Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Progressive Thanksgiving

I've had a soft spot for progressive rock from an early age. In my teens I discovered it, and through the years have followed it's famous originators to the present day. Certainly every holiday season, I find myself drawn back to it. It's my holiday music.

However, the aesthetic of the 1970's, however beautiful with those raw synth arpeggios, mellotron, and flute, timeless as some are, doesn't match us today. To play like Rick Wakeman would be, well, to play like him. It doesn't show us anything new, it is merely an acknowledgement of that legendary keyboardist.

I've explored contemporary prog in some detail. Mostly crunchy, endeavoring to keep some jazz elements alive with the same type of wonderful time and key changes. The best example I can think of is Matt Stevens. Check Oxymoron. Amazing musicianship, great production. This is really the state of the art in the direction of progressive rock oriented music.

But there are other directions as well. The strength of progressive rock was not the rock, not the sound even, but the ideas that were formed by those composers experimenting with new ways to put things together.

Today there are independent artists who work in this vein. Here some examples:

Helicopter Quartet's Off World
This duo creates wonderful long journeys. Interplay between the two musicians is finely honed, as these two have been working together for a very long time (in actual "prog" bands). Off World builds on the simple beginning to become something so much more.

Isotherme's Song of Sixpence
I'm often surprised by what can go relatively unnoticed by the masses. They certainly miss out on this incredible six part epic from Isotherme. I keep returning to it, and perhaps you will too.

Wolfgang Merx's Buried in the Past
I admit that I've collaborated with Wolfgang myself. That being said, his collaboration with so many other artists on his release Insecurity is a lot of fun. Buried in the Past is a good example.

Seven Seals (And One Spell)

Sitting down to listen to Seven Seals (And One Spell) by Trium Circulorum, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, I found it quite interesting, and listenable. Even as it played, it showed the skill that the composer has in creating sonic, very cinematic pieces. These are interesting and evolving environments, subtly crunching along in a distorted grainy bigness. There's a lot going on in the space created.

I find the engineering and sound to be quite good, and a purchaser gets a very good value due to the length and number of tracks.

Of course, this artist is also electronic acts 3dTorus and Kanal Drei. According to the bandcamp release: "This album is a teaser for and a sneak peek on Trium Circulorum, my new musical home from January 2016 on."

You can find Trium Circulorum on Twitter as @TriumCirculorum.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I've followed the career of electronic pioneer Joel Ebner for a few years now, having reviewed his earlier project City States on the original scatterfilter blog. I always expect well crafted sound when listening to his works.

His new incarnation as Avvenir and the premier release Glyphs are no exception. The structures unfold in subtle ways, providing an elegance to the works. Random percussion and sound effects infect the tone paintings. Ear candy is provided with novel sound design, and clean production. A concept of typography is endemic.

This album is everything an experimental electronic music enthusiast might look for. Certainly it's worth some attention.

You can find Avvenir on Twitter as @_Avvenir and on Soundcloud. Also check the new video for Prepress on You Tube.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Available Light

I never quite know what I'll get when I listen to an Iceman Bob album. As with many artists reviewed here, he is eclectic. Beautiful soundscapes are built with plaintive, or ecstatic, piano, guitar, and synths. His influences are many, from progressive rock to new wave, and be sure to throw in a little jazz.

October's Available Light continues this prolific musician's explorations. Easy to listen to as a cocktail after work, it's mostly downtempo, and anodyne. Compositions are often built around a simple improv, then expanded with other tracks. When there is percussion, it's often an infectious loop. The sound is clean and clear, and the mix is excellent.

You can find Iceman Bob on twitter as @iceman_bob and on soundcloud as well.