SAMUEL ESCHER - The Wilderness

The style could be described as 'neo-folk'. Escher is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. This is a pure solo album, a one man project about a subject that fascinates this Scottish artist. The song-cycle consists of 10 well crafted tracks that take you away on a trip into the world of the artist. This is what he tells about it: "The wilderness has always held my attention, often as a passing muse or idle thought. But, increasingly, that relationship has changed. I find myself longing, wanting to be part of it. Not a casual observer, removed, but a functioning part of a greater system. No longer governed by the human construct, but by something older and more ethereal. This album is the first of three albums in a series exploring life. The songs on Wilderness were created and accumulated throughout my journey, reflecting introspection and my place within an increasingly complex world". Escher sings and plays acoustic guitar, cello, drums, electric bass, electric guitar and piano. This rich intrumentation delivers some very nice arrangements. An album that is created outside the world of what we call 'the music business' and as pure and honest as it's subject. If you like semi-acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, you should give it a listen. (GR)

SUSANNE FRÖHLICH - 21

A group of young female contemporary jazz-related musicians based in Berlin are exploring new horizons with their own individual musical vision. One of them is Susanne Fröhlich, who plays solo on various recorders and gives that instrument a new dimension, whether or not in combination with electronic devices. Fröhlich has built up an impressive musical background at the conservatories and universities of Amsterdam, Berlin and Graz. In her dialogue with silence, she evokes a palette of sound images and atmospheres that creates a tension between lyricism and alienation, between presence and desolation, between nature and soft-industrial sounds. Her playing technique is stunning and innovative. This music by five different composers, including one piece of her own, cannot be categorized. Call it avant-garde or contemporary, but that is not really relevant. It is a matter of allowing the sonorous evocations to come in with an open mind and to enjoy the beauty. Fröhlich calls it 'The new potential of a 21st century recorder'. 21 consists of two CDs, on the second of which the five pieces are introduced and clarified by Susanne herself. Impressive!
(Geert Ryssen)
Susanne Fröhlich (various recorders, electronics)

Scroll down to find other jazz or impro related reviews by BackBack, Julie Sassoon/Willie Kellers, Kim In the Middle, Onyx & The Red Lips and Vasil Hadzimanov Band

  • THE END A.D. - Badlands

    'Badlands' is the second full album by American hardcore/punk/metal quartet The End A.D. and the first with singer Ami friend. The music is loud, harsh, raw and furious. Ami is the perfect front woman for this kind of metal. She can scream, but also knows how to bend notes and 'sing'. The band has taken inspiration from bands like Motörhead, Plasmatics, Venom, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Judge, Ministry, Killing Joke and Old School German Metal. That should give you an idea of what to expect. A 2020 spring tour of Europe was planned, but corona is the spoiler. Look at the cover of 'Badlands' and this world in distress is portrayed with some excess fantasy, but nevertheless … If you are into boiling, earsplitting punk and hardcore influenced metal, this is one for you! (Geert Ryssen)

  • FATEFUL FINALITY - Executor

    Executor is the fourth album by German thrash-metal band Fateful Finality. The band sounds super tight and projects the right amount of energy for this kind of music. They mix mostly raw and rough vocals (guitarist Simon Schwarzer) and clean vocals (guitarist Patrick Prochiner). The bass player listens to the name Philipp Mürder (what's in a name?) and syncronizes perfectly with the pounding drums of Mischa Wittek. The quality of the band is defined by a set of real songs that get their strength from the grooves and power of the arrangements. This is brutal but very listenable thrash-metal. Unfotunately Fateful Finalty had to cancel a lot of shows in the spring of 2020 due to corona. (Geert Ryssen)

  • NEED2DESTROY - Show

    This is the first album by multi-cultural German band Need2Destroy that was released early 2019. The lyrics are in Spanish and the music is full of original twists and turns. Extreme metal vocals are combined with an almost classical sounding tenor voice. The songs have some breathtaking grooves and strange structures. The bass This is extreme metal unfused with progressive and art-rock elements. There's a lot of controlled aggression and angriness into this music, but the way they construct their songs makes it all digestable and thrilling. (Geert Ryssen)

ROME - The Dublin Session - Eire 2019

Rome is in fact a one man project. Jerome Reuter is hailing from Luxemburg and a devote believer in European unity. For his different albums released as Rome, he surrounds himself with occasional collaborators that suit the particular idea. This time he moved to Dublin for some time and got inspired by the lively music scene in Ireland. The result is a contemporary folk album on which he surrounds himself with local musicans. Tradition meets comtemporary moods and sentiments with a collection of songs that float from sombre to danceable. His lyrics are an expression of his thoughts and fears about the way this world is turning and he wraps them in very listenable songs and arrangements. Some of the songs are really grabbing you by the throat like 'Vaterland' which is inspired by the growing nationalism is many countries. The song 'Mann Für Mann' has an almost militant athmosphere and deals with how politicians divide instead of bonding people. The album ends with an instrumental that shows that there's still life in traditional music. His European soul makes him use different languages, although English is the leading tongue. Reuter always delivers his work in a very arty layout. There's a limited pressing on vinyl and the cd is packed in a trifold digipack. Another nice release by an artisit with a strong musical personality. (Geert Ryssen)

JACK & SALLY - Who We Become

Ever heard a 'concept' EP? Well here's one. It's about Macy, a character that can possibly be anybody in this world ... The five songs represent fairly what Jack & Sally stands for: ballsy songs with a fresh punk/poprock/popmetal flavour. The trio is Ben Felix on vocals and bass, Joshua Jacobs on guitar and Pravir Ramasundaram on drums. This first effort presents a fresh and energetic band with five good songs; it provides them with a valuable ticket to get a place on the overcrowed scene. These guys really have a chance if they keep up the good work! (Geert Ryssen)

RINGO STARR - What's My Name

Like him or not, one can't deny that he's rock royalty: Ringo Starr! The legendary Beatles drummer is 79 years young now and the man goes on for the love of music. He's still active as a performer and releases every few years a new album. As a drummer he's always been underrated, but today the people 'who know' confess that he was an essential cornerstone in the Beatles. His drumming style made The Beatles even more special than they already were with the talented Paul McCartney and John Lennon (and let's not forget George Harrison!). His new album 'What's My Name' sounds very Ringo, but also very fresh. He's got an impressive circle of topmusicinans that he can count on to make his records worth listening to. There's Joe Walsh (The Eagles and his brother in law), Edgar Winter, Nathan East (top bass player), Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Benmond Tench, Colin Hay (Men At Work) and lots of other lesser known names and some great female backing voices. Last but not least, there's Steve Lukather (Toto) on guitar adding salt and pepper to half of the tunes. Ringo plays drums, sings, co-wrote six of the ten songs and produced the album. There's a cover of John Lennon's 'Grow Old With Me' (a song of Lennon's 'Milk And Honey' album) with Paul McCartney on bass and backing vocals. Ringo turns the song into a sentimental thing, but considering his status, all is forgiven. The cover of the Motown classic 'Money' (The Beatles made this song immortal) is a pleasant suprise with it's light swing and fresh modern arrangement. There's always some Beatles reference! The album sounds mostly powerful, energetic and catchy. Can't help but love the man and his music, it's pure, honest and without any pretention. (Geert Ryssen)

BACKBACK - 4 (elNegocito Records)

Backback is a belgian experimental jazz/rock/progressive trio consisting of Marc Maeseneer (baritone sax, keyboards), Giovanni Barcella (drums) and Filip Wauters (e-guitar, six string bass). Musically they remind me of German "krautrock" band Xhol who recorded two albums in the early seventies for the legendary Ohr label. The music sounds like a soundtrack for desolation and alienation, but also fascinating along the way. The interaction between the three musicians is very interesting to follow and the deep sound of the baritone sax is perfect for the atmosphere that Backback creates. In 'Blade' they even use heavy rock riffs to support the improvisation of the baritone. Ambient music for desperate times, the perfect soundtrack! (Geert Ryssen)

JULIE SASSOON / WILLI KELLERS - Waves

Julie Sassoon is a British piano player operating from Berlin. A duo session with drummer Willi Kellers in 2016 was recorded and that creation is released now on the second cd of this double package. That session led to a series of live concerts and one of these has been recorded at Munichunderground. That concert is on the first cd. The combination of piano and drums delivers unique dynamics ranging from the percussive 'If You Ever Change' to the poetic 'Twilight' or to a piece like 'Soulplay' which is full of tension. Both musicians have a perfect empathy towards each other en develop an organic and symbiotic musical trip. 'Waves' is a strong example of accessible and listenable avantgarde jazz. (Geert Ryssen)

  • AREN DRIFT - Beneath The Surface (EP)

    Aren Drift is a British female fronted progressive rockband. The progressive nature of the band lies within it's songstructures and the blending of modern rock and post-rock influences. Singer and rhythm guitarist Radka Nemcova has a deep and powerful voice and has a trio behind her of guitar, bass and drums that due to the limited instrumentation makes the music breathe with lots of dynamics. It's a good idea not to use keyboards. It gives the band an original touch in the contemporary progressive genre. Strength in melodies, riffs and performance makes this a joy to listen to. The mastering was done by Pete Maher who also works for U2, Lana Del Rey and Jack White. Impressive reference, impressive EP. (Geert Ryssen)

  • ONYX & THE RED LIPS - Cinematic

    Onyx & The Red Lips is a French trio of female singers that want to revive the female harmony bands of the fifties like The Andrew Sisters. They do it with a contemporary touch, so this is not a pure nostalgia trip. They fluctuate between pop, blues(rock) and swingjazz and do so with a lot of flexability. These musically trained women are exploring different kinds of styles which brings a lot of variation and updates the retro atmosphere to a fresh level. I'm sure this will be great in live concert. (Geert Ryssen)

KIM IN THE MIDDLE - The 7 Year Itch

The third album by Kim In The Middle shows Belgian jazz vocalist Kim Versteynen in her most versalite way. She walks different ways without losing focus and direction. It's always jazz, always great singing and always a great instrumental setting around her. She balances between 'classic' jazz singing and modern phrasing with ease and it all sounds natural. She chose songs and music from a very different origin (Kate Bush, Zoot Sims, Gabriel Fauré, Eberhart Weber, ...) and writes lyrics that due to her singing style sound so fluid. One moment one finds him/herself in a musical, a piano bar or in a contemporary jazzclub. Her influences go from Diane Reeves to Norma Winstone and a lot more, but she melts it all into real Kim In The Middle stuff with the support of a wonderful trio consisting of Arne Van Coillie (piano), Flor Van Leugenhaeghe (double bass) and Gert-Jan Dreessen (drums). These guys deliver the perfect instrumental context in which Kim can blossom. A beautiful record that brings a warm ambiance in the room and makes one listen along the way. (Geert Ryssen)

PRIMAL STATIC - The Corrupting Of The Revolution (EP)

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Primal Static is releasing their newest EP "The Corrupting of the Revolution." The four tracks are highly experimental and still rooted heavily in the American blues tradition. It's a two man band, in fact a man and a woman with a totally different background. Singer/guitarist G.T. performs against the background of the electronics of HoeFei, a Chinese female keyboard player with a classical background. The outcome is modern wizzardy that cuts like a knife. The four songs on this second EP are musically very interesting and well performed. Alternative music for those who like adventurous songwriting and sounds while blending two worlds. (Geert Ryssen) www.primalstatic.com 

PORN - The Darkest of Human Desires - Act II

French band Porn is working on a Trilogy about the darkest corners of human nature. They created the character "Mr. Strangler" to impersonate the evil powers in man. Their vehicle is a style that mixes gothic and industrial metal. The lyrics make the label "horror metal" valid. The first part of the trilogy was released in 2017 as 'The Ogre Inside -  Act 1' and this Act 2 was released in February 2019. The lyrical content may raise more than one eyebrow as Mr. Strangler is in full action now, commiting murder and massacre as an expression of his death cult. The songs are about the drive of a number of scary and ruthless serial killers (Charles Manson being one of them) and raises a warning: don't try this at home! However, recent scientific studies reveal that the agression and violence often expressed in extreme metal, do not trigger that kind of violence into the listeners and fans of this music. On the contrary, it has a calming and mellowing effect. In that way it can be categorised as an artistic expression of a (hopefully) marginal but existing reality. Musically Porn is not an extreme metal band. The blend of gothic and industrial metal is captured in dark atmospheric songstructures. Fascinating it is. The band got techical assistance from Tom Baker who also worked with Marylin Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Rob Zombie. So, soundwise there's nothing to complain about. (Geert Ryssen)

ALMøST HUMAN - XS2XTC / XS4XTC (Fastball Music)

Metal has a wide range of styles and now and then a record grabs your attention without being in your favorite style. Swiss metallers Almøst Human are around in one form or another since the nineties, but 'XS2XTC/XS4XTC' is their first full album. Their blending of extreme metal with classic rock energy delivers a very exciting and fascinating album. Their songs sound harsh, raw and brutal, but still there's a classic touch to their riffs and grooves. There's melody, emotion and a lot of passion in their performances that lifts the band to a higher level. Thematicaly the band focusses on the place of human beings in the wide range of "animals". This is not meant for romantic or sensitive souls, but if you like some adventure or exploration of unknown territory, Almøst Human may be your servant. (Geert Ryssen)

  • MATT FINUCANE - 'Vanishing Island' (Light Crude Records)

    Perhaps this title refers to what's happening to the UK right now in its relation to continental Europe ... The Brighton based musician/songwriter writes songs in the tradition of the experimentalists like early Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen. Influenced by artrock, krautrock and electronic noise, Finucane presents ten adventurous songs with inventive arrangements that will appeal to fans of the mentioned artists, especially in their first outings. The Berlin period of David Bowie is another reference. This debut album will be released on May 3, 2019. A taste of what's to come is already available on Matt's website: www.mattfinucame.net . Very enjoyable and well made album throughout by an individual and fascinating artist. (Geert Ryssen)

  • ROME - Le Ceneri Di Heliodoro (Trisol Music Group)

    "The protagonists of Rome's lyrical world are history's forgotten heroes and outsiders, most notably of the 20th century: Anarchist rebels (as on ‘Flowers From Exile’, 2009), the French resistance (‘Nos Chants Perdus’, 2010), Southern Africa's struggle for freedom (‘A Passage To Rhodesia’, 2014) or revolutionaries and underground fighters such as those on Rome's ambitious trilogy ‘Die Aesthetik Der Herrschaftsfreiheit’ (2011) inspired by the works of Peter Weiss and Pablo Neruda among others. "
    "On ’Le Ceneri Di Heliodoro’ (’The ashes of Heliodoro’), Reuter does not shy away from the provocative and ambiguous and thus tackles new terrain and touchy subject matters such as Europe's dissolving unity, or its relations to the US and the fragile fraternity of its nations."
    These quotes from the release sheet of Rome's 13th (!) album tell us about what this album is all about lyricaly. It's an important aspect of the album as Jerome Reuter who is in fact Rome, is first of all a modern folk artist influenced by masters like Brel, Cave, Waits or Cohen. The atmosphere is dark, melancholic but not depressive. Jerome's deep voice suits the songs very well. The instrumentation is also his work with a little help from Tom Gatti on additonal instruments and arrangements. 'Le Ceneri Di Heliodoro' is a strong concept album by a very individual artist from Luxemburg. Although the lyrics are mostly in English there's some German passages, typical for the multi-cultural nature of his native country. Musically this could be categorised als "neo-folk" with a progressive touch. Interesting record that impresses again and again with every spin! Available on cd and on deep red vinyl. (Geert Ryssen)

  • VASIL HADZIMANOV BAND - Lines In Sand (Moonjune Records)

    The Sixth studio album by the Vasil Hadzimanov Band opens with a strong ethnic touch. Hadzimanov is Serbian and that flavours now and then his compositions, but not in a dominant way. It would be a shame if the incidental listener would back off because of that because what follows are twelve strong, entertaining but substantial compositions. The rich instrumental line-up (keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, percussion) is enlarged by some sax and vocal guest appearances. Hadzimanov is a gifted piano and keyboard player and the other players are instrumental in the unique flow in this album. The open and dynamic sound and the beautiful texture of the instrumental arrangements makes this a joy to listen to. This is a top album building bridges between jazz, fusion and progressive rock. (Geert Ryssen)