Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jon Anderson band: Jordan Rudess, Jean-Luc Ponty + others

I'm just passing this along, but don't have a ton to write about it at this point. With Jordan and Ponty and that rhythm section, the odds of this sounding jazz-fusiony seem high. An odd mix, with a drummer who played with Michael Jackson even.

I hope this will end up being not so much one of those super groups on paper people salivate over, but doesn't really translate to WRITING GOOD SONGS, JAMS,ETC. But I guess with that in mind, it'll certainly be worth looking forward to. This article says it's being recorded in May, so it may even get released by the end of 2014. We'll see.

This group LIVE might be more intriguing certainly.

Jon Anderson, who has principally toured as a solo act since leaving Yes in 2004, is building a new band around the former Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Now, he’s ready to talk about the rest of the lineup.
“We got in touch with [Dream Theater stalwart] Jordan Rudess, who is really a ridiculous piano and keyboard player and a really great rhythm-section players,” Anderson tells Aspen Public Radio. “You’ve got Rayford [Griffin] on drums, and Baron [Browne] on bass. These are very, very funky, slightly sort of cosmic guys. Everybody seems to be on the same sort of planet, which is kind of nice.”
Griffin has worked as a sideman over the years with Ponty, Stanley Clarke and Michael Jackson, among others. Browne has also collaborated with Ponty before, as well as Billy Cobham, Steve Smith’s Vital Information and Brian McKnight.
Anderson says he met Ponty when “he played on a track that I did with a friend of mine, Michael Lewis — who introduced my to Jean-Luc.” Anderson adds that they hope to begin recording in May and June. “We’ll just see what comes,” he says. “We’ve already written some music together via the internet, which is a great modern studio. We’re sort of on the way.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that he’ll be mounting the kind of globe-trotting tours that his former band became known for over the years. “It’s not something that I miss at all,” Anderson says. “I’m just starting up with a new band this summer, and we’re going to do some recording for next year. If it happens, I will be very happy. But it’s not the reason why you make music.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Some quotes about Opeth's upcoming 2014 LP from MA

3/28/14 9:51PM
Early Review many details, but no specific track title info, not even "Goblin." The no growling or death metal vocals continues in the way Mikael has been heading from album to album.

Not necessarily the track order in terms of song to song.

1. 6:46
2. 5:36
3. 10:53
4. 4:36
5. 4:32
6. 7:31
7. 7:47
8. 8:02

3/21/14 6:27PM
2 new interviews:

the 2nd link ix with guitarist Fredrik Akesson who talks about a strong late 70's/early 80's Hard Rock element to this album. Dio, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd among others in the influences.

And it's expected to come out in June via RoadRunner Records.

1/5/14 8:40PM
The Goblin track naturally has me and many curious. Also some of the quotes talking about an actual string section and recording at the studio Queen recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody," and how much money they will be spending to make this record.

From 1/4/14
Guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH spoke to Decibel magazine about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's follow-up to 2011's "Heritage".

"I have about six songs done and another two or three just started," he said, "plus a million ideas that I haven't processed yet. Some songs are simple and stripped-down, while others are epic in the true sense of the word. Business as usual, hopefully with unusual music."

Åkerfeldt also revealed that he plans to enrich at least a few of the new OPETH tracks with strings.

"Some of these things could easily be done with synthetic sounds or effects," he said, "but recording the STORM CORROSION LP with Steven Wilson made me realize what a massive difference it can mean to incorporate the real shit. I'm semi-pretentious in my songwriting and sometimes I go all in. I think it's time for 'all in' with strings and the full monty. Hopefully it won't be a mess."

One of the songs that will appear on OPETH's forthcoming album was previously described by Åkerfeldt as a "crazy rip-off" of Italian prog outfit GOBLIN, which formed in 1972 and ran for ten years before splitting (the band has since reformed).

"It's a jam I came up with during the MASTODON/GHOST tour," he told Decibel, "that we ended up soundchecking. After a few days, you'd hear people in the corridors humming it. It's a fucking hit! But basically it's a not-so-subtle headbanging-type nod in GOBLIN's direction. And to avoid confusion, the song is even called 'Goblin'. My rip-off deteriorates mid-song and becomes fusion-esque darkened prog rock like MAHAVISHNU or ELP (yikes!). But it swings! It really does."

Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Expressen in September, Åkerfeldt stated about OPETH's plans for the upcoming CD: "We've been looking at [tracking the next album at] Rockfield Studios in Wales where QUEEN recorded 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but we haven't made a decision yet. But it will be an expensive album. There's a lot going on, lots of string arrangements that we haven't had in the past."

Asked if the forthcoming effort will be heavier or softer than 2011's "Heritage", Mikael said: "Maybe a little bit heavier. Not death metal heavy, but hard rock/heavy metal heavy. There's also lots of progressive elements and acoustic guitars, but also more sinister-sounding riffs."

Åkerfeldt also revealed that he was going to produce the new OPETH album himself, explaining: "I love the way DIO's 'Holy Diver' sounds, this early-'80s sound where you can still hear the '70s, but the production is heavier. Right now I'm into having a similar production that isn't retro but it still sounds like real instruments and it's heavier than 'Heritage'."

"Heritage" sold 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 19 on The Billboard 200 chart. The band's previous studio CD, 2008's "Watershed", opened with more than 19,000 units to land at No. 23.

from 12/4/12

Asked about the progress of the songwriting sessions for OPETH's follow-up to 2011's "Heritage" album, Mikael said (see video below): "I have one new song, which I really like, a new song. It's the most miserable song I ever wrote, and it's beautiful, I think. And then I have a song that we jammed, actually, on tour. I came up with a little lick and became a bit of a director and just told everyone to play this and that, and we started jamming on something. And it sounded, immediately from the beginning, which was also my idea, it sounded like the band GOBLIN, if you heard them, the Italian [progressive rock] band. So it's a crazy riff, a GOBLIN rip-off, and the song is called 'Goblin', which is a good title, I think. And we're gonna record it. I'm not sure if that will be too much of a fucked up song to be on the record, because there will definitely only be one song ever we do that is gonna sound like that. So maybe it'll just be some extra thing that we have. But it's really good; I love it. But then again, it's just because of the closeness to GOBLIN."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Significant Albums: Kaddisfly - Set Sail the Prairie (2007)

In becoming a fan of dredg in 2005, I ended up finding an active online community known as "Traversing" and like I had with some other bands, namely Dream Theater about 10 years before, I ended up enjoying talking about and learning of other bands who the fans of dredg really enjoyed.

And it may have been from a user named Spectre1982 aka Shane or some others, but I remember checking Kaddisfly out in the early months of 2006 with their record Buy Our Intention: We'll Buy You a Unicorn.
It may have been the identical trip to Cheapo in late 2005/early 2006 among the cds I picked up, 1 was a promo of Oceansize's Everyone Into Position and that Kaddisfly cd.

Both of them I liked, but didn't fall in love with right away. But I remember about Buy Our Intention, thinking, this band has a lot of interesting ideas, but I'm not sure if they have perfected them all on this album. From various kinds of songs, using piano, to hardcore screaming to a thematic or conceptual element.

And I'd guess I listened to Buy Our Intention at least a dozen times over the next 3 or more months. I even recall the band playing at Station 4 in February or March, but I missed them for some reason. I just recall thinking, parts of this album I find a bit low-fi or missing something, but there also were these great little sections I loved and found were worth getting through the rest of the songs/album to hear. Although I also recall part of why I didn't love everything on the record was Chris Ruff's vocals. His annunciation and  some of the vocal melodies did sound sort of *emo* for lack of a better word.

But, I would guess it was around May, a few users (not Shane) started talking about the next record for Kaddisfly. And even getting to hear it, and it was supposed to be released in the late Summer or Fall. I even think the band may have shared the song "Campfire" online, likely on myspace or their official site perhaps. And I know I found that song impressive, even more than anything on BOI.

And not too much later, I was able to hear the whole record and suddenly, I began to see and hear Kaddisfly in an entire new and better way.

The record was titled Set Sail the Prairie, which was the title of the 2nd-to last track on BOI in fact, and the 3rd-to-last was that album's title track. The last track also was connected being titled Horses Galloping on Sailboats, which many now know of course is still yet to be released (but it seems imminent sometime in 2014 now it finally will).

But as I, like many others had the chance to hear SSTP in the Summer of 2006, I became addicted to it. It was a record that took you on a journey, even just in terms of the themes, styles and titles of nearly each track, which represented a month on the christian calendar and seemed to capture that period of time's mood, weather (in North America at least) and such. Which added another dimension to this album and the band's sound.


Summer Solstice: this is a nice intro narrative poem, which kind of foreshadows many parts of the lyrics. the ending kind of tells me, there's this fast coming storm, that will be impossible to ignore.

Campfire (Junio) 4:43: the aforementioned impressive track, really has great energy. The rhythm is almost dance-able.

Welcome to your life, you better watch your steps. they can turn to fire, they can sear it through your shoes.

And through your feet Move up your legs and eat away your heart until you
You walk a path with love Then you could be happy And your feet and head and heart will
Get along comfortably And you might even breathe easily

Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there
Albeit obvious If we don't speak No one can lend an ear
With anyone Or with anything Or underneath a budding tree
No matter how much you've thought Or how much you've grown Or how much you've learned
Or how much you think you known Or how much you've grieved
Or you've forgiven Or how much you love You will never know
Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there
Albeit obvious We'll never die We'll merely disappear

I absolutely love the bridge and the way there's almost this soaring element to the vocals and guitars.  The "You will never knohhhhhhhhhhhh."

this song explores many moods, from happy to serious, to almost funny. It really sets the stage for the trip you as the listener takes, and even the story of sorts of an Owl's trip around the globe through different seasons, seeing different lifeforms, people, weather, messages, and even revelations from learning through experience.

Waves (July) – 4:37
This track opens with a nice piano intro.

The lyrics almost sound like gibberish. But the line "No prophet has ever been Accepted in his own village" I've always found interesting.

edit: thanks to a passionate fan/online friend, he pointed out the opening lyrics which are sort of a word play (and I still struggle with at times what they sound like) actually spell out alphabetically.

(An)apostolic Beliefs Conjure Divine Earthly Faith... yeah, yeah Gainsaying Heavenly Intu-, intuition Juxtaposing... yadda-yadda-yadda-ya Kindred Love Make No Opposition Providing Quizzical Rationality Stunning Treasure Undy-, undying Virtuous Will X, Y, Z, oh...

I listen to this song and picture canoeing with a formidable tide. Aaron Tollefson's guitar riffs and Beau Kuther's snare pattern drive the chorus of this song really well. Very tight rhythms and interplay between the rhythm section and the vocal melodies. I also often think the line "But here's the thing with time" Later on they reference time and needing it (Clockwork?) and how its value is made from perception.

An owwwwl over the hill knows the moon And clear as a river, like flowers, we bloom
Fahhh-ster when we're farther from the shayyyde Before you growwww ohhhld, don't get snipped and sohhld.

I really love the sort of echoing, and banging guitar lines on this song. As I grew to really get into Kaddisfly's music, I think one of the biggest parts were Aaron Tollefson and Kelsey Kuther's dual guitar assault; they use a  variety of moods and textures, even within 1 song. And "Waves" is one of many examples of that throughout SSTP. They use what sounds almost like a wobbly echoing effect so well.

Waves eventually leads to this cool almost reggae-like section, which beyond the band's influences, I suppose part of that on this song, and many others on this record, it is overtly bring various cultural styles of music.
Since we all are dealt zero sum hands We should have a little compassion
But people sure can be incompetent At understanding this concept
Be offended by the things we've done Be offended by the shade of our thumbs

Be offended by just where we stand One day, I swear

I've probably said "One day I swear" more times I care to admit, but the lyrics there do speak to many ideals, in wondering why people don't understand your interests, tastes or perspectives, for better or for worse. I suppose the band may have dealt with some of that personally as well.

Harbor (Agosto) – 4:35 This song starts off with this cool off-beat rhythm.
It goes into this section that the lead part is almost played on the off-beat. "Under-stah-annndeeen is only comeeen when you dispose of the breathless bahhhhdeee."

The part where Chris Ruff repeats "when you deees-.pohhz uhhhhv a boh-ah- boh-awww-boh-awww-bawwww-deee" and the guitars get rather playful.

Then the little piano part comes in before 'Be aware, Be aware, Be aware"..which takes it back to the "Understandeeeeeeen.." chorus again.

The last verse the lyric "At this point. I'm off" I usually heard as "This boy. A moth" lol, which I suppose says something about the annunciation of so many of the lyrics and vocal melodies/phrases singer Chris Ruff uses, but I think for those who actually got into Kaddisfly's music, those silly little aspects to the music are so secondary, that he could be singing in a made up language and it wouldn't matter, because the music and the actual vocal sounds work on many levels past that.

The almost ragtime piano in the bridge is another part of this song that I enjoy as well.

Birds (Septembre) – 6:03:
Naturally, with a song titled "Birds," they use what sounds like a bird-sound of chirping as an intro and throughout other moments on this song. I guess overall, I have always enjoyed the soaring, methodical tone of this song. It almost is a narrative of a bird's perspective.

As we said a prayer the night gave us a song and gave us a voice so we sang along.

This tune is like 1 beautiful ballad-jam of some kind, that I'm sure could have lasted twice or 3 times as long.
Maybe my favorite part of it though is the soaring almost ethnic sounding female chanting vocals with the acoustic guitar, which eventually you hear her sing the chorus from Campfire.
Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there

I get goosebumps every time I hear that part. Although it kind of sounds like the journey of a traveler on horseback in the old west at the same time.

Clouds (Heshvan) – 3:41
Maybe the heaviest song and heaviest part of this record with the opening riff. I know they sort of took the idea of going from the warmth of Summer and how in October mother nature can be a bit cruel in the changes in climate. Also the way "Birds" being probably the quietest or softest track into "Clouds" being the heaviest, was likely intentional, and a cool dynamic. Although I got into a terrible habit of always having to turn the volume down when that opening riff came in. I suppose it was due to not having it on so loud, my co-workers wouldn't have to ask me to turn it down.

But beyond that riff, I really grew to enjoy "Clouds." The chorus "After all that we've said and done, the sky still gives us the sun every morning when we wake up. So feel privileged that we're the ones, who are given so much and yet are so undeserving.  Including on the 1st verse the echoing "whoah whoah whoah" I often think of this song for.

Also the thick, driving, forceful., angry guitar riffs lasting more or less throughout the whole track. It really does show yet another side to their sound. I've seen a number of bands who people hear or compare Kaddisfly to. I suppose this may be one of the tracks that people heard Incubus in.

Empire (Noyabr') – 4:25
Maybe the catchiest track on here, and the one they made an official video for. I came to the point, introducing anyone to them and this record, this had to be the song to suggest 1st.  It's really catchy and happy sounding. Among other things, it features some great high-hat patterns.

We are quiet like birds With swiftly tilting minds And wings that are made of humility, yeah
We are quiet like birds With secrets like butterflies And we can only fly if we use our wings

The wording "a decent fashion" is another example, where the lyric's sound didn't matter, but I always hear "80's in fashion," lol.

That chorus is just so bloody strong and ear-wormy, I just wondered how most music lovers couldn't enjoy it. And the little piano part in the bridge stands out as well.

How big is a rainbow? How big is a smile? And can you tell me which weighs more?
We can all fly if We just believe

That last line, very much makes me think of the title of their 1st record Did You Know People Can Fly?

"Winter Solstice" – 1:20: This is a nice interlude piano piece from Chris Ruff that leads to the big epic track"Snowflakes."

Snowflakes (Desember) – 7:48: A little like "Clouds," the intro riff is extremely heavy. But then it transitions well, mainly a few minutes in after the 1st verse with the guitar melody and the line "A body's not a home Free will is not an art The wind can either help this sail or rip it apart...We're not as much a part of Earth as we see fit."

The band almost sound like a machine on this song. So many layers and the tones sound really thick.
"Human experience can be a misleading cartoon The true nature of things shadows our human"
Right after that line, what I suppose could be called a guitar solo, just gets crazy and insane. It's like noise, but refined or something. Because I'm not into noiserock really (I'm looking at you St.Vincent), but this song and that part of the song, over some time, totally grew on me. It's really badass.

The chorus comes back in and eventually leads to this gorgeous piano section, which is among the best transitions and use of dynamics on this album. I totally love that section (and I'd almost go for it to last longer than it actually does of course). But the band then finds a dynamic call-and-response between ragtime piano, and heavy riff back and forth in conversation. I remember distinctly hearing some little trailer clip, likely around or after hearing "Campfire," or them playing that example of the quick change in dynamics in a split second. It's clever editing and mood changing that works incredibly well.

Eventually the heavy riff leads to a HUGE climax of noise, energy and chaos.

Via Rail (Janvier) – 5:23 My 1st and still probably my favorite Kaddisfly song. This song is so grand and majestic. It's like a fairy tale or prayer for the world. I suppose representing January fits that, sort of looking to have a good new year, etc.

The way it marches on in the narrative and the drums works so well. Even the vocal harmonies I often get goosebumps from hearing because they sound so dreamy.

I guess my strongest among many memories about this song is playing it a number of times 1 in July or August of 2006 and thinking, from the bridge-on, the crazy off-beat section is like King's X and Faith No More and a bunch of other bands wrappd into one. And I thought if the progheads heard this, they should catch on. Which I suppose it may have been this song or others, that did it to a point, but sadly probably not what I figured (silly me).


The nest of clay was forged into eternity atop the corner of the world, while the ocean floor was now covered..covered in gold, silver, and sand, yes it was!

the ocean floor was now covered in gold, silver, and sand.

The nest of clay was forged for eternity atop the corner of the world, while the ocean floor was now covered..covered in gold, silllllver..silver and gold..silver, and goh-h-ohhh-old

So build a house of clay and never ever, ever, ever uhhhhhhnder-estihhhhmayyyyte
what the dead can do for the living. If you listen closely you'll hear the harmony of
every man and woman who's passed away You better believe it's a song for the living.

The riff in the outro is so badass.

The lyric about the nest of clay withstanding the heat, almost reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with the Holy Grail not being made out gold or silver, but Clay "That's the work of a Carpenter" lol as Harry Ford says.

But that vocal phrasing and line is crazy badass and so infectious. Even the line about every man and woman who passed away..and it's a song "for the living" etc sort of speaks out, in a profound and desperate way. It really could be memorable and important, if it and maybe its message of some kind, actually found more ears and resonated with people, younger people namely, but unfortunately Kaddisfly were/are a little too obscure at this point for that to happen sadly.

Silk Road (Pharvarì) – 5:27 Igt "Life is not a perfect game."
I often think this song represents India or some middle eastern perspective.

Fauuuuult isn't the emerald sky It is the ivory lie told through our eyes when there's no other way out, there is another way out your feet are the ground, one field of white

Crimson solitude lends yellow waves Patches of what was green now is white And what was future now is hindsight Brick and turquoise, dancing violet strands Bluish topaz acquiescent nerves bleed magenta

That 1st verse uses the term "Crimson Solitude" which also is the title of a track from BOI, which is another tie-in or part of the concept between the 2 albums.

I love this track nearly as much as "Via Rail," for different reasons I suppose.

so avoid the ones with the quick tongues those who talk away, way too much pour one out for those who've been blessed with the gift  of silence and the grace to use it.

This line referring to those who talk too much, for one, I often think of the lyric "sometimes we talk so damn much" from the following track "Mercury." But also from a literal sense, I suppose it can be referring to people who are fast-talkers with an agenda. For money or persuasion. Even in a religious motivation. I suppose the point of this being in some middle eastern perspective and religion being so visible in that part of the world's culture (or just spiritual beliefs) it might suggest coming from an important spiritual person. Whether it be the Dali Lamma or someone like Deepak Chopra even.

we are the speed of light and we ride frequencies like the wind

Eventually a part this song includes these little slightly jazzy/cloudy synths over Chris's vocals. And from the last words "just wait" the band goes into such a magical climax with the soaring guitar and piano layers. and then the chorus

Fauuuuult isn't the emerald sky It is the ivory lie told through our eyes when there's no other way out, there is another way out your feet are the ground, one field of white

Mercury (Sān Yuè) – 5:07 Many people I used to notice adore this track. And I've always liked it, although after the previous two I think it hurt my ability to enjoy it as much as I could have. That being said, I still like it and it did grow on me over time.

"Sometimes we talk we talk so damn much..that we forget for what we ever started talking in the first place...

In a land of pirates, I'd be more concerned With what comes from your mouth than what you put in So flood your deck with quips fit for royalty I bet your ship sinks with the wave of so many

Maybe my favorite section is the last verse

There's a battle in a backyard alley Brothers fight over what's not there These siblings will be sad to find that war is the winner We keep fighting for position in a human race that never began Where the start and the end are both made up of the same thin air

The reference to a battle of a human race that never began is kind of compelling. The music and concept of this album and BOI is kind of about our planet Earth, life on it, how it evolved and humans evolved. So that line does speak to it in a bunch of metaphorical ways. It kind of reminds me a little of some of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (or 1 of the other Douglas Adams books) when they meet the cavemen if I recall and trying to teach them how to play checkers I think, but don't recall exactly. I mean the War part, and Pirate Ship maybe not so much, but just the start of human evolution. BOI is the beginning or past, SSTP is the present, and Horses Galloping is the future.

Clockwork (Sì Yuè) – 3:46 Kind of an odd track, and transitional.

They say, "wait for such and such an event to happen,"
Call their bluff After all, the end is the beginning, my friend Oh, we exist in four...

There are a million points of view And a billion conversations
But there is only one end It will end one day  There's one reason

We live in three dimensions But we exist in four, not three, oh...

The line "after all the end is the beginning" kind of hints towards the 12 month cycle is coming close to being reset. The line "we exist in four..." being 4 dimensions, not 3, is some kind of step into another evolutionary point. Like the character has a revelation of some kind ala Neo in The Matrix or you name the Scifi story.

Musically, the section that starts "There are a million points of view" almost sounds kind of math-rock like, which for a song titled "Clockwork" it sort of fits as mathrock can be described like it's using a clock or clockwork in terms of the emphasis on rhythms.

The outro also features albeit brief but still wonderful energy. And then slows down saying to grab a cocktail and then we hear some woman interviewing or chatting with 1 of the guys, I think Beau, Kaddisfly's drummer about their albums and mentioning it being followed by "Horses Galloping"...which to me totally foreshadows what is or should come. But again, goes back to BOI and the last 3 tracks. But on this album, transitions into "Forest" which mentions the title of the album.

Forest (Maй) – 11:13 
Very epic track. "It is our birthday"

"We will be the ones with our hands raised to the sky"

It will be the end of the world, it will be the beginning of it all. Don't let ignorance harm you, ignore your circumstance. Don't. Don't be. Don't be Summer.

This song is like a march and statement that more or less anything that comes your way, shouldn't stop or affect you.

The driving guitars and drums continue  Namely after one of the parts with the line "Don't be Summer."

That angry, intense movement then leads to this wonderful, peaceful sounding section, which is another great use of changing dynamics and time. It also includes some Eastern or ethnic percussion (xylophone? although I also know they used things like melodica and some other non-traditional percussion at points on this record, so I can't be sure).

Then this great clean-toned guitar part comes in and the vocal:
"You were born today, to Set Sail the Prairie..."..which gets really dreamy including vocal chants.

It will be the end of the world, it will be the birth of it all, oh of it all

Then the big climax starts up and gets bigger and bigger and so great. That repeated section with the way the percussion guitars and increasing of layer after layer, including some almost Pat Metheny-like trumpet-synthy guitar parts.

Two big things that I always think of when listening to this song and the ending in particular. For one being I think of some kind of journey and reaching a point of getting out of a vastly big and long Forest or Woodsy trek, and reaching the point of destination.

2ndly from a musical standpoint, the way that great line is repeated I dunno, 25 times or something, but eventually stops and we just hear the guitars and drums and such, I always hear it beyond that point until the very end of the album. I recall telling Chris Ruff that once and he was really moved by it. Maybe it's a timing thing (is in 9? I forget what meter it is in), but it fits rhythmically perfectly for the rest of the track.

And of course, the last few seconds you hear the galloping horses which I suppose pretty much is assumed will be referenced if not started off on the Horses Galloping on Sailboats with, when that record does come out.

In conclusion, this record kind of possessed me, at a time a ton of music sort of did. But I don't think I ever was so taken in by a record and had such high hopes for the response to it. Ultimately, the response maybe wasn't what I envisioned or hoped for, but as time has passed since that period of 2006 and 2007, I've come to not worry and be happy about its place in modern rock music and my personal love of music and great albums.

It was and still is such an inspirational record and so many songs stand out in diffrent ways. Even the big concept, which the band themselves may not have desired to overshadow how great the music is, still is fascinating enough for me and many others. I think it'll probably be one of those records that will be loved by a niche audience for many years. Whether Horses Galloping helps or hurts its legacy, I somehow doubt it. I even wonder how HGoS will stack up, but it really won't matter a ton because how much of a landmark record this is.

video forces you to click on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Significant Albums: Pain of Salvation - The Perfect Element I (2000)


In the year 2000 (in the year tewww thouww-saaaaaaaaaaan" lol) Dream Theater were kind of becoming all the rage, I suppose in a 2.0 sort of way given their comeback of sorts record Scenes From a Memory had rejuvenated them after a few years of polarized reaction to the overt commercial attempt of Falling Into Infinity.

But at that time, I was starting to investigate new bands, namely still in my favorite genre of sorts around that time, progressive metal. And I forget when it was announced, but I would guess around November or December of 2000, the inaugural ProgPower USA festival was announced to be taking place in February 2001, in Chicago (or Lansing, IL at JJ Kelley's, which in effect was a bar actuallly) of all places. And the 2 headliners were Symphony X and Sweden's Pain of Salvation.

Those were 2 bands I had seen a lot of talk about online especially, and I also recall the Dream Theater fanzine as well. And they both had released new albums I want to say in the Fall. But I hadn't heard any music from either of them, but I distinctly recall hanging out in #mikechat the Chatroom on Mike Portnoy's forum one night in December, and my friend Paul C aka Pellaz talked me into thinking of going, especially due to the cost of a ticket ($25? I recall, for both days, 11 or 12 bands or something).

So, I ended up purchasing both Symphony X's new record V: The New Mythology Suite, and Pain of Salvation's The Perfect Element I a few weeks later.

Now I might mention briefly, the name Pain of Salvation I had seen maybe a year or 2 before in either Progression magazine or more likely James Bickers new printed publication Sea of Tranquility, and I recall an email list I was on for progressive rock titled "epigram" and I emailed a fella from Europe about some bands, 1 being Pain of Salvation. I recall a description being something like "avant garde prog metal" or something, which had me curious but also not highly optimistic..

But I don't think it was until they got confirmed for PPUSA that I even heard their music.

And unlike a ton of other people on the forums I noticed over the years, their music I actually enjoyed from the start. I purchased a copy of this record and I recall immediately enjoying a lot of it. maybe 1st and foremost, the track "Her Voices." Which has a slow but gradual build but then leads to this wonderfully uptempo time change that features incredibly catchy rhythms.

That section is fast, but flows perfectly. The interval patterns and changes in keys. The keyboards and what sounds like fretless bass from Kristoffer Gildenlow stood out a lot to me.

So, enjoying "Her Voices" a ton, I began to enjoy the rest of this record over a little time. I still have some vague memories of playing this record frequently in December and January of 2001 at my old job in Bloomington, MN. Especially late at night (I used to work a 2nd shift, and sometimes overtime into the wee hours of the morning). And for example on the track "In the Flesh" the contrasting verse to the chorus before the instrumental bridge

But She will fly, she will fly, she will fly
Before it dies

But She's afraid, she's afraid, she's afraid

Sometimes the hands that feed
Must feed a mind with a sick need
And the hands that clutch can be
The same hands that touch too much
Eyes that hungrily stare
Read in an access that's not there
While eyes close to hide tears
Or look away in fear
Run away!

The doubling section of vocals with I think guitar, or possibly guitar and keys, that are not an identical octave, but they totally work on a melodic and harmonic level. Oh man, I swear that part specifically made me totally fall in love with this album and band and I knew I had to go see them in Chicago (also the fact I had gone to Nearfest only 7 months earlier and they were from Sweden so I wondered if it might be the 1st and last chance to ever see them, that I might regret).

And I won't elaborate extensively about that show in Chicago in February as the focus of this is about this album, but I'll just say, to this day, that remains the greatest concert/performance I've ever witnessed (despite their not even playing "Her Voices").

But why that section of "In the Flesh" got me so much, I suppose for one, it was so unusual and odd, and it sort of reminded me of Faith No More. I kind of started to see Pain of Salvation as like a progressive metal version of Faith No More and I'll not deny, a lot of their sound reminded me of the classic period of Queensryche.

But the bridge actually in "In the Flesh" I grew to love and get goosebumps. In fact, the whole bloody song really is just so moving. Some of the guitar parts or tones in the 1st couple of verses almost make

The bridge is also godly. I swear it is such a goose-bumper with the way the guitar comes in and then piano and then Daniel's deeper vocals.

Now she bites the words
She kicks the ground
Swallows her tears
"Never will I go back"
She hits the walls
"Leave me!"
Scratches herself
"Leave me!"
Begs to all Gods
"Rip me from this sick flesh!"

and then leads eventually to a climax and then calming which ends in that line "Back to the adults of her home" and an absolutely gorgeous piano section.

"In the Flesh" lyrically might be very disturbing, but ironically, the music is so wonderful, the lyrics are almost secondary in a literal sense to me. But I think about it among a couple others, still remain the best songs Daniel and the band has created. It's one of those songs that I always look forward to, namely some of the moments I wrote about above.

However, as this record became a favorite of mine, I came to always listen to it all at once. But running down the track list:

"Used" is a great opening track. The yelling "getting used to pain getting used to pain"..and "I'm getting used...I'm getting used!" stand out. It does set the tone for this album being very deep and in your face. Even the guitar solo is very trademark. And it features one of many classic Pain of Salvation builds that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Until we get Daniel taking a very dramatic falsetto vocal section that stays with you along with the pounding drum work from Johan Langell. And after Daniel sings "murder"..that eery, mysterious "leave me" which is whsipered.

"Ashes" received the most commercial exposure of any song on this record. It usually makes me think of Nine Inch Nails, with its industrial-riff. I'll admit, I do like it, but more in the scope of this record. I mean it's a dark, intense song. The grindy build "let's burn together" and guitar riff with the distorted vocals "this pain will never end..these scars will never mend" ..and then the chorus "as we walk through the ashes I whisper your name a taste of pain to cling to. As we walk through the ashes You whisper my name Who's the one with the sickest

Daniel's vocals and the tone of the song is overtly dark and almost over the top guilt-ridden. And I think the lyrics do stand out more so from it. But I still find it works on this record, and has enough interesting qualities musically to not be turned off by it. But it probably is the most preachy track on this album, and I'd say it in some ways is the most straightforward from a song-structure standpoint, which may be why it was given the most attention commercially.

"Morning on Earth" is a beautiful acoustic piece that features lovely string sounds, vocal harmonies and this perfect slow tempo. It also includes a sort of narrative/spoken part, which I came to also be reminded of Mike Patton and Faith No More again. "Hear this voice, see this man standing before you I'm just a child trapped inside this fallen man See this child."

I also love how the theme is used later in a different arrangement on "Reconciliation." Which is something I often enjoy in concept albums. And adds to the continuity of those kinds of records.

"Idioglossia" has this cool intro riff with the drums that I enjoyed somewhat initially, but came to find incredible over time. It's pretty busy and technical using polyrhythms. I noticed how they use that section and change times frequently on this song, which added to its appeal. It goes crazy for a minute, and then the whole "eyes washed the surface and see"...and then the "Ashes" theme is reprised, which I think I came to enjoy how they used the sound from "Ashes" on this song even more than on "Ashes" itself, lol.

As I search through the ashes
For someone to blame
I'm afraid to see my face
As I walk through the ashes
I whisper your name
Meeting you have forced me
To meet myself

The way the last line there leads to the fast picking guitar outro is awesome.

The 3rd movement of this song is similar, but I think the part that stands out is the echoing clean guitar parts and the chanting vocal harmonies. They go on for awhile, but I actually don't find they outstay their welcome. "It all comes back to all comes back to you"?

"Dedication" is another acoustic ballad which transitions well into "King of Loss."
"King of Loss" I know is a polarized song among fans. I actually recall liking much of it initially. At least the 1st 2 parts. The incredibly heavy pounding section I actually forget if I really was bugged by or not. I knew over time, I found it among the heaviest and most intense music I'd ever heard, but then grew to find it brilliant.

I suppose part of why King of Loss worked for me is I enjoyed the way the piano and bluesy guitar riffs along with how it told a story.

"We crown you, the King of Loss...
Better get on your feet
Best be one of us
Better get yourself on the list
For success
Dress up as a State investment
Charm the press
A breed from the seed of only
One short breath"  

Mother, I wish that we could talk
You see
I'm not fit to play this game
Bound by its rules just the same
My talents turned to talons
Every monetary pile
Will buy me a precious smile...

Then tell me our lives mean more
Than this vain thirst!

These are a few of the lyrics I grew to appreciate on this song. For one, the line talking about "talons" I always wondered if that was the word Daniel was using (I never really sat down with the booklet while listening like many, but, I couldn't really since I listened to this album while working anyway). But "talent" and "talons" sound quite similar. "Talons" for some reason, I think of something biblical. I may be mixing it up with something else, but I swear in religious school, we read about or there were references to talons.

But the funky, bluesy music complements the subject matter and Daniel's sort of, letter to his mom and society on this track. I mean I have come to believe this song is like a letter to the workforce, corrupt government influence on it and the sad reality of what is required to make a living in modern society, or the way Daniel Gildenlow perceived society at least.

The highlight of "King of Loss" though is the gorgeous section that follows the intensity with the sad guitar lead and reprise of the "I am crying" -Used melody. I also love the strings arrangement, and the incredible vocal harmonies.

I would say it is among the greatest sections of music the band has ever made, even as short as it is.

"Reconciliation" follows and is quite a different track. It uses the "Morning on Earth" theme, but in a much faster, rockier kind of way. It's awfully catchy, in fact I kind of wish even now, this track had found the attention and been released as a single as well (or instead) of "Ashes."

"I thought I'd seen hell
Though I knew it all...

I was always on my mind
But never on my side
Run - but if you run away
You'll always have to hide
So if you need to run
Run for help!"

The way the music goes from dark and heavy to soft and higher pitched in the verses is such a cool dynamic when pulled off. I suppose they were hardly the 1st band to do it, but I hadn't really gotten into music that did that dynamic mood shifting so well. I suppose Faith No More was an exception, but Pain of Salvation spoke to me even more.

The line "but if you run away" is sort of foreshadowing for the closing title track. A line like that, and how it is sung, spoke to me as a message of escape.

"Song for the Innocent". I guess I think of it like a prayer. The line "We dreamed of a world" and "what else can the dying do?" which then brings back the outro from "Her Voices." One of a handful of reprised parts that work really well when they are returned to.

"Falling" is a nice intro guitar piece that then leads to the closing title track.

And "The Perfect Element" I came to find to be my favorite Pain of Salvation song. There are many reasons, for one the way it goes from section to section and I always found it was over too soon, yet it wasn't. The section

I will never leave this shame I will never leave this shame I will never leave this shame I will never leave this shame

Watching. unseen. untouched. bleeding
Empty. exposed. dying. eyes closed.

Once he had forests and mountains
That were only his - listening to him
Once he would run through the summer days
Catching memories for ages to come
Now he is dressing this naked floor
With his flesh and blood, and times passes by
His trade of pain might just have lead him
To deal with consequence
For some change as time passes by

I am the waking child
(Lingering, climbing, clinging, clutching
Craving, clawing, hurting, falling down)
I, the wayward son of a mountain lake
(Of icy liquor tears, of a silent Earth)
(Of a rusty lid, of a wingless wind)
(Of an eyeless storm, of fallen gods,
who lost their way)
I set myself on fire
To breed the Perfect Element

The section with the guitar echoing in those 1st 2 lines quoted builds so well into the pretty chanting falsetto section. That section after is so bloody dreamy and yet sad. It's a HUGE goose bump section for me every time I hear it. It again, sort of creates this escape. Like running away from in this case, some horrible circumstance to be treated for some children or child. Myself, I guess I do receive some kind of childhood memories.

Then the way the instrumental section comes back with the piano namely, my jaw drops. And then as it goes softer, the piano leads again, and the layers of vocals start coming in and the way it builds is absolutely astounding. The guitar solo of sorts with the pounding drums then leads to one of those Geoff Tate-like toned falsetto vocal lines.

"Falling far beyond the point of no return..Nothing to become and nothing left to burn....Now you are killing me.." 

the echoing response I always hear as "this is what I want" (like burning the characters own body)..but the lyric is actually "is this more than you want?" 

which makes some sense because the concept of TPE came to be about a "He" and a "She." But I've never thought about it that much.

In conclusion, this became a favorite album in the early 2000's for me. Even as dark as it is lyrically, it is as bright or as much beautiful and powerful musically. There is so much to receive from this record, and I still do consider it Pain of Salvation and Daniel Gildenlow's crowning achievement still (with Remedy Lane close as well), and certainly one of my favorite records from the 2000's. It's a very important record in the history of of progressive metal as well, as to quote James Bickers at that ProgPowerUSA festival "Pain of Salvation are like a clarion call for progressive metal..they're the 1st thing to come along in a long time that sounds new."

I think that is probably their greatest legacy at this point, and may always be. They came along when progressive metal needed something different, and this was the record specifically that did it. And I guess I appreciate them and this record as much as I do for that reason as well as the music itself.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Significant Albums: Apes and Androids - Blood Moon (2008)

File:Blood Moon (album).jpg

I knew this would come up eventually.

I honestly don't think I ever found myself so personalized and attached to a single record. And the truth is, I have not even listened to it all that much the last couple of years, as sort of a pattern I often get. Because I know ("because you know"), I came so close to this record for a large duration of time, it became almost like breathing.

So, that's more than enough of the metaphysical stuff for now.

I probably listened to this record 125 times in the year 2008. It was more or less the soundtrack for my year.

But its story, while it was/is documented on this blog and some message boards, I will attempt to abridge it as best I can. And I'm sure the reader and fan in-me will find it not worthy of what it probably deserves, but it's just for now I guess.

It goes back to a blog called "kokoro" that suggested this among some other good records. And at that point, after the amazing year for new music that was 2007, I was still wondering if I could stumble upon some great unknown music the next year (but doubting I'd find as many just being skeptical).

The description said "psych, electronic" and 1 other genre. The cover looked curious, so I checked it out among many records on that blog.

It was odd. They used humor, almost in a theatrical way. I remember my early impressions were of the voice mail of the woman saying "capitalist mother fuckers, and I hate you, all of you" and also the bit "these are all words that won't help you, but they definitely will make you sound weird."

Some of the music was interesting as well, but it fell victim to time and my job. I seemed to never be able to listen to the whole record in one sitting for like 2 months. So, it got to the point, I may have even skipped lunch to make sure I got to hear it all.

And I probably did that 2 or 3 times one week in April, and I started to enjoy it more and more, but also saw them as being almost subtle humor rock. The humor and sarcastic element stuck out more than the music. But I sort of thought, Apes and Androids may be trying to be funny, but in sort of a clever way. They may be funny, but also brilliant in some ways.

Which that ideal held or still holds true about this album. But, there came to be a ton more than just that part of it.

I eventually came to learn the version that I was listening to, the track order was totally out of order.

This is the track list I was listening to it for probably 2 months:

1 And Now...
2 Bad Kind of Wetness
3 Blood Moon I
4 Golden Prize
5 Hot Kathy
6 Make Forever Last Forever
7 Nights of the Week
8 Radio
9 We Don't Understand You.
10 Blood Moon II
11 Doyle Is Dead
12 Imaginary Friends
13 Johnny and Sarah
14 Locked in a Car
15 Riverside
16 Sweetest Secret
17 Trank
18 Will I Live

Here's the real track list:

1 Blood Moon I 1:14
2 Make Forever Last Forever 4:33
3 Golden Prize 3:40
4 Bad Kind of Wetness 1:32
5 Hot Kathy 5:13
6 We Don't Understand You 4:36
7 Radio 4:31
8 And Now.. 1:58
9 Nights of the Week 5:18
10 Sweetest Secret 4:09
11 Johnny and Sarah 4:13
12 Will I Live 3:35
13 Trank 1:54
14 Doyle Is Dead 5:10
15 Imaginary Friends 3:10
16 Locked in a Car 3:02
17 Riverside 5:12
18 Blood Moon II 2:24

Not entirely out of order, but enough so, and especially given the story and narrative of a kind this record presents, the promos were not doing it the full justice it deserved.

However, I was growing so attached to it, at the point I learned of the proper/correct track list when I received my physical copy in the mail, it really didn't matter. And it allowed me to hear it in a new way.

Track dissection:

Blood Moon: very cool intro section hearing what sounds like a ship/spaceship land on a/the moon perhaps.

Make Forever Last Forever: great energetic rhythm. The whole "Riders on the Storm" is repeated and I guess I will never not think of The Doors of course with that lyric. But this song also features some wonderful percussion including what sounds like djembe or some kind of hand drums.

But the trademark Apes and Androids vocal layers, which I have no idea how many tracks or layers they used, but I have often thought they sound so multi-layered to try and create an *android* or digital voice of some kind. I think it's Brian Jacobs, although I really am not certain from song to song who sings lead.But from hearing some of Brian's stuff recently, I suspect he sang more of the leads, and David Tobias played more of the guitar leads. But that is just pure guessing on my part.

This track also includes a voice that I can never make out quite what it's saying. But some part of it talks about a city, and looking back and wondering "if someone is looking back at me." And the voice is almost muffled to the point it creates the sound of a storm trooper or an android/computer.

Bad Kind of Wetness: This is a cool almost backwards synthy segue Did you talk to Betty, did Betty to talk

Golden Prize: This track introduces
"I'm looking at you and you've not got that look in your eyes"

then some peculiar snapping, puckering sounds

"Oh never stay at home and stay"

"I've got a sponsorship by the case load"

La La La La La La La

gawd I LOVE the way the vocals and synths go back and forth. I just fucking love it. Even the way they use like a Fat Albert-like moaning in the background

"the girls' got lots of money, but she still wants her money. In the mood for something tasty. I think you know what I mean"

It's genius. I swear, I just adore how they segued and transitioned the vocals and synths.Such an, escape, the feeling of being taken away on a trip to the moon or some scifi story or movie from the 1980's, that I can totally get sucked in for nostalgia and desire to dream to go somewhere else. I swear the narrative and imagination that I receive when hearing this album is like The Wizard of fucking Oz brilliance. It's like The Martian Chronicles or Night of the Comet or John Carter of Mars or Dune or I dunno, you name any romantic, nostalgic, creative story in fiction or myth, and this in the same ideal and reaction.

Hot Kathy:
"She's standing on the platform holding bags with a glass flower in her soft hands, hands
"I'm melting in the wood waiting for the train holding with a dollar that a peasant couldn't save
"Breath blowing from a saint in a cave like he's sending her a message like he needs to be saved."

"Hot Kathy Hot Kathy ...choppers."

"She's looking straight ahead..
There's a magic wand
Breathe blowing
Look at her bags, look at her neck Am I this lonely, this lonely, this lonely...woooooo..wooo woo woo woo"

this is another favorite that I'll fully admit, I don't know all the lyrics because they were not included in the cd nor online I don't recall.

The Queen -like falsetto vocal lines again totally stand out and sound wonderful hear. I often would mention Apes and Androids name to people and have to bring up of Montreal, but I would say, one of the differences with AandA and of Montreal is, Apes and Androids can really sing.

I also love the synths in this song to bits, including the solo towards the end.

We Don't Understand You: This song is incredibly catchy and energetic. Some have said it sounds like an anti-drug song with the chanting chorus "Put Your Hands Up" and some vocal effects after.

"You can go to bed"
"Everyone you're gonna get fucked up"

I think how hard the words they are singing are to understand is intentional per the title of the song, lol And even the story and characters perhaps. An android or species not understanding another? And the puzzle or mystery is I suppose to try and understand some of them beyond the "Put Your Hands Up"

The crying out vocal refrain in the middle is dreamy as hell. Another point the music creates a mood and illustrates and story or character even. Nice brief guitar solo, which then leads to repeating the chorus and adding tracks of more vocals and synths. I always love how it creates this theme for the song with the repeated chorus.

I always thought it could have been on the radio if not for the profanity. It's just so catchy and almost dance-able.

Radio: This song features a great what sounds like lead bass, or synth bass.
The gradual build with the fuzzy synths and basslines and vocal chanting just creates such a great mood for this song.

"Lay me down with the radio and I'll tell you more if you wanted to know, what you wanted to know"

And Now...: Jermaine Dupree and the DJ bit. Which then they bring in the slowed voiced part about "these are all words that won't help you, bu will definitely make you sound weird" which is preceded by something about ejaculating I believe. I sometimes think of those sexual instruction recordings, sort of like the parody in Kentucky Fried Movie. This bit is almost like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets the thing in KFM, lol. And it provides nice comic relief.

Nights of the Week: If  "We Don't Understand You" didn't make the radio, this song I found also could.
So bloody catchy

"There's a night in the week, where the freaks all meet
and the girls get into flashy clothes
you got a drink in your hand you're looking to party
but you feel that nobody knows

this temporary meaning doesn't reach an end until you find the special one
the drama's the same, the bills are insane, and the irony burns your tongue

These are the Nights of the Week when you force yourself out of bed.

There's a place up town where the spirits are down but nobody admits a thing
A toned down place ..Where Happiness is king, but tragedy has a better ring
There's the boy you kiss and the girl you sexed
I wonder if they know you're there..
Just drink 12 shots  and forget-me-nots and nobody really cares

so get my coat little darling, I think that it's time to go
let's sneak out through the back door because nobody can know

I wanna be in the bedroom where the time never seems to pass
I want to lay down in my bathroom and feel okay at last.

Oh Oh Oh Oh...these are the nights of the week

that verse or line where they talk about laying down in the bathroom (or bathtub) I always get goosebumps. It goes back to feeling nostalgia and sad or sad/scared/depressed or needing an escape.

On this track, I also love the vocoder build at the end and the guitar solo just works on so many levels. Brian May and David Gimour. David and Brian were big fans of Floyd and Queen and it seems to show up in such great ways throughout this record. Lyrically, I almost am reminded of Floyd's The Wall..the whole laying down, needing to relax and not think about stressful things.

It's sort of fetal-position like. I also seem to picture a movie or story about someone in trouble, but they hide out in this party and then seek the comfort of relaxation and safety of being in a bathtub. Or just someone whose feeling sick, injured or something and that escape is like their therapy of their mind and body.

Sweetest Thing: This was one of the songs I liked but not at the same level as many of the others. This record starts out with track-after-track that are outstanding. Great energy, synths, lyrics, guitar, percussion, and "Sweetest Thing" kind of halted that momentum, I felt initially. But I eventually grew to love it and see it more or less on par with so many of these other incredible songs.  The epic nature of it really with the repeated line "all of thahhhhhhhhhhhhht tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime gone toooo waste"..and the chanting and percussion. It was sort of depressing but maybe in a sympathetic way.

"Climb through the hole in the fence and that's when Momma said..all of that time, gone to waist"

"take my hand Brian take my hand Brian do you have a sell

"and she dug her little fingers into his neck until he choked. You could tell what was happening because his finger tips were growing white....
he looked so bright."

All of that tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime, gone to wayyyyyyyyyyyste. All of that time, gone to waste"

I have often wondered if "Brian" was referring to Brian Jacobs in some metaphor or based on a real experience. I mean I don't question the lyrics, what I can make out of them, are still within the concept/story.

The outro has some really tight drum work. I forget, but it may have been played by Matt Mahaffey aka sElf. I know he played on a couple of tracks and did some mixing on this record, which the mix is absolutely pristine.

Johnny and Sarah:
I absolutely LOVE this song. It may be my favorite on this record.

Great post-punk opening riff

Johnny was a thorough chap
He worse shirt tucked into his slacks

He wore his name nailed onto his back

Sarah was a lovely lass
with charm working to pass
well Johnny asked her out one day after class
now her boyfriend wants to kick his ass

Johnny's anger started to bubble
it's gonna get him in a lot of trouble

desperate souls with nothing to lose A story of trouble and a path we choose
Oh shit that's right.

Johnny had to think of a plan
So his plan really began
He knew he couldn't fight 
He spent the night
figuring it out on his own

And he died and he cried?

woo hoo hoo!

Love the synth part that follows which  then leads to one of the greatest guitar solos ever coming in. It totally fits the energy and tone of this song. Sort of brooding and dark but with the right amount of extension or kind of climax.

Lyrically, I always think of this song as being like Bonnie and Clyde. A couple traveling through towns and either robbing people or just getting away from the law or trouble. In the story perhaps the Androids are enforcing the law, and Johnny and Sarah are with a resistance or just defying and dodging the law.

edit: well in seeing more of the lyrics per an online lyric site, perhaps the Bonnie and Clyde comparison might have been off. But I suppose that kind of thing might happen to them eventually, if Johnny doesn't die.

The pounding intro and main riff just owns so much. It's so tight and so ballsy.I don't think I could ever get sick of this song.

Will I Live:
She had a (bustle?) on her on her face... dressed up like a raccoon...
I suppose it's just another song about a foool
la la la la la la la la la la la la lahhhhhhhhh
lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie
die die die die die die

Very odd piece, but a grower like many of the last 1/3 of this record. It continues to add imagination of the story or plot.

I always wonder what the solo string part playing towards  the end is. A violin or cello? It's a very calming movement.

This is an ambient, soothing mellow synth solo piece, which often sounds like the sound of something moving in slow-motion; the tempo is so much slower than most of Blood Moon. And it transitions really well into "Doyle is Dead"

Doyle is Dead:  (The Untimely Death of Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green)

The thick, slow, dark synths in this song do make me think of the movie Night of the Comet. the mysterious element that something will be revealed rather soon.

Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?

So my husband found the way in the biblioteque? 
Little pieces had....
I can see your silhoutte on my basement stickers?
I hear your thoughts dancing in my head, quickening my pain
And as the footsteps get louder
I can feel your shoestring caressing my neck
I'm ready to untie this knot in my neck, I'm ready I'm ready I'm ready I'm Ready I'm Ready I'm Ready

Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?

The extended title refers Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green:
 Dr.Richard Lancelyn Green was a British man who was fascinated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I guess, and died in the early 2000's. The mystery of his death involved his opposition to an auction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle papers. per Wikipedia

Lancelyn Green suspected that the Conan Doyle papers being auctioned at Christie's were part of a collection that Dame Jean Conan Doyle, the author's daughter, actually wanted the British Library to have.[2] He attempted to stop the auction, but was unsuccessful.
In the weeks before his death, he told friends and journalists that an unidentified American was following him, and that he feared his opposition to the auction could endanger his life. His behaviour became increasingly erratic, and once he insisted on speaking to a visitor in the garden because he said his apartment was bugged.
During the night of his death, his sister, Priscilla West,[3] telephoned his apartment, obtaining only his answering machine, which had a new message with an American voice (this was found later to be the standard message tape supplied with the machine). Her worries about this resulted in the discovery of Lancelyn Green's body, face down on his bed, garrotted with a shoelace that had been tightened with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Murder was suspected, and there was some newspaper gossip. Because the CID was not called at the start, any evidence that might have been useful for a murder enquiry had been disturbed or removed during the course of dealing with the body. The Coroner returned an open verdict. Many of Richard Lancelyn Green's best friends thought it was not in his nature to commit suicide. However, some thought the death to have been an elaborate suicide, intended to seem like murder, in order to cast suspicion upon one of his rivals. This replicates the plot of one of the last Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Problem of Thor Bridge, in which a woman commits suicide in a manner meant to implicate the woman with whom her husband had been flirting.

This is a track I think has revealed maybe more than many others on this record. The reference to this guy Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green and his connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The lyrics may be just what the Apes and Androids guys speculated how he died, the thoughts running through this Doctor's head at the time. Perhaps based on some news stories. It really is rather fascinating.

Musically, it is another appealing side to this record that while is still a contrast to many of the energetic tracks on the 1st 2 acts per say, I think it complements them and the concept incredibly well. A slower, darker, ballad of sorts shows another great side to the Apes and Androids sound and songwriting approach.
Even the vocal harmony chants on the outro add something.

Imaginary Friends:  Another stripped down, acoustic piece which is sort of singer/songwriter sounding for the 1st minute. But then we get more slight Brian May-like guitar refrains for a bit.
We're skipping stones again.

Yaye Yaye Yaye Yaye now....woo woo woooooo

Oh My Friends, we've reached the end?
We will never meet again
I'll cover my hands.

Lyrics on this song is kind of telling the story is close to ending. Rather sad, but still about the right time. Within the story? I sort of picture humans or Apes thinking this about the Moon or something. Whether the Moon or the planet they are on will blow up, or something more along the lines of thinking it's the end of the human race, being wiped out by technology.

Sort of pre-apocalyptic in a way.

But then again, it also might be just referring to the approaching death of someone.

Or all of that could potentially apply to the Androids as well.

Questions that are I still find worth pondering about it, which is maybe how Blood Moon has so much intrigue. There is a story or 2 or 5 here, and even for the fact the lyrics are not anywhere to be found, the mystery is one part of why I kept going back to this record.

Locked in a Car:
My best friend is locked in a car...

These walls expand on
forever until the room becomes done
I'm still holding awwwwwwwnnnnn
We're still holding onnnnnnnnnnnnnn

The slow guitar bridge is unusual but definitely grew on me. I came to hear it like another featured Brian May refrain(s) or something.

Another slow, sad, stripped down piece that doesn't last too long. But like many of the preceding tracks, is dreamy.

Riverside: In some ways the crowning piece on this record. It starts out with an acoustic guitar intro.

Passing fields in a car
There's a grim walking down by the riverside
And she wore her head up tall, in case the tears fall
bah-ah bah-ah bah-ah bah-ah
Then sometimes she thinks, I had it all, when I was small

Skies getting wide the countryside
Light getting dim from above
I miss the sun
Watching all the trees
Feeling like a bed locks made of bees
An old man and his wife
sitting up reading books through the night
And they know that they know that's something wrong
everyone's gohhhhhhhhhhn

As they held eachothers hands
the trouble supsides

I am the sun!
Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong oh no!

Can see me I'm got flowers
Can breathe me I've got power
Got I've Got I've Got!


Syntax from the flood
Extend to the clouds above
All our dreams pulling them up
and their hearing this song!

oh yes!

Skies ride by the countryside
Light shooting down from above
I am the Sun!
Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong oh no

The trumpet and then the happy synth/guitar solo I for some reason think of Muse, although over time, I suppose many other groups have used that tone. I also like how they say "oh yes" right before it hits.

Such an uplifting song. It goes from sad, depressing to uplifting. This song really wraps up what is such imaginary trip or story and exploration in sound and layers. From the vocals, many different layers of keys.

Blood Moon II: And it ends with the ship leaving and the sound of animals (apes or monkeys?) and sounds of nature (crickets?) along with what almost reminds me of a piece of software or device's intro or outro sound.

In summary:

I may find myself adding more to this, but I just can say for now, this record is as astounded as I may ever get with music. It was likely quite a long, ardous making for many years after Brian and David changed the name from Call Florence Pow. They likely spent 5 or more years making it, and it shows.

Do many of the vocals have lyrics you can't understand? sure, but I don't mind really, as it adds to the mystery, even with the story. It's almost like something Yes does with vocals being a texture or sound rather than words made for singing clearly.

I guess I also have and always will feel a very personal connection with this album, like many of these significant albums, in that I sort of found it 1 day and grew attached to it. And the mainstream never did, nor did many really online. Here and there, but I have only seen a few other folks who revere it like it's the greatest thing ever made. I'm sure the guys from the band don't quite see it that way, but that's natural, as they are artists always trying to improve and create something better than their past work.

I would love to see any of it performed live, but those odds don't seem likely. Brian at least is still making music, whether it be remixes of songs on his tumblr, or some of the original work he's doing. Those 2 demos were terrific a few years ago. David Tobias? a solo album was mentioned many years ago, but who knows if/when that will happen.

And of course trying to find another Apes and Androids, or something close, has been more or less non-existent. There have been some good ones, like NewVillager a few years back, but with each passing year, I wonder. Although the music is still available, even just on Youtube or Vimeo or wherever else online (grooveshark) or even iTunes, Amazon mp3's and once in a blue moon I'm sure copeis of this record show up on Ebay. I personally own 2, but actually would go for picking a few more if given the opportunity.

But for now, this record still is the landmark work that I grew to see (and hear) it as in 2008. When will I become so enamored by another record like it, and for that matter, a case of a group whose it's their only work? it may happen, but I guess I've come to learn or not expect it really, if ever again.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Significant Albums: Between the Buried and Me - Colors (2007)


This record was released in the late Summer/Fall of 2007. And 2007, was probably one-of if not the biggest year for new music for myself. Before hearing Colors, I was totally obsessed with the likes of Kaddisfly's Set Sail the Prairie, The Dear Hunter's Act II, Fair to Midland's Fables from a Mayfly and in truth, a laundry list of others.

But come late August or September I recall, there happened to be a constant amount of obsession about this new album from BTBAM. And I really, had next-to-no interest or thought about even considering it. But I guess it came down to so much hyping on the forums and I gave in.

But to back track a bit, their name I knew about for many years. I recall even seeing a video of theirs on the new Headbanger's Ball when it 1st came back onto MTV2 I think around 2004 or 2005. I specifically remember making a comment about them not being cohesive or growls with humor and thrash was just pointless. I forget. I know I gave 1 or 2 examples of a band who was better, etc.

But, in remembering that, I was being naive, and of course looking back on that, I wish I had been more open to their music, and the stuff I read about them.

For some reason I figured their vocals especially, were just going to ruin anything I might enjoy.

But at that point I really was limited in the Metal I liked. It was going to have to be pretty clean singing prog metal or my odds of liking it were low. I did like Opeth, even though I would laugh half the time at the growling. And Orphaned Land, whose music I enjoyed enough, but admitted the "Orphan Jam" with no growling, was my favorite thing I'd heard from them. And the likes of borderline screaming from Pain of Salvation and even Faith No More. But for the most part, I couldn't handle ANY of it.

But then in just reading more and more about the reactions to this album and their style, history, for probably 10 days or so, I just had to give in and (re)check this band out. And I specifically remember after listening to Colors 3 or 4 times in a few days saying "I'm almost in disbelief about this, but this album will probably be in my top 10 for the year" or something along those lines ('s fall 2007 BTBAM Colors topic would show).

So, I did get won over, nearly 10 or 20 fold, in a totally out of nowhere, unexpected way. A few things to note:

1) the screaming I came to be able to hear, instead of like an annoying or silly throat exercise, but more like a rhythm guitar part. I didn't mind how it sounded, or what the lyrics were being sung.

2) Tommy's clean vocals I totally got into. I recall someone said they loved how he had this "Thom Yorke thing" but I remember saying he sounded a lot more like Josh from Kiss Kiss.

3) the music was not chaotic, or extremely un-cohesive. It actually was extremely well thought-out and the little intervals and things actually were charming and not overdone.

4) the musicianship: I hadn't really noticed it, but I came to really acknowledge the band's chops. Blake Richardson's drumming to Dustie and especially Paul's guitar work, tonally, using syncopation and dynamics really stood out the more I listened to this album.

5) Dream Theater and some others: Namely Dream Theater I came to hear a lot of influence with this band and this album. I think the drum work and a lot of the guitar tones especially. I hear parts of Scenes From a Memory for one in different places on this album. And I remember reading someone say SFAM is or was considered the band's jointly favorite record, or maybe collectively their biggest influence? something along those lines. Which I've heard my share of Dream Theater influenced bands, some good, some copycats and just unoriginal; but I found BTBAM really just showed their Dream Theater influence to the right degree. Not sounding identical, but sharing many of the qualities to songwriting and including extended musical ideas, etc. I.e. using the DT influence to their benefit.

I actually will never forget my friend That Drummer Guy also making a topic "Is BTBAM becoming Dream Theater?" lol. It was and still in some ways a valid question actually.

So, as far as specifics:

"White Walls:" is an amazing closing track filled with almost out-of-body levels of emotion. The way it slowly builds and builds, it's like a locomotive gaining steam and force, almost to the point it seems unstoppable.
The 1st 3 or 4 minutes set the tone, but then the tracking of layering and interplay of guitars and drums. Then it does have a calm-before-the-storm with Tommy's clean chanting in a gorgeous mellow part that leads to a clean picking guitar line with some thick synth layers; which adds a lot of ambience. That section last maybe 2 or three minutes, until the grand finale and probably the band's greatest section.

"get. out. of. this. closed. off. circle"

Tommy screams...and the reprise of Paul Waggoner's intense rhythmic

"this is all we havvvvvvvvvvv...when we dieeeeeeeeeeeeee
it's what's left of us...when we die"

"we will be remembered for this"

And then, the song goes into what I think of as a section that I could listen to for 4 or 5 times as long as it is. The guitar solo is just so bloody good. It flows harmonically and melodically. Some may think it's a totally strange comparison, but I remember after seeing a movie theater screening of Led Zeppelin's Song Remains the Same, thinking "Stairway to Heaven" has a very similar feel and flow to it. The way it builds and leads to this great exercise in letting things loose. I'm not sure I can exactly put into words the idea, but there just seems to be a similar ideal in the epic nature of the ending of "White Walls" and Stairway. And I happen to love "Stairway to Heaven" still to this day, so that gave me all the more reason to connect with "White Walls."

And "White Walls," really is one of the greatest pieces of music made in recent years.

However, some of the others parts of this record that stand out:

"Sun of Nothing" starts off intense, almost like a fast jam, but then changes gears enough to keep you interested. The screaming contrasts enough with the ferocious guitar riffs and snare and cymbal work from Blake Richardson, it starts to eventually blend into an incredible combination.

Some of the clean, major key guitar work really adds a lot to it.

-The frequent intervals of lower voice boxes

-The quieter sections are wonderful. The "I'm floating" with the change in guitar tone and thick synths.

I love the guitar variations. Paul and Dustie are masters at switching tempos, moods, textures and tones to fit where the rest of the song goes.

I remember specifically being won over by this song especially how the intense opening leading to those amazing changes in mood and beauty. It somehow found the band sounding like 2 or 3 different bands or styles of music in some ways, but after taking it in a few times, it seemed to totally work on a dynamic level. Sort of like how we have those mood swings sometimes or stories that are really serious, then our mindset changes with humor or a change in subject, and then shifts to something else. BTBAM on a musical level, came to totally know how to swing the mood without coming across as unnatural or forced.

"i'm floating towards the sun.....the sun of nothing...floating towards the sun....the sun of nuhhh-theeen. I have become the sun of nothing"

the outro even rocks hard, but almost not in a heavier, Metal way, but just the right amount of amplification.
And then it journeys into that intensity and back and forth between guitars, Tommy's growls and that segue nicely into "Ants of the Sky."

"Ants of the Sky" is maybe a more consistently heavy and busy piece. I think my favorite section being the almost Southern element, which I often hear a band like Kansas. I'm referring to some of the keys with the guitars. It almost sounds like a piece you'd hear at bluegrass night or OK Chorale. I mean this band are from North Carolina, so they are not without some Southern music influences.

The guitar riff on Ants as well as many other sections of this record are just so driving, so much so, I remember just enjoying the ride. Sure, I couldn't understand the lyrics and a lot of it was including more distortion than I was used to. But there was part of my brain that just enjoyed getting through it. Almost to the point, I enjoyed the heavy intense parts as much if not more than the clean melodic parts. Including Tommy's voice. Their sound, sounded more normal or natural with him screaming and those pounding guitar riffs and drum patterns.

"Sleep on. Fly on. In your mind. You can fly
Sleeeeeep on. Flyyyyy on. In you mind. You can fly"

That section again is another example of a perfect segue.

And then it leading to the an actual bluegrass section which sounds like it's from some southern saloon with line dancing or something. Which lasts like a minute, and then the band go back to the distortion with a great clean guitar solo/outro (and even a little bit of trumpet?).

"Prequel to the Sequel" I remember enjoying its upbeat, almost marching style, which goes on for a few minutes and then has the band go back into another intense driving shift and breakdown. Around the 3-and-a-half minute point, they start to do this cool time changing with syncopating. Unusual, but it still goes with the flow of the song. It leads to almost a ritualistic section that even includes some accordion synths with Tommy using his Mike Patton style of background chanting.

It noticed its walking seemed more staggered than normal.
The breeze didn't flow like it used to...
the heart seemed to pound slower and slower...
what caused this? (what caused this?)


It seen was noticed that these three had torn every branch, every single stem...

screamed (but not growled)
torn to its last life...
how hadn't it noticed 
a drastic change in the surroundings...
It didn't think anything could go this wrong.

"Comfort!...Comfort Comfort Comfort!.....Comfort Comfort Comfort!"

I really love the way Tommy changes his voice so fluidly here. And how the screaming is screaming, not growling. It sounds more like how Toby Driver or Daniel Gildenlow screams rather than the tone and style of his 'core voice. And I think somehow that has it come across more powerful and human.

edit: apparently this section is not sung by Tommy but Adam Fisher of the band Fear Before. Something of course I have never seen mentioned and would explain how different sounding the screaming is. It's a great vocal section regardless, and live, I imagine Tommy does perform it (or did when the band has played this track).

"Informal Gluttony" has this cool drum pattern and use which almost comes across sort of middle eastern-sounding. And the guitar melody adds some of that same, but also I am reminded of Dream Theater and SFAM again. "Home" specifically. But again, it's not BTBAM trying to sound exactly or nearly like DT, but more just incorporating a similar idea within a song idea of their own.

I think Tommy sings "when will you learrrn" a few minutes in, which I wonder within the concept of this record if it's a self reflection (I'd lean towards it being one).

After a few minutes of intensity, what is the 1st of many more calming, dreamy parts of Colors. "Feed Me Fear" is repeated and then segued to end with that middle eastern sounding percussion.

-"[b]the Decade of Statues" I think of the interplay with a wah-wah pedal that accents on the offbeat. In fact, it doesn't happen for too long, I could go for that part.

It segues into these chromatic guitar runs that almost sound lower fi.

-"Viridian" really is just an overture or intro to "White Walls." But it's a nice, mellow piece that works well in how the ending of Colors was composed.

So, to summarize, this record is kind of all over the place in a good way. Sort of the culmination of years wanting to fit many parts and ideas into songs, and finally doing it well.

But as for its significance, it seems to be to me for a few reasons.

1) I never could get into Extreme Metal, metal with any kind of screaming

2) it opened the doors for me to enjoy a ton of music/metal, namely technical and progressive still (but not exclusively, like Black Metal and even a little Doom Metal), that I likely never would have been up for, almost entirely based on the inability to hear screaming. Now, in some cases like punk screaming like with The Dillinger Escape Plan or Deftones, I still can't quite get past the vocals. But the % of screaming I can tolerate if not enjoy went up significantly.

3) It became a fine work of 60 or so minutes. Almost like 1 song, really or a suite. And it was a trip to listen to. The dynamics and ability to compose such differing styles of music so naturally, was almost unthink-able. I mean how many bands have ever included Bluegrass with Metal? no matter how short or long? Some say it can come across as blatant and a gimmick. I guess for me, having never even heard or thought of that idea, it was charming and worked on this record.

4) this was the record I enjoyed the most of theirs. "White Walls" being the piece/part/song I enjoy the most in their entire catalog, and it's fair to say the song that won me over single-handed-ly.

And while I do enjoy Alaska, The Silent Circus and some of their others, Colors still wins. And sadly, where they are going, I am not sure if I will ever be won over at this level by them again. Although as I've said many times, I'd love that to happen. But if it doesn't this still remains their masterpiece and peak of sorts. And a highly important record for me and really for progressive rock and Metal kids. fans, musicians around. It and the band have reached a lot of people who normally never would like progressive rock or metal because of this band and this album specifically.  In that sense, I kind of do see BTBAM and Colors as a template or standard for where metal has gone the last 10 years or so. Is it maybe even in some ways like a Metal Dark Side of the Moon? in some ways, on a smaller level, perhaps.

It's like a drug or a marathon of sorts metaphorically, Colors really is a trip or journey (and concept/story..) that somehow the more times you get through it, the more you appreciate it.