Exclusive Video Premiere: Ikarus – Ryuujin


We are pleased to present a live video of Ikarus performing ‘Ryuujin’ off their most recent album, Chronosome.

Ikarus is a Swiss contemporary jazz band with an interesting configuration. They take a typical acoustic jazz trio composed of piano, bass, and drums, and add two scat vocalists – one male and one female – to the mix. This results in a highly unique sound defined by sublime vocal interplay underlaid by dynamic compositions.

The human voice, unbound by language, is more versatile than any other instrument one might use. Ikarus certainly proves that with their stellar performance. The rhythm … Read more

OSR: March 30th, 2016

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You’re Welcome is an impressive debut EP of progressive jazz from Watchdog, a new French duo consisting of keyboard and clarinet.

Joe Santa Maria has given us a diverse and intriguing EP in Echo Deep that morphs back and forth between quirky minimalist jazz and chamber music that trades percussion for strings.

Looping sax overdubs combine to form experimental, minimalist, atmospheric jazz on Johnny Butler‘s Carousel.

The title may no longer be accurate, but Family Junction‘s Never Released Greatest Hits is an interesting and well-executed blend of prog rock and indie rock sensibilities.

Israeli prog/fusion trio … Read more

Kurushimi – Kurushimi

Kurushimi album artKurushimi is a new collective of sorts including members of Serious Beak, Instrumental, adj. (bands we have covered here on CTEBCM!), Fat Guy Wears Wolf Shirt, as well as a few other members. They just dropped their self-titled debut on Art as Catharsis, and I’m going to be up front with you: there is no point trying to attach genres to this (so naturally we’re going to try it!). Like all great music, it defies easy attempts at description and categorization.

The first question that came to me upon hearing of this project: What does Kurushimi mean, anyway? Knowing nothing … Read more

AJ Froman – Phoenix Syndrome

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“Retro” is a term that to some, applies solely to bands that are derivative, stagnant, unoriginal, uncreative, and too mired in the past to produce anything of value, like your dad’s bar band. I must say that retro psychedelic progressive rockers AJ Froman prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is not true at all on their latest release, Phoenix Syndrome (well, not necessarily true, anyway).

Everything here sounds like it could have plausibly been written and recorded in the 1970s. The riffs, bass lines, and synths wouldn’t sound out of place at all. I mean no disrespect by that … Read more

OSR: January 21st, 2016

Amsterdam’s Spinifex erupt with chaotic intensity on Hipsters Gone Ballistic, a set of avant-punk-jazz aberrations that are simultaneously crushing, refined, and unpredictable.

Based on his incorporation of retro synths into his cutting edge jazz fusion style, I get the impression that Evan Marien is a fan of chiptunes,  however his production skills and bass chops help put his latest release, Artifacts, on an entirely different level.

The debut Advent EP from blackened folk metallers Wandering Oak is a promising display of occult darkness forging a distinct identity without forgetting the roots from which it sprung.

Satan’s Secret is … Read more

Bambino dell’Oro – Los Belvos

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Oxford, UK’s progressive fusion duo Bambino dell’Oro‘s latest album Los Belvos is a set of sumptuously textured modern jazz pieces underlaid by complex grooves. The core of the band is made up by two multi-instrumentalists specializing on drums and piano/keyboard respectively, but they also have a bassist with them most of the time and occasionally a soprano sax player as well on this release.

The album’s overall feel is energetic, effortlessly flowing between odd time signatures that are given time to breathe without overstaying their welcome. They make strategic use of a wide texural palette including instruments such as … Read more

Sales de Baño – Horror Vacui

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The second release from Argentinian avant-garde jazz sextet Sales de Baño is Horror Vacui, an intriguing live performance. The ensemble is led by bassist and composer Carlos Quebrada, and also features flute, trumpet, keyboard, guitar, and drums. They definitely play “outside” a lot, but what I appreciate here is that it’s often difficult to tell what is composed and what is improvised. Quebrada has done an excellent job, at times approaching a sophisticated chamber music sound and at others harsh avant-noise.

At first, it may seem that the playing here is somewhat aimless in the way that avant-garde music … Read more

Sha’s Feckel – Feckel for Lovers

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Reed player Sha has made a name for himself over the years among fans of the Swiss “zen funk groove” school of jazz pioneered by Nik Bärtsch and Don Li among others. The full-length debut from his project Sha’s Feckel, Feckel for Lovers, is a diverse and dynamic set of heavy jazz fusion tunes. Featuring Sha on sax together with a guitar, bass, and drums trio, this group weaves huge riffs with odd grooves within engaging and thoroughly fearless compositions.

The album starts out with “A,” a 13 minute piece that gradually crescendos from somber, pensive fusion to … Read more

Panzerballett – Breaking Brain

Munich, Germany’s Panzerballett has been one of my favorite bands for some time now. Merging the intricate brutality of progressive metal with the grace and elegance of modern jazz together with a dash of German humor and a healthy awareness of how bizarre this combination is, they are in my opinion one of the most original and virtuosic bands active at this time. Their fifth full length album, Breaking Brain, sufficiently expands on the formula that they’ve developed over the years and manages to meet my high expectations yet again.

Featuring a sax player in what would otherwise be … Read more

Thieves’ Kitchen – Clockwork Universe

Prog rockers Thieves’ Kitchen hail from the UK and Sweden. Their sixth full-length album,  The Clockwork Universe, charts a course through spacetime to a destination somewhere in 1970s Canterbury, UK. The jazz and folk infused style of progressive rock particular to this spacetime neighborhood, rather than being an obsolete relic of the past, still boasts untapped veins of creative gold. Along the journey, we’re treated to a sprawling 20 minute prog epic, as well as a couple instrumental and percussion-less tracks that sound more like contemporary classical chamber music than any kind of … Read more