Sunday, 23 May 2010

Colosseum - Those Who Are About to Die Salute You (1969)

Genre: Progressive Rock, Jazz-Rock, Blues
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1969
Label: Castle Records

While Colosseum lasted only a little more than three years, producing five albums in that time, they made a great impression on the blooming subgenre of progressive rock, first with the energetic jazz- and blues-influenced "Those Who Are About to Die Salute You", with its unusual
chord progressions and variant song structures, and then with the epic "Valentyne Suite". The
title track of Valentyne Suite, a 17-minute composition, pushed keyboardist Dave Greenslade to the forefront of the band and into the spotlight of progressive music, a position he was increasingly uneasy with over the years. Drummer Jon Hiseman, on the other hand, gradually moved towards the jazz fusion area. Colosseum began to undergo personnel shifts with their third album, Grass Is Greener, with everyone calling it quits upon the departure of Greenslade in 1971. In 1975, Hiseman formed Colosseum II, but this time the mandate was firmly jazz fusion. ( Allmusic )

*** Colosseum's debut album is a powerful one, unleashing each member's instrumental prowess at one point while consolidating each talent to form an explosive outpouring of progressive jazz/rock the next. Those Who Are About to Die Salute You is coated with the volatile saxophone playing of Dick Heckstall-Smith, the thunderous keyboard assault of David Greenslade, and the bewildering guitar craft of James Litherland. Together, Colosseum skitters and glides through brisk musical spectrums of freestyle jazz and British blues, sometimes held tightly in place by Greenslade's Hammond organ, while other times let loose by the brilliancy of the horn and string interplay. Each song sparks its own personality and its very own energy level, giving the band instant notoriety upon the album's release in 1969. Not only did Colosseum sound different from other jazz fusion bands of the era, but they could easily take the unconventional elements of their style and churn them into palatable and highly significant musical thoroughfares. Some of the more compelling tracks include "Walking in the Park," led by its powerful trumpet segments, and "Pretty Hard Luck," which embarks on a stylish blues excursion with colorful keyboard sections on the periphery. "Beware the Ides of March" borrows a page out of J.S. Bach's notebook and turns his classical poignancy inside out, while "Mandarin" and "Backwater Blues" are created with the perfect jazz and blues friendship in mind, representing Colosseum's fused sound spotlessly. Best of all, the album never strays from its intensity or its creativity, the very foundation that the band is built on. Their next album, Valentyne Suite, mirrors the same instrumental congruity as Those Who Are About to Die, and is equally entertaining. ( Allmusic )

01. Walking in the Park

02. Plenty Hard Luck

03. Mandarin

04. Debut

05. Beware the Ides of March

06. The Road She Walked Before

07. Backwater Blues

08. Those About to Die

Dave Greenslade: Organ, Keyboards, Vocals

Dick Heckstall-Smith: Saxophone, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)

Jon Hiseman: Drums, Liner Notes

James Litherland: Guitar, Vocals

Tony Reeves: Bass, Guitar (Bass), Producer

*** Strong debut of one of the most popular jazz-rock groups.The album comprises jazz- rock,
blues and symphonic rock tunes, reflecting musical background and aspirations of band members. It opens with rhytmically furious cover of Graham Bond's 'Walking In The Park' leading us to more jazzier 'Plenty Hard Of Luck' ; 'Mandarin' shows all the skill of Tony Reeves, a bass guitarist extraordinaire , while closing track of the A side of the record is literally their debut, origins of which are coming from John Mayall's superb 'Bare Wires' album. Side B of the record beginns with the proof of how inspirational can one classic piece be for the rock performers; following two numbers show band's blues affinities and closing track is jazz-rock at it's utmost. All in all, this 'Morituri Te Salutant' album has shown Colosseum's enormous potential which will fully explode on their masterpiece follower. ( Progarchives )

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Robert Frip String Quintet - The Bridge Between (1993)

Genre: Prog-Rock/ Art Rock
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1993
Label: Discipline

1. Kan-Non Power

2. Yamanashi Blues


Chromatic Fantasy


Bicycling to Afghanistan




Threnody for Souls in Torment

Robert Fripp (guitar, Frippertronics)
Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya (acoustic guitar)
Paul Richards (acoustic guitar, Fuzz E-bow guitar)
Trey Gunn (Chapman Stick)

Producers: David Singleton, The Robert Fripp String Quartet

THE BRIDGE BETWEEN's charismatic wonders evolve right out of your speakers like prog's bastard offspring. After the staid acoustic concerns of the League of Crafty Guitarists, Fripp's latest ensemble indulges, thankfully, in both electric and electronic applications. Fripp is accompanied here by longtime associate Trey Gunn (on grand stick) and by The California Guitar Trio. His choice of material--some traditional Bach pieces in addition to original works--is cogent, breathtaking, and absolutely absorbing.

THE BRIDGE BETWEEN contains excellent performances from the Quintet proper as well as a number of compelling Frippertronic passages and Crimson-soaked guitarritude. With eyes closed, one can almost visualize Fripp, Eno, and Summers all trading licks in capricious delight. The darkly pulsing "Blue" realizes that hallucinatory collaboration. Fripp's ideals push both him and the Quintet to their artistic limits. He challenges both his own earnest reputation and an illustrious catalog of sounds in a precognition of 21st century classical music.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Adagio - Sanctus Ignis 2001

Genre: Neo-classical Metal, Progressive Metal
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 2001
Label: SPV

01. Second Sight
02. The Inner Road
03. In Nomine...
04. The Stringless Violin
05. Seven Lands of Sin
06. Order of Enlil
07. Sanctus Ignis
08. Paneut et Circences
09. Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
10. Niflheim [Instrumental-Demo]

Dirk Bruinenberg: Drums
Stephan Forte: Guitars, Keyboards
Franck Hermanny: Bass
Richard Andersson: Keyboards
David Readman: Vocal

Sabine Hartel: Violin

Fans of Adagio do know that its leader has always been Stephan Forte. A French guitarist heard Yngwie Malmsteen in his youth and was convinced what he should do in the future. He studied at CMCN (International Music Academy in Nancy) and graduated from it in the year 1997. His musical taste surely took a right shape after listening to the greatest world's composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paco De Lucia, baroque, jazz and fusion music. Stephan recorded an instrumental demo "Visions" in 1996 that was a herald of Adagio in a sense. It was the same with another guitar virtuoso - Michael Romeo who recorded the instrumental album "The Dark Chapter" before the debut of Symphony X. Mr. Forte played as a support artist for Yngwie Malmsteen and he has been unfairly compared to a Swede since that moment. Both Stephan and Yngwie play neoclassical elements in their music, but the French guitarist comes from more extreme and progressive school, however the Swedish wizard derives from classic hard rock tradition. You needn't be a music critic to pick out these differences between them. Moreover, Adagio performed live with the likes of Majestic, Double Dealer, Symphony X, Devin Townsend, Matthias Eklundh, Misanthrope, Uli Jon Roth and others.

In the year 1999, Mr. Forte went to Philadelphia in order to record a 4-track demo alongside Vitalij Kuprij. They were going to found a new band together, but never happened so far. Fortunately, their efforts didn't go to waste, and both men's talents were used in Adagio's music. To be formally correct, I inform that the band was founded in the year 2000.

I'd like you to be aware that "Sanctus Ignis" ("Holy Fire") was written by 25-year old Stephan Forte (guitars, keys programming; Red Circuit). As you see, it doesn't matter if you are young or elder, the most important thing is to be a gifted artist who can express his (her) emotions in a right way. I have no doubt he is a talented instrumentalist, and its proof are many musicians who are and were willing to cooperate with him: David Readman (vocals; Pink Cream 69), Dirk Bruinberg (drums; Elegy, Patrick Rondat, The Consortium Project), Franck Hermanny (bass guitar; Cyril Achard, Venturia), Vitalij Kuprij (keys; Artension, Ring Of Fire) and Richard Andersson (keys; Majestic, Time Requiem, Space Odyssey). There is also less known violinist player - Sabine Härtel whose solo can be audible on one of tracks. I don't believe that the Stephan Forte crew could produce something mediocre. Such a conviction accompanied me before the listening, and I confirmed myself in this conviction after it. I am also not surprised that Mr. Forte called his band Adagio, since the music is full of dramaturgic elements and solemnity, and most compositions are performed in minor keys. Listening to the likes of "In Nomine..." and "Seven Lands of Sin", we come back to more extreme Stephan's roots and convince ourselves that he ably managed to transfer death metal heaviness to progressive music. Here are impressive and complex orchestrations varied by Andersson's and Kuprij's keyboard progression. To be honest, I can't imagine myself Adagio's music without the keys. We can pick out some similarities in Stephan's playing to Michael Romeo's and Roger Staffelbach's manners, however his performance is characterized by an absolute precision in execution (typical of a mentioned three instrumentalists). We can't forget about David Readman whose vocal is as melodic and expressive as John West's and Russell Allen's. An unquestionable advantage of "Sanctus Ignis" is a diversification within the genre. Beside the traditional fundament of progression, on which a whole Adagio's output is grounded, we can as well select the baroque influences, oriental ones (on instrumental masterpiece "Order of Enlil"), film ("Niflheim" demo version) and even more direct inspirations by a Hungarian composer - Bela Bartok's violin concertos. A great surprise turned to be one of Led Zeppelin's classics - "Immigrant Song" that sounds like Adagio's original track. This one immersed into the progressive sauce discloses us a completely different face of the first version, keeping only a faint outline of the original.

With this stuff Adagio opened themselves the doors to the progressive world lining up next to Symphony X and Artension. It's great that Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Vanden Plas, DC Cooper, Symphorce, Axxis) produced "Sanctus Ignis", since he secured a solid and own sound for Adagio. Such a professional producer can't let himself any shortcomings. The international crew did a work very well and presented us neoclassical progpower made of a pure ore.

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