Art Rockin' Magazine

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Aum Grand Ensemble – You’ve Never Listened to the Wind (2017) review

An opulant blend of poetry, theatre, classical chamber, gamelan, ambient, sacred and otherworldly glory that I have rarely heard in my lifetime. Such a mix of styles that sometimes surprises the senses, Aum Grand Ensemble, led by Julien Pontvianne (who composes all the music) from France, creates textural works that occasionally reminds me of Popol Vuh’s (Florian Fricke) more sacred soundtrack works such as ‘Sei Still, Wisse Ich Bin’ The group have two previous recordings (‘Jail Poems’ – 2010, unreleased but download is available, and then ‘Silere’ – 2014, which is with the same elements but based on ‘Walden’ by Henry David Thoreau).

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Nathan- Era (2018) – review

This is an Italian progressive rock group who began as a tribute band of music from Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Supertramp. Their 2016 debut `Nebulosa’ featured original songs all sung in Italian, and in the vintage progressive world of Le Orme and similar bands. Now in 2018, their second release is happily in the Aqua Fragile/Genesis sphere, with strong similarities in both the instrumentation and Lanzetti/Gabriel-like lead vocals (thanks to Bruno Lugaro). The sound quality is excellent with balanced solos between keyboards (Piergiorgio Abba) and some Holdsworth/Hackett guitar work (Daniele Ferro). The rest of the band is very strong as well, which includes Fabio Sanfilippo on drums and Mauro Brunzu on bass. Monica Giovannini, who also appeared on their debut, does an amazing job on choirs and backing vocals.

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Mark Wingfield – Tales from the Dreaming City (2018) review

A new Mark Wingfield album is always one to have both great anticipation and expectations for. ‘Tales from the Dreaming City’ is so exceptional it cannot be fully appreciated or taken in with one listen. A heavy weight trio, plus guest Dominque Vantomine on keyboards (tracks 3,5,9,10), Mark Wingfield (guitar, soundscapes), Yaron Stavi (fretless bass), and Asaf Sirkis (drums) create a wonderful world of starlit jazz fusion that Allan Holdsworth would have been absolutely proud of.

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Spoke of Shadows – II (2017) review

A simply beautiful second release from Texan progressive rock/ambient/fusion and soundscape artists Spoke of Shadows. More of what their first release had, but a bit more expanded, the band is primarily two members (Mark Cook, famous for his work with Herd of Instinct, Hands, and Liquid Sound Company, on Warr guitar, fretless bass, guitars, keyboards, & programming, and Bill Bachman from Neal Morse, who is a first class drum author & educator, on drums/percussion). This release includes Bob Fisher / flute (2,3,8), Michael Harris (Vitalij Kuprij) / guitar solo (4), Mike McGary / synth (6), and Shannon Wickline / piano (6). A very nice collection of musicians.

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Flav Martin & Jerry Marotta – Soul Redemption (2018) review

From the promo sheet “Soul Redemption is a harmonious blend of modern adult rock and traditional world music” one might be a bit misled. The harmonious modern adult rock is exact but the traditional world music is limited to latin and Italian pop and folk. The other surprise for some might be the fact of this not having a single stitch of progressive rock style, seeing that Peter Gabriel’s old rhythm section (Jerry Marotta – drums/percussion and Tony Levin – bass) are on it throughout. Flav Martin wrote all the songs and Jerry produced the album. Also backing up the duo are their long time friends Peter Primamore (piano), Thor Jensen (guitar), Marc Shulman (guitar), and Gary Schreiner (harmonica/accordion).

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Dusan Jevtovic – Live at Home (2018) review

A very high level live recording on a limited edition CD (200 only for sale at bandcamp MoonJune store), by four piece jazz fusion outfit led by Serbian born composer and guitarist Dusan Jevtovic. From the early minutes there is a crisp clear no hurried sound, which allows time to be used with great advantage.

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Jordan Rudess / Steve Horelick – Intersonic (2018) review

It may surprise many people who listen to this recording but it was all improvised. Yes, both musicians simply sat down, played each instrument, responding, listening closely to each other and themselves, the tones, textures, phrasing, timbre and atmosphere, and thus the music was created. Of course many years of experience performing this way is the success of such an outcome. The compositions are a million miles from piddling, pretending or amateurish hodgepodge.

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Sonar – Vortex (2018) review

The fourth release by inventive Swiss instrumental outfit sees a great addition with producer, composer and guitarist extraordinaire David Torn. For those who do not know, the band’s name stands for SONic ARchitecture. There are a small number of bands/artists using tritones as a base for their compositions and all of them sound very different from each other. Sonar master Stephan Thelen (guitar) made the decision to use tritones from his previous experience which allowed him to play otherwise impossible parts.

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DLM – Davis Lindley Mullan (2017) review

A warm plentiful collection of songs that bring a solemn face, tears, a smile, a touch of heart, a contact with your soul, and/or an embrace with emotions you may have lost touch with. This is a lovely album that makes you feel at home and comfortable, peaceful, and fully satisfied. The debut release from ex-Stackridge members Andrew Davis (guitar, ukulele, vocals) and Clare Lindley (violin, guitar, ukulele, vocals) and added musician Brian Mullan (cello, vocals), puts  the listener at ease with both original tunes and striking cover tunes.

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Orchestra Exotica – Plays Martin Denny (2017) review

As the title and the band’s name implies, the music within is Orchestra Exotica’s version of the Exotica genre, which was defined by Martin Denny back in the 1957. That music was a fantasy mix of South Pacific and the Orient. Later composers (like Les Baxter) brought in influences from Oceania, Hawaii, The Andes, and even Africa. The music on this Orchestra Exotica is all that but modern day listeners may be more apt to describe it as Caribbean space age jazz with a lounge music quality. The whole idea for the album came from the original children’s play written by Bruno Vansina titled ‘MaiTé, het meisje en de vogel’ (translated ‘Mai’Tie, the girl and the bird’- as the bonus disc of this package). Pierre Vervloesem, the master interpreter he is, took these pieces and did a bit of revamping, but not to the extent of defacing them.

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