Independent Music & Equipment Reviews, Forthcoming Music Label & Sounds

Archive for September, 2013

Steve Hackett Band – Ridgefield Playhouse – **Videos Added**

IMG_0354A small collection of photos from the Steve Hackett Band show in Ridgefield, CT on September 29, 2013.  I request that if you decide to copy or repost these photos they are credited to “”  Thank you.






IMG_0368Due to my seating position, I didn’t have many opportunities to photograph Rob Townsend (woodwinds and keyboards) and Roger King (keyboards), but the entire band appears in the photo below.  It was another great show on the US Genesis Revisited Tour.


Steve Hackett Band – Genesis Revisited II Show – On Broadway

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A GREAT show by the Steve Hackett Band last night.  Ian McDonald was in the audience and backstage along with Adam Holzman (keyboards on Steven Wilson’s recent album) and Francis Dunnery (who joined the band for a couple of the songs).  Steve noted to the audience how much Ian McDonald’s early work with King Crimson influenced him during his early period with Genesis.  The set list is here (top of page):  And it was a real thrill to hear so many songs that I haven’t heard in some cases for more than 30 years like The Fountain of Salmacis. Onward (for me) to Saturday’s sold out show in CT, but the band is playing a show at the Theater at Westbury (Long Island, NY) on Friday night. I didn’t take many photos last night, because I didn’t have a high quality camera and I wanted to focus more on the show and the music.

Left to right (after the encore): Roger King, Rob Townsend, Nad Sylvan, Steve Hackett, Lee Pomeroy and Gary O’Toole.

I have to say that the award last night (and the entire band looked like they were having fun) goes to Lee (playing right-handed guitars and bass left-handed) who had huge smiles on his face each time he fired-off those thundering bass pedals. It was a real treat to see such a great band again, this time…on Broadway…at the Best Buy Theater.

More on the tour and Steve Hackett here:

What’s Spinning – Autumn Equinox 2013 Edition

There’s so much great music out there, I just can’t get to it all (let alone afford to add it to my collection!).  And so, another installment of a brief overview of the best of what’s playing here.  Since the temperature has moderated with the season, I’ve been able to fire-up the tube amplifiers again.


Pausal – Sky Margin (Own Records)

Simon Bainton and Alex Smalley return after their most recent album Forms.  Sky Margin is a series of mystical “flights”, with some tracks grouped (Vapour-Distance-Trails, Celestial, Balance-Topography, Solstice-Utopian).  Whereas Smalley’s work as Olan Mill tends more towards the melodically and harmonically directional, Pausal’s compositions are of the “out there.”  The music flows as from drifting gossamers with ethereal layers of instruments and field recordings.



Federico Durand – El idioma de las luciérnagas (Desire Path Recordings)

I live in an area where the sound of the night is anything but silent, but it’s not the sound of a city or machines, it’s the sounds of fauna (small mammals, birds and insects).  So, I have to admit that when I first cued Durand’s new album I had to look and see if I had left a window open.

I have missed-out on some of Federico’s recent albums (like El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas and Saudades by Durand and Tomoyoshi Date AKA Melodia), but I really enjoyed his collaboration with Nicholas Szczepanik (as Every Hidden Color), Luz on the Streamline Label.  El idioma is a blend of the outdoors, pastoral chimes, sensually treated piano, gentle guitars and many other instruments—a subtle and restful tapestry of sound.  Tracks like El espejo de mil años are in good company with Harold Budd and Brian Eno—peaceful, on the edge of a dream.  There is also a familiar melody (to my ears) in the title track.



Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)

After Barwick’s last album, The Magic Place on Asthmatic Kitty, I was curious to see if she could take her music to other places—without seeming like a repetitive formula of her last album…and on Nepenthe she has.  This time her inspiration is taken from a new sense of place, the stark and raw beauty of Iceland, in conjunction with producer Alex Somers (Sigur Ros and Jónsi associated).  The album has a sense of searching and loneliness, and Barwick’s voices are combined with rhythms and melodies, more so compared to her last album.



Juliette Commagere – Human (Aeronaut Records)

Late in 2010 Commagere released her album The Procession on Manimal Records—a diverse combination of songs with dense and gorgeous vocals instrumentation—part art-rock, progressive and electronica.  Commagere has returned with another beautifully recorded album of lush songs with her strong vocals and support from husband Joachim Cooder, Ben Messelbeck, Amir Yaghmai, Ry Cooder and recorded by Mark Rains and Martin Pradler.  The sound is deep, full, inventive and often fantastical—she is doing her own thing, and I love it (catchy melodies and all).  There are times when she channels Elizabeth Fraser as on Low.


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Meridian Brothers – Desesperanza (Soundway) and Devoción (Staubgold)—desesperanza-sndw049

I have NPR’s program Alt Latino for getting me to the delightfully quirky Meridian Brothers.  I characterize their work as part Equivel, part Joe Meek and part Raymond Scott.  Just go along for the ride, it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard.  Devoción is a collection of earlier recordings and Desesperanza is their latest album.




Laith Al-Saadi – Real (Weber Works)

I first saw Laith and his trio perform live at an audio festival in northern Michigan a few years ago, and then saw him again a couple of years later.  He is an artist who puts his heart and soul into his music, mostly Blues (as does the rest of his band).  For this extended EP (six tracks with two alternate takes) producer Jeffrey Weber assembled Al-Saadi’s dream-band (Jim Keltner, Lee Sklar, Larry Goldings, Jimmy Vivino, Tom Scott, Lee Thronburg, Nick Lane, Brandon Fields and others) and recorded this album of original compositions (except for Robbie Robertson’s Ophelia) live to two track with no overdubs, treatments, mixing, editing, limiting, or compression.  Have a listen to the samples—great music, solid.

Review: Aaron Martin/Christoph Berg – Day Has Ended

Martin-Berg DHE DR-14

DR-14 – CD Time: 36:36 – Limited to 250 CD copies or digital download

Aaron Martin: 1) Slow Wake, 2) Burl, 3) Comfort of Shadow, 4) Night Never Came

Christoph Berg: 5) Pillows, 6) Today Has Been Alright, 7) Things Are Sorted, Finally, 8) Coda


Contemplation is too often overlooked; a time for reflection, giving the mind a chance to wander and resolve the events of a day before moving onward into the night.  The transition into night may come slowly as the Sun sets on the horizon, yet some of the scenes of the day’s past are lost to fleeting time in the camera obscura of the mind.

Listening to Aaron Martin and Christoph Berg’s shared CD Day Has Ended is way to refocus the mind and to put the swiftly moving retrograde of time and visions back into perspective and allow the mind to return to a more natural order.  Martin’s half of the CD (tracks 1 through 4) are starker and more direct despite mixing a variety of instrumentation (electric guitar, acoustic strings [banjo or lute?], organ, voices and the familiar cello—in most cases the calming narrator).  Slow Wake’s electric guitar gently percolates with cello weaving.  Burl is more serious and centered. Comfort of Shadow uses layered voices like gentle breezes with slow, low and enveloping cello harmonies reaching up from below.  Night Never Came opening with an organ is the most solemn and deliberate with a mournful and distant cello, which transitions into…

…Berg’s more broadly orchestrated compositions (tracks 5 through 8).  Pillows starts with a phrasing and melody very reminiscent of King Crimson’s Formentera Lady (from the album Islands), and the cello (with other stringed accompaniment) is the narration before gently dispersing.  Today Has Been Alright is the most reflective piece on the album, the foundation (at first) is deeply rooted, then an idée fixe appears on piano.  The pace quickens somewhat to replay that which is to be contemplated and absorbed.  Things Are Sorted, Finally is as in a dream-state when the thoughts of the day may reformulate and become enmeshed in dreams.  And finally to Coda, the calming end, the quietude.

Day Has Ended is to be released on September 23, 2013.


Album Review: Zinovia – The Gift of Affliction

Zinovia - TGOA Front

Tympanik Audio: CD TA079  Time: About 49 minutes

Music – Zinovia [Arvanitidi]:

Label – Tympanik Audio:

Artwork – Shift:

Available at:

Mastered by Alexander Dietz  Mixed by John Valasis

Tracks: 1) The Blue Shade Of Dawn Covered Your Skin, 2) Communicating Vessels, 3) Chimera, 4) Entangled, 5) Emerge To Breathe, 6) Attached, Our Eyes Wide Open, 7) Sucking The Smoke From Your Lips, 8) Beneath A Stellar Sky, 9) A Time To Make Amends

I suspect that most of us live pretty ordinary lives, but every once in a while finding oneself on the cusp of an adventure seems rather tempting.  A while back, author David Schickler wrote a book Kissing in Manhattan; it’s mysteriously haunting and strange—as if eavesdropping on people, places and their situations; the kinds of experiences that only happen to others.  So, imagine arriving at home some night and seeing a note pinned to the door: “Meet me at ___ at 9 pm”, signed “___” (you fill in the blanks).  Would you go?

Zinovia - TGOA BackI’ve mentioned it before: my strongest connection to music is when it takes me somewhere—whether an escape, a fantasy, to relax or to find a groove, and Zinovia’s The Gift of Affliction is a nearly perfect connection; even better, it’s beautifully recorded and produced. This album has the broad pulse of a city, its dark spaces and verve with occasional tender moments. It tells a story with many possible beginnings and endings.

First, I posit that the sounds in this album have a connection to the vast works of fellow Greek countryman Vangelis Papathanassiou (listen to his 1990 album The City, and passages in the dark soundtrack to the film Bladerunner)—if only for historical influences or connections, yet Zinovia’s album has a clear and freshly expressive voice of its own.  I also wonder, given the recent political and economic times in Greece, if there are any political undertones or foreboding woven into the narrative.

Second, I am most familiar with Zinovia Arvanitidi’s recent collaboration (on Kitchen Label) with Hior Chronik as the duo Pill-Oh, their Kitchen Label release Vanishing Mirror was a favorite of mine in 2012.  I love the reflective track Melodico.  It’s a compassionate album, but The Gift of Affliction is quite different in every way, except in the strong musicianship and production.

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Throughout the entire album there is a constant shift from the ethereal to the grounded, reality to fantasy, electronic to acoustic; and as quickly as we are in a sonically amorphous zone, the vibe moves from solitary to a full ensemble of electronica or jazz undertones—a genre-bending and cohesive swirl.

It could be late at night or in the early hours of a morning; from the first plaintive beats of The Blue Shade Of Dawn Covered Your Skin all the characters are furtively introduced into the narrative with an broad ambience, beats, melodica and piano (the latter two, perhaps being the voices of the main characters).  Unexpected sounds enter and vanish in Communicating Vessels; there is movement of people, vehicles and information in this new place, yet despite all the motion there is a comforting presence of the familiar (the recurrent melodica and piano).  One doesn’t want to be swept-away too quickly. But adventures are not without complications, but why not enjoy the ride?


The mythic shift begins in Chimera, a fantasy of sound and voices, expansive, getting absorbed into the experience and the implausible.  Momentary introspection follows in Entangled—the deep and centered beats, one of the most absorbing (and longest) tracks on the album—I think my favorite too.  The narrating melodica returns, in conversation with the piano, they weave into each other, in and out of the pulse.  Emerge To Breathe is a shift from interiors to exteriors, traveling, sounds of rails and stations (like Kraftwerk’s Europe Endless, but more ominous).

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Attached, Our Eyes Wide Open is the darkest and most vulnerable of scenes on the album, yet there is an alluring comfort in the melody of a solo piano (with string accompaniment).  Key shifts are slowly introduced, along with an emotional realism and sense of doubt, yet still one is drawn further  into the fantasy of…

Sucking The Smoke From Your Lips and its out-of-focus depth of field with moving colored lights—a sonic tilt-shift in a smoky jazz club with the liberation of dream-like voices.  The adventure nears its end with Beneath A Stellar Sky, out in the open, holding onto the escape.  It’s a reluctant emergence and one last taste of the vibrations of the night.  A Time To Make Amends is the return from fantasy, the pensive melancholy, with a reflective and intimate close, accentuated all the more with the sounds of the internal workings of Zinovia’s piano.

In case you’re wondering, I did take the note from my door and went on the adventure, and you should too.


This is a solicited review.