Monday, April 9, 2007

Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet (post rock - 2007)

Back in the 90's Purcupine Tree were hailed as the next Pink Floyd. Albums like On The Sunday of Life (1991), The Sky Moves Sideways (1995) and Lightbulb Sun (2000) were indeed heavily influenced by these pioneers of space rock, but Purcupine Tree managed to develop a style of their own by encorporating elements of neo progressive rock and electronic music into their sound.

By 2005 however, the band seemed to want to take a different course of action. They mostly abandoned the electronica elements and sounded much less airy and ambient than they did earlier. Their album Deadwing was the firts phase of PT's musical transition.
The band's latest album, Fear Of A Blank Planet, introduces us to an even grungier, much more rock oriented sound. This 'back to basics' approach doens't necessarily mean the band are aiming for a more mainstream sound though. It's just a means to direct attention towards the songwriting rather than the soundscaping... In conclusion, PT might sound a lot less complex than they used to, they are still way above most avarage alternative rock bands.

Get it here.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Eric Truffaz - Arkhangelsk (fusion/rock)

French trumpet player Eric Truffaz is no stranger to fans of nu jazz. This summer he'll be performing live with his band at the Blue Note Records Festival in Ghent, Belgium.
On his latest album Truffaz presents us with a blend of smooth jazz and melancholy singer/songwriter oriented rock. One of the pieces on the album especially caught my attention: Manon is a refreshing version of a song by Serge Gainsbourg.

I found a link for those who want to check out the album. Links are in the comments section.

New CD releases (progressive rock)

Marillion - Somewhere Else (2007 - neo progressive rock)

I guess there's two kinds of Marillion fans. The ones who liked the era when Fish was lead singer back in the 80's and the one who support Marillion lead by Steve Hogarth. You might say I'm inbetween there. I especially like the earlier Marillion stuff. The music was imaginative and cutting edge, even for a neo prog band. Very tasteful, intricate and great sounding keyboards!
Back in the 80's Marillion scored a bunch of hits with Kaleigh, Clutching At Straws and Tuxon. Listening to their latest album Somewhere Else, I rediscovered a whole new Marillion with a different sound. Seems like I have a lot of catching up to to.
Somewhere Else features a classy bunch of neo progressive pieces. Stripped down to the basics. A brand of rock that can be enjoyed by fans of the more radio friendly variety of rock as well as by progressive rock enthousiasts. A far cry from the lush and complicated sound of the old Marillion, but still displaying a lot of sophistication and style. An interesting release.

Try the new Marillion album: get it here.

Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time (2007 - progressive rock)
A while ago I posted some solo albums by Peter Hamill, the vocalist of VDGG. The band made a surprising comeback in 2005 with the stunning double album Present. Real Time is a live recording of one of VDDG's first live gigs in 29 years...
VDGG consists of legendary vocalist and mastermind Peter Hamill, organ builder and keyboardist Hugh Banton and one of the most inventive horn players in rock history ever – David Jackson – on 'double sax' and flute.
Most of the early VDGG live recordings or bootlegs I know of, are of really inferior sound quality so I'm really happy about this one! This double CD contains the entire VDGG reunion concert held at the Royal Festival Hall in London back in 2005. Apart from tracks from their Present album (Nutter Alert, Every Bloody Emperor) the band tackles some old classics like Lemmings, Man-Erg and the magnificent opening piece The Undercover Man. The band's stage shown still sound as raw and vibrant as it use to 30 years ago...
Real Time is an excellent album by one of rock music's most avant-garde outfit. A real must-have for fans of Van Der Graaf Generator, better yet, a must-have for all serious rock fans.

Look for the link to Real Time in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chick Corea - The Ultimate Aventure (2006 - fusion)

A bit of a 'late' discovery this one (Chick Corea's new album has been around for a few months now) - but better late than never. I stumbled upon The Ultimate Adventure when researching the bill of this year's Blue Note Records Festival.

Blue Note Records Festival has become a bit of a classic and is high on my to-do list come July. Some interesting names are featured on the bill: contemporary acts like The Cinematic Orchestra, DJ Shadow, Eric Truffaz as well as some classic bands like Sly and the Family Stone, Winton Marsalis and even Chick Corea.
If you're anywhere near Ghent this summer, you should check it out. Visit the website for a complete update on the program. I had some great times therelast year: music by the likes of Dr. John and Randy Newman, nice atmosphere and good food...

Anyway, back to Chick Corea's latest album. The Ultimate Adventure features a nice collection of richly layered jazz-rock fusion, very laid-back and ideal for the summertime! During the album's 75 minutes runtime, there's never a dull moment. There's nothing better than this kind of well-crafted soft fusion for a relaxing listen... The use of percussion and the subtle infusions of elements of world music from Africa to the Far East provide an interesting, exotic touch.

A real treat for fans of jazz/fusion. I can't wait to see Chick and his band perform live this summer!

Get it here!
Part one.
Part two.

Coming soon…

Well, things have been busy lately. Check back in a couple of days for reviews of the new Van Der Graaf Generator and Porcupine Tree album.
Also, my thoughts on Chick Corea's new disc and the upcoming Blue Note Festival.