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Old 06-17-2009, 05:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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That sounds super appealing. Could I get a link?
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks, I've been really enjoying this.
An emphasis on guitar really appeals to me in funk, and generally they get some great grooves happening.

Just Freak is super awesome. I love the vocals.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:56 AM   #13 (permalink)
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"Jazz In Silhouette" by Sun Ra

Track listing:

Ancient Aiethopia
Hours After
Blues At Midnight

When I first approached this album, I was expecting something completely different than what I had previously heard from Ra. I'd been told that this was his most accessible album when it came to getting into his vast catalogue, and also that it was a turning point in his musical career in the sense that every album post-Jazz In Silhouette was spacey and far-out, while everything prior was more traditional jazz fare. This did not turn out to be completely true, and although I'd say that Sound of Joy is Ra's most accessible album I still thoroughly enjoyed Jazz In Silhouette for what it was; an album rife with samba, big band, and smooth jazz influences.

Beginning the album is “Enlightenment”, a track that creeps and lurks its way through your brain with its winding melodies and soulful trumpet. This song reminds me of a night in New Orleans back alleys, where the sounds waft through the dark cool air. Following "Enlightenment" is "Saturn", a much more frantic track. The drums and cymbals are what really drives this song and the quick little trumpet choruses are evidence of Ra's ability to take standard jazz rhythms and liberally apply his own brand of exploratory melody. The key part of this song is the fantastic sax work.

“Velvet” is a song that sounds like it's on the edge of the cliff. Intensely dramatic and harmonious at the same time, Ra encapsulates the feeling of excitement perfectly. The song only clocks in at 3:20, but I found myself just putting it on repeat almost every time I listened to the album.

The first taste of Ra's eccentricity on this album is "Ancient Aiethopia", a song title indicative of not only his love of Egyptian mythology, but also his fondness for African tribal drums as well. With an album cover that was described as "half-naked women teleporting themselves over one of the moons of Saturn", this track provides the background music for such a scene. The twin flutes and piccolos tell a story that is both full of hope and tragedy, and the percussion sounds like Native American religious ceremonies. "Ancient Aiethopia" isn't far off from what would've been heard in antiquity. The 9:09 plays out like a movie, and Ra incorporates a futuristic approach in the second half. The first real piano work on the album appears on this track, and despite its brevity it does not disappoint. The song devolves into chanting and ominous drumming at the second half.

A swinging tune to lighten up the mood is what follows the immense "Ancient Aiethopia", as "Hours After" hearkens back to the days of prohibition jazz. Bluesy and rambling, "Hours After" is another stand-out track with stellar contributions by multiple instruments.

“Horoscope” shows flashes of brilliance, but otherwise it’s yet another Ra standard. It stretches, it rushes, and it swings. A good wedding song, but only if you're into psychedelics.

“Images” is a personal favorite of mine, as it showcases Ra’s piano work. I particularly like the smooth jazz feel, and the flute is sweet as well. I guess I’m just a sucker for extended flute solos, but whatever, you’ll like this song no matter what. It’s neither here nor there, not too bland and not too crazy.

Ending Jazz In Silhouette is the longest song on the album, as “Blues At Midnight” runs about 12 minutes long. Only one word can describe this song; madness. It’s insanely good all around, in all facets, and it’d be hard to find a perspective through which to look at “Blues At Midnight” that could produce a bad reaction. Piano, horns, and percussion are all on top form on this track. Despite the title, there is very little typical blues to be found here as a feeling of melancholy exuberance permeates this song thoroughly.

Jazz In Silhouette is definately an album for fans of big band jazz, or at least those with a taste for jumping rhythms and loads of soulful horns.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:28 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Nice review and kudos for putting an album out there that is not as high profile as the many albums around at the same time (Sketches Of Spain, A Love Supreme etc).

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Old 07-10-2009, 01:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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"by-" by bygones

Track listing:

cold reading
click on that (smash the plastic death)
not what it is but what it's not
nu cringe
fool evolved
spray you with your own trip
up the shakes

To give you an idea of how much I like this album, I just downloaded it about an hour ago and already think it's a classic. Usually an album takes time to grow on me, with the exceptions being stuff like make me or tiny hawks, but the bygones' debut has really came out of nowhere and suprised me. Bygones is a two-piece consisting of Nick Reinhardt, the Yngwie Malmsteen of math rock who currently fronts Tera Melos, and Zach Hill of some band called Hella. If you know anything about Reinhardt's previous work, then you'd probably expect to hear some kind of psychosis-driven noodling. In this case, you're right to think that way.

"By-" sees Reinhardt and Hill at their most experimental, kinda like they just came back from Burning Man and are still feeling the peyote. Heavier than anything Tera Melos ever did, "by-" has both dudes exploring their previously unused vocal chords. Reinhardt once said in an interview about Tera Melos that his goal was to have vocals and instrumentation blend seamlessly, an ambition that I thought was never fully realized with Tera Melos. I guess it took a collaboration with Hill to get Reinhardt to attempt such a feat, and to my suprise it actually turned out halfway decent. On songs like click on that (smash the plastic death), the lyrics don't seem forced and only enhance the musical experience. But don't get confused, this album is still very much about Reinhardt's sporadic playing. At times he seems toned down, while at others he displays a heavier side that never appeared with Tera Melos.

This album is very much one of highs and lows, with the highs being click on that (smash the plastic death), fool evolved and error. Now I don't want to be misunderstood when I say that songs like cold reading and nu cringe are "lows", because the term low has lots of negative connotations. What I mean is that these songs are more eclectic and further from established musical styles, but that's what makes them great. Their abrasive, or perhaps unerringly gnawing qualities gives these tracks their value as progressions into a new era of musical experimentation.

Already a fan favorite, up the shakes has a syncopated rhythm and pounding guitar licks to give it a rowdy feel. The lyrics aren't too shabby either, at least from what I can make out. But to me, the best lyrical track has to be ex-people. Hill and Reinhardt slam on all cylinders for awhile, then cool off with some dreamy post-rockish fever dreams, then return to making dicks explode. Not what it is but what it's not starts out like a 80's hardcore punk song, then devolves into electrified Americana riffage. Only Reinhardt could bring these two together in a marriage of decadent noise. My favorite song has to be error, which doesn't say too much for my cred I guess, as it's probably the least out-there track. It sounds good to the ear and has a melody I can whistle along to, so I guess I'm better than those who try to pass themselves off as eclectic by saying that nu cringe is the best only out of it's sheer novelty.

At it's core, "by-" is wholly a Reinhardt album. From the same dark mind that gave us things like "Drugs To The Dear Youth" and Snakeville, as well as a Beach Boys cover album, comes something entirely unique. I'd call it mathy spazz rock that borders on the edge of metal. Listen to this album, because even someone as picky as me can find value in every song's untamed abandon.
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Really top review on Jazz In Silhouette, explaining songs usually doesn't do it for me, but with Sun Ra each song is such a monster of it's own there's really no other way. At the same time, though, I felt I got a feel for the album on a whole as well, so that may have also scored some point. Great writing on Bygones as well, I'll have to check that out, as it hits so hard on the first listen.

Must say, I've really been inspired to check out a lot of the artists you've put up here. Sun Ra is a pretty hard discography to get though... I'm pretty sure I have all the albums, but organizing them is crazy with all the confusion about dates and stuff. Hopefully the others will be easier when I get around to it. None-the-less, keep up the hard work, really looking forward to what comes next!
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:44 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I need to check out that Bygones album. I really like Tera Melos' self-titled album. Is Reinhardt the one responsible for the Tera Melos vocals on the split with By the End of Tomorrow or was it another band member?
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Old 08-12-2009, 05:24 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Yeah Nick did all of the vocals on their split with By The End Of Tonight, and that's a really great album if you're looking to branch out into math rock because BTEOT's side is some of their best.
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:43 AM   #20 (permalink)
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"The Imaginary EP" by By the End of Tonight

Track listing:

Let Me Introduce Myself
When It Rains I Think Of You
A Buffalo In Yellowstone
The Birthday Jam
Waiting For An Island
If That Diamond Ring Don't Sing...

Let me preface this post with a confession; I've never in my entire life listened to electronica or any type of electronic based album, and aside from dam funk I really have no interest whatsoever in a genre that's been heralded on mb by some of the members I respect the most. I do, however, like to think I have an open mind when it comes to music outside of my comfort zone. As I began listening to "The Imaginary EP" I was surprised to learn that even though BTEOT is primarily a math rock band, their members have vastly different tastes in music. This album is almost exclusively electronica, and I have to say that I think it's one if the most beautiful albums I've heard this summer.

Before breaking up, BTEOT decided that each member should release an individual EP that shows what they like playing the most. I think that's an awesome idea, and what came out of this was four completely different albums, some good and some bad. I'll be sure to review the others after this, so make sure you follow along. This is the last of the four part series, and it's the work of their original guitarist Josh Smith.

"The Imaginary EP" starts out with the aptly named Let Me Introduce Myself. It starts slow, but it's painfully beautiful. The soft electric piano chords and dreamy little bell effects paint a gorgeous soundscape. The heavy guitar clashes with its lo-fi, almost hollow sound and gives this short track some character. Next is When It Rains I Think Of You, another awesome tune with catchy little synth hooks and weird drum samples. The biblical quote about rain from a baptist preacher is perfect over the intricate melody. I've always loved vocal clips in songs, probably because nearly every screamo band has done it at one time or another, and this clip is perfect in terms of pace and delivery.

A Buffalo In Yellowstone sounds watery, like if you were in a cave and you heard the dripping of stalactites funky harmony. The Birthday Jam reminds me of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien's beats, if you've ever listened to Deltron 3030 you'll know what I'm talking about. It's kinda dark and futuristc in a way that at first listen it might not hit you full force, but after you hear it enough it eventually gets stuck in your head. Waiting For An Island is one of my personal faves, as Smith finally breaks out the axe and injects some heavy soul riffs into his electric dabblings. I never minded it when Tera Melos would throw in little electronic or house loops in their music, but I wasn't ever really pysched on it. Smiths stuff is perfect for someone like me, someone who is a beatjunkie and who also likes power guitar type stuff at the same time. Mixing the two sounds great and makes me want to find more stuff like this. Last is If That Diamind Ring Don't Sing..., a song rife with sirens and spacey samples. Explosions make an appearance alongside phaser beams and upbeat techno. I love how Smith communicates such powerful emotion through electric and synth instruments, and I'm sad that he only made one album like this.

So, to sum up. I really enjoyed this album, despite it being something completely different than what I was expecting. I'm now interested in seeing what electrionica has to offer thanks to this album, and I recommend all of you check it out.

Last edited by anticipation; 08-12-2009 at 11:33 AM.
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