TCP – “Temporal Chaos”

TCPNeo-prog is a slippery slope for me as a listener. Many bands cite Genesis, Marillion and IQ as influencial but far too many of them churn out boring as fuck, watered down fluff that sound like anything you’d hear a dive bar. Somewhere along the line, musicians who love prog have assumed making neo-prog is easy and anyone can do it. TCP is fortunately not one of those bands!

TCP (Temporal Chaos Project) is made up of four highly skilled musicians who actually PUSH their sound to be more than basic neo-prog and truly harkens back to 70s prog. This is more than what many other similar bands are doing. The thing that will stand out to you first is the voice of keyboardist Henry Tarnecky, who sounds to me like Peter Hammill run through a Fish filter. He has a VERY distinct voice which MIGHT be off putting to some. I think it’s one of the main reasons that TCP is interesting and rather eclectic.

Unfortunately for me, rather than let their unique vocalist sing everything, they have Nicole Tarnecky sing on a few of the tracks. She’s got a good voice but for me, Henry has such a different style and tone that it’s hard to shift to a voice that’s COMPLETELY different. It winds up being distracting for me rather than complementary.

Musically, these guys can play and special kudos to Jack Wright who handles guitars AND drums. He is great at both. I’ve always said a band is only as good as their drummer, the engine that drives them, and Wright’s a damn good drummer. The album starts with the quirky “Torn Apart 1000 Sparks” which sounds like Happy the Man to me. That works for me since I love Happy the Man.

Songs tend to be more dramatic than the opener like “Forest of Lovelies” and “Impetus” which both remind me more of older Genesis. “Chrysalis” is one of the tracks with the odd vocal paring and while they can sing together, it’s really like oil and water. I do like that track regardless. A good song is a good song and this album has the songs. The closing epic “In the Flame” has a Van der Graaf Generator edge mixed with a Genesis melodic sensiblity. It’s a great closing number.

TCP clearly make music because they love music. This isn’t about being famous or showing off how great they are at playing. “Temporal Chaos” isn’t a perfect album but it’s a very solid album musically with some great performances by each member of TCP. If you’re tired of prog rock becoming stale, TCP is well worth checking out.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Torn Apart 1000 Sparks
2. Forest Of Lovelies
3. Impetus
4. The Forces
5. Chrysalis
6. Fantasize/Into The Blue
7. Third Eye Limited
8. In The Flame

Bandcamp: tcp-progressive.bandcamp.com
Website: www.temporalchaos.com

Posted in art rock, neo-prog, progressive rock | Tagged | 1 Comment

Darkher – “Realms”

Darkher_-_Realms_-_album_coverIt’s very common that people find comfort in darkness, and I am no exception. But this is also close-knit to (one of) my problem(s): I’m a sucker for any kind of music labeled as dark, gothic, ambient and possibly female fronted. And even though there aren’t many bands in this genre that actually deliver quality material, I can’t help it, I’m still willing to listen to everything I’m able to get my hands on. So it is no surprise that I had to sit down and give “Realms” by Darkher a good listen.

Darkher is a project by Jayn H. Wissenberg, a singer-songwriter from the UK. The project is described as an “intriguing, haunting trip” through the artist’s mind, and I haven’t read one negative review of her latest album “Realms”. “This is too good to be true”, I thought, and to make it short, it is. While everyone in gothic/dark rock circles seems to be treating this album like the next big hit, I’m at my fifth or sixth listen and I still don’t get it. Sorry (not sorry).

“Realms” is a 45-minute ambient record with gothic and acoustic elements. Jayn’s voice is of course very prominent on this album and it does sound very beautiful, there’s no denying in that. But as always, one shouldn’t always believe what people write on the internet. Jayn’s voice is not mesmerizing, nor is it a gate to the world of the dead.
From the nine songs on this album, I can only recall two from the beginning of the record: “Hollow Veil” and “Moths”. Both are very slow and gloomy tracks with truly haunting melodies. The other tracks sound very simple throughout. And even with only a couple of instruments, there are countless possibilities to write more diverse and interesting songs than what is presented here. Great songwriting and dynamics can be found on other records from other bands. It’s as simple as that. If there’s anything that “Realms” (besides two nice songs) will do for the listener, it’s probably putting him to sleep.

There has to be some kind of weird sorcery involved in this record that simply won’t wash with me. This is the only explanation I can think of. But let’s see if “Realms” will put me to sleep tonight. If yes, then I will have found at least one purpose to this record. Finally, “Realms” definitely proves one thing: A beautiful voice is not enough to make a great record. I wish it was.

Rating: 5/10

Tracklist:

  1. Spirit Walker
  2. Hollow Veil
  3. Moths
  4. Wars
  5. The Dawn Brings A Saviour
  6. Buried Pt. 1
  7. Buried Pt. 2
  8. Foregone
  9. Lament

Label: www.prophecy.de
Website: www.darkhermusic.tumblr.com

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Meshuggah – “Born in Dissonance”

35093879_350_350Meshuggah is ubiquitous and near legendary in the modern prog metal scene, and for good reason: very few bands can claim to have created something truly groundbreaking and unique, especially in a genre that can be as derivative as prog metal can be. Tragically funny then perhaps, that from this well of inspiration came hordes of imitators and coat tail riders. Some of these acts admirably attempt to diversify their sound enough to make their own statements while others are merely content to tune low, surf the wave, and hope for the best.

After the world shattering release of Obzen in 2008, the “djent” scene exploded, and I sense that Meshuggah didn’t really know how to react to it all. Subsequently, “Koloss” was a good record that suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. The one feeling I couldn’t help shake while listening to “Koloss” was a sense of a band struggling to make a statement in a scene suddenly flooded with imitators; a scene they had unwittingly created. The band who was literally incomparable just a few years before now had their “djent” credentials questioned by music fans who may not have even known that Meshuggah literally created the sound nearly two decades before (8 string guitars notwithstanding). It wasn’t fair to the band, and still irks the fist shaking “get off my lawn” metal guy in me.

But Meshuggah’s music has never been about some onomatopoeia, it has at its core been a distillation of aggression; a singularity of pure and unbridled rage and darkness. Usually stripped of melody and absolutely devoid of any sense of hope or humor, Meshuggah’s music at its best is a reflection of our darkest tendencies and drives, an extended gaze into our fractured common psychology as a species. “Born in Dissonance” gets back to that monstrous, crushing wrecking ball sound that ONLY Meshuggah can really pull off. They are a band that truly become another entity when firing all cylinders, and this track certainly seems to suggest that they are back in a good place in terms of knowing where they want to go, and more importantly what they want to say.

“Born in Dissonance” seems to look back to some oft overlooked and under appreciated gems in the Meshuggah catalog, these namely being “Destroy, Erase, Improve” and “Chaosphere”. Less about groove and elasticisms, the track is more concerned with crushing the listener to dust with granite heavy riff after granite heavy riff. The rhythm is chaotic, and the grind-y register of the guitars sits in a sonic space that they really haven’t occupied since a few of the tracks on “Obzen”, and not considerably  so since “Chaosphere”. Its hard to say the direction the record will take overall without having heard the record in full, but it is of my opinion that by looking back to what made them unique in the first place, Meshuggah may have a bit of a rebirth by separating themselves from the pack once again. That is until the next generation discovers “Chaosphere”. I can’t wait to hear 30 different versions of “New Millennium Cyanide Christ”. “The Violent Sleep of Reason is out October 7th.

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Nosound – “Scintilla”

nosoundI’ve tried getting into Nosound for a number of years now. The problem that I’ve had with the band is there are really little dynamics to what they do. It’s VERY low key art rock and the songs are often sparse when it comes to the arrangement. The closest I got to really enjoying a Nosound album was “Afterthoughts” which included ex-Porcupine Tree drummer Chris Maitland. Nosound are definitely influenced by early Porcupine Tree, specifically band leader Giancarlo Erra.

The main problem is that Erra is no Steven Wilson. While he pushes Nosound toward a modern post-prog style, he is a very average vocalist and because of that the melody lines are quite one dimensional at times. “Scintilla” loses what little momentum that “Afterthoughts” might have had. This is a very slow, somewhat dull album that gets rather boring by the time you hit “Sogno e Incendio” which is a rare song in Erra native Italian.

Yes Erra loves to write about melancholia like Wilson does and yes he tries the somewhat cinematic approach. But while Wilson writes a blockbuster movie, Erra is barely a low budge indie film. It’s fine if you are willing to take the time and have the patience to search for the beauty in each track but to be fair, if you have to work THAT hard to find something about Nosound that you enjoy, you’re probably should look elsewhere.

“Scintilla” is my third attempt to get into Nosound and I need to stop forcing the issue. Sometimes we just don’t connect with a band we think we SHOULD connect with. But if you like a very watered down early Porcupine Tree mixed in with No-Man, you might enjoy “Scintilla.” But if you are expecting Erra to suddenly be more like his hero Steven Wilson, you should probably move on like I am.

Rating: 4/10

1. Short Story
2. Last Lunch
3. Little Man
4. In Celebration of Life
5. Sogno e Incendio
6. Emily
7. The Perfect Wife
8. Love is Forever
9. Evil Smile
10. Scintilla

Label: Kscope
Website: nosound.net

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monkey3 – “Astra Symmetry”

657_Monkey2_CMYK.jpgI admit that I am new to the Swiss band monkey3 and I was initially attracted to review this album because the album artwork looked amazing and the title “Astra Symmetry” sounded cool. It’s even better that the music fits both of those! monkey3 play a nice blend of psych rock, prog rock and stoner rock. The album is a balance of very old Floyd, Hawkwind and even My Sleeping Karma.

The album opens with the sitar-laden “Abyss” which if Pink Floyd had taken a Middle Eastern turn with their music, it might have sounded like this. The vocals aren’t perfect but they work. They really don’t need the vocals at all to be honest! “Moon” starts with a massive layer of keys over majestic lumbering drums. The problem is the vocals. This time is a very deep, spoken vocal during which the music basically dies down. Once the vocals stop, the band kick the song back into gear.

“Endless Ocean” has a cool, spacey vibe to it with a solid drum pattern. “The Water Bearer” is a piano led track with a cool bassline. The track kicks in mid way thru and does have vocals. The vocals are solid, not spectacular. Overall, it’s a great song though with a cool guitar solo at the end. It’s cool how many of these tracks all segue into each other. There’s a natural flow to “Astra Symmetry” as a whole. It feels much more like a whole piece versus 12 separate tracks.

The cosmic “Mirrors” is another cool track, led by an acoustic guitar and what sounds like a flute but really is a keyboard. The keyboards on this album are so tasty throughout. There are so many different sounds and all are classic and steeped in 70s prog. Need more mellotron? “Dead Planet Eyes” is for you. The vocal on this track is a lot more animated than the rest which actually works better for me.

monkey3 aren’t reinventing anything on “Astra Symmetry” but they aren’t trying to and they really don’t need to either. They clearly know what their sound is and execute it well. I still would have preferred this as an all instrumental album, because it already is mostly instrumental and sounds great when it is that. If you like bands that don’t just play psych rock and prog rock but actually UNDERSTAND the vocabulary of each, “Astra Symmetry” by monkey3 is a must.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Abyss
2. Moon
3. Endless Ocean
4. The Water Bearer
5. Crossroad
6. Mirrors
7. Dead Planet’s Eyes
8. Seeds
9. Astraea
10. Arch
11. The Guardian
12. Realms Of Lights

Label: Napalm Records
Website: http://www.monkey3official.com

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Fractal Cypher – “The Human Paradox”

Livret CD_2panneauxProgressive Metal is a vast, deep ocean of possibility. At least that is how I view it. In a genre so often plagued by formulaic song structures and macho posturing, this inherent sense of choice, compositional freedom and suggested lack of limitation can yield some truly mind-boggling pieces of art. However, just like anything that boasts some degree of success, even a genre that rails against established notions of what constitutes “musical correctness” as it pertains to songwriting, can develop its own styles, forms, and mores. To that end, Fractal Cypher’s “The Human Paradox” is an example of an enormously talented band straddling the line between personal identity and expectation in modern Progressive Metal.

As a listener, I gravitate towards the unique and outlandish. I appreciate chances taken, even if they don’t always pay off. I understand that all music is derivative in some way, and what truly matters is how the artist blends their chosen influences into a cohesive and inspired whole. Fractal Cypher definitely belong to a subset of Progressive Metal bands that worship at the altar of Dream Theater, whilst also injecting a heavy dose of Power Metal’s hyper melodicism (Pagan’s Mind comes to mind). In addition to these more classic influences, the band brings the rhythmic and tonal specter of djent to the fold (thankfully minimally) with low tuned and percussive riffs driving sections of the songs.

The playing is exceptional and extremely tight throughout. Light speed guitar runs and keyboards fly by, and pummeling double bass brings the music into death metal territory at times. The vocals are present and high. There is no denying that these guys can play, but very few riffs, melodies, and sections truly stand out as memorable. The requisite time changes and solos are there, but there really aren’t any chances being taken on “The Human Paradox”, and the record suffers for it.

After the first two tracks had passed, I was pleasantly surprised by “Shining A While”, which is an expansive and melodic track in all of the right ways. Several times during the tracks runtime I was reminded of Circus Maximus’ early work on “The First Chapter”, which is in my opinion a high watermark for this style of Post-Dream Theater Prog Metal. Next up, “Prison Planet” establishes itself as a solid and well done modern Prog Metal song. All of the elements fell into place, and in this case the structure benefits the music for the better. Later on, tracks such as “Awakening” and “Idles Word” flirt with different sounds, with the latter having some really interesting sections and interplay at the beginning and ending of the song. The rest of the record hems closely to the “extended intro/ big 4/4 verse/ big melodic, keyboard driven chorus” formula that is indicative of this school of thought. It’s here that it loses me.

With all of that being said, this type of record may be exactly what the reader is looking for. As a genre exercise, “The Human Paradox” is well played and well produced. The guitars sound big, the drums ring and pop with authority, and the mix lets everything shine where appropriate. I suppose my hope for the future of Fractal Cypher would see this immensely talented band escape the shadow of their influences, and expand upon, and maybe even discover, what makes them truly unique. There is a ton of potential to be found over the hour that “The Human Paradox” plays out, it just needs to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts. I think Fractal Cypher is capable of that transition if they want to be, and I await to see where they will go from here.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklist:

  1. Lost
  2. Endless Circle
  3. Shining A While
  4. Prison Planet
  5. Imminent Extinction
  6. Final Abode
  7. Awakening
  8. Idles Word
  9. Ghost Of Myself

Bandcamp: fractalcypher.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/fractalcypher

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Eclectic Trio ‘Consider The Source’ Announces New 2016 Tour Dates

consider-the-source-winter-tour

August 2016:The eclectic progressive/fusion trio Consider The Source has announced a string of new tour dates, which kicks off in New Hampshire on August 27 and includes stops in Denver, Houston, Chicago, New York and Boston. See a complete list of tour dates below.

Their relentless touring schedule has won the band a fervent following from California to Israel, with fans ranging from jam-band hippies and jazz cats to corpse-painted headbangers and prog geeks. Consider The Source will be sharing the stage with Papadosio & TAUK for select dates.

 

Drawing from progressive rock, fusion and jazz, with alien sounds soaked in Indian and Middle Eastern styles, Consider The Source blends disparate parts into a striking, utterly original whole. Dubbed “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion”, the band’s music strikes a rare balance between cerebral and emotional, intellectual and primal.

 

Formed in 2004, Consider the Source features Gabriel Marin on fretless double-neck guitar, bassist John Ferrara, and drummer/percussionist Jeff Mann.

 

Touring from coast to coast, as well as Europe and the Middle East, has not only earned the band thousands of fans, but has allowed them to perform with a wide variety of well-known artists, including Victor Wooten, Wayne Krantz, King Crimson Projekt, Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Wyclef Jean, Andy Statman, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and many others.

 

The band have performed at numerous festivals and events, including Catskill Chill, The Big Up, Burning Man, Sun Seekers Ball (Canada), Mid-Summer Meltdown, Rootwire, the NYC Fretless Guitar Festival, and the NYC Gypsy Festival.

 

The band’s latest release, “World War Trio (Parts 2 & 3)” (2016) is available at considerthesourcemusic.bandcamp.com

 

Tour Dates

08/27/2016       NH Hempfest & Freedom Rally, Lancaster, NH
09/02/2016       Peace of Mind Fest, Halifax, PA
09/03/2016       Peace of Mind Fest, Halifax, PA
09/09/2016       Local Legends, Vernon, NJ
09/10/2016       Peacestock, Troy, NY
09/16/2016       Wormtown Music Festival, Greenfield, MA
09/23/2016       King’s Rook Club, Erie, PA
09/24/2016       Resonance Music & Arts Festival, Thornville, OH
09/30/2016       The Frequency, Madison, WI
10/01/2016       Source Public House, Menasha, WI
10/07/2016       The Black Sheep, Colorado Springs, CO
10/08/2016       Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO
10/09/2016       The Bluebird Theater, Denver  , CO
10/12/2016       The AMP Room, San Antonio, TX
10/13/2016       Last Concert Café, Houston, TX
10/14/2016       One-2-One, Austin, TX (supporting Cream Cheese Accident)
10/15/2016       Kiva, San Marcos, TX
10/20/2016       Harvest House, Denton, TX
10/21/2016       Ryleigh’s, Fayetteville, AR
10/23/2016       Progtoberfest II, Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago, IL
10/26/2016       The Rabbit Hole, Charlotte, NC
10/27/2016       Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh, NC (supporting Papadosio)
10/28/2016       9:30 Club, Washington, DC (supporting Papadosio)
29/29/2016       The Abbey Bar @ Appalachian Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA
11/03/2016       Pacific Standard Tavern, New Haven, CT
11/04/2016       River Street Jazz Café, Wilkes-Barre, PA
11/10/2016       Pearl Street, Northampton, MA
11/11/2016       Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY (supporting Papadosio)
11/16/2016       Aisle 5, Atlanta, GA
11/17/2016       Asheville Music Hall, Asheville, NC
12/01/2016       Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA
12/02/2016       Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD (supporting TAUK)
12/03/2016       Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA (supporting TAUK)
12/07/2016       The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY (supporting TAUK)
12/09/2016       Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

 

For more information on Consider The Source, please visit:

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