association P.C. minus maybe the top inch of their over-the-top lunacy.  Compositions are by Dudas with the exception of A2, Rumpelstilzchen with its ingenious riffs, which is by Zoller:

I see that A1, the Blues song, was "awarded best composition by the 11th International Competition for Jazz Themes in Monaco, 1982."  (Or perhaps, a very reliable time machine predicted it would win that award the year after this was released.  Mine are not as reliable.)

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Edgar Winter Group's Shock Treatment in 1974

Obviously, after listening to yesterday's Mannequin it occurred to me that although I heard the first album by Edgar Winter, thanks to the smash monster instrumental "Frankenstein--" which honestly, should be THE anthem of 70s rock in my opinion, I had never listened to their other albums, & it turned out there were 2 in that period.

In fact the second album, called Shock Treatment from 1974, turned out to be quite listenable with at least half the songs worthy of a second run round, the other half being by-the-numbers blues rock with scarcely more than 3 chords per song and usually in the key of A or E (maybe C in the case, presumably, of a song written on the piano).  And there was clearly a progressive influence, with the addition of mellotron gracing a couple of tracks.  The closer, called Animal, moreover, went all-out progressive with its oddball chromatics and messed up chords:

A shock treatment here indeed, and every day it surprises me there are gems from the 70s like this one lying around that I never knew about or heard before, in a lifetime spent listening to this music.

Then the third album, "With Rick Derringer," closed the book on this band with another instrumental that attempted to copy the supernatural magic of their huge hit Frankenstein, but didn't quite make it. But it too is well worth hearing.

Bio from discogs:

In 1972, American blues rock multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter brought together Dan Hartman, Ronnie Montrose, and Chuck Ruff to form the Edgar Winter Group, the legendary band that created such classic rock hits as the number one "Frankenstein" and the ever popular "Free Ride". Released in 1973, the band's debut album, 'They Only Come Out at Night', peaked at the #3 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 80 weeks. It was certified gold in April 1973 and double platinum in November 1986. The album has continued to attract critical acclaim, with the All Music Guide labeling its songs as "red-hot".

Look at "all the pretty boys" he put in his band...

Monday, 15 October 2018

Canadian band Mannequin from 1982

This Canadian band, one of a gazillion bands of the same (banal) name, made one ST album in 1982 that is quite similar to Baby Grand which was so popular this past spring, so we're talking hard rock - AOR.  Right off the bat I'll say it's not as good, of course.  But it will be a joy for all those, like me, who grew up on bands like Styx (and later Van Halen) with the high-pitched harmony vocals atop hard guitars and intense rhythms, and a general feel for tongue-in-cheek playfulness.

The first track called Bobbie:

Notice that heavily overused A minor descending chromatic bassline, so famous from Stairway to Heaven, which is back in the news again as the estate of Spirit (not the composer himself, who passed) has won an appeal to retry the issue of plagiarism with regards to their song "Taurus".  Thoughts about that one?  I think everyone can agree the last thing that comes to mind when you listen to the latter song is oh, that sounds like Stairway to Heaven!  Not to mention the descending A minor pattern was used already by George Harrison in "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" and countless other composers beforehand... in fact Led Zep (Jimmy Page) had already employed it earlier for Babe I'm Gonna Leave You.

Listening more carefully to the lyrics I noticed there's a lot of odd gender bending stuff in there-- weird, or maybe, in the era of hair metal, not so surprising.  On the other hand, today, if you mentioned a gender-unsure person needs psychiatric help, you would get into a lot of trouble...

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Paul Panebianco, Sense of Self (2005, limited time only)

I couldn't add more to what has already been written online:

Album Notes:

Paul Panebianco is a Musician and Composer from the Long Island, New York area. He has been studying music since 1977 and composing since 1986.

The Music of Paul Panebianco is a spirited, soulful high and low energy mixture of modern symphonic, avant garde, jazz/rock fusion, progressive and chamber rock influences.

Over the passage of time Paul's music has been developing into what it is today and for the first time you can purchase a high quality recording of his music. Sense of Self was recorded from July 2003 thru September 2004,

"This is the first "Offical" Paul Panebianco album. It was recorded; one man band style, Live drums and keyboards multitracked, its all instrumental and contains reworkings of most of Paul's early compositions, Its the best example of Paul's composing and performing abilities available to date".

Paul Panebianco: Drums, Keyboards

Sense of Self Reviews :

Reviewed by : Larry Kolota, Kinesis Inc. Composer/keyboardist/drummer Paul Panebianco?s first CD is an impressive instrumental work, a one-man show in which he multitracks keyboards and real drums. This is the type of music you don?t produce without at least some formal music education, an adventurous progressive rock with strong fusion and 20th century classical elements. It?s not for everyone, as it does have avant-garde aspects, a complex chordal vocabulary, quirky melodies, and rhythms that constantly twist and turn. Perhaps Univers Zero playing fusion?

Reviewed by : Dave Kerman, CEO ReR USA

I gotta say, it's an extremely well composed gem, and the playing is superb. The melodic prowess is first rate, and it shows an extreme amount of restraint when called for, and balls out when appropriate. It's truly a surprise to hear something so very promising, in this day and age, from a genre usually so squalid, and burdened by the accomplishments of the past.

Reviewed by : John Reagan, Big Balloon Music

Multi-instrumentalist and one-man band Paul Panebianco has put together an interesting avant garde/fusion, polyrythmic and energetic CD of original compositions. He multitarcks keyboard parts and avoids the bane of one-man bands by playing real drums!

Reviewed by : Steve Roberts, ZNR CD's

This artist is one of the breed of musician who just has to do everything himself! Paul wrote everything, produced the disc and played all the keyboards & drums himself. Sorta like a prog/zuehl Todd Rundgren! Overall the music reminds us of latter day Univers Zero! The keyboard samples mimic clarinets, violins, growling Paganotti-like bass lines, mallet percussion and, of course, pianos and synths! Parts recall the solo albums of Benoit Widemann having a slightly fusion feel at times. The majority of this is through-composed modern 'classical' music. The drumming is particularly impressive, complimenting the keyboard parts perfectly. The sound of the recording is a little thin but it doesn't diminish the accomplishment of this fine album. Highly recommended to fans of Univers Zero, Present, Francois Thollot, and Daniel Denis!

Reviewed by : Ron Fuchs

Composer/keyboardist/drummer Paul Panebianco’s first CD is simply an amazing piece of instrumental work. Paul basically does all the instruments himself where he multi tracks keyboards and real drums. The music Paul composes is a type of adventurous progressive rock with both fusion and modern classical elements along with some avant-garde aspects. It’s not something most listeners can digest in one sitting. It’s complex, quirky melodies, and ever changing rhythms will have the afore mentioned avant-garde fan’s drooling over each song. I’d also recommend this to fan’s of the RIO movement as well as listeners that enjoy an adventurous musical journey.

Reviewed by : Bill Noland, Progression Magazine, Issue 48 Spring 2005

Multi-Instrumentalist and Composer Paul Panebianco cites Daniel Denis and Univers Zero as key influences (among others ranging from Peter Hammill to Bartok, Ginstera and Cage). Univers Zero is an excellent comparison point for the music on Panebianco's 2005 release, Sense of Self, on which he plays keyboards and drums, and is credited with all compositions and production. The album's seven tracks (ranging from 3 to over 11 minutes) are squarely in the chamber rock mode, melding rock, 20th-century classical, and occasional jazz influences. Panebianco's playing is generally excellent, particularly on drums and piano. The jazzy piano solo in "Magic Hat" is a musical high point. Bass parts as well as some melody lines (particularly those played on a somewhat overused violin patch) are not as smooth as a real instrument, but the inventiveness of the parts and the music as a whole generally compensate. This album would likely appeal to fans of Universe Zero, Cartoon, or D.S. Al Coda-era National Health. 

Reviewed by : Paul Hightower  Expose issue No. 32 sept. 2005

Paul Panebianco is a writer and musician from New York who's decided to take the plunge into the world of independent progressive music, and I'm glad he has. Though constrained to only drums and keyboards, Panebianco manages to offer up full band arrangements with every track. Since he's primarily a keyboard player, each of the seven tracks has been conceived with this instrument in mind. Piano is often at the core of the songs, sometimes played straight, though Panebianco offers many keyboard sounds as well, such as honky-tonk piano in "Hopeful" or the harmonica-synth in "Shadow Step", or even the tubular bells in "Triumph Over Adversity". Particular Clever is Panebianco's use of a tremulous, high-pitched single violin sound that often juxtaposes against rhythmically and tonally harsher Keys parts. I can't say I've ever heard someone use this instrumental voice in quite this way and it's really delightful. Part of what also makes his songs work so well is Panebianco's appreciation of what the rhythm section can add to such harmonically and rhythmically abstract keyboard arrangements. His bass patch is is wholly convincing and the parts well conceived, plus his drumming reveals surprising finesse and maturity. So often these recordings can prove the old axiom " just because any idiot can record and produce their own music doesn't mean they should ". But Panebianco deserves much wider attention, particularly from fans of groups like The Muffins or Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Recommended.

For me the greatest similarity is to classic Zeuhl along the lines of the great Xalph perhaps, as suggested by the following track, Triumph over Adversity:


I'm also reminded of Ken Watson's Assembly style of advanced composed fusion, or the later albums from the wonderful Radio Piece III's Tesseract I posted earlier, last year in fact.

Notice he didn't make any more music, after this 2005 CDR, which is truly tragic.   
More to come, perhaps?


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Later prog masters Accordi dei Contrari, 4 albums [limited time only]

I rarely am interested in the recent bands, but this one really stunned me.

From discogs:

Italian progressive rock group established in 2001. "Agreement Of The Contrary" took several years to develop their style, balancing their roots in 1970's prog, with a new vitality and compositional feel of their own. Their début "Kinesis" could be compared to Anekdoten or Änglagård with elements of instrumental Premiata Forneria Marconi.

For once, the review is right on the money there.

Specifically what threw me off the chair one day years ago, was hearing the gentle fuzzy voice of Richard Sinclair in a recent album, singing prog that should've been released in the seventies:

Checking out all the music there is a definite masterpiece track which I've listened to hundreds of times since I first found it:

Clearly this composition is as beautiful as anything written in the heyday of European prog, and the violin plus acoustic guitar combo is something you never hear outside of there.

The four albums of course are Kinesis 2007, Kublai 2011, AdC 2014, and Vilato Intatto 2017.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Page Eight's Well well well if it isn't from 1988

The band only made this cassette-only release of improvised jammy half-jazz half-crazed stuff, such as:

A rarity if ever I saw one, to impress your friends...

Sunday, 7 October 2018

EGBA's Ulf Adåker + the Swedish Radio Jazz Group in Chordeography, 1986

Ulf Adaker was the trumpet player and one of the composers in the Swedish fusion group the Electronic Groove and Beat Academy, or EGBA.  I sure hope those who weren't familiar with them were suitably impressed with the high quality of their entire corpus, particularly, as one person mentioned, the first album.  (Like math, music is something to be made by youngsters...)

This album was somewhat jazzier in the big band direction than I was anticipating given the extraordinary fusion he was capable of generating, tokamak-like, in the context of the whole group.  Of course, being a horn player, that would completely make sense.  There are 4 long tracks that have been composed and despite the apparent dissonance on display in the musical notation above, I'm not hearing as much of the Stravinskyesque polytonality I was hankerin' for. Having said that, the title track:

Note the 'silly-swingin' dancin' eighties' style here we've heard so frequently before in these pages.

I'll throw in some more from Radiojazzgruppen that I have in inventory, that to me mostly recalls the Gil Evans / Miles Davis collaborations of the Miles Ahead period (obviously, not as good).

Friday, 5 October 2018

Love Live Life's 10 Chapter of Murder, by request

Somebody requested this a while back and I only just remembered about it.  Amazing how slowly the brain works sometimes.  How it succeeded in bringing back the latent memory indelible in the hippocampus is just amazing.  Good thing I'm not about to become a judge and have to remember precedents.  From discogs:

Love Live Life were an important seminal hub of Japanese rock, a stepping stone between the beat of the 1960s and more experimental rock of the 1970s. They are best-known for the heavy blues rock album Love Will Make A Better You, featuring guest star Kimio Mizutani. However they made another album largely devoid of English text on the cover, mysteriously titled 10 Chapters Of Murder - from Colin Wilson's "Encyclopaedia of Murder" according to the labels, which was some sort of conceptual rock outing with brassy, jazz and soul elements.

Personally I was really and totally underwhelmed with the quality of the music here, it's pretty ordinary jazz-rock of a variety that was common in the late 60s on soundtracks, with very little of the subtlety of the Now '75 compositions.  They throw in the perfunctory dixieland, the crazy yelling, Sousa-like martial music, gunshot sounds, references to familiar songs (The Shadow of Your Smile is quoted on one track) the kind of unmusical zany stuff that was so common back then, but the music itself is completely interchangeable with some of the worst Akira Ishikawa records I posted before.  If you look on discogs's release page here notice the record still sells in the hundreds, proving to me once again how quality of music bears no correlation whatsoever with price as we've seen time and time again (cf. Rhea, the Metaphysical Animation (sold for thousands!), etc.)  I'm guessing part of the attraction of this has to do with the creepy subject matter. 

Also, notice too that Kosuke Ichihara who appeared on Now '75 is on here, along with Shigenori Kamiya who made a nice electronic album called Mu in 1980.  A typical track called Chill at Foggy Night:

Of course when you look online, it's a totally different story, consider the following rabid and hyperventilating quasi-delirious review:

750. LOVE LIVE LIFE + ONE: “Satsujin Juushou – 10 Chapters of Murder” (CBS Sony – SOLL-74002) (Record: Near Mint/ Gatefold Jacket: Near Mint/ Insert: Near Mint). Their follow-up to the highly acclaimed “Love Will Make A Better You”. Unlike its predecessor, “10 Chapters of Murder” is more progressive heavy rock tinted. Released in 1972,“Satsujin Juushou” is a  killer LP, taking off where “Love Will Make a Better You” left off and taking towards the next level of delirious madness, mixing outward bound jazzy moves with heavy progressive rock freak-outs and psychedelic incantations and private ecstatcies. Kimio Mizutani’s wrist-slashing fuzzy guitar licks wah’s through it all like a surgeon operating on some defractored brain, Hammond organ lines slice through it all and heavy horn sections give it a LSD soaked mid seventies Miles Davis kind of vibe you won't be able to recover from without leaving behind a piece of your sanity. Demented howling female laughing vocals pop on through at unexpected times, rendering the whole into an even more disjointed teeth-grinding frenzy, all fused in a cloud of smoke, making it a stranger fusion of fucked up eclectic jazz moves, with unhinged psychedelic rock jamming and transporting it into driven jams of explosive jazzed out cosmic rock. The whole disc is booming over with the proper ingredients for a musical outrage, fucking up with and fusing musical traditions and stranding in a hazy but potent universal horizon obscured by mind bending lysergic mutations and sweating out heavy psychedelics. In short this is a fucking MONSTER. One of the best and still undetected Japanese heavy psychedelic & transcendental jaw-dropping jazzy explorations, all embalmed into one cinematic epiphany meshed together into intoxicating boosted crescendos of crystalline hallucinogenic quivering sonic attacks. Head-spinning, mind-altering freeform psyched out jazz rock, a vicious musical beast from the east, still undetected, bloody rare and unreissued. Highest possible recommendation. Price: 875 Euro

The lysergic-soaked bath is actually taking place in the reviewer's house, not so much on the record.
I'm guessing some of those hundreds of euros went to paying the writer or perhaps paying for his stash.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Swedish fusion masters EGBA in 9 albums

The kind of eurofusion I always talk about, and yearn for, with the mix of classical and very emotional pieces and the warmth and energy of electric fusion although to be honest they never quite get up to the maximum stress test heart rate of others such as Scope or German Katamaran.  Obviously, they were distinctive in their latin influence which I personally detest (mostly due to its sad tendency to descend into musical simplicity) but thankfully it doesn't permeate the whole albums.

Although I thought maybe the name of the artist denotes the E minor chord it actually is an acronym for Electronic Groove and Beat Academy.  What's most tragic about these guys is the fact none of their albums, even the first two masterpieces, were ever released to CD, and they collectively must have put a ton of work into these well crafted compositions, from 1974 all the way up to the 1989 full-named-ST release, a fifteen year tour of duty!  And not even an honorable discharge.

As an example of the highly emotional fusion of which they were capable, which was rare on the North American side of things, Bland Tomtar etc., from Jungle Jam:

It's too bad that spacey solo synth is no longer heard today, it just seems so designed to tug at the heart strings, doesn't it?

The title track of Bryter Upp always surprised me with its ingenious modal jazz hints of Gil Evans + Miles Davis, done in a more abstract and advanced style:

Note that a terrible mono rip of Omen is still circulating online, which is the one I used here down below. I'm going to buy it and rerip it (not at all an expensive investment this time, my wife will be happy about that, not that she will ever find out of course), since it really deserves better.  The track about the Tour de France always really thrilled me, even with left and right channels playing identical sounds thus making it an entirely one-dimensional ride on le vélo:

Finally, notice how attractive the first few covers were compared to the later 80s ones, perfectly coordinated with the musical quality as time passed.