Moteur! – En traits libres

The Music

The Words

Moteur! is a French avant-prog band who released its debut self-titled album almost exactly a year ago. En traits libres is their most recent output, and it makes some changes on the basic formula. First of all, the band is now totally instrumental, and I can’t say I miss the vocals of their first opus; moving them out was a wise move. Secondly, the then-trio welcomes Yacine Rabia on bass guitar and becomes a full-fledged quartet! That adds a layer of sound, something that wasn’t really lacking, but that is nonetheless appreciated.

The band favours completely … Read more

P.O.N. – P.O.N. (1995)

The Words

P.O.N. was a Japanese jazz fusion band active in the ’90s, and whose only release is this obscure self-titled album. I wanted to talk about it, however, because it is still relevant in today’s world due to its high production value and contemporary sound. P.O.N. features forty-five minutes of blazing saxophone, guitar, and vibraphone on top of a Zappaesque backing band.

How so? Well, if the regular rhythmic modulations — frequently shifting from straight eighths to many different n-tuplets — didn’t tip you off, you might as well be deaf. However, it is, in my opinion, much more … Read more

Travis Orbin – Silly String Ⅱ

More than two years after the release of the original Silly String, drummer and composer Travis Orbin comes back with its sequel to close off 2017. On , Travis inflates the concept of the twenty-minute predecessor threefold to a staggering sixty minutes. This expansion has it benefits – for one, there is more material to listen and enjoy –, but it also has its shortcomings. While the first of its name was concise and to the point, keeping only the absolute most mind-boggling tracks on record, the second one seems more spread out, less focused, and filled with … Read more

Alex’s Hand – Katatak

Russia-based R.A.I.G. (Russian Association of Independent Genres) label seldom disappoints. The latest hit from under their wings is from German avant-garde progressive rock band Alex’s Hand, and their fourth studio album, Katatak – stylized KaTaTaK. Contrary to tradition, the songs don’t follow an overarching theme or concept, but the three main chunks – “Waterfalls”, “Epic”, and “Ghost Peppers” – each tell a story through convoluted long-form structures, atypical riffs and rhythmic patterns, and a generally rather aggressive take on progressive rock and jazz rock. Katatak is unsurprisingly very colourful, despite the overall bleakness of the concepts and songs; … Read more

Squintaloo – Über Bord!

Squintaloo is a German experimental progressive rock quartet, and they released their latest album, Über Bord!, in June 2017. Their style is eclectic and modern, drawing many comparisons to even some more out-there math rock and prog rock outfits. While very rooted into harmonic cohesion with a rather simplistic melodic approach, most of the eccentricity comes from the structures, the odd rhythms, and the layers of effects that affect the guitar sounds. That is not to say that those two aspects are not well done or that playing them doesn’t require a high degree of musicianship from the players’ … Read more

Sproingg – Sproingg

Sproingg is a fitting name for such a bouncy and lighthearted avant-prog trio! The band, which takes its roots in Germany, have just released their debut, self-titled album via bandcamp, and it’s one of those that you can’t afford to miss. First of all, one of its springy legs is Johannes, violin and Chapman stick player. The former instrument is uncommon but not rare, but it’s one of unfortunately too few opportunities to catch a band boasting a stick! That, on its own, is a good reason to check out this band, but you’ll stay for their bizarre, oddly rhythmic … Read more