Kami Octet – Spring Party

The Music

The Words

We truly are well treated in this early 2018. So much great music has been knocking on my eardrums that it’s difficult to keep track. Although a late 2017 release, France’s Kami Octet, an avant-garde jazz eight-member ensemble, and their album Spring Party, was only just now heard by yours truly. The release is an adventurous and thorough experiment on contemporary jazz, sharing similarities with Fire! Orchestra and other such modern artists like Jaimie Branch. I’ve noticed the former mainly due to the vocal eccentricities of Christine Bertocchi, who at times recall moments of … Read more

Hago – Hago

The Music

The Thoughts

Rarely has a progressive metal fusion album been released with so little anticipation, praise, and attention while deserving so much of these. Enter Hago and their self-titled debut album. The Boston band is, as they put it, “a melting pot of progressive metal, jazz, and Middle Eastern elements”, and I couldn’t have said it better – they also call it “falafel djent”, but let’s not go there. Their group consists of the usual instrumental metal and jazz quartet of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums, while also having a full-time saxophonist on top.

Rooted inside the Berklee … 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

Merkabah – Million Miles

Moloch was a defining album for me. As one of the first, and, above all, best, albums truly bridging the gap between jazz and metal into a strange form of palatable yet challenging avant-garde jazz record. The Polish quintet is now back with their third release: Million Miles. Their newest takes up where Moloch left off – kicking and screaming –, and offers us an experience that’s almost as searing as its predecessor. However, instead of pure abrasive power, Million Miles is more delicate, tasteful, and mature than its older sibling. They obviously still share the same genes, but … Read more

Mammal Hands – Shadow Work

It has barely been a year and a half since Mammal Hands‘ album Floa was released – hint, we liked it –, yet, the British modern jazz trio is back with Shadow Work. Nearing fifty minutes in length, the album is, once again, a marvel of jazz music. Melodic and carefully crafted, their third release is a joy to behear. The piano and drums and saxophone trio is master at crafting memorable melodies on poignant progressions, with a firm grasp on the elusive art of tension and release, and a broad curiosity that leads to them incorporating sounds … Read more