The Playlist of Life --- Trollheart's resurrected Journal - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-04-2012, 04:23 AM   #1531 (permalink)
Horribly Creative
 
Unknown Soldier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: London, The Big Smoke
Posts: 8,265
Default

Guess what Mr.Burns, now that I'm really digging this journal thingy and becoming really obsessed with it, it's now starting to reveal a creative side to me and I'm finding each entry of my own journal even easier and quicker to write. I've now decided to jump back into yours and pass comments like before. So I'm kicking off on page 81 as I'd got upto page 80 before and guess what! You didn't reply to my last post on the journal which was no.1270.

Anyway from page 81 to 81:

Asia- We've actually talked a lot about this band and I still think that their debut is one of the best AOR albums of its time. Sure the songs are epic highly spruced up with a commercial sheen to sell by the million and to be played in large arenas, their next two when they were still massive, I think were inferior copies of the debut. Recently, I've really started to get into the John Payne albums and despite being far less known, he took them into a more intersting phase that was far less one-dimensional than the John Wetton albums. I think Aria, Aura and Silent Nation to be good albums but its Arena that is the standout album and a real gem.

Dream Theater- I would've thought that DT would be right up your street, I'm a big fan of the band despite the fact that they are one of the most hated bands on the forum. I really like them, probably because I'm a big fan of their influences bands like Toto, Journey, Styx, Iron Maiden and Rush. They also have a Pink Floyd influence but the biggest influence that I find which often goes unnoticed is that of Kansas. Therefore, if you take Pink Floyd, Rush and Iron Maiden out of the equation you are left with some of the most hated bands around, who are four of my favourites The review you did was of a recent album, have you heard their older stuff yet?
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by eraser.time206 View Post
If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History
Unknown Soldier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2012, 06:35 AM   #1532 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Welcome US, nice to see you posting here again. And well done on your own journal; I really think it's becoming one of the favourite ones here. You're certainly putting a lot of work into it.

Sorry I didn't reply to your last post, but it has been busy here getting the extension built, and when I look back on it I dont see any question asked. I don't always reply to comments unless I'm asked something; that might seem ungrateful but I don't really feel it necessary to always respond. No offence intended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Guess what Mr.Burns, now that I'm really digging this journal thingy and becoming really obsessed with it, it's now starting to reveal a creative side to me and I'm finding each entry of my own journal even easier and quicker to write. I've now decided to jump back into yours and pass comments like before. So I'm kicking off on page 81 as I'd got upto page 80 before and guess what! You didn't reply to my last post on the journal which was no.1270.
Quote:
Anyway from page 81 to 81:

Asia- We've actually talked a lot about this band and I still think that their debut is one of the best AOR albums of its time. Sure the songs are epic highly spruced up with a commercial sheen to sell by the million and to be played in large arenas, their next two when they were still massive, I think were inferior copies of the debut. Recently, I've really started to get into the John Payne albums and despite being far less known, he took them into a more intersting phase that was far less one-dimensional than the John Wetton albums. I think Aria, Aura and Silent Nation to be good albums but its Arena that is the standout album and a real gem.
We'll never agree on that. I still think the s/t is their weakest album (or was, till "XXX"!) but I do love "Aria" and "Arena". My favourite of the JP era would probably be "Aura" though, such a great album. They should never have parted company with him.
Quote:
Dream Theater- I would've thought that DT would be right up your street, I'm a big fan of the band despite the fact that they are one of the most hated bands on the forum. I really like them, probably because I'm a big fan of their influences bands like Toto, Journey, Styx, Iron Maiden and Rush. They also have a Pink Floyd influence but the biggest influence that I find which often goes unnoticed is that of Kansas. Therefore, if you take Pink Floyd, Rush and Iron Maiden out of the equation you are left with some of the most hated bands around, who are four of my favourites The review you did was of a recent album, have you heard their older stuff yet?
No, to be fair I've listened to very little, but I was not impressed with ADToE; I've only heard bits and pieces other than that: parts of "Falling into infinity" mostly, though I do think "Hollow years" is a great song. Perhaps they'll be another Spock's Beard (take me a long time to get into but finally get them) or IQ (never got into them; fell asleep while listening, almost always). We'll see. At some point I'll give some of their older albums a listen, but it's making the time (moan, moan)...
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2012, 08:49 AM   #1533 (permalink)
Mwana Nzala
 
Franco Pepe Kalle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Shakopee, Minnesota
Posts: 627
Default

I am impressed with your knowledge Trollheart. I can see you tend to like rock or alternative rock music more. I probably need to check out your musical journal. I have many people who love your type of music.
__________________
The problem with Franco Pepe Kalle is that he is a unpredictable character. There is surprising info about this man. You think he only likes Franco and Pepe Kalle but when you find out that he hears other artists, you are shock.

Girls are the sexy thing that God created.

Important to notice FPK.
Franco Pepe Kalle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2012, 07:01 PM   #1534 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Thanks Franco for posting, nice to see you. Hope you find something to interest you here.

Actually yes I am a rocker but I also like some country, most classical, some electronic (little) and the odd bit of pop. There are just some genres I stay away from, but generally if I like a song it doesn't really matter what genre or subgenre it comes from, I'll listen to it.

I've delved recently into "unknown" genres for me, first with the boyband special over the last year and now with "The Meat Grinder", so I'm slowly expanding my experience. I wouldn't say I have a lot of knowledge: to be fair, I know about the bands I have enjoyed and followed since my youth, but a lot of the information here has to be credited to Wiki, without which my reviews would certainly be less well-researched and interesting.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2012, 08:56 AM   #1535 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

As I am --- Alicia Keys --- 2007 (J)


An artiste I've heard a lot about, but have only heard snippets of her songs in passing, certainly never listened to one of her albums all the way through. She seems to be (or have been) very popular, though of course that doesn't guarantee she'll be that good, though she does at least write her own songs and plays piano, organ, synth, even harpsichord as well as sings, so she's not just another pop or r&b diva surviving solely on her vocal chops, which is refreshing and encouraging. Mind you, I said something similar about Delta Goodrem, and though I wasn't underwhelmed by the album I reviewed some time back, “Innocent eyes”, neither was I completely impressed, so how will this turn out?

Jumping into the middle of her catalogue, we're sampling her third album, which as it turns out seems to be the only one on which she doesn't take a hand in the writing. That's disappointing: on her debut she wrote or co-wrote every track, and on her second she was heavily involved in the songwriting. Indeed, after this album she again took to penning tunes for her fourth, but to date this woudl appear to be the only Alicia Keys album on which she does not write, or take part in the writing of, a single track. Will that turn out to be a good or bad thing? Well, to be fair, I can't compare this to “Songs in A Minor” or “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, or even “The element of freedom”, the album following this, as I've heard none of them. But it seems to me a bad idea to hand over creative control of your music to others, especially as up to then you'd been writing the material yourself. In fact, the idea of her returning to writing after this album would perhaps make you think that she considered not doing so here a mistake.
Ah, okay: I misread. She co-wrote every track on the album, which is why she's not credited: it's taken as read that she wrote on each, then her collaborators are shown. Good then, that makes sense.

At any rate, the album is graced by the legendary presence of John Mayer, who also duets with her on one of the tracks, so it can't be all bad. It certainly starts well, with a beautifully classical solo piano piece (Keys trained classically, so definitely knows her way around not only a piano keyboard but the great composers' work as well), an interpretation and update of Chopin's “Nocture No. 20 in C Sharp Minor", then the familiar r&b beat kicks in and the piece takes on new life that is, it has to be said, not half bad. Certainly jazzes the piano melody up, then “Go ahead” starts the album proper, with a certain feel of the Beatles in the melody mixed in with a slower Janet Jackson, and it's clear Keys has a strong voice, however it sounds to my untrained diva-less ear like many of the others I have heard, nothing terribly special.

The song itself smoulders, with restrained anger and frustration, and a sense of slow hip-hop about it, kind of like Puff Daddy's “Come with me”, though not as dramatic, while “Superwoman” is pure gospel infused with power soul and a Fugees-style (and very annoying) spoken rap/vocal in the background. One of the slower tracks on the album, it's quite infectious, though apparently barely made it into the top 100 when released as the final single from the album. Bah. By contrast, the lead single “No one” is more uptempo, with a sort of marching/clapping drumbeat, and it made it to number one, in addition gaining her two Grammys. Good song, but I prefer “Superwoman”. Next up is another single, “Like you'll never see me again”, and it's a slower one with a lovely sprinkly, rolling keyboard sound underpinning the melody, a very passionate vocal from Keys, nice slow sort of “popping” drumbeat that puts me very much in mind of Prince at his height; Alicia even sings a little like him! Nice bit of violin on the outro too.

A good choice for a single, I have to admit, but I'm annoyed that the duet with Mayer was not chosen. Guess the dancing kids don't want to know about some old fart from the world of blues rock, but Mayer is a legend and deserved better treatment than that. Not that I think it would have bothered him; he puts in the sterling performance you would expect from the old campaigner on “Lesson learned”, which he co-wrote with Keys, and of course plays the guitar on it. Naturally there's a lot of the blues in the song, another slow one with some very gentle piano carrying it along, and a nice soul sound to it. “Wreckless love” (her spelling, not mine) is another sort of swingish, mid-paced track with some staccato drums and a nice strings arrangement. Some pretty cool brass in there also, which leads me to an observation I feel I have to make.

I know it's not him, but it's odd that there's a trombone player on this album named Harry Kim, as anyone who has watched --- or should I say, suffered through? --- “Star Trek Voyager” will know was the name of the character played by Garret Wang, and who, in the series played a clarinet. Okay it's not exact, but it's still interesting. Well, I think it is. Humph. Anyway, “The thing about love” is, well, the next track, and a really nice one it is too. Much of this album, I'm finding, is low-key (no pun intended!) and laidback, with only a few uptempo numbers, and though it wouldn't necessarily be my sort of music, I certainly don't hate it and I don't even dislike it as much as I had thought I would. There's a strong sense of gospel in Keys' music, and this comes through again quite powerfully in this song, with her everpresent piano keeping the main melody line. Quite a stirring song, strong even though her vocal is a little restrained in the main.

Less interesting is “Teenage love affair”, which really to me has very little going for it, apart from a rather heavy guitar in places. Pretty much by-the-numbers pop/r&b really, and “I need you”, which follows it, doesn't really raise the bar much either. I wonder if this album is slipping into the “let's just get it finished and get down the pub/club” idea, as it did start well but now the last few tracks have been quite generic, to be kind. Okay, there's a really nice piano run at the end as the song fades out, but it's the only thing I'm likely to remember about the track. Much more interesting is the clarinet and organ opening to “Where do we go from here”, quite Waitsish, then the swagger is back and Keys' voice is again in the ascendancy with some more soul/gospel with a healthy dose of funk thrown in for good measure.

Almost evoking the heyday of the Carpenters, “Prelude to a kiss” is a lovely little piano-led ballad, with a totally understated vocal, certain sense of David Gates in there too, but unfortunately it seems only to be getting going when it's over, the whole thing barely clocking in at just over the two minute mark. Pity; I would have liked to have heard more of that. Still, “Tell you something (Nana's reprise)” is a nice follow-on, with slow heavy percussion and a nice acoustic guitar joined by violin and sung in the typical r&b style though somehow not as annoying as many of the stars of that genre can make their songs appear.

The album manages to finish strongly, on “Sure looks good to me”, another simple piano line carrying the melody, a taut, impassioned almost desperate vocal from Keys which gets more powerful and intense as the song goes on, the tempo increasing to match the change in her vocal, as the drums and guitars cut in, then it all fades out on the original piano line and a nice vocal chorus.

There's no way this album would suddenly make me a fan of Alicia Keys, but at the same time I wouldn't dismiss her work out of hand, having heard this. I've certainly heard worse. But Grammy-worthy? I don't really see it, although again I have to qualify that by saying this is the first and to date only Keys album I have listened to, so I expect I'm not really in a position to judge. But for an album I just decided to dip into and see what the artiste was like, it wasn't half bad, and given a few more listens --- should I decide to do that --- I could quite possibly grow to like this.

TRACKLISTING

1. As I am (intro)
2. Go ahead
3. Superwoman
4. No one
5. Like you'll never see me again
6. Lesson learned
7. Wreckless love
8. The thing about love
9. Teenage love affair
10. I need you
11. Where do we go from here
12. Prelude to a kiss
13. Tell you something (Nana's reprise)
14. Sure looks good to me
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-06-2012, 05:24 PM   #1536 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Metallic spheres --- The Orb featuring David Gilmour --- 2010 (Columbia)

Now this is a strange one! Electronic/dance band The Orb are not an artiste I would have on any playlist, and I couldn't tell you the names of any of their albums nor their singles, but when I came across this odd collaboration I just had to hear what it was like. With vocals and (of course) guitar taken by the Pink Floyd legend, and with Gilmour co-writing all of the tracks, this looks like it could be very interesting. Or just weird. The album only contains two actual tracks, but each is broken into five separate pieces, and the whole thing still manages to clock in at a quite respectable forty-eight minutes. The two tracks are called “sides” --- probably harking back to the times of vinyl Lps --- and are called “Metallic side” and “Sphere side”, in that order.

And so “Metallic side” opens on a breathy, humming synth with some spacey sounds, quite Floydesque really, then that familiar crying guitar sound is heard, almost in the background, then getting stronger as what is basically the title track gets proceedings underway, but the unfortunate thing is that no matter where I look I can't get a breakdown of the tracks: every site has this as just having two tracks, and yet there are names for each of the ten “broken-down” tracks within both the, as they are referred to, sides. So I'll be guessing a little at where each stops and the next picks up. But “Metallic spheres” at least appears to be completely instrumental, kind of Jean-Michel Jarre-like in its rhythm with busy synths and drum machines backing the keening guitar. As it runs on the synth and guitar kind of meld together, the drumbeat getting more pronounced and heavier, then really taking over as they come to the foreground.

Vocals begin to filter in as we hit the tenth minute, and this could be “Hymns to the sun”, the second track of the “first side”, though to be sure I can't, er, be sure. What I do know is that “filter” is the correct word to use, as Gilmour's voice doesn't suddenly start singing, but kind of fades in, almost echoey as the music continues, his guitar dropping largely out of the music as the synths and drums take over, and then coming back in around the twelfth minute, accompanied by some quite jazzy piano, then some stuttery whistle sounds as the drums and synth lines die away and I would hazard we're into “Black Graham”, everything slowing down now, some muted whispers, little clangy strums of the guitar and some soft whizzing synthesisers, then Gilmour gets going on the acoustic guitar joined by choral synth vocals.

The tempo picks up a little now, sort of tapping along, quite blues/folky really, sort of growing organically into “Hiding in plain view”, as the electric guitar comes back with moans and wails, low synth humming and swelling in the background, developing into a very ambient piece which probably might not be out of place on a Floyd record itself, and then things get funky with the closing track on the “Metallic side”, around three minutes of “Classified”, with a sort of Spanish/Mexican feel to the guitar and whooshing synthwork, the drum machines keeping a steady beat as the track goes along, taking us to the end of the first track, side, or whatever you wish to call it.

“Spheres side” starts with more spacey keyboards, a jangly guitar low in the background and some bass thumping slowly in, as “Es vedra” opens side two, and wind sounds and thunder accompany the synth melody as the guitar gets louder, drops away, gets louder, and those JMJ-style keys again fade up through the mix. Cheeky little snippet from “Comfortably numb” thrown in there, then the drums get all powerful and marchy again and the synths ramp up, as indeed does Gilmour's guitar, still a little subsumed in the mix but definitely more audible than when the track began. Think I heard a snatch of the guitar melody from “Another brick in the wall part II” there as well.

Handclap drumbeats then come in as I think the track may be in the process of changing to the next one along, which is entitled “Hymns to the sun (reprise)”. I'm not even sure if I correctly identified the original “Hymns to the sun” on the first side, so I can't say whether or not this revisits its theme, but the guitar slips away and marimba-style keys slide in, the percussion again carrying the tune, and on a weird little chanting sound made I think on Gilmour's fretboard it looks like we cross over to “Olympic”, the same basic tune but with some hard-to-discern vocals now coming in too, faint and faraway. More funky guitar and African-style rhythms on the drums, Gilmour's vocal now easier to hear.

Tempo picks right up then as we head into “Chicago dub”, with what sounds like a jew's harp boing!ing all over the place, then sweeping synth coming in before heavy Gabrielesque drumming takes the whole thing up a further notch, adding a sense of drama and gravity to the piece, Gilmour's guitar fading in and screaming through the thing, fading back down to be supplanted by solid synths and then coming back in again as we head off into “Bold knife trophy”, the closing track, both of this “side” and of the album. On another heavy marching drumbeat and pulsing bass, it finishes on a rolling, almost strings-like synth with cinematic power, then fading down on spacey keys to the end.

TRACKLISTING

Metallic side
1. Metallic spheres
2. Hymns to the sun
3. Black Graham
4. Hiding in plain view
5. Classified

Spheres side

1. Es vedra
2. Hymns to the sun (reprise
3. Olympic
4. Chicago dub
5. Bold knife trophy

A strange project indeed. Nice and ambient, I must say, and there's the possibility I might want to look further into the work of The Orb. But Gilmour's guitar, though often quite prominent here, is not as dominant as I had expected it to be. Plus there are hardly any real vocal tracks, so crediting him with vocals is perhaps stretching it a little. But certainly enjoyable, if a little frustrating that I couldn't properly delineate the tracks. I guess that doesn't matter really though in the end.

Good music, excellent guitar as you'd always expect from David Gilmour, but ultimately I think I'd probably just have to file under “interesting”, and leave it at that.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2012, 09:48 AM   #1537 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default


Okay, time to get down to business! There have been several albums released this past month which I personally have been waiting for, and which I've been intending to review but didn't want to rush. Over the next few weeks I'll be putting the reviews up here, but this is the first, and it's been five years in the making, and let me tell you it's been a long five-year wait for the new album from Threshold, but it's been worth it!

March of progress --- Threshold --- 2012 (Nuclear Blast)


Ah, it's great to hear the boys back again! Those rolling whirly keyboards, that hard, grinding guitar and best of all Damian Wilson, last heard on vocals on 1997's “Extinct instinct” is back, and Theshold sound so much better for it. Which is not to denigrate the last few albums, but there's something about Wilson's voice that just has become the sound of this band, and it really is like stepping back ten years as “Ashes” opens the album in powerful style. Great guitar solos as ever from the reliable Karl Groom, and there are no short tracks on this album, with the shortest clocking in at over four minutes, while the longest is a ten-minute epic that closes the whole thing.

The power and energy that has always characterised Threshold is evident from the beginning, and the songs are both complicated and simple, if that's possible: definitely progressive metal at its very finest. It seems like the half-a-decade they spent away from recording has been to their benefit as they really sound rejuvenated here. I wasn't the biggest fan of their last album, “Dead reckoning”; though it was certainly a great album, I didn't feel it stood up to the likes of “Clone”, “Extinct instinct” and the superlative “Subsurface”, but this can stand shoulder to shoulder with anything the guys have done.

“Return of the thought police” is a slow, heavy, doomy cruncher with an ominous sound to it something in the vein of Shadow Gallery's “New world order”, with some very effective relaxed guitar and some booming organ chords courtesy of longtime keysman Richard West. Threshold are known among their fans for being able to go off on noodling keyboard solos or big, riffing fretfests but there's always a link back to the song; they don't solo just for the sake of it, and nothing they do ever seems superfluous or unnecessary In fact, there's no Threshold song I can think of that would be the same without, well, each and every part of it: talk about the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

Everything ramps back up then for “Staring at the sun”, with a big fast and hard guitar intro, some fine piano licks and Wilson sounding more than happy to be back in the fold. Another thing this band specialises in is memorable hooks and great choruses, and this song has both, changing tempo and flow as it goes, the more impressive as it's that shortest song I mentioned, coming it at just under four and a half minutes. It's definitely in the minority though, as this year's “The art of reason”, the almost eight-minute “Liberty, complacency, dependency” hits, with a Steve Rotheryesque guitar and some lovely bass patterns, and Threshold unleash some of their best politically-motivated lyrics in years: ”“Once there was a city left to ruin/ Alone and broken down. /The walls that once gave shelter/ Are levelled to the ground. /Powerless to cope for there was /No-one left to trust, /Nothing there to hope for/ When your dreams have turned to dust”. Threshold's songs often come across as angry at the state of the world, and this is no exception. Powerful, screaming guitar solo from Groom just makes the song, and then we're into “Colophon”. Yeah, they like using big and lesser-known words, too. I'm going to guess, from the few meanings cited here, and the lyric, that they're referring to the ancient Greek city, as they do like their history. It's a punchy song, with some great piano, but a little lacking when compared to the tracks that have preceded it.

Much better is “The hours”, with those unmistakable vocal harmonies and a real rocking beat, very commercial in many ways and could make a good single, if they were that bothered about such things, which I don't think they are really. A mixture of heavy guitar from Groom and almost radio-friendly keys from West makes this one of the standouts on the album so far. The mark of a good long song I feel is always that it doesn't seem long, and this is over far too soon, despite being a little over eight minutes in length. It leads into the second-shortest track, but though “That's why we came” only misses out on the six-minute mark by twenty seconds, it's phenomenal. Another thing Threshold excel at, in my view, is that as well as being able to write complicated, involved, multi-faceted songs, they can just as easily pen the simplest and yet most beautiful ballads. Check “Sunrise on Mars” from “Clone” or “Mansion” from “Extinct instinct”, or even “Hypothetical”'s beautiful “Keep my head”. Well this is another to add to that illustrious catalogue.

Wilson outdoes himself and you can almost touch the emotion in his voice as he sings, this mirrored in Karl Groom's exquisite riffs and solo. Just perfect. A real example of breaking a song down to its simplest format, and just to underline this, it ends with a basic acoustic guitar line. Like I say, perfect. Then we're hurled headlong into “Don't look down”, as everything kicks off again with speed and power but always with melody, and a wonderful little keyboard run to get the song underway, a real hard rocker that shows the two sides of Threshold. Something of a showcase for Karl Groom, the song features an amazing solo from the man about halfway through that then changes the direction and theme of the piece as it mellows under Wilson's controlled, effortless vocal.

I'll tell you one thing: you would not believe Damian Wilson has been away from Threshold for so long! He sounds like he just finished recording the previous album a year or so ago. Admittedly, he was back for the 2007 tour to promote “Dead reckoning”, but prior to that he hadn't been singing with the band since 1997, and here he just fits right back in like the missing jigsaw piece. “Coda” has the barest of nods to Thin Lizzy's “Cold sweat”, but soon slips into its own inimitable groove and leaves such similarities behind, developing and evolving as it goes, which is sort of par for the course for any Threshold song: they really do epitomise the term “progressive rock”. Or metal, if you prefer. But they're certainly not a band to stand still, even after five years of inactivity.

After a real rollercoaster ride, we come to the final track, and as mentioned it's the longest, at just over ten minutes. “Rubicon” starts off slowly but quickly powers up and becomes a real prog-metal epic, with great guitar and a fine vocal delivery from Wilson, pin-sharp vocal harmonies and swirling keyboards and a certain eastern flavour in a Rainbow/Dio style about it. It's the perfect way to end what is, almost, a perfect album and certainly a massive comeback from a band who, having been away so long could have been thought of as having broken up. Far from it: Threshold are alive and kicking, and if this is the march of progress, I can't wait to see where it ends up!

I have high hopes that Marillion's new album will turn out to be my pick of 2012, but even if it does, I can easily see this as being a close runner-up. Hell, it might even beat Steve and the boys out for first place!

TRACKLISTING

1. Ashes
2. Return of the thought police
3. Staring at the sun
4. Liberty, complacency, dependency
5. Colophon
6. The hours
7. That's why we came
8. Don't look down
9. Coda
10. Rubicon

Amid all this gushing praise for Wilson and Threshold, I should stop for a moment and acknowledge the inestimable contribution of Andrew “Mac” MacDermott, who led the guys through five amazing albums --- including my alltime favourite “Subsurface” --- over almost a decade, and very sadly died last year. “Mac” will always have his deserved place in the history of Threshold, and the gratitude and respect of their fans.

The final word I leave to a plethora of reviews from various metal mags and sites, whose unanimously positive comments you can read below.

"A total triumph. In equal parts classy, thoughtful, emotive and intelligent."
Fireworks (UK)

"Every single note is pure magic. (10/10)"
Rock Hard (DE)

"A wonderful record."
Rock It! (DE)

"One of the hottest contenders for album of the year. (6/6)"
Metal Impressions (DE)

"An adventure of unparalleled musical landscapes."
Nu Rocks (ES)

"Must buy! (5/5)"
Stormbringer (AT)

"This is one excellent sounding release."
Sea Of Tranquility (US)

"An album of rare beauty."
Metal Integral (FR)

"Prog highlight of the year."
Metal Hammer (DE)

"Immaculate. (10/10)"
Powermetal (DE)

"The best progressive metal album in a long time."
Musik An Sich (DE)

"Likely the album of the year."
Metal Observer (US)

"Analogous to the Olympic Games in their home country, I hereby solemnly decorate the band with the gold medal for artful progging, for they're able to present ambitious music in a catchy cloak like no one else!"
My Revelations (DE)

"A must have for every rock and progressive music lover. (10/10)"
Metal Fields (DE)
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018

Last edited by Trollheart; 01-10-2013 at 03:18 PM.
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2012, 01:09 PM   #1538 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blarobbarg View Post
Trollheart, as much as you hate the bands that you are reviewing on The Meat Grinder, these have by far been my favorite reviews from you. As much as it pains you, keep it up, they are absolutely hilarious.
Yes, well, as long as I amuse the staff...
Yeah, I'm enjoying them too. Not the music, but the whole random element of it, the way I have to research and then talk about bands I don't like while still trying to do a balanced review (albeit with the amp way down!) --- it is actually fun.

Don't worry: I'm sure there's something even worse waiting for me next time round...
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 03:22 AM   #1539 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

I robot --- The Alan Parsons Project --- 1977 (Arista)


This is, to be fair, anot one of my favourite albums from the Alan Parsons Project, but I came across this review in a forgotten folder of documents recently, and it seems to have been written for my original journal, way back in 2008. That's a long time ago, and hey, I wrote it, so it may as well see the light of day, even if it is four years later.

On the whole, their albums have been pretty much consistently good over the years, but if I had to pick one of theirs I consider to be slightly sub-par, which would be the Alan Parsons Project record I listen to least, and perhaps like least, this would be it. I certainly don't hate it --- don't hate any APP album, although it shares second place with “The time machine” as the one of theirs I'm most disappointed with --- but it would be one of the last albums I would suggest to someone who was thinking of checking out their music.

The second album released by the band, “I robot” is not a bad album at all, I just think later releases were a lot better. But there’s a lot to be excited about on this album. Three really good ballads, as well as what became the trademark of the APP, the instrumental. The album starts and ends with one, though the closer, entitled “Genesis Ch 1 v 32” reveals something of a mystery, thirteen years later. For more, read on.

The Alan Parsons Project has always been famous for utilising as many vocalists almost as tracks on their albums, and people who have sung on their albums include the likes of Lenny Zakatek, Colin Blunstone, Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow, David Paton and Gary Brooker, to mention just a few. It helped keep them fresh, so that each new song sounded different, and it was a formula that worked for the APP for over thirty years.

The album opens on one of those instrumentals, which is in fact the title track. It's a slowburner, starting very quietly and coming in on rising synth and keys then choral vocals, which sound female but could of course be created on a synth float across the melody, pulling in that sound that was to become so familiar on APP albums, the sort of fast bassy run on the keys (or maybe it is a bass, I'm no expert) and the guitar riffs that became so identified with Parsons' work. It becomes quite boppy as many of the Alan Parsons Project's instrumentals do, or did, and the female choral voices are joined by male ones as the piece runs on. To Parsons' credit, it doesn't sound overly robotic, which is how you would probably have expected him to approach such a composition.

That takes us to the first vocal track, and a singer not too often used by APP, with a much rougher, more rock-and-roll voice than the likes of Blunstone and Woolfson, Lenny Zakatek. He usually tends to feature, if at all, on only one track per album, and here he puts in a good performance on “I wouldn't want to be like you”, with an ominous piano opening which soon kicks into a real rocker (for the APP, that is: they were not exactly ever known for totally rockin' out!), and his voice really suits the track. In fact, you can see seeds sown here that would bear fruit in later albums. This song is echoed two years later in “You lie down with dogs” and also “I’d rather be a man”, both from the excellent “Eve” album.

The first of three ballads is next up, with the rather wistful and wonderful “Some other time” which, though it starts off all folky and pastoral and with Peter Straker on lead vocals gets a little rockier as it goes on. Straker would not feature on any other Parsons albums, and indeed many of the vocalists here --- some of them legendary icons --- would only sing on this album, before Alan established his stable of vocalists, among them Colin Blunstone, David Paton, Chris Rainbow and John Miles. “Breakdown” just doesn't do it for me. It's a mid-paced rocker but I feel it adds nothing to the album, and even with Hollies legend Allan Clarke on vocals I can't get into the song.

One of the standouts comes in the form of the second ballad, the gentle “Don't let it show”, on vocals a man who would reprise his role on the next album but after that there would be very little heard about Dave Townsend. It's a sterling turn from him here though, and his voice is very heartfelt and emotional. The song itself rides on soft organ from Parsons, with the slow but sudden percussion really filling out the track. Future echoes, as it were, from APP's big hit single “Old and wise”, in the lyric, when he sings ”If you smile when they mention my name/ They'll never own you/ And if you laugh when they say I'm to blame/ They'll never know you”. It also features what I'd term the “Parsons march”, which became so much a part of the APP sound, and indeed it's this that takes the track out to fade.

Riding on a thick, funky bass and some seriously new-wave keyboards, “The voice” is another song I could live without on this album, though to be fair they are in the minority. Another rock legend takes the mike to help Parsons out on this, and it's Cockney Rebel's Steve Harley. He does a great job, but can only work with what he's got, and I would put this in the realm of a bonus track or an unreleased one; I don't think it's good enough to be on the album.

It says something that out of the ten tracks on this album, four of them are instrumentals, and each different. Not too many bands could get away with that, but the Alan Parsons Project always did, primarily because their instrumentals were just so damn good! Take a listen to “Pipeline” from “Ammonia Avenue”, or “Hyper-gamma spaces” from “Pyramid” to see what I mean. And who could forget the jaunty yet haunting “Sirius”, the lead-in to perhaps one of their most famous and successful tracks, the title from the “Eye in the sky” album?

The second of these is next, with “Nucleus” a short, three-and-a-half minute piece that comes in on what sounds like NASA chatter and then floats on a big spacey atmospheric synth with no percussion; quite ELO in a way. Very celestial sounding, with some soft drumming making its way in on a faster rhythm than the main melody, a few little piano notes sprinkled along the way like breadcrumbs, the spacey synth segueing perfectly into the standout, and the third and final ballad, the beautiful and moving “Day after day (The show must go on)”, with some fine pedal steel from B.J. Cole and exquisite rippling and chiming keys. A song of looking back, realising some opportunities have gone but moving forward anyway, it's one of my favourite APP songs, full stop. Vocals are taken by Jack Harris, his only contribution to the album though he would resurface for next year's “Pyramid”.

Parsons then pulls the very unusual trick of finishing the album with not one, but two instrumentals. “Total eclipse”, the only track on the album not written by he or Woolfson, is an eerie, minimalistic piece which indeed would be somewhat revisited on 1978's “Pyramid” in the track “In the lap of the gods”. It relies mostly on male and female vocal chorus, with what sounds like some sharp violin attack, and comes across almost as the incidental music to some low-budget horror movie. It is, to be blunt, weird. I don't particularly like it.

Ah, but then we close on “Genesis Ch1 v.32", which flows directly from “Total eclipse” and ends the album triumphantly. There is a mystery here though (a “tale of mystery and imagination”, perhaps?) as an incredibly similar melody later shows up on Vangelis’s 1990 album “The City”, slightly (though not much) reworked and retitled “Procession”. This in itself is very odd, and something I remarked upon when reviewing “The City” a while back; Vangelis is certainly not known for covering other people's work --- I don't think he ever has had a composition that wasn't original --- and yet, the two songs are so similar it's virtually impossible to discount as coincidence. Perhaps the melody is based on some classical or other, older tune, yet this is referred to on neither artiste's album. A mystery, indeed, and one I've been trying to sort since I heard “The City”...

Despite this odd coincidence, if it is one, it's a great way to close the album and in general though “I robot” doesn't consistently hit the highs I came to expect, and mostly got, from the Alan Parsons Project, it stands up quite well as their second album, and first of their own material, the debut being built around the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. A reasonable effort, and you could probably forgive them the few lower points on the album.

In conclusion then, a good album. Not a great album. But not a terrible one either. The good news was, there was much, much better to come.

TRACKLISTING

1. I robot
2. I wouldn't want to be like you
3. Some other time
4. Breakdown
5. Don't let it show
6. The voice
7. Day after day (The show must go on)
8. Nucleus
9. Total eclipse
10. Genesis Ch. 1 v.32
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 03:32 PM   #1540 (permalink)
Ba and Be.
 
jackhammer's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: This Is England
Posts: 17,331
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Metallic spheres --- The Orb featuring David Gilmour --- 2010 (Columbia)

Now this is a strange one! Electronic/dance band The Orb are not an artiste I would have on any playlist, and I couldn't tell you the names of any of their albums nor their singles, but when I came across this odd collaboration I just had to hear what it was like. With vocals and (of course) guitar taken by the Pink Floyd legend, and with Gilmour co-writing all of the tracks, this looks like it could be very interesting. Or just weird. The album only contains two actual tracks, but each is broken into five separate pieces, and the whole thing still manages to clock in at a quite respectable forty-eight minutes. The two tracks are called “sides” --- probably harking back to the times of vinyl Lps --- and are called “Metallic side” and “Sphere side”, in that order.

And so “Metallic side” opens on a breathy, humming synth with some spacey sounds, quite Floydesque really, then that familiar crying guitar sound is heard, almost in the background, then getting stronger as what is basically the title track gets proceedings underway, but the unfortunate thing is that no matter where I look I can't get a breakdown of the tracks: every site has this as just having two tracks, and yet there are names for each of the ten “broken-down” tracks within both the, as they are referred to, sides. So I'll be guessing a little at where each stops and the next picks up. But “Metallic spheres” at least appears to be completely instrumental, kind of Jean-Michel Jarre-like in its rhythm with busy synths and drum machines backing the keening guitar. As it runs on the synth and guitar kind of meld together, the drumbeat getting more pronounced and heavier, then really taking over as they come to the foreground.

Vocals begin to filter in as we hit the tenth minute, and this could be “Hymns to the sun”, the second track of the “first side”, though to be sure I can't, er, be sure. What I do know is that “filter” is the correct word to use, as Gilmour's voice doesn't suddenly start singing, but kind of fades in, almost echoey as the music continues, his guitar dropping largely out of the music as the synths and drums take over, and then coming back in around the twelfth minute, accompanied by some quite jazzy piano, then some stuttery whistle sounds as the drums and synth lines die away and I would hazard we're into “Black Graham”, everything slowing down now, some muted whispers, little clangy strums of the guitar and some soft whizzing synthesisers, then Gilmour gets going on the acoustic guitar joined by choral synth vocals.

The tempo picks up a little now, sort of tapping along, quite blues/folky really, sort of growing organically into “Hiding in plain view”, as the electric guitar comes back with moans and wails, low synth humming and swelling in the background, developing into a very ambient piece which probably might not be out of place on a Floyd record itself, and then things get funky with the closing track on the “Metallic side”, around three minutes of “Classified”, with a sort of Spanish/Mexican feel to the guitar and whooshing synthwork, the drum machines keeping a steady beat as the track goes along, taking us to the end of the first track, side, or whatever you wish to call it.

“Spheres side” starts with more spacey keyboards, a jangly guitar low in the background and some bass thumping slowly in, as “Es vedra” opens side two, and wind sounds and thunder accompany the synth melody as the guitar gets louder, drops away, gets louder, and those JMJ-style keys again fade up through the mix. Cheeky little snippet from “Comfortably numb” thrown in there, then the drums get all powerful and marchy again and the synths ramp up, as indeed does Gilmour's guitar, still a little subsumed in the mix but definitely more audible than when the track began. Think I heard a snatch of the guitar melody from “Another brick in the wall part II” there as well.

Handclap drumbeats then come in as I think the track may be in the process of changing to the next one along, which is entitled “Hymns to the sun (reprise)”. I'm not even sure if I correctly identified the original “Hymns to the sun” on the first side, so I can't say whether or not this revisits its theme, but the guitar slips away and marimba-style keys slide in, the percussion again carrying the tune, and on a weird little chanting sound made I think on Gilmour's fretboard it looks like we cross over to “Olympic”, the same basic tune but with some hard-to-discern vocals now coming in too, faint and faraway. More funky guitar and African-style rhythms on the drums, Gilmour's vocal now easier to hear.

Tempo picks right up then as we head into “Chicago dub”, with what sounds like a jew's harp boing!ing all over the place, then sweeping synth coming in before heavy Gabrielesque drumming takes the whole thing up a further notch, adding a sense of drama and gravity to the piece, Gilmour's guitar fading in and screaming through the thing, fading back down to be supplanted by solid synths and then coming back in again as we head off into “Bold knife trophy”, the closing track, both of this “side” and of the album. On another heavy marching drumbeat and pulsing bass, it finishes on a rolling, almost strings-like synth with cinematic power, then fading down on spacey keys to the end.

TRACKLISTING

Metallic side
1. Metallic spheres
2. Hymns to the sun
3. Black Graham
4. Hiding in plain view
5. Classified

Spheres side

1. Es vedra
2. Hymns to the sun (reprise
3. Olympic
4. Chicago dub
5. Bold knife trophy

A strange project indeed. Nice and ambient, I must say, and there's the possibility I might want to look further into the work of The Orb. But Gilmour's guitar, though often quite prominent here, is not as dominant as I had expected it to be. Plus there are hardly any real vocal tracks, so crediting him with vocals is perhaps stretching it a little. But certainly enjoyable, if a little frustrating that I couldn't properly delineate the tracks. I guess that doesn't matter really though in the end.

Good music, excellent guitar as you'd always expect from David Gilmour, but ultimately I think I'd probably just have to file under “interesting”, and leave it at that.
There is a lot of Ambient music around like this and I have been a fan of The Orb for 20 years and they have always cited Pink Floyd as a big influence.

Let me know if you want to delve into this genre a little more and I can recommend some albums or do a comp for you.

As for the album itself, it's decent enough but not the pant wetter I was hoping for but it's great background music.
__________________

“A cynic by experience, a romantic by inclination and now a hero by necessity.”
jackhammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2024 Advameg, Inc.