Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dark Bottle- Piwee Pullo (Concorde Music Company CDC026)

Dark Bottle is another project of L. Don Ohkami, a banjo player residing in Tampere Finland.  All of his projects are quite eclectic and this is no exception. These are all original compositions except for the Dead Kennedy’s and Woody Guthrie covers.  Time to say Goodbye starts things off with a steady groove and some slide guitar/banjo to compliment the stand up bass and drums.  Tracks 1, 4 and 8 are Don originals, while tracks 6,7 and 9 are by the guitarist, Teemu. This track rocks out! Little Sadie is a short under 2min track and cited as traditional. Must be an old bluegrass track. This is a fast one with some great banjo picking and wah guitar to compliment it as the drummer just goes for it!  The Winnegago Warrior cover of the Dead Kennedys is so fantastic. I really enjoyed it. Don does a good Jello like vocal as well. You’re Toxic slows things down for a more relaxed bluegrassy track with accordion. Alternative Blue has some really funny lyrics and is a fun song with a sort of Pogues like Irish jig. Where Daddy At, is a more country like thing. Dark Bottle is one of the longest tracks on the album and brings back the heat, with a faster track and Teemu takes the lead on the vocals. A fun one that people can sing at the gig!! Tuomas the Taffel Robber has some great banjo picking and tells a fun story.  Great bluegrass style stuff. Keep Movin’ On is also sung by Teemu and features a more country vibe with some slide. All you facists bound to Lose, is a great version (Hear it below!). Wow.. Hello Old Friend is the closing track and a perfect one.

I really love liked this CD a lot and had to pick up the first album, 5 Euro Pizza, which comes as a really interesting pizza picture disc. Awesome.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

TANGERINE DREAM- In Search of Hades Box Set (Virgin Records)

Tangerine Dream is a very special band. While I have not followed their music since the 80s, I have tapes of all their albums up until about 1988.  My favourite era though is 1973-1979, which is the era that this box set focuses on.  This amazing box set features 16CD plus two blue ray DVDs with 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson of the only two albums that the original multitracks were available as well as the restored video of a performance of the band from Coventry Cathedral 1976 and a German documentary also from 1976.

The first folder with 8 discs features mostly all unreleased material!  Phaedra sounds amazing and on top of that you get a couple of hours of stuff they recorded at the same time including the different versions and takes (some of which are very different) of the title track.  Onto 1974 and you get the unreleased soundtrack for Oedipus Tryannus mixed by Steven Wilson.  Then 4 more CDs of two live concerts both from London June 1974 and Oct 1974.  One has to remember that back in these days the bands concerts were totally improvised. They did not play anything from the records, nothing was pre-recorded, etc… Every show was unique.

Six of the next 8 CDs include the following albums: Rubycon, Richochet, Stratosfear, Encore, Cyclone and Force Majeure. These all sound so amazing and also include unreleased bonus tracks or new mixes by Steven Wilson  or rare compilation or 7” tracks.

Disc 10-11 are a complete 2hr show from Royal Albert Hall, London April 1975.
 Sadly, no more of the multracks were available so the only albums you get in 5.1 are Phaedra and Richocet plus the Oedipus Tryannus soundtrack.  These do sound quite amazing and the book is very informative with a lot of amazing pictures and stories.

Frank Marino- Live at the Agora Theatre (Self Released)

I have been a member of the Frank Marino message board since it began, so I have been able to follow the progress of this release, which was an incredible task for Frank to pull off. This is a 350min show taken from 3 sets that were played in December 2010 and filmed by Bruce Springsteen’s camera crew and recorded for a possible release. There had never been an official live DVD or VHS by Frank as he was never really into doing it.  The best that exists is from Don Kirshners Rock concert, The Midnight Special, and some Japanese TV program. 

            Anyway, it turns out after the shows that on both Frank's back up recording and the Agora theatre’s recording, that all the drum tracks were fucked. No one figured this out from the day before the shows soundcheck. IT was pretty devastating for Frank. So over the next 6 years, he made over 1.5 million computer replacements to completely replace all the drum tracks in a computer for the entire 7 hrs that was filmed. Insane…  Talk about dedication!

            So this box set contains a 180 page book, 3 DVDs and a blue ray with most of the tracks from the 3 sets that were played that day in December. The audio is only stereo, no 5.1 but it sounds really fantastic.   This was the show of all time with Frank playing many songs that were never or rarely played live in the 70s or 80s.  The first two sets he plays a huge diversity of tracks from all his albums in current versions and not a lot of jamming involved. You also get 3 Hendrix tracks.  My favourite pieces from the first two sets are the amazing improvised Unchain the Space/Chains of Space that ends Set 1. In Set 2, the tracks from What’s Next and Rise Above just blew me away. He is such a great guitar player and still sings amazingly well. 

Set III is very similar to the Real Live double CD, where he and the band just jam out on Poppy, large medleys of covers and his own tracks, etc.. Some of the playing is very intense.  Tracks like He’s Calling, Somethings comin’ our Way and Strange Universe are incredible.  The guy who plays the violin is often underrepresented in the DVD even though he plays for at least 30mins in the 3rd set.

I can image this would have been even better if he had gotten some sleep but he had basically been awake for nearly 2 days when they filmed this and he looks tired. The band is very boring to watch, this is all about the execution of the songs and playing the best you can. My main gripe with this DVD is the very fast editing. The camera changes every 2-6 seconds with the occasional 10-12 second still camera but this is mostly between songs. I still don’t get why they need to show the drummer or the back of Frank or change the camera 14 times during his guitar solo. Just show the best view and stick with it. That is what you do when you are at a show. You watch the guitar solo, you don’t look at the drummer, the bass player, the audience.. You watch the guitar solo.  Anyway, despite the expense this is an amazing release and I learned so much from the 180 page book with rare pictures and a detailed explanation of the whole journey to make this DVD for us.  For sure one of the best releases this year.

Alkymist Interview August 2019

      Who came up with name for the band?

Kasper wanted to make this kind of band long before we were formed. He had already come up with the name in a dialogue with his wife, because he wanted to take different metal genres and melt them together and that is how we became Alkymist...

      Peter and Stefan played together in ILDHU and have known each other for a long time and Stefan and Kasper played together in Gas Giant. How did you find the drummer?

Kasper had talked to Philip a couple of times before and knew he had just left another band, so he just asked. We didn't really know each other. He kept hanging around even though we didn't have a true direction yet and we are a bunch of weirdos, so he must have found it interesting to help form the music.

      The music you are creating now is much heavier and darker than with Gas Giant, ILDHU, Sumo Sun, Magnified Eye, etc.. what do you think has inspired this?

It was clear from the start that it was going to be slow and heavy. What kickstarted it was that we (Stefan, Kasper and Peter) went to Sweden for a weekend and made a bunch of sketches. When we came home, Peter picked out one and did some vocal on it (Myling) and everybody got an epiphany. From that day on the songs kept coming and evolved by themselves, during rehearsal...

      How does the band go about creating the songs? Walk us through the process.

Two scenarios:

Groovy and heavy riffs are created in our rehearsal room studio and slowly turned into a complete song. Then Peter will make some lyrics and put some vocals on it and usual complain about the tone or other stuff and then we adjust everything.


Stefan records a lot of different riffs on his computer with EZ-drummer. Peter selects the parts that he think is suitable for verses, chorus etc. and put some vocal on it and present it for the band. Then we have something to start with and it can go in many direction from there...

Some songs are done in a month and a few of them takes half a year…

      Does the band ever listen to music together (not your own but other bands that one of you might have the new album by and you really like it?  What might you have been listening to lately (even if it is just you?)

Yes... we play a lot of music in the rehearsal room, when we occasionally meet outside the rehearsal room, when we drive in car together to a gig and we often send each other YouTube links, if we discuss some genres or bands. It's not unusual that the music we hear has very little in common with the music we play... yet we are very inspired and influenced by it, each in our own way.

      How often does the band meet?

In the rehearsal room at least once a week. Periodically 2-3 times a week, with long weekend rehearsals. Usually before gigs or recordings. Sometimes we go to a concert together and sometimes we meet to eat, drink and discuss the future.

      How did the songs you made demos of for the album change when you entered the studio and worked with the producer, Lasse Ballade?

Actually it was only the sound that changed. We had some new songs before the album was recorded but we didn't feel like they were worked through. So we fortunately waited and chose the same songs from the demo together with two “old” unreleased songs... The demo versions were only available in a very limited period. That is why we are able to do another album very soon.

      Alkymist did very well with the debut album with the vinyl selling out, nominated for best new band in the Danish music awards, playing Roskilde Festival. 2019 was a great year, agree?

It was a good year. We have a good booker working for us, a new manager who we have confidence in, we played some interesting gigs and we have had only good reviews of our LP and our live shows. So all in all it was a pretty good year. Things are slowly working out for us… If all goes according to our plans, we release a new album in spring 2020 which hopefully generates some more attention.

      Presumably, you have made some demos for the next record. How will the next record be different from the first? Shorter, longer songs, heavier, lighter, different instrumentation; etc??

We have 5-6 songs ready for the next record. It will still be relatively long songs, between  6-10 minutes. But we have a couple of songs with a little more tempo and one or two songs that are a little more "normally" constructed. But all of the songs have the Alkymist spirit...

      Do you plan to work with Lasse again?

We have already scheduled time with Lasse again. We were happy to work together with him, he is very easy. We like the sound he creates, he was quick to understand our universe and we have good communication. We like Lasse a lot... he is a very cool guy. But this time we will do parts of the recording in our own rehearsal room studio. Some vocals, dubs, effects and other weird stuff. 

      Are there plans for the music to be released outside of Denmark and for gigs in Europe and where do you go from here??

As far as we know our Record label Indisciplinarian, is selling our music outside Denmark and talking to a lot of people.

Our goal is to play some concerts  on big stages. Our music works best on big stages with a lot of smoke and lights. And of couse big festivals.
We would like to make some more recordings. We can't make a living of our music, so it is limited what we can do. We will see where it takes us and what happens...