Prog River Records is releasing some very obscure, but absolutely crucial, progressive rock gems from all over the world. This particular release comes to us from Belarus, where the group, the legendary Pesniary, melded folk-rock with prog-rock weirdness and a tinge of psychedelic rock, sounding something like early Frank Zappa / Mothers of Invention at times.
Their popularity was so strong in the former Soviet Union that they were granted a shot at touring in the United States in 1976, proving to audiences that Soviet Rock was something to take seriously.
The lyrics are based on the works of Russian and Belarusian poets, including Yanka Kupala. This is quite a charming work.
This release comes as a very pleasant surprise! Arturo Stàlteri (Italian bio) is a pianist and composer of incredible ability whom I came across at least 30 years ago when finding a record by his early project, Pierrot Lunaire, who release a couple of progressive rock masterpieces.
This new album (and I’m not really sure if it is a reissue or something that was sitting in the vaults for 40 years) compares well with minimalist composers influenced by Eastern culture like Terry Riley, Philip Glass and La Monte Young.
This really is a minor treasure. I’d be very interested to see if Stàlteri has a few more hidden albums waiting to see the light of day.
Our old blog friend István Csarnogurszky of Silent Island (and so many other stellar projects) has a new album out, and it is a continuation of his mellow, cosmic guitar playing inspired, possibly, by everything from psych and post-rock to four-to-the-floor rock licks. Gentle, meandering (in a great way), a nice album to just get lost in the clouds with.
A late night of doing paperwork for an upcoming trip to Hungary and move to Czechia brought me to this absolute gem of a folk-prog album. Yoshiko Sai released a few albums in the mid-1970s which were not well-received at the time, but listeners’ tastes have finally caught up with her mellow, trippy, slightly psychedelic songs.
Ningen Isu (The Human Chair) are a metal band out of Hirosaki, Japan. I got a kick out of these guys for their imagery, their influences (which include Robert Fripp, Tommy Iommi and Judas Priest) and their rather unique costume choices.
Considering this release, featuring guitarist David Torn and synthesizer player Drew Schlesinger, was made in 1978, I’m astounded as to how fresh it sounds. There are a few spots where the recording might be a touch thin (I’m playing this album on the speakers of a relatively new iMac), but overall, this is very solid, rather beautiful looping and synth programming. If you are a fan of Brian Eno’s and Robert Fripp’s collaborations, or are simply curious about Torn’s early works, this album is a must. It is also a fine introduction to Schlesinger, whom I knew nothing about before being pointed to this release.
Readers might be cognizant of the fact that I never post things that I don’t like, so you won’t find me writing anything negative. With that being said, there are some labels who simply never let me down, and when a new release arrives from them, I’m more than happy to give them an open ear.
Steve Feigenbaum has captained Cuneiform Records for as long as I can remember, and 2019 was another amazing year for them. This compilation highlights the best releases. From the label’s Bandcamp site:
This special “Name Your Price” compilation album features creative and mind bending music throughout the course of 11 tracks all of which was released by Cuneiform Records in 2019.
We invite you to listen to ‘Cuneiform Records: The Albums of 2019’ and explore the wide spectrum of music we recently released over the year. Each track by each artist is unique; we invite you to sample all. And then, if you’ve not already done so, we encourage you to listen the full albums by the artists who most appeal to you
Dresden has a pretty great reputation producing rock bands, but Subact are something quite special. Through some sort of alchemy, they have managed to blend old electronic music, modern dubstep, and have finished it off with a bit of a 70s German progressive rock vibe. The band has been featured here before, and most certainly, they’ll be here again.
As a drummer and composer, Virgil Donati is one of the best on the planet. [Insert a Planet X joke in here.] Yes I first learned about Donati from his collaboration with Derek Sherinian in Planet X. To be honest, the two of them really make their best music together. I like Sherinian’s solo albums […]
This release bridges the not-so-large gap between genres, connected by Heldon guitarist and loop master Richard Pinhas, and perhaps the most prolific post-Industrial composer of all time, Masami Akita (under his performance monicker Merzbow).
This is a live recording performed live during the Sonic Circuits Festival, September 24, 2010 at La Maison Française [The French Embassy] in Washington D.C. The sound quality is superb, and as one would expect from two masters of their respective fields, their instruments of choice (guitar and loops for Pinhas, computer for Merzbow) ebb and flow into each other effortlessly. This is a powerful release, and I hope it is the beginning of a long-term collaboration between both.