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Alister Spence / Satoko Fujii: Intelsat (Alister Spence Music)

Continuing her monthly releases for her 60th birthday, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii meets Australian keyboard and electronic artist Alister Spence for their second meeting, touring Japan and recording this spellbinding album merging bells, gongs, electronics, and acoustic piano, inside and out, in a passionate album that balances melodicism and sound. ... Click to View


Peggy Lee : Echo Painting (Songlines)

Commissioned by Coastal Jazz and Blues and premiered at the 2016 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, cellist Peggy Lee's suite for ten players includes some of the most interesting improvisers on the Vancouver scene, the music multi-layered, texturally varied and melodically rich, with beautiful melodic passages, driving rhythm, and incendiary improv; outstanding! ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Jon Irabagon / Mark Sanders / Jim Bashford: The Rain Sessions (FMR)

Dedicated to Cecil Taylor and taking advantage of NY saxophonist Irabagon's UK visit, this album presents four drum duets "time two", as two tenor saxophonists--Paul Dunmall and Jon Irabagon--meet two musical drummers--Mark Sanders and Jim Bashford--following Dunmall long-standing interest in drum and sax duets, the results this ebullient and remarkable album. ... Click to View


Szilard Mezei Septet: Veres Pancel (FMR)

Vojvodinian composer and violist Szilard Mezei formed this septet in 2005, his 3rd chamber group with a distinctly free jazz voice, citing influences Gyorgy Szabados, Anthony Braxton, Bela Bartok, Witold Lutoslawsky, Gyoryg Ligeti, Jimmy Giuffre, Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, to which we would add Eric Dolphy, here in their second FMR album capturing a live concert in Serbia, 2018. ... Click to View


Phil Gibbs / Marcello Magliocchi / Adrian Northover / Maresuke Okamoto: Sezu (FMR)

An intense live concert in Bristol, UK of collective free improvisation using insane technique and ecstatic drive from the quartet of Philip Gibbs on guitar & banjo, Marcello Magliocchi on drums, Adrian Northover on soprano & alto saxophones, and Maresuke Okamoto on cello & voice, a wonderfully skilled example of unexpected directions in creative free playing. ... Click to View


Runcible Quintet, The: Four (FMR)

London-based free improvisers and members of the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO), this ensemble consists of soprano saxophonist Adrian Northover, flautist Neil Metcalfe, acoustic guitarist Daniel Thompson, double bassist John Edwards and Italian-born drummer Marcello Magliocci, in their second album on the FMR label, a spectacular live performance at I'klectik in 2017. ... Click to View


Dave Sewelson (w/ William Parker): Music For A Free World (FMR)

West Coast baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson leads the accomplished quartet of Steve Swell on trombone, William Parker on bass, and Marvin "Bugalu" Smith on drums through six collective compositions, plus a reprise of Sewelson's earlier "Music for a Free World" compositions, and his new composition "Bill" for guitarist/composer and friend Bill Horvitz. ... Click to View


Frame Trio (Luis Vincente / Marcelo Dos Reis / Nils Vermeulen): Luminaria (FMR)

Recording at Centro Norton de Matos Gymnasium, in Coimbra, Portugal, the Frame Trio led by Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente and Portuguese guitarist Marcelo Dos Reis, with Belgium double bassist Nils Vermeulen rounding out their unique approach to improvised music blending jazz and free approaches as they present their six part "Luminaria" (Luminary) suite. ... Click to View


Free Pantone Trio: A Blink Of An Eye To The Nature Of Things (FMR)

Free Pantone trio is a Portuguese musical group recently created in Lisbon by bassist Rui Sousa, pianist Manuel Guimaraes and drummer Joao Valinho, taking a trans-idiomatic and experimental approach they seek to exploit diverse musical genres and sub-genres from jazz and contemporary music using improvisation and real-time composition as their uniting principle. ... Click to View


Don Cherry / Marion Brown / Evan Parker / John Stevens: Free Jazz Meeting Baden Baden '67 (Hi Hat)

Recorded at the 2nd Free Jazz Meeting (now known as the SWR NewJazz Meeting) in Baden-Baden, 1967, with 4 recordings from the groupings of Jeanne Lee, Albert Mangelsdorff, Gunter Hampel & Pierre Courbois; Marion Brown, Peter Kowald & Sven-Ake Johansson; Albert Mangelsdorff, Evan Parker & John Stevens; and Don Cherry, Evan Parker, Peter Kowald, Buschi Niebergall & John Stevens. ... Click to View


Don Cherry Trio: Studio 105, Paris 1967 (Hi Hat)

The complete broadcast on the French radio station ORTF of Don Cherry's work at Studio 105, Maison de l'ORTF, Paris in March of 1967, finding multi-instrumentalist/trumpeter Don Cherry, also on cornet, piano, bamboo flute, gong, performing with Karl Berger on vibes, marimba, piano, cleste, percussion, and Jacques Thollot on drums, bells, timbales. ... Click to View


Sun Ra: The Early Albums Collection 1957-1963 [4 CDs] (Enlightenment)

A 4-CD collection bringing together 7 full albums and early singles, more than five hours of music from the early part of Herman Blount's, aka Sun Ra's, career as a bandleader, tracint the development of his work from 1957 to 1963 as he introduced increasingly out forms of jazz through compositions like "Sunology", "Interplanetary Music", "We Travel the Spaceways", &c. ... Click to View


Biliana Voutchkova / Michael Thieke: Blurred Music (elsewhere)

Berlin-based violinist Biliana Voutchkova and German clarinetist Michael Thieke (Magic I.D., International Nothing) present a stunning achievement in blending compositional, pre-structured material with live improvisation, creating a blurring of virtually identical sections that create microtonal anomalies in timing, rhythm, timbre and motive, as heard in 3 amazing performances. ... Click to View


Matthew Revert / Vanessa Rossetto: Everyone Needs A Plan (erstwhile)

The second collaboration between sounds artist Vanessa Rossetto and writer and sound artist Matthew Revert is a monumental work that studies the evolution of communication through fragments of spoken words, and a rich tapestry of sound from acoustic and electronic instruments, field recordings, and perplexing and dramatic sources of sound. ... Click to View


Lucio Capece / Marc Baron: My Trust In You (erstwhile)

Two electroacoustic improvisers and composers--Lucio Capece on reeds, analog synths, effects, field recordings, drums machines, speakers in motion, and Marc Baron on field recordings and analog devices--developed these 6 extraordinary recordings that blend motion, perspective, sound and noise, and concrete references in a mystifying and mesmerizing journey in sound. ... Click to View


Melaine Dalibert : Musique pour le lever du jour (elsewhere)

Inspired by the work of Hungarian-born French media artist Vera Molnar, and by the vicissitudes of natural phenomena, French pianist and composer Melaine Dalibert developed algorithmic procedures to compose this work, translating to "Music for the Daybreak", as an illusory "endless piece" of meditative layered, resonant music in the mode of Morton Feldman. ... Click to View


Otomo Yoshihide / Paal Nilssen-Love: 19th of May, 2016 (PNL)

An intensively diverse and thrilling game of "cat and dog" between Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, performing live at Dom Cultural Center, Moscow, Russia in 2016 for two extended improvisations that exemplify incredible technical skills, reflective and introspective dialog, and cathartic release; absolutely impressive. ... Click to View


Marker (w/ Ken Vandermark): Wired For Sound (Audiographic Records)

The debut from this Chicago band merging strong grooves with free playing, with 2 guitarists--Andrew Clinkman & Steve Marquette, plus Macie Stewart on keys & violin, Phil Sudderberg on drums, and Ken Vandermark on reeds, each of the 3 tracks dedicated to an artist: Belgian movie director Chantal Akerman; German choreographer Pina Bausch; and Anthony Braxton and Bernie Worrell. ... Click to View


Vandermark / Kugel / Tokar: No-Exit Corner (Not Two)

the second CD by the trio featuring the tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Vandermark, the drummer Klaus Kugel, and the bassist Mark Tokar has the band back at Krakow's Alchemia Club, bringing these three Chicago and European players together for a skronky, energetic romp of commanding playing alongside unorthodox approaches and powerfully creative intent. ... Click to View


Bobby Zankel & The Wonderful Sound 6: Celebrating William Parker at 65 (Not Two)

Celebrating bassist and composer William Parker's 65th birthday at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia in a band led by Bobby Zankel on alto saxophone, Muhammad Ali on drums, Dave Burrell on piano, Steve Swell on trombone, Diane Monroe on violin, and William Parker himself on bass, in a 4-part suite of beautifully turbulent and masterful free jazz. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Fred Marty / Carlos Santos: Jardin Carre (Creative Sources)

French double bassist Fred Marty joins Creative Sources core performers, violist Ernesto Rodrigues, cellist Guilherme Rodrigues and electronic artist Carlos Santos for an extensive improvisation exploring both lyrical and pointillistic improvisation, themed loosely around a garden quartet or frame, the music detailed, active and formidably sophisticated. ... Click to View


Urlich Mitzlaff : Ten Sonic Miniatures about the "Scream" by Edvard Munch (Creative Sources)

Using Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" as his muse, German cellist living in Portugal, Ulrich Mitzlaff, presents 10 acoustic miniatures from just over a minute to 4 1/2 minutes in length, including wildly interactive moments of delirium to darkly melodic bowed passages, using his impressive technique to create vivid depictions of Munch's work. ... Click to View


4! (Patrizia Oliva / Carlo Mascolo / Domenico Saccente / Felice Furioso): Factorial (Creative Sources)

Free electroacoustic improvisation from the Italian quartet of Patrizia Oliva on voice, electronics, bawu, objects, Carlo Mascolo on prepared trombone, Domenico Saccente on accordion and prepared piano, and Felice Furioso on drums, cupa cupa, contrabbassa, sounded objects, using voice and unusual instrumentation to guide unusual and forward-thinking improv. ... Click to View


Frantz Loriot : Reflections on an Introspective Path (Neither/Nor Records)

French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot's first solo album takes the viola into unusual territory, using an acousmatic approach to create music and sounds with no visual reference by transforming the sound of the viola through preparations and remarkable extended techniques, layering and assembling his works to create concrete statements of movement. ... Click to View


Costa's Acustica, Carlo: Strata (Neither/Nor Records)

New York composer and drummer Carlo Costa assembled this accomplished ensemble of NY improvisers for a live performance at IBeam in Brooklyn, capturing his piece "Strata" that evolves layers of sound from very sparse to densely yet accesibly stacked sound, varying recurring material to change perspectives in the aural space as the piece progresses; impressive. ... Click to View


Flin van Hemmen (w/ Neufeld / Obsvik): Drums of Days (Neither/Nor Records)

Debut album as a leader from drummer and pianist Flin van Hemmen, an evocative album of original compositions and improvisations recorded in a trio with Eyvind Opsvik on double bass and Todd Neufeld on acoustic guitar, with Tony Malaby on alto and soprano sax on one track; a beautifully cinematic and poetic album that allows for space and reflection. ... Click to View


Peter Blegvad : Bandbox [6 CD BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

Starting with Blegvad's "Downtime" LP, this box traces the evolution of the Peter Blegvad Trio into a quintet with Karen Mantler and Bob Drake, released in a solid box with a double CD of alternate versions, unreleased material and live performances, plus a 72 page book of photographs, memorabilia, drawings, documents and recollections; the ultimate reissue! ... Click to View


Roberto Musci / Giovanni Venosta: Messages & Portraits (2018 Edition) (Recommended Records)

A welcome reissue of two 1980s, forward-thinking albums of electronic compositions from Milanese ethnomusicologist composers, sound engineers and performers Giovanni Venosta and Roberto Musci, incorporating exotic field recordings from their world travels into accessibly sophisticated pieces, creating unexpectedly innovative, novel and melodically rich hybrids. ... Click to View


Vitor Rua & The Metaphysical Angels: When Better Isn't Quite Good Enough [2 CDs] (Recommended Records)

Guitarist Vitor Rua (GNR, Telectu) recorded the 15 pieces of this 2-CD set first as a series of overdubbed solo improvisations, using his virtuosic skills to create intriguing and compelling works, which he orchestrated and recorded with the quintet of Hernani Faustino on bass, Luis San Payo on drums, Manuel Guimaraes on organ, Nuno Reis on trumpet, and Paulo Galao on clarinets. ... Click to View


Allen Ravenstine : Waiting For The Bomb [VINYL] (Recommended Records)

Many years after Pere Ubu and his work as a pilot, one of the world's most unique synth players, Allen Ravenstine, releases an album of composed works, 18 discrete hybrid miniature sound worlds that blend acoustic, real-world and synthetic sounds in unorthodox ways that elusively twist conventional approaches with unexpected elements and narrative twists. ... Click to View


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  The Red Masque 
  Fossil Eyes  
  (AdHoc Records) 


  
   review by Joseph Schafer
  2009-03-15
The Red Masque: Fossil Eyes (AdHoc Records)

There was a time long ago when progressive rock meant more than virtuoso musicians, long songs, and the occasional bout of odd time. Recently bands like Tool and Muse have broken into the mainstream with pseudo-prog heavy on listener-friendliness and very light on anything… well… progressive. Sure, the music scene worldwide was once full of innovators like Ruins and King Crimson, bands who genuinely attempted to provide with their music what others in the psychotropic business were providing: a genuinely mind-bending experience.

The Red Masque are taking back the banner of prog on their third full-length FossilEyes. The disc is nearly an hour of unapologetically out-there music with a focus on unorthodox instrumentation and unsettling atmospheres. Information on the band itself can be as obscure as the music, but this much is known for sure: the Philadelphia three piece, led by vocalist Lynette Shelly, have a dedication to throwing rulebooks out of windows. With gothic and virtuosic help from multi-instrumentalist Brandon Ross and percussionist Brian (Koworn) Van Korn, Shelly creates a unique sound and aesthetic equal parts Hammer Horror and zeuhl.

This is not your father’s prog. Melody takes a back seat to mood and dynamics on this album. FossilEyes does use the traditional extended-song prog format, but sports a few extremely short songs; half the album’s tracks clock in at under 2-and-a-half minutes, but these cuts never feel like bridges or interludes. Acoustic and electric guitars mix and match here with reckless abandon until the difference between the two becomes negligible.

The songs slither and lurch from movement to movement much like the animals they are named after. “Das Snail,” one of the strongest cuts on the disc, metamorphoses from an abstract and jazzy arpeggiation to a lumbering, slow-paced monstrosity as it collapses and reforms under the weight of its own melodrama. With the occasional touches of heavy metal present (a la Porcupine Tree) the band firmly plants itself in the hazily defined outer limits of “extreme” music.

The Red Masque employs the use of noise as an instrument, especially on closer “The Anti-Man,” but at no point in time does the music descend into a mere texture of sound. At least one part of the music is clear and distinct, usually the drums, which often take on a folk or tribal character during the noise segments. The music is not emotional, or compelling; the band takes inspiration from their horror movie soundtrack imagery, so they focus on creating an unsettling feeling in the listener. The album succeeds in this endeavor because the music never becomes catchy or repetitive enough to make a deep impact. Instead the songs introduce new motifs and ideas in rapid succession.

Lording over the rest of the music like a dominatrix is Shelly’s voice, which rarely reaches a fragile vulnerability, but normally maintains a baroque howl. Occasionally she descends into Diamanda Galas-like shrieks and orgiastic howls. Her lyrics (when clear enough to understand) are foreboding, but thoughtful. The theme of the album would appear to have something to do with evolution, or the food chain, but most of that takes a back seat to the broad and bold strokes of musical color that The Red Masque paints with.

While the songs do hearken back to the sheer bravado and musical adventure of older prog bands, it falls into the same pitfalls — some of the songs are heavy-handed (see opener “The Spider is the Web”) and get bogged down in the sheer multitude of bridges and transitions. All of the songs, even some of the short ones, are overloaded with time signature changes and guitar freak-outs — it often comes across as forced. The album does not flow, and can feel jagged on the crucial first couple of listens. Still, all is forgiven during the beauty of the album’s climaxes, such as “The Anti-Man” and “Poltphemus,” when the guitar becomes smooth and sensual, and Shelly abandons her actress’ mask in favor of a better role: rock singer. None the less, with personality and punch, Fossil Eyes is an album that takes its listener by the throat and demands to be heard.



The Red Masque: Fossil Eyes
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