STEIGER - Give Space

The second album by Belgian trio Steiger will surely put their name on the international map. One could call it ambient jazz or more appropriate: contemporary music with no boudaries. With a blending of composition and improvisation, Steiger evoques an atmosphere that is abstract and visual at the same time. They use their instruments in all kinds of ways, conventional and non-conventional. Call it experimental, but that would suggest that the band is just 'trying', which they are not. They develop a strong direction in each of their fascinating pieces. Pianist Gilles Vandecaveye plays with freedom and at the same time he's in total control of what he's doing. The rhythm section is an equal part of what is happening and not just a backbeat device. The interplay is great and harmonic, even in the weirdest passages. Sometimes this sounds like a meditation, sometimes it's wandering around and sometimes it is dreaming away. The music is full of details that come out with every spin. It's not short of some intense passages either. Steiger makes beautiful contemporary music that is adventurous and still accessible. (GR)

Steiger are Gilles Vandecaveye (keys), Kobe Boon (bass) and Simon Raman (drums). 

This what their label has to say about the trio:

Ghent’s Steiger are a piano trio, but not in the classical sense. With their versatile style, influenced by different musical genres such as jazz, rock, pop, classical and electronic music, they try to find a balance between composition and improvisation through the use of experimentation and electronics.

Considered pioneers of the Belgian jazz crossover scene, Steiger have been active for 6 years and have recently found themselves performing at major jazz venues in Flanders, picking up numerous accolades along the way.

The trio’s highly anticipated sophomore album ‘Give Space’, released 14th September on Sdban Ultra, was recorded at 7 different locations, with the music composed to fit and fight these locations within a dialogue of acoustics, atmospheres and appetition. Field recordings, reverbs, ambient sounds, all collected within the search for the unpredictable, were given space within this dialogue as the essential part of the encounter. As a result, the locations emerge somewhat as a fourth member of the trio. The music - sometimes fixed, sometimes completely free - takes on an ever-changing journey into their multi-faceted world.

“It is this aspect, space, and the influence of space on music that we, as musicians, find very inspiring and would like to go deeper on the basis of extensive research. Since a classical studio always strives for the best, most comfortable acoustics, the influence of such a space on the music can often be reduced to one kind of sound and environment in which the music develops. We want to break this classical pattern and strive for live recordings without an audience, whereby we create a sound of each location depending on the space and / or location.”

Over the last 6 years, the band has developed their sound at cafés, clubs and festivals across Belgium. The trio self-released their first EP in 2016, with their debut album debut album ‘And Above All’ (El Negocito Records) following a year later.

In the summer of 2017, Steiger won the young Jazz talent competition at Gent Jazz festival, which enabled them to realize the ‘Give Space’ project. Awareness of the moment in a place and time became the core of the musical storytelling, blurring the divisions of natural and industrial, inner and outer etc. The overall work is a blend of co-related atmosphere of the place, its properties, sounds, the moment and its traced records.

“The space can be both inside and outside. This new environment will thus act as the 4th instrument in other words. Hereby we want to research and play with letting the space influence our music and vice versa, letting our music influence the space. This process will include recording 7 numbers at 7 different locations.”

The three musicians that make up Steiger all have a jazz background. Moreover, their studies at different music schools across Belgium (Ghent, Antwerp) and Scandinivia (Göteborg, Copenhagen) have broadened their perspective on listening, practicing and playing different musical genres as well as helped them approach music more sensuously. All three musicians have been active for some time in different musical projects with different genres as well as the theatre. As a result, they are able to persue an artistic result that is as relevant as possible to them.

In September, Steiger will be one of twelve emerging jazz ensembles performing at the prestigious 12 Points Festival in Dublin. A unique networking opportunity for its participants, 12 Points is a valuable resource for festival bookers and jazz media.

Out on 14th September 2018 via Sdban Ultra / N.E.W.S.
SDBANUCD07 : digipack CD including photo booklet.
SDBANULP07 : LP including download code with bonus tracks and photo booklet.

Upcoming gigs in Belgium:

27/09/18 : Handelsbeurs, GENT
06/12/18 : CC De Schakel, WAREGEM
11/01/19 : Flagey, BRUSSEL

  • SCIENCE OF DISORDER - Private Hell (Fastball)

    Science Of Disorder released two albums as Soulless but switched the name to Science Of Disorder in 2010 and released already one album under that moniker. This new record shows a heavy band with harsh and raw vocals, strong melodies and powerful instrumental arrangements with inventive riffing and great grooves. The atmosphere of the music is dark and melancholic, but not depressing. Opening track ‘Carrions’ gets a reprise at the end of the album with a totally different piano arrangement. That shines a complete different light on the track and on the band as a creative force. They know their metal, but they also know how to head their songs in a totally different direction. Great stuff! (GR)

  • FLORIAN GREY - Ritus (Echozone)

    Florian Grey is the name of the singer and also the name of the band. Grey has a deep and romantic baritone voice that fits perfectly for the musical style the band operates in. Twelve songs and one instrumental follow each other in a very natural flow. Sometimes gothic, sometimes industrial, but always catchy and digestible. On top of that the band have a great sound. We’ve heard things like this before, but Grey really makes everything sound so natural that it becomes like a synthesis of this kind of dark romantic music. The darkness is never scary and always full of pure aesthetics. Grey manages to refine his art on this second album which is an excellent genre record with a surprising catharsis ... (GR)

  • INNER CORE - Soultaker (Echozone)

    The German Echozone label has an adventurous choice of bands. Without losing attention for accessibility, they have a varied and progressive roster with a modern twist. Inner Core is a band that fits exactly into that category with melodic songs and keyboard-sustained arrangements with an aura of post-rock around it without losing the sense of classic/symphonic rock. Singer Anna Rogg has a recognisable voice and the band behind her plays the perfect kind of arrangements to complement the colour of her voice. The guitars are heavy, but never ear splitting and they are mixed to serve the overall sound. The songs are very melodic in the first place, but they also have an epic feel to them. The production of this debut album is top. Inner Core really is a band to explore. (GR)

  • MAGICAL HEART - Another Wonderland (Fastball)

    This is the first album by Bavarian band Magical Heart, but the members have an individual history in music. Charly Barth is also known for his membership of Wayward, Christian Urner has a history with Herezy and Old Age Revolution and Gernot Kroiss was the guitarist of Hammerschmitt. They are playing together since 2014 under the ‘Quo Vadis’ moniker, but serious plans to record an album made them change the name into Magical Heart. They recorded this self-produced album with drummer Barth, who left afterwards to be replaced by Kilian Kellner. The album holds ten melodic but energetic rock songs. Nothing new, but the foursome manage to sound fresh, competent and credible in a genre that has been explored to death. (GR)

  • EMERALD SUN - Under The Curse Of Silence (Fastball)

    So far we’ve read some quite negative reactions towards this album. We do not agree. Okay, this is not a band with ‘original’ music, but they practice a genre and they do it with conviction and credibility although singer Stelios Tsakiridis has this typical euro-phrasing and that sounds a bit annoying on certain passages, but nothing to put us off. This fourth album is produced by current Rage guitarist Marcos Rodriguez and sounds great. On ‘Blast’ they even have Rage frontman Peavy Wagner on lead vocals! The guitar parts are fluent, energetic and sometimes impressive, the drive of the rhythm section is all over the place. The songs are standard melodic metal melodies, but nevertheless enjoyable. Their metal arrangement of Irene Cara’s ‘Fame’ sounds okay although it takes away the magic of the original. This is a good genre album that we like to put on again. (GR)

  • STEELMADE - The Stories We Tell (Fastball)

    This is the second album by Steelmade. The Swiss band was originally a four piece, but now they are reduced to a trio although it looks like they will have to recruit a bass player for live work. One thing is for sure: they have listened very well to ‘Black Album’-era Metallica. This being said, this band still manages to give the obvious influence a personal twist with some good songs that are equally well performed. Steelmade rocks, grooves and flows through this collection of self-written songs in a convincing way. Paul Baron has the perfect voice for this kind of work and the guitar playing of Jadro is heavy and has a lot of meat and balls. This album grows on you with every spin and that’s always a good sign. That they also have a sense for pop is made clear on a song like ‘We Are Bizarre’ which closes the album and makes me think of Belgium’s Beyond The Labyrinth. (GR)

GAZPACHO - Soyuz (k scope)

Norwegian band Gazpacho has been recording since 2003 and Soyuz is their tenth studio offering which was released in May 2018. Like before they embed a theme that runs throughout the whole album and the title suggests its content. Soyuz is about the Russian space capsule and the songs are a series of interconnected stories of people frozen in time. Musically, the band is hard to classify. Tags like progressive rock, artrock, postrock, ambient rock may apply but above all this is a band that creates an alienated atmophere with a line-up that includes violin. Gazpacho makes music to listen to and needs time to get through. They provide their 'songs' with beautiful and well crafted arrangements that make the instrumetal side of the band interesting. This is not happy music, but it's not really dark either. Alienation, desolation captured in expanded esthetic melodies, that's the art of Gazpacho. (GR)

LUKE GASSER - The Judas Tree (Blue Rose Records)

Luke Gasser is nothing less than a workaholic! He makes movies, writes books and makes records. And he does all of this with a healthy gut feeling without disabling his brains! Musically it is easy to compare him to artists like The Alarm, The Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan. On this album he uses acoustic guitars more than ever, but without losing the power and energy of his earlier work. The songs sound rough, reckless, even in the ballads. In a song like ‘Bound To Get Harder’ we can hear his love for an iconic rocker like Keith Richards. ‘Seven Tons Of Load’ makes clear why he is often compared tot Dylan. The title track shows how controlled sloppiness can be uplifted to an artistic level and a song like ‘Little Lover’ is reminiscent of The Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’. ‘Hard To Love You’ reveals the soul of a singer-songwriter. Luke Gasser is an old-school rocker in heart and soul, he can be sleazy in the great tradition of The Stones, but the Swiss rocker always keeps the focus on bold and fresh songs. ‘The Judas Tree’ is Gasser’s most diverse album with a lot of light and shade and proves how he has matured as a songwriter. It may not be the most original music, but it is very honest and pure! (GR)

LINEAR JOHN - Double Parade

Linear John (real name is Markus Holkko) is a Finnish multi-instrumentalist and this 'Double Parade' is his second album. The easy way to describe the music would be to call it 'pop-jazz', but in the current scene that covers a lot of styles and artists. The style of Linear John makes us think of Steve Miller Band, Steely Dan, Michael Franks or Ben Sidran, but with an original twist. The eleven songs are very accessible but also sophisticated. The latter becomes clear when you start listening again and again to this album. It is full of fine details and instrumental finesse and the guy has a very enjoyable singing style reminiscent of Steve Miller. Now and then a dry sounding saxophone brings an extra dimension to the songs. A record for peace and quiet with a touch of fine arts and a light swing. (GR) 

MIKE ZITO - First Class Life

Mike Zito came to prominence through his membership of Royal Southern Brotherhood, but he went solo in 2014. Before Royal Southern Brotherhood, he released a bunch of records on his own label and on Eclecto Groove Records. Since being a member of RSB, he became a member of the German RUF label family where he also releases his albums with The Wheel. 'First Class Life' is not a live album but a strong studio effort that brings to life his history in blues and southern rock in a very charming and entertaining way. This is a fine southern rock/blues album that grows with every spin. It may not be sensational, but it is a very good genre album. Zito has a perfect voice for this kind of music and his guitar playing is tasty and fluid. Nice warm and relaxing album for playing again and again! (GR)

MERRYWEATHER STARK - Carved In Rock

It’s a long way since I learned to know the music of Canadian singer/bass player/composer Neil Merryweather in the early seventies when I bought his double jam album ‘Word of Mouth’. Swedish guitarist Janne Stark is also a musician with an extensive catalogue. It’s interesting to read the Wikipedia submissions about both legendary musicians with an impressive list of big names on their cv’s. They teamed up now for a hard rockin’ album with bluesy tones. Both are seasoned musicians who know their craft and this collaboration gives us eleven songs that rock and groove in a very enjoyable way. They sound heavy but also digestible and melodic. Neil’s voice has become rawer over the years but it suits the music very well. Janne Stark plays some great classic rock guitar, including some blistering solo’s. The rhythm section lays down a perfect groove and overall this album has a great flow that rocks like hell without going over the top. Quality Classic hard rock! (GR)

DUKES OF THE ORIENT - Dukes Of The Orient

This band is deeply rooted in Asia (the band). John Payne was the singer for many years and formed ‘Asia featuring John Payne’ together with keyboard player Erik Norlander (Last In Line) after the original line-up of Asia reformed with Wetton and Howe. Payne sings also in GPS and now formed Dukes Of The Orient with Erik Norlander. The music of DOTO shows traces of Asia, but the progressive background of Norlander also leaves its traces with wide keyboard parts and well composed pieces. Payne is a top singer and the musical merits of Norlander need no further explanation. The pure supportive role he plays in Last In Line is replaced by his full arsenal of keyboards and creativity. Every single piece on this album is a beauty and will please fans of the progressive side of Asia. Asia is probably a thing of the past as Howe left and Wetton passed away. This band is the true successor with a combination of strong accessible melodies, fine rhythms and progressive structures. The role of Norlander is essential to the sound of the band. Adding to this the contribution of some other top musicians (Guthrie Govan, Jeff Kollman, Jay Schellen, Mona Scaria, Bruce Bouillet), you have everything you need for a top album! (GR)

THERION - 'Beloved Antichrist'

The new work by Swedish symphonic metal band Therion is a real rock opera with lots of classical and pure operatic influences. It is a very ambitious work, spread over 3 cd's or 6 lp's and consists of 3 acts. Where Act 1 is almost pure classical opera, it evoluates musically towards heavy symphonic metal in Act 3. The opera is inspired by Vladímir Soloviov's "A Short Tale Of The Antichrist". Soloviov is a somewhat forgotten Russian writer. He was a christian mystic and philosopher and Therion leader Christopher Johnsson had made a new modern play of it. For the many different roles, Johnsson has reunited an impressive cast of which famous Swedisch classical bariton Marcus Jupiter is the most impressive collaborator. He's a good friend of Therion singer Thomas Vikström which made him available for the project. This is an incredible work made for the stage. Johnsson is still prospecting how the opera can be staged but meanwhile we have this exceptional recording which can be loved by metal and opera fans. Keep an open mind and give this a try, it's a great cross-over work that should be heard! (GR)

  • ALBERT CASTIGLIA - Up All Night (RUF Records)

    Albert Castiglia is already a Household name on the American Souhthern blues scene and his seventh album. Here we get 11 songs of heavy blues played in a trio format: guitar, bass and drums. The power trio principle! On a couple of songs he gets help from Mike Zito (guitar, vocals), Lewis Stephens (keyboards), Sonny Landreth (slide guitar) and Johnny Sansone (harmonica). The album was produced by Mike Zito. A very enjoyable album with a very good blending of roots and power. (GR)

  • GHALIA & MAMA'S BOYS - 'Let The Demons Out'

    Ghalia Vauthier is an American girl born in Brussels and learning performing music by busking in the Streets. She realised a dream by going to America to explore the roots music of New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, Nashville and Mississippi. She really has taken a bath in this musical culture and comes out with an album that sounds very mature and authentic. She recorded in New Orléans with Johnny Mastro & Mama's Boys (nothing to do with the Irish band with the same name). They mixed their experience and attitude with the songs of Ghalia and what came out is a boiling and swinging record. Ghalia has the right voice and touches the right vibes for this kind of music. (GR)

  • RED RAVEN - Chapter Two: Digithell

    In succession of their 2014 album ‘Chapter One: The Principles’, German band Red Raven release ‘Chapter Two: Digithell’. The band have a great singer with Frank Beck who also stands behind the mike for Gamma Ray. This second album confirms the quality of the debut and adds some extra dimension to it by being a varied album that goes from boiling hard rock towards alternative and progressive passages. Always well sung, well played and stuffed with melody and enough light and shade to keep it interesting. This band is musically very strong, a seasoned bunch with two fine albums under their belt now. They shouldn’t go unnoticed in the constant flow of new albums! (GR)

  • REO SPEEDWAGON - Not So Silent Night (vinyl 2017 edition))

    This Christmas album by REO Speedwagon was originally released on cd in 2014 but has now been re-released on vinyl with a bonus download card for one song – a re-recording of their own 2010 ‘I Believe In Santa Claus’. Whether you like this kind of seasonal albums or not is a matter of taste and appreciation but it’s always nice to hear one of your favorite bands play their arrangements of well-known classics. REO Speedwagon is a band with a very distinctive and recognizable sound and so is this album. Kevin Cronin sets his teeth in some traditional Christmas songs like ‘Silent Night’ or ‘Little Drummer Boys’ and lots of others, but there’s also John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’. We can’t help but finding a lot of these songs rather cheesy but the band arrangements make up for that and that’s mainly the reason this is still a listenable album. Only for Christmas freaks and diehard REO Speedwagon fans. (GR)

  • VISION DIVINE - Best Of

    Vision Divine ontstond in 1999 als een nevenproject van Labyrinth gitarist Olaf Thorsen, maar werd al gauw een prioriteit. Met zanger Fabio Lione en later Michele Luppi wist de groep tussen 1999 en 2014 vijf opmerkelijke progressieve power metal platen op te nemen en nu Lione definitief terug deel uitmaakt van de groep hebben ze deze ‘Best of’ opgenomen. Je leest het goed, de tien nummers van de eerste vier albums tussen 1999 en 2007 werden opnieuw opgenomen en aangevuld met twee nummers uit hun meest recente ‘Destination Set To Nowhere’ album uit 2014. Als toemaatje is er nog een prima cover van Savatage’s ‘Gutter Ballet’. Door alles opnieuw op te nemen klinkt de plaat uitermate consistent en kan ze gerust op zichzelf staan als een volwaardig Vision Divine album. We hebben gul genoten van deze uitstekende Italiaanse band die zonder blozen naast Rhapsody (Of Fire) mag staan als het op kwaliteit aankomt. (GR)

  • GAMMA RAY - Land Of The Free / Alive '95

    Het eerste label van Gamma Ray was het Duitse Noise, maar tegenwoordig zit de band van Kai Hansen bij Ear Music en dat label geeft systematisch de Noise opnames opnieuw uit met bonussen. ‘Land Of The Free’ is een studioalbum dat dateert uit 1995 en klinkt in deze door Eike Freese geremasterde versie nog bijzonder potent door de combinatie van power en sterke melodieën. De bonus cd bevat een aantal in 2017 opgenomen instrumentale nummers en alternatieve versies. De live in de studio opgenomen instrumentale heavy symfonische stukken bewijzen alvast dat de band nog niets van zijn kracht heeft verloren. We hebben ze mede dankzij het verbluffende drumwerk graag beluisterd. ‘Alive ‘95’ is eveneens een 2cd met de een remaster van hun eerste live album uit 1996 met nummers van de eerste vier studio albums. Op de bonus cd staan zes in 1993 opgenomen live nummers met Ralf Schepers als zanger. Deze laatste werden nooit eerder in Europa uitgebracht. Gamma Ray is een van de top bands in het genre en deze nieuwe uitgaven kunnen hopelijk een jongere generatie metal fans op het goede pad zetten. Daarbij is ‘Land Of The Free’ onze favoriet. (GR)

  • VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS MK II

    Met dit tweede album bevestigt Adrian ‘Adje’ Vandenberg dat hij definitief terug is en dat zijn Moonkings geen eenmalige bevlieging waren. Muzikaal leunt ‘MK II’ sterk aan bij Ad’s Whitesnake verleden, maar dat hoeft ons niet te verwonderen aangezien hij daar compositorisch een flinke vinger in de pap had. Onze zwarte vinyl 180 gr. persing werd door Mascot voorzien van een extra poster en handtekeningen van de vier leden. De download card is een welgekomen bonus. Dit is een sterke opvolger voor het debuut van drie jaar geleden. (GR)

  • ARCH ENEMY - Will To Power

    Another top album by Swedish melodic death metallers. I'm not a fan of grunts and screams, but this band has IT !!! Great songs, dazzling production, earplitting guitars, riffs like solid concrete walls and eventhing done in the best possible taste! Female grunt&scream queen Alissa White-Gluz hits the nail on the head every time. Pure metal art !!!! Avoid if you have fear in the dark! (GR)

  • AN EROTIC END OF TIMES - Chapter 1

    Everything darker than everything else … An Erotic End of Times is a side project of Porn leader Philippe Deschemin and ‘Chapter One’ is the first part of an imaginary soundtrack for the end of times. How dark can it get? Deschemin is a busy man as besides a musician he’s also a writer, journalist and lecturer about political philosophy. One this album he puts the classic paradox of Eros and Thanatos against each other within a frame of eight compositions that take you away in a musically interesting doomy atmosphere. I needed a couple of spins to start appreciating this piece of work and the more I hear it, the more I get intrigued by it. This is progressive music with content, lyrically and musically. Not for the light hearted though … (GR)

  • PILEDRIVER - The Boogie Brothers Live In Concert

    On October 3 of 2015, German band Piledriver celebrated their 20th anniversary with an ambitious concert at Stadthalle Wattenscheid. Besides being an anniversary, it was also a preview of their upcoming studio album ‘Brothers In Boogie’. The name of the band refers to their biggest inspiration: Status Quo. Now that the originals are no longer active as an electric band, there’s plenty of room for celebrating their legacy. Piledriver have done this for more than 20 years now and they are not some kind of barroom band having fun. Fun they have, but they are also fully professional at what they do. Of course they play some Quo covers but they write their own tunes as well and in those the legacy of Quo lives on in a very enjoyable way. It must be real fun to see these guys at work and this DVD/Blu-ray + 2cd is the ideal deal to experience a Piledriver concert from your couch with a nice drink. The band went full option with professional camera work and sound recording. Most of the set consists of their own work mixed with a couple of Quo classics. On the video part there’s some extras like video clips, a Status Quo medley and a new song. The 2 cd’s have the 22 tracks of the concert plus the new song ‘Julia’. This is pure rock-’n’-roll entertainment! Enjoy! (GR)

  • HERZPARASIT - Parakropolis

    The core of this Munich group is three musicians who are augmented by an extra guitar- and bass player for the live shows. Their third album shows a very mature band. They are super heavy but also melodic, dark and transparent. I’ve seen them being compared to Rammstein but that’s mostly because they also sing in German and have this theatrical sound and declamation. Their lyrics written by Ric Q are inspired by social and personal matters. Musically this is very intense riff-loaded music that gets a lot of its vibe through the German language but also because of the superb production. This is really an experience in sound and vision … (GR)

  • TRIFLE - First Meetings

    In the late sixties and early seventies a lot of brassrock bands emerged. Some were very succesful (Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears), some were different (Colosseum), some had a fanbase that gave them a longer lifespan (If, Chase) and some were just 'one album only' phenomenons. Trifle is one of those. with a line-up of vocals, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, keyboards, bass and drums, they had a lot of possibilities to arrange their pieces with interesting and rich tone-colors. Their sole album 'First Meeting' (1971) has now been rereleased by Music On Vinyl and one can only be happy about that. An Original pressing in very good or better condition will set you back for at least 150 euro's. So it's nice to have this official rerelease. The album was produced by cult producer John Schroeder and the members played later in different succesful outfits. This album is a nice piece of work and gets more and more interesting with every spin. To enjoy this music you will need a little volume. On low volume it sounds rather thin, but on a higer level it sounds wonderful and the band plays fine arrangements. The band they sound most like is Manfred Mann Chapter III. So buy it while you can! (GR)

    https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifle_(band)

  • TRAUMER - The Great Metal Storm

    TraumeR is a Brazilian melodic power metal band. This is an European release of the first TraumeR album that was only released in Japan and America in 2014. Especially Japan responded very enthusiastic to this release and what we get is the album with two acoustic bonus tracks that illustrate the strength of their compositions. TraumeR knows how to write a song and brings in a lot of light and shade into them and writes also very interesting arrangements. It is not easy to sound original in this genre, but these guys sound fresh and eager with a progressive/symphonic touch. So this is a good genre record. (GR)

  • THE GUILT -The Guilt

    The first full cd by this Swedish duo sounds like lightning! They combine vocals, guitars and electronics and because there’s only two of them, they can play almost anywhere. In your bedroom, your wardrobe or in the townhall? Yes they can! True to the real punk ethics, their ten song album clocks in at just under thirty minutes. Intense but controlled vocals, punchy songs, splattering guitars, growling electronics, fast rhythms and danceable grooves, it’s all there. Today’s punk is also about having some fun and there’s a lot of that with The Guilt. This record sounds fresh and energizing! (GR)

  • STYX - The Mission

    Al 45 jaar wagen ze de gevaarlijke oversteek van pop naar prog naar rock: Styx. Op hun nieuwe plaat maakt de groep een ruimtemissie naar Mars (in het verhaal keren ze nooit meer terug en reizen ze door naar … Styx, een maantje van Pluto). Gelukkig is het resultaat op muzikaal gebied minder dramatisch. Het is trouwens niet de eerste keer dat de groep een futuristisch thema uitkoos (‘Killroy was here’ dateert van 1983). In nog geen drie kwartier wordt deze muzikale trip afgewerkt met veertien, gebalde songs. En jawel, de sound van de gloriejaren is overeind gebleven. Vooral de prachtige samenzang (ik hoor Queen en ELO) vormt nog steeds een sterktepunt uit van de groep. Een goede afwisseling tussen uptempo rock en goed opgebouwde popsongs zorgt voor een muzikale ervaring die voorbijvliegt. De kern van de huidige bezetting was er al bij in de hoogdagen van de jaren zeventig: Tommy Shaw met zijn hoge stembereik, gitarist James Young en bassist Chuck Panozzo (broertje John overleed in 1996). Ook Dennis DeYoung is er niet meer bij.
    Tip voor de nostalgen onder ons: ouderwetse, maar fijne pop-rock; een tijdloze trip door de muzikale ruimte! (EB)

  • JUNIE - The Complete Westbound recordings 1973 - 76

    Het blijft boeiend: duiken in de geschiedenis en ontdekken! Als doorwinterde funk fan laat ik me leiden door de hoes waarop groepen als The Ohio Players en Funkadelic vermeld worden. Junie is de naam (Walter Morrison Jr. op de ID) en hij maakte drie lp’s in de jaren 1975-76 op het Westbound-label.
    Zijn carrière startte inderdaad bij The Ohio Players (de hoezen met schaars geklede dames kwamen in ons land in de uitverkoopbakken te staan) met een aanstekelijk funkgeluid. Toen de groep naar de disco neigde verliet Junie de groep. Op zijn drie soloplaten is de funk wel nog aanwezig (enkele ballads kunnen ook nog). Op de tweede en derde plaat neemt Junie trouwens alle instrumenten voor zijn rekening. Fijne ontdekking wordt het!
    Naderhand raakt Junie betrokken bij de groep Funkadelic van ons aller George Clinton. Hij is trouwens de auteur en coördinator van hét funk-anthem van de late jaren zeventig: One nation under a groove.
    Later geraakt Junies carrière in het slop. Begin dit jaar overlijdt hij (62 jaar).
    Het moeten niet altijd de grote namen zijn uit de funk: Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic of andere James Browns. Junie: geest- en lichaam verruimend; gewoon ceedeetje opzetten en grooven! (EB)

  • ANATHEMA - The Optimist

    Through the years Anathema has become a different band, but it sounds like a natural evolution. Today the band deal mainly in atmospheric songs with keyboard dominated arrangements and dreamy vocals. ‘The Optimist’ is a sequel to their 2001 album ‘A Fine Day to Exist’ and tells the story of what becomes of the character that disappeared at the end of that story. According to Vincent Cavanah, recording with producer Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Super Fury Animals, Belle & Sabastian) was a big influence on the album and it was his suggestion to record live in the studio. One thing is for sure: this band sounds like a real band! There’s a nice flow in the album that starts with a short electronic track that is not representative for the rest of the album at all. Overall there’s an ambient atmosphere to the songs but there’s enough variation to keep it interesting. The long final track ‘Back To The Start’ is a climax with a lot of tension. It’s clear that Anathema have made one of their better albums. It is available in many different formats and coloured vinyls. (GR)

THE MIKE WESTBROOK BAND - Marching Song

Toen beide “Marching Song”-LP’s van The Mike Westbrook Concert Band uitkwamen in 1969 werden ze gezien als een aanklacht tegen de oorlog in Vietnam. Mike Westbrook verklaarde later dat het een algemene aanklacht was tegen de zinloosheid van elke oorlog. Het heruitbrengen van de albums (nu op een extended 3CD-boxje) is dan ook eenvoudig te verbinden met de recente herdenkingen omtrent de eerste wereldoorlog (deze week speciaal in het nieuws).

Mike Westbrook is een begenadigde Britse pianist/arrangeur die in 1969 dit magnum opus uitbracht. Heerlijk om nog eens naar die fijne Britse jazz te luisteren. Uiteraard is de invloed van de Amerikaanse jazz groot, maar toch valt telkens op hoe eigengereid men in the UK zijn eigen weg ging. Een aantal gerenommeerde muzikanten zijn hier al te horen: Kenny Wheeler, Alan Skidmore, John Surman, Mike Gibbs. Speciale vermelding voor de ondersteunende en soms dominante rol van bassist Harry Miller. (EB)

De Britse jazz deed ons ook al kennismaken met de fantastische sound van bijvoorbeeld Michael Garrick, Neil Ardley, The New Jazz Orchestra en Mike Taylor (met ‘onze’ Jon Hiseman op drums). Ook zij verbonden symfonische en intimistische klanken met elkaar. En dat is juist wat Mike Westbrook hier doet. Zelf neemt hij als pianist zelden het voortouw (Landscape als uitzondering), maar hij is de orkestleider die op deze CD’s vooral de blazers hun werk laat doen. Het symfonische van de blazerssectie gaat in op het thema oorlog, met naast een dreigende sound ook bijzonder forse uithalen (Conflict), waarbij de grens met de freejazz vaak bereikt wordt. Die afwisseling tussen de energieke en de meer ingetogen sound maakt van deze Marching Song een onnavolgbaar meesterwerk. Let wel: niet voor elk oortje geschikt (waarschuwingssticker niet beschikbaar).

Hoe fijn dat de ontwikkeling van de Britse jazzrock (Nucleus! Soft Machine!) ons later in contact bracht met de originaliteit van hun voorbeelden. Ook het Centipede-werkstuk van Keith Tippett heeft ons destijds bij de lurven gepakt. Met een gelijkaardige bigbandachtige aanpak is het wellicht de ultieme samenkomst van Britse jazz (ook weer Alan Skidmore) en Britse rock (Boz! Mike Patto! Brian Godding (van ‘onze’ Blossom Toes).

  • THORBJORN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADOS - Change My Game

    Blues time baby! Thorbjorn Risager is a Danisch soul & blues artist with a great live reputation, a great band including a brass section and the right feel for this kind of music. This new album is a killer from start to finish with a load of groovy tunes. This is the kind of cd one plays over and over just for the fun of it. On Ruf Records! (GR)

  • COCO MONTOYA - Hard truth

    Coco Montoya is not an unknown in the actual blues scene. the man sold more than 100.000 copies of his last tree Alligator albums and this one will consolidiate the succes. Montoya himself takes care of singing and lead guitar and has a band behind him consisting of keyboards (mostly a heavenly organ), rhythm guitar, bass and drums. That makes a perfect set-up for dynamic and rich arrangements. Adding some good backing vocals on a couple of tunes makes it all even richer. Of course the genre of blues and blues rock has been played to death, but Montoya has enough personality to make it sound like his own music. Excellent genre album! (GR)

  • BIG DADDY WILSON - Neckbone Stew

    Big Daddy Wilson brings on 'Neckbone Stew' exactly what the title suggests: a cocktail of all kinds os roots music ingredients, from acoustic to boiling electric blues over some soul, r'n'b and reggae. The album has a very warm sound and Wilson has a great voice for this kind of work. He surrounds himself with a bunch of good musicians who lay down the right instrumental arrangements. This album is a perfect soundtrack to make a headtrip in the Southern states. On Ruf records. (GR)

  • PURPEDICULAR - Venus To Volcanus

    Purpendicular is one, if not the most important Deep Purple tribute band in the world. It has even got the approval of the mighty Purple boys themselves. Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice makes that very clear by guesting on one track. On this ‘Venus To Volcanus’ album they play eleven self-penned songs that come unbelievably close to the real thing. These guys eat and breath Purple and know exactly how to create that sound, energy and atmosphere. Irish singer Robby Thomas sounds almost exactly like Gillan in his days of glory and the arrangements of the songs create that same vibe and groove that is so typical for Purple. Word is that this band is nothing less than sensational on stage, so if they are playing somewhere in your neighbourhood, check them out! Is this all relevant? It is because of the quality by which it is done. European dates from August until December – see band website. (GR)

  • DRAGONFROCE - Reaching Into Infinity

    The seventh album by multi-national band Dragonforce introduces new Italian drummer Gee Anzalone and is once again produced by Jens Borgen. After six years and three studio albums, singer Marc Hudson is well integrated into the band and participates as a writer too although the main writers are still Frédérik Leclercq and Sam Totman. The album’s most prominent characteristics are the speed of the rhythm’s by which the songs are played combined with a strong sense for melody. Technically these guys know how to master this kind of arrangements, so there’s again a lot to enjoy for the fans of the genre. Now and then the band surprises with complex and stunning instrumental passages or with a strong ballad. The title song clocks in at eleven minutes and is the longest track the band ever recorded, hence the reference to progressive metal in the heading of this review. Needless to state that the sound is superb, as is the playing. The band even manage to make this genre sound fresh and their performance is full of conviction and inspiration. So, this a better than average album altogether! (GR)

  • SIDEBURN - Eight

    Sideburn is a Swiss band with that typical ‘Swiss groove’: no-nonsense rock-‘n-roll with a steady beat and a leaning towards AC/DC. If you are into bands like Krokus, Airborne and likewise rockers, you will also like Sideburn. This is their eight album and the band has a professional routine by now, so everything sounds good and after so many albums the band still sounds eager and manages to come up with a set of enjoyable songs. Needless to say that the performance is flawless and twelve of the thirteen songs are originals. This album is dedicated to the memory of Lemmy Killmister, hence the presence of ‘No Class’, a Mötörhead cover done with class. It will not change the course of rock, but this is a very enjoyable record! (GR)

  • KAHVAS JUTE - Wide Open

    Soms moet men eens een risico durven nemen; en dan bedoel ik niet blind de straat oversteken, maar eens een CD meenemen zonder te weten wat je te wachten staat. Dat deed ik met de 2006-CD-heruitgave van de LP ‘Wide Open’ van Kahvas Jute (wie?). Mooie hoes, twee gitaren, een bas en drums, muziek uit 1971, de groep komt uit Australië. Leider is Dennis Wilson (niet van the Beach Boys); de muziek doet wat denken aan Cream en ook wel aan de legendarische T2. Knappe rock, met een vleugje blues en een snuifje jazz. Lekker stevig en af en toe wat relaxter. Goede solo’s van de twee gitaristen. Daarnaast zeer opvallend: een machtig pompende basgitaar. Even kijken wie er nog meespeelt: bassist is ene Bob Daisley. Tiens, zegt die naam ons iets? Blijkbaar met deze Australische groep gestart, en later naar Engeland verhuisd waar hij speelde bij (en nu komt het): Widowmaker, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep (als interim van Trevor Bolder) en een hele tijd bij Gary Moore. Naast de LP uit 1971 staan er ook nog live versies uit 2005 (met drie originele leden) op de CD, waaronder het nummer ‘Politician’ van ... Cream. En daarmee is de cirkel rond. Mmm, ‘t was ‘t risico waard! (EB)

  • SABINE & LAIA KÜHLICH GENC

    Hoeveel liefhebbers zijn de jazz niet ingerold via Dave Brubeck. Take Five was een van die nummers die de weg baanden naar een ruimer publiek. Voor menig jongeling en jongedame in de jaren vijftig en zestig was dit de eerste kennismaking met wat moderne jazz heette. De kamerjazz van Brubeck was voor velen de aanvaardbare kant van die zogenaamd losbandige en vreemde muziek van de zwarten … Dat Brubeck de jongere generatie opnieuw kan aanspreken bewijst alleen maar dat zijn muziek meer is dan de hit Take Five. Dat hebben ook twee jonge Duitse dames begrepen. Sabine Kulich woont vandaag in Aken, maar is opgegroeid in het voormalige Oost-Duitsland waar dit soort muziek lang taboe was. Zij genoot er een vorming als saxofonist en ontdekte na de val van de muur de rijkdom van het westerse jazzrepertoire. Naast haar liefde voor de sax ontwikkelde ze zich ook als – overigens voortreffelijke - zangeres. Sabine Kühlich werd geboren in Keulen en wordt als pianiste onder meer gevormd door John Taylor. Ze hebben elkaar gevonden om een ode te brengen aan de muziek van Brubeck, met z’n tweetjes, piano, altsax en stem. Het is een plaat geworden waarbij de muzikale vaardigheden van de beide dames buiten kijf staat. Dit is een eigenzinnige manier om een idool te eren en dat kunnen we alleen maar toejuichen, het klakkeloos herhalen van wat reeds werd gedaan zou pas flauw zijn. Het resultaat is een mooie intimistische en bij vlagen bijna klassiek aandoende luisterplaat. Maar de dames beschikken ook over een gezonde dosis muzikale humor, iets wat bij live concerten zeker zal bijdragen aan het entertainment gehalte. (GR)

  • DREADNAUGHT - Hard Chargin'

    Dreadnaught is een collectief dat ons met een werverwind van stijlen en sfeerwisselingen voortdurend op een ander been zet. De parallel met Frank Zappa is gauw getrokken, maar dat is enkel het geval wat de spirit betreft. Dreadnaught klinkt niet zoals Zappa, hun sound is warm en soepel. Dat maakt dat de hutsepot die ze ons presenteren toch vlot beluisterd kan worden en dat het nooit pijn doet aan de oren. Dreadnaught wil vooral uitdagen in de positieve betekenis van het woord: de oren van de luisteraar doen spitsen en daarbij nooit kans laten voor verveling. Stijlmatig is hier geen touw aan vast te maken en toch klinkt het allemaal heel spontaan en logisch. Of ze nu jazz, (hard)rock, progressieve rock, country, hedendaags klassiek of fusion spelen, het maakt niet uit en het blijkt gek genoeg allemaal uit hetzelfde vaatje te komen. Hard Chargin’ is een verrassende, nauwelijks te catalogeren cyclus van elf stukken die ondanks de diversiteit toch samen een kant opgaan. (GR)

  • CAN - The Singles

    ‘The Singles’, altijd een hapklare brok om de grootste successen van een artiest bijeen te krijgen, zul je denken. In het geval van Can, het vreemde gezelschap dat in de Krautrock een aparte rol innam, betekent dit iets anders.
    Doorheen de jaren hebben Can een stapeltje elpees uitgebracht, soms eclectisch, soms zeer ritmisch, altijd eigenwijs. Kernleden Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit en Irmin Schmidt creërden die bezwerende eigen stijl. Bij het doorluisteren van deze CD valt het ritmisch patroon van veel songs op, een bijna Afrikaanse tribal rhythm. Meteen ook vaak heel dansbare muziek.
    Tussen al de elpees door werden ook een aantal – nu zeldzame – singles uitgebracht; een klein fortuin waard als je ze zou verzamelen; als je er een hebt: bijhouden! Voor een normale prijs kan je nu zo’n 23 tracks verzamelen, vaak afwijkende of kortere versies, soms onuitgegeven op elpee. O ja, bevat de enige hit (?) van Can: ‘I Want More’ stond enkele weken in de Britse charts (1976). Covers van ‘Silent Night’ (#18) en ‘Can Can – 1978’ (#22) kan je bij een tweede luisterbeurt best skippen. (EB)

  • LUKE GASSER - Mercy On Me

    Luke Gasser is an old-school rocker with a punk attitude and a romantic soul. He’s a no-nonsense rocker, filmmaker, social critic and philosopher. Besides that he’s a cosmopolite and nice guy. ‘Mercy On Me’ is another driving rock album, recorded in a trio format. But it’s not just driving rock, Luke writes lyrics with a content. He doesn’t like ruthless capitalism (‘Cross My Heart’), he sings about the well-meaning but failing human (‘Mercy On Me’), desperate love (‘Ruby, MD’), our terrorised society (‘Rooster On The Prowl’), the self-betraying man (‘Hey Hey Hey, Pussyfooter’), the misery of the suburbs (‘Smash To Smithers’), prostitution (‘Modesty’) and a string of songs about the pain of love. All this is sung with a raw voice and wrapped in pulsating rocksongs. The album opens with ‘Stellar Queen’, a tongue in cheek song featuring Mark Fox of Shakra on guest vocals. This album is suited for mindless rockin’, but you can also sit down and listen to what Luke has to tell. (GR)

  • MY OWN GHOST - Life On Standbye

    Their second album ‘Life On Standby’ is a total confirmation of the quality that we also noticed on their debut album ‘Love Kills’. The title track and ‘Everytime I Break’ do set the perfect tone for the great flow of this record. More varied than the debut album, there’s more light and shade and the production is brought up to a level that is totally professional. This record sounds great, powerful and bold. The labelling as ‘power pop-rock’ may give the wrong impression because it suggests a certain lightness, this doesn’t mean that the band has no balls! We had the luck to see the band live a couple of times already and they are a full-blooded rock band with a no-nonsense attitude. The disarming appearance of singer Julie Rodesch with an army of guitars in her back and a killer drummer delivering the goods, make the band a live sensation. They sound more detailed on record, but the power is still there. With ten strong and energetic songs, this is a top album. This band crosses over between pop and modern heavy rock and that’s an art! A thrilling album with a healthy spring feeling that makes us happy! (GR)