So, what does this week’s edition of Bite-size have to do with Father’s Day? Other than the fact that I hope that all the fathers out there are enjoying it, not much. And, I guess if you’re a young guy who’s dad introduced him to prog, this would be a good time to thank him for it. To change the subject briefly, a question goes out to the readership: at what point should/does a band release a ‘self-titled’ album? Is it the kind of thing that happens with the first album, because the band name kind of grows out of the first album title (Camel?) or does it happen when your band hits a critical career moment, is trying to make a statement about themselves, or is simply running out of ideas? I’m not sure what is the case with two out of the three following albums, but I think we can rule out the ‘running out of ideas’ one since these are some very enjoyable records. Enjoy. Oh, and as a completely unrelated but REALLY EXCITING side note: check out the latest Anglagard studio documentary video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NpcaGKFloE&feature=share).
Scherani – Everybody’s Waiting
All you have to know is that Luca Scherani has been involved with Fabio Zuffanti on Hostsonaten and Merlin, and you’ll be sold. Although those are amazing groups, obviously it’s not justification for loving someone’s solo album. Let me tell you, Scherani’s solo album is justification enough for loving it. Very quickly, this album lets you understand what it’s all about. Everybody’s Waiting is extremely melodic prog with lots of classical, jazz, and perhaps even some Goblin influences. At times it’s easy to forget that this is rock music, even when the drum beat is staring you in the face. The instrumentation and arrangements, the dynamic way in which he blends piano, keys, violin, and a myriad of other instruments really draws you into the soul of the melodies and makes you forget about how to classify this type of music. There’s something very visual about this album, special songs like “Everybody’s Waiting” and “Livide Sfuocate Distanze” that make you feel that this isn’t just music, it’s theater or film, it’s a sonic canvas with a master painter. Mr. Zuffanti sure got lucky with this guy.
The Samuel Jackson Five – The Samuel Jackson Five
Norwegian rock band The Samuel Jackson Five sure knows how to lay down some impressive grooves on their self-titled, fourth album. I was not disappointed by this collection of instrumental spacey tracks (I could do fine without the two vocal songs). While it seems that most tend to talk of SJ5 in terms of postrock, I feel like with this latest album they’re sounding a bit less postrock and jazzy than earlier releases, and a bit more spacey, psychedelic, and even krautrock-esque. Compositionally, these guys are at the top of their game, delivering accessible songs that are densely layered and maturely arranged. The choice of instrumentation is always top notch, mixing a slew of arpeggiators and gorgeous leads with the occasional traditional instrument, like the sax on the track “And Then We Met the Locals.” On a side note, the way the piece erupts and then leaves you floating out in space with some hyper-melodic female vocals is breathtaking. In reality, this album is all about fun musical ideas and sounds. Take “Never Ending Now,” the first track, for instance. I originally got my head spun with the intro, wondering if the playback was messed up, until all the cool bells, nice beats, and dazzling fuzzingly melodic bass came in. I’m looking forward to a fifth album from these guys.
SBB – SBB
With their 37 years in their career and 15 studio albums, SBB has proved themselves to be an unstoppable force, full of twists and turns. Seems like they’ve done just about everything from fusion, to psychedelic, to symphonic, even to very dark and heavy rock, churning out a number of classics along the way. Their latest release, SBB falls in the realm of rock/fusion and is fairly laid back overall, an album full of chill atmosphere, nice grooves, and melodic soloing. Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere quick w ith this release; it spans about 80 minutes and the pacing isn’t terribly fast; in fact, if I had one criticism of the album, it’s that I think the trajectory of the record should move you along a little quicker. However, it’s still a good album. Anthimos and Skrzek’s solos are tastefully executed, and the atmosphere of the album can go from relaxing to even haunting at times through skilled use of ambient texture and careful percussion. While the front end of the album contains a few heavier tracks, most of the album is consistently light, which might or might not suit your taste. A pretty good release overall for those looking for something that doesn’t demand your constant attention.