Tag Archives: Jazz

Spontaneous Maximus – This Is Spomax

The lead work washing over you like sea waves shining in the sun, in this surreal, dream of a track entitled “Attack of the Giant Noodle”. It’s the start of an album called “This Is Spomax”, by the instrumental group Spontaneous Maximus; a release so “post-” and experimental it makes today’s heavy music sound like an echo of a long lost civilization. These guys can be described as progressive rock\metal, but the interesting thing is they actually go far and away from modern prog formulas, describing themselves as: ”An instrumental journey through metal, jazz, flamenco, Samurai movies, video games, space, forests, tears, silence, trains, fear, anger, contention, honor, bliss, sadness, silliness, optimism, and finally landing on the sandy shores of the unknown.”

Reaching these foreign shores you reach into yourself, entering a self-observation or introspection mode in an attempt to figure out the abstract energy propelled at you and the kind of feelings it invokes. You are then..well, initially weirded out to be honest, if not inclined to alienate yourself from the sight, like diverting your gaze from the blinding sun; because the more you look, the deeper seems the depth of the colliding meanings, clashing together right in front of you. Is it to much to take?

Be ready, ’cause there’s a huge amount of reverberating, enigmatic, complex instrumentation especially on tracks like “The Golden Monocule” and “Party Chips”. Luckily, the band also takes a break from time to time,  for example on the calming, sublime “Traince De Journalier”. It’s a wonderfully peaceful piece that stands on its own, conjuring the image of sitting by a campfire at night, at least ’till “This Is Spomax” kicks back into gear, entering heavier regions of music once again with riffs that resemble a storm on “San Miguel”.

While the band’s musical experimentation may sound a bit off-putting or overbearing to the listener at first, there’s a certain uniform, beautiful color to “This is Spomax” that makes its chaos make sense, so that by the end of it all you feel less disoriented, and actually fascinated. The album closes with a quiet piano outro(“Water”), accompanied by the cries of seagulls – We are again at sea, fittingly returning from which we came from..but now that we are free to leave shore, we suddenly find ourselves appreciating this place, this work of art, and feeling elated by this realization – by our discovery.

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Trioscapes – Seperate Realities

Trioscapes initially started as a short-term instrumental project back in 2011, when bassist Dan Briggs(Between the Buried and Me) contacted drummer Matt Lynch and sax player Walter Fancourt. Despite being quite technical, the group’s music, which is comprised of fusion, prog rock and jazz, proved to be a success live, and the band went on to record a full length album: “Separate Realities“.

As rock fans or metalheads, you’ve probably noticed this short introduction to the group’s music did not include many “heavy” attributes. I mean, the album doesn’t even feature a guitar besides Briggs’ bass, bringing up the obvious question – does this album rock at all? Well, the answer, weirdly, is yes.  In its own untraditional way, “Seperate Realities” succeeds in being heavy. Instead of a guitar it is the sax that shreds here, while the drummer brilliantly pounds away with a wide arsenal of both subtle and hard-hitting rhythms. The bassist completes the instrumental trio, providing a groove with surprisingly dark & often distorted tones, which at times feel unnecessary, but more on that later.

Trioscapes‘ intricate and quite quirky ride begins with “Blast Off“, which you can right away tell is the strongest track here. Its main melody whirls around itself in a very catchy manner, and delves into an improvisation part that culminates dramatically, of course, only to return back to the familiar, and may I say, danceable main musical phrase. This one’s pretty flawless:

Next comes the title track. Only the second track here and it’s no less than 11 minutes long, which might seem a bit off-putting at first, but clearly works for the group. It continues in the same manner as “Blast Off“, but allows the band to cover more ground and explore different ever-changing, enjoyable, confusing and amusing paths – never boring the listener.

With “Curse Of The Ninth“, Trioscapes continue to pave their offbeat jazzy way to success in a more mellow style,  A flute arriving unexpectedly like a bird in flight, soothing the ears and serving as a relief from all the chaos. However, during this piece, a certain problem begins to surface. As I wrote earlier, Briggs’ bass takes form using somewhat peculiar tones on this album, and while I get the intent behind the distorted sound, the result can become overbearing. Moreover, his playing often grows stagnant, following the a melody or riff stubbornly, without much creative freedom, and when he does go all out, it blatantly feels too much.

I don’t think this issue ruins the album or anything, as it’s more of a subjective, love-it-or-hate-it type of thing. However, the mentioned experimental effect, like it or not, persists on the following tracks and for that reason I can’t give “Separate Realities” the better rating it could have had. Nonetheless, it’s all still very intriguing material played by highly talented musicians, and I highly recommend it to open-minded fans of Prog\Fusion\Jazz.

7/10

This post also appears on http://www.metal-observer.com

Panzerballet – Kings of Jazz Metal ?

I got introduced to Panzerballet about a week ago, and was immediately blown away by their talent at combining prog, metal and jazz. This Munich-based quintet doesn’t hold back, twisting the genres together ’till it all sounds so absurd and surreal, yet still rocks at the same time. This has do with the jazz elements never taking the back seat. The sax, for example, is almost always in the mix, as if it was a second guitar yet of course so different at its nature, filling the tracks with colorful expressions that dance madly around the complex rhythms. In short, Panzerballet are smart but fun, occasionally heavy – and super-creative. A real treat for the jazz metal enthusiast!

The band’s material can be divided into covers and originals, both which are crazy good. I was hooked by their cover of The Pink Panther main theme song; They’ve taken that already catchy melody, broke it into pieces, and rearranged things in such mad fashion – recognizable but fresh, similar yet so freakin’ out there. I was humming this instrumental all day yesterday(more like failed to, haha!):

This one is off Starke Stucke, released in 2008. The album is focused on covers, but also has some fiery originals that burn of quality, such as the frantic “M.w.M.i.O.f.R(yes that’s a song title). Beside being downright brilliant, this jam actually incorporates the polyrhythmic elements of Meshuggah. The band has cited the math metal group as an influence, and this twist of time signatures is even more apparent on a track that isn’t on this album, titled “Bird Wild Web”. Check out this jazz metal gem below:

I must admit that although appreciative of this style of music, I do sometimes find it to be far from an easy listen, especially with the longer tracks. Better take it slow when getting into prog and jazz, eh?  If you enjoyed Panzerballet, I highly suggest you follow them on Facebook and tell them yourself!

Alain Caron can slam that bass!

If you read this blog a bit, you should know I dig a lot of offbeat, intricate music, especially when its spiced up with catchy grooves – and that is a pretty approximate description for bassist Alain Caron‘s music. What I love about this guy and his band, is that they make their complex musical efforts sound light and fun..well, at least to some degree. “Slam The Clown” for example, is a very jazzy and funky piece with a circus-like chorus which just grabs you. A lot of improvisation on this track, and just when you think its all over, the real absurdly long bass part begins. A pro or a con? Have a listen below and decide for yourselves!

Honestly, at some point I was feeling something along “please make this end”, but by then I was far in too deep, drawn by the immense tension this endless jam slowly picks up! And when the Sax solo arrives, the built up energy is released in a very climatic ending, making it all worthwhile.. well, at least for those patient listeners!

A more lightweight instrumental which you check below, is “1-4-U“,  off alain’s “Sep7entrion” album. If you have a clue how the guy arrives at these mysterious titles, let me know! (;  Anyway, this is more rock-oriented piece, making it easier on the ears – though it does contain the same amount of cheesy synth hits as in the previous track, which I find to be both awesome and ridiculous. I really like the guitar leads on here and how they interact side by side with the bass lines.

While I don’t love every composition by Alain, I really respect his skill, art, and hope you enjoyed these tunes as I certainly did. Better keep this short, ’cause frankly, me speakin’ about jazz is similar to a fish’s opinion on flying!

Step In Fluid – One Step Beyond

I was just surfing MetalStorm.net today when I stumbled on this interesting band named Step In fluid. They play a mix of metal, funk and prog with a mighty groove and a jazzy edge, which all really brings to mind some early Mr. Bungle tunes. I could easily imagine Patton singing & screaming over this music, but since it has no vocals, I’ll sum it up as an offbeat yet infectiously catchy jam, which is very well recorded on their latest album One Step Beyond.

I just love the heavy, smartly syncopated yet chill feel these guys create. You can clearly hear the bass, and the guitar solos are beautifully tasteful, leaving you both impressed and weirded out! this release contains 8 tracks, and you can check out two of them below. If you happen to enjoy these, you can of course find the band on Facebook, and support them!

Vicious Connection

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