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the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended
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Par Lindh Project
West of Eden
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Image © 2001 SB Records
Image © 2001
(06 June 2001) The debut 'solo' album by Rudi Buttas (Pur) entitled
R.U.D.Y.'s Journey (SB Records (Germany) 4019 1 0919919 4, 2001) is
comprised of 14 pop-oriented rock tracks. Joined by Michael Sadler
(Saga) and other various artists, the album is extremely well produced,
highly accessible and will naturally attract a broad listener base. It
is reviewed here because it features the stunning vocal contributions of
Musical Discoveries featured artist Michelle Young
(review) who played early demos of
the material to our editors over a year ago. She sings lead on four
of the album's tracks and contributes to several others.
Musical Discoveries readers should note that Michelle also sings a
stunning duet and has vocal work included throughout the July 2001
Magna Carta progressive rock
Original Cast Recording: Leonardo - The Absolute Man. Her
long-awaited second album Marked For Madness is scheduled
for release in September 2001.
R.U.D.I.'s Journey opens with the upbeat and rocking "Long Day's
Journey" sung by Michelle Young. We were instantly reminded of her work
with American Flyer. The producers mixed the level of Michelle's vocals
way up so she's out in front where she belongs. Supporting instrumentals
and Michelle's accompanying harmonies work extremely well. Michelle's
soaring 80s rock style drives the texture of the track "Mona." Her
power, range and obviously well-trained style work well against the
rocking guitar-based arrangements.
Michelle's evocatively sung lead vocal in "Harder Day" includes
layers of backing harmonies and richly produced supporting instrumentals.
Various styles within the song were vocally reminscent of her debut
album Song of the Siren as well as demos of her forthcoming
follow-up Marked for Madness.
We especially enjoyed Michelle's duet, vocalise and harmony vocals
accompanying Mike Sadler in the gently rocking ballad "One More Chance."
In another ballad entitled "Peter Pan," Michelle takes the lead, singing
in a style similar to her most recent solo demos, supported this
time by Mike Sadler. The lush vocal arrangement includes a soaring
lead and richly produced backing harmony layers. The two vocalists
compliment each other quite well.
Sung by Mike Sadler, the album's signature tune "Radio" appears in
both single-edit and a longer version. Upbeat and a highly accessible
classic rock track, it has a tremendous hook and is likely a certain
favourite once it hits the airwaves. Another highly accessible rock
track, "Friends" is similarly arranged for Mike Sadler's vocal lead.
Backing harmonies include contributions from Michelle Young. Other
ballads on the album include the heartfelt "Breath of Life" sung by
Mike Sadler, and "Blindman" sung by David Hanselmann. He also sings the
soft and accessible rock tune "Fly."
R.U.D.Y.'s Journey is a very enjoyable rock album of broad appeal
with vocal contributions from both male and female singers. Certain
highlights for Musical Discoveries' readers are the stunning tracks
sung by Michelle Young. Further information, photos and soundbites are
available at Rudi's official
website. Available currently
amazon.de (Germany), this album is worth a trans-Atlantic journey
and quite clearly is a must listen!
Image © 2001
(03 June 2001) Veni, Vidi, Vici (Crimsonic (Sweden) CLSCD 106,
2001) is the latest album from Musical Discoveries
featured artist Pär Lindh Project. Comprised of ten tracks including
two epics, the album illustrates a significant development of the band's
sound in line with their performance at NearFEST 2000 and over their last
album Live in America (review). While
Veni Vidi Vici begins very much in line with Mundus Incompertus
instrumentally, the album departs vocally, with Magdalena Hagberg's vocals
mixed up subtantially higher after fading in during the progressive jazz
styled title track.
Pär Lindh Project's lineup has been reduced since their last album to
Pär Lindh (keyboards), Magdalena Hagberg (vocals and violin) and Nisse
Bielfeld (drums and vocals). Guests include: Jonas Reingold (bass),
John Hermansen (guitar), Jocke Ramsell (guitar-no. 10), Marcus Jäderholm
(bass-no. 10), Nilas Blixt (horn), Eric Ullman (bassoon) and Jens
Johnanson (flute). The band's sound remains quite progressive blending
their former keyboard-heavy Emerson, Lake and Palmer sound with more of
Magdalena's stunning vocals and a jazz influence. The 13:30 epic "Gradus
and Parmassum" is a tremendous progressive track that, with several
distinct movements blending male and female vocals, is illustrative of
the evolution in the band's sound.
"Tower of Thoughts" is a heavier track blending metal-edged gutar with
strong keyboard work, but it is laced with a sweet mix of Magdalena's
heavenly vocal work and, with similar themes, it works extremely well
alongside "Gradus and Parmassum." Magdalena evocatively sings the "River
of Tales" ballad over a gentle piano-based arrangement. With its extremely
crisp percussion mix and robust guitar solo, the heavier instrumental
style of "Juxtapoint" is offset by Magdalena's lovely lead vocal
Conducted by Erik Hellerstedt, "Le Grand Chambardement" is
tremendous—yet brief—track performed by choir alone. A photo of the choir
is included within the booklet accompanying the compact disc. The
instrumental "Adagio Con Flauto" serves as an introduction to "Hymn" which
continues to develop the theme with choir and church organ accompanying
Magdalena's sensually sung lead vocal and evocatively played violin
part. But not to be fooled by the introduction, "Hymn" develops into
a typical Pär Lindh Project-style progressive rocker blending keyboard
violin and vocals to stunning effect. ELP-style keyboards dominate the
beginning of "The Premonition" an epic closing bookend to the album
echoing themes first appearing in earlier tracks. Keyboard, violin,
and guitar solos perfectly compliment Magdalena's lead vocal.
You can read further information about the album at Pär Lindh Project's
website and order the Japanese
version of the album from amazon.com
here. PLP enthusiasts that have enjoyed Mundus Incompertus
(order from amazon.com
here), Gothic Impressions (order from amazon.com
here), and Bilbo as well as Live in America are
certain to adore this latest release Veni, Vidi, Vici. Clearly
worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album is a must listen!
Image © 2000 Transmission Records
Astrid van der Veen (website)
Image © 2001 Transmission Records
More Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Live On Earth
Flight Of The Migrator
The Dream Sequencer
Fate Of A Dreamer
(06 June 2001) Released as a limited edition album with the
health warning-"This is not a new Ayreon album. It contains
unreleased versions of known Ayreon songs, home demos and newly
recorded songs, sung by different singers"-the latest Ayreon
recording Ayreonauts Only (Transmission Records (Holland)
TM-027, 2000) is a masterpiece. As a preview to his release
with Astrid van der Veen and the Ambeon
(review) project, Arjen
Anthony Lucassen included two of the first tracks he recorded
with her. A variety of other notable guests grace the album's
Four alternate and more melodic versions of tracks from
Flight Of The Migrator
(review) resulting from
Arjen's Los Angeles visit during the album's initial sessions
are included. "Into the Black Hole" features vocals by Damian
Wilson and Lana Lane with additional synth solos by Erik Norlander
and Clive Nolan. "Out of the White Hole" is sung by Robert
Soeterboek and has additional synth solos by Erik Norlander
while the everso lush "Through the Wormhole" features lead
vocals by Ian Parry with backing vocals by Fabio Lione and
Lana Lane. The 'amazing' guitar and synth solo by Garyeon
Wehrkemp (hmmm?) during the bridge is just that! The 1992
of "Carpe Diem (Chaos)" blending Arjen Lucassen's guitar and
synth work is superb.
der Veen makes her initial appearance on the album
in her special interpretation of "Temple of the Cat" originally
released with Jacqueline Govaert's lead vocals on The Dream
Sequencer (review). Sensually
sung in every respect, accompanied only by acoustic guitar and
light synth arrangements performed by Arjen Lucassen, Astrid's
stunning lead and backing harmony vocals create a sweeter
rendition of this tremendous progressive-oriented ballad. Arjen
wrote, "This is the way I wanted this song to sound." It is
almost inconceivable from the maturity of her vocal delivery
that Astrid was only 14 when the track was recorded.
A previously unreleased medley of the Beatlesque "Original
Hippie's Amazing Trip" with vocals by Mouse, Anneke van
Giersbergen (The Gathering) and Edward Reekers, piano by Robby
Valentine and Hammond by Roland Bakker supporting Arjen
Lucassen is especially enjoyable. Arjen reported that original
Hippie vocals by Mouse were lost when Into The Electric
Castle was being created but were recovered later and
appear for the first time here. The blend of instrumentals,
male and female vocals works extremely well.
A brand new version of "Beyond The Last Horizon" originally
from Actual Fantasy sung by Gary Hughes includes drums
by Stephan van Haestreght (Ambeon) and tremendous harmony
Beatlesque-style backing vocals supported Arjen's re-recordings
of the other instruments. A harder version of "Eyes of Time"
originally thought as 'too over the top' for The Final
Experiment but suitable for the "Sail Away To Avalon"
single is included. It is vocally quite different, with an
almost Tina Turner-sounding lead, but has a keyboard solo
during the instrumental bridge that is incredible.
Home demo versions from 1994 of "The Charm of The Seer" and
the Beatlesque "Nature's Dance" later released on The
Final Experiment are both sung extremely well and lushly
accompanied by Arjen Lucassen on keyboard, guitar and drum
computer. These are wonderful commemorative of the artist's
progressive rock talent and overall strength.
Ayreonauts Only concludes with the signature Ambeon
track "Cold Metal" with lead and harmony backing vocals sung
by Astrid van der Veen. A stunning track in every
respect-instrumentally as well as vocally-it must be heard to
be completely appreciated. Signficant soundbites of the projet
are available at Astrid's website
(disographie). You can order Ayreonauts Only from amazon.com
here and the Ambeon album Fate of a Dreamer from amazon.com
here. Clearly both worth a trans-Atlantic journey, these albums
are both a must listen!
Image © 2001 EMI Records Ltd
More Naimee Coleman:
Five-Track BDTM Sampler (2000)
Image © 2001 EMI Records Ltd
(03 June 2001) The latest album from Ireland's Naimee Coleman is
entitled Bring Down The Moon (EMI/Chrysalis (Ireland), 2001)
comes on the heels of her hit single "My Star" released in both album
and slower string-rich Tin Tin Out Mix versions. All tracks on
the new album (except "Love Song" by The Cure) were co-written
by Naimee and produced by Ian Stanley (Tears For Fears and Tori
Amos). Phil Thornally (who wrote Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn"
co-wrote the highly accessible "My Star" and "Sugar Me."
It's been over four years now since the release of her Coleman's
debut album Silver Wrists (Lime/Chrysalis (Ireland) CD SIL1,
1996). Naimee feels more comfortable with her honest, heartfelt and
true songwriting talents than with any perceived image of her as yet
another attractive female singer. "I've grown up a lot since the release
of the first album. I hope I'm a little bit wiser. I still have the
exact same goals, and I still love and enjoy music as much as I've
always done," says Naimee.
The album is comprised of eleven—primarily heartfelt
ballad-oriented—tracks, including the lushly arranged "Hold On" and the
layered contemporary arrangement of "Sparkle." "Sugar Me" is a highly
accessible ballad with crisp percussion and contemporary instrumentation
supporting Naimee's highly evocative lead and backing vocals. One can't
but help be reminded of The Corrs. The title track is a slowly sung
ballad sung over the lightest of contemporary arrangements, however,
the lush chorus is performed over a robust arrangement.
While the lyrics are almost spoken in spots of "Love Song," a
melancholy tune, rich vocal harmonies in the chorus are unmistakably
Naimee Coleman. Instrumentals are sparse but effectively support
the lovely lead vocal part. "Delicate" is equally sensitive, sung
over the lightest cello and piano-based arrangement. Crossing the
boundary between heartfelt ballad and mid-tempo pop tune with its
lush keyboard and guitar arrangement is "Altered." "Your Arms,"
which closes out the album, is the final heartfelt ballad sung
over the lightest guitar- and string-based arrangements.
Upbeat pop-oriented tracks include the first single from the
album, "My Star," and the orchestrally lush and highly accessible
very-Corrs-sounding "Standing Strong." The techno-style mix of
"Misunderstood" firmly plants the album into the pop genre while
layers of tenderly and sensually sung vocals indicate unmistakably
that this is Naimee Coleman's work.
Naimee Coleman's latest album Bring Down The Moon is
available from 18 June 2001. You can find further information,
soundbites, video and lovely
photographs at Naimee's
website and order
the album from amazon.com
here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album
is a must listen!
Image © 2001
Arise From Thorns
Searching for the Sun
(03 June 2001) On the heels of their Arise from Thorns Before an
Audience of Stars (review) re-issue
on the Dark Symphonies label,
Brave have self-released a stunning 4-track EP entitled Waist Deep
In Dark Waters. Brave are the former Arise From Thorns fronted by
vocalist and keyboard player Michelle Loose, the band is also comprised of
Tom Phillips (electric guitar), Scott Loose (acoustic and electric guitar),
Trevor Schrotz (drums) and Chris Wilborn (bass).
Enthusiasts will be interested to know that the Before an Audience
of Stars re-issue includes three bonus tracks: "To Dance By Moonlight"
(live), "The Calling," and "Return of the Old Forest." A mid-tempo
ballad-style track, Michelle sings "To Dance By Moonlight" primarily
over light acoustic guitar. Soaring above the light accompaniment,
Michelle's tremendous vocal ability is clear in the live setting where
only limited processing can be used to assist in the final production
Michelle's soaring vocalise is clearly at home in the beginning of "The
Calling" whose arrangements include crisp percussion and acoustic guitar
passages. Her sung parts are mixed slightly lower—underneath the guitars—than
typify the band's recordings. "Return of the Old Forest" is a lovely
keyboard-based instrumental ballad.
Keen listeners will immediately notice the tremendous production quality
of Brave's recordings with vocals mixed way up, right where Musical
Discoveries' readers like them. The EP opens with "Spirit" a symphonic
progressive rocker with lush keyboards and guitars supporting Michelle's
soaring vocal part. "Dark Waters" is a vocally-rich mid-tempo ballad
supported by edgy guitars and gently swirling keyboards. The guitar solo
during the instrumental conclusion is played over symphonic keyboards.
Brave's development into the progressive metal is most evident in the
instrumental arrangements of "Lost (in retrospect)" but Michelle's sweetly
sung vocals remain a consistent element in the band's sound. The lush
production perfectly suits the soaring excursions in Michelle's vocal
passages and is complimented by the guitar solo during the instrumental
bridge. The EP's final track is an instrumental excerpt from the forthcoming
progressive epic "To Search a Soul." Symphonic keyboards and crisp percussion
perfectly underscore the metal-edged lead guitar melody.
The latest EP from Brave provides an enticing introduction to their
next new album coming up short only in running time but not in musical
quality. You can find further information on the band's tour schedule,
photographs, soundbites and order their recordings from their
website or by writing
Michelle Loose. Clearly worth
a cross-country journey, the latest EP from Brave is a must listen!
Image © 2001 Virgin Records Ltd
Image © 2001 Virgin Records Ltd
(02 June 2001) While part of the female pop sensation, the Spice Girls,
female vocalist Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) is hitting high and going for
solo stardom with her debut album A Girl Like Me (Virgin Records Ltd
(UK) CDV2935, 2001). Emma has had many big influences on her music, and they
are rather diverse. There is a mixture of Motown like Stevie Wonder and
contemporary soul divas like Whitney Houston. There is also some British
Rock in there like Travis and Texas. These musical influences are definitely
reflected in the sounds on Emma's debut solo album.
The title track "What Took You So Long" has this hint of "Irish" in it.
The track sounds as though it is from the worldwide sensation the Corrs.
This lively, upbeat track has a catchy tune and with Emma's amazing voice,
you want to get up and sing and dance along, yet you can just sit back and
enjoy the song.
"Take My Breath Away" has a soft beat with the sounds of Tin Tin Out in
the background. "What I Am," which was a Tin Tin Out cover of the original
Edie Brickel tune, shot to number two in the charts with Emma's guest vocals
on it. Sounding like another pop song, with a twist, "A Girl Like You," has
an upbeat tempo that you want to bop your head to as well as sing along to.
Emma has worked with artists on this album like fellow Spice Girl Melanie C,
and in this track, her influence in the voice and tune is prevalent.
While sounding like another pop artist, she can also sound like a young
soul diva, with the influence and help from superstar Mariah Carey on "Spell
It Out." An influence of collaborating artists Bryan Adams and Melanie C
is also evident on "A World Without You." This Texas-sounding, country rock
combination, "High On Love," really sets out for just what Emma can do.
"Sunshine on a Rainy Day" sounds as though it is a collaboration of the
Corrs and Texas through vocals and sounds. This track makes you want to sit
back and relax as well as sing along since the song is a catchy one. "Been
There, Done That" is another track that really stretches out what Emma is
capable of. Through an R & B beat, the words come out of smooth vocals
surprising some listeners in what Emma can do.
"Better Be Careful" is a very catchy tune, with Emma sounding like a
vocalist from a couple of decades ago. There are various voices in the
track, all of which are Emma's at a different level, which makes the track
very different from what she has done and accomplished already. "We're
Not Gonna Sleep Tonight" has a Spanish edge to it, even with the vocals
sounding having this flavour.
Growing out of her pig tails from the days of the Spice Girls, into a
grown woman, she uses this maturity and puts it into music such as "A
Friend of Mine." This pop tune really shows Emma's development and
gives insight into what we should expect from her future albums. Explore
Emma Bunton further at her official
website. There you'll find soundbites, videos, further information
and an extensive photo gallery. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites
and order the album from amazon.com
here. A very nice listen! -- Deborah J Elliot
Conservation of Mass
Image © 2001 Unicorn Records
(03 June 2001) The debut album from Canadaian progressive rock group
Hamadryad is entitled Conservation of Mass (Unicorn Records (Canada)
UNCR-5002, 2001). While they are not fronted by a female vocalist, their
close stylistic resemblence to Yes and Rush and vocalists' angelic sound
make this album equally appealing to Musical Discoveries' readers. Yes
(review) fans are going to adore this
album. While there are strong allusions, there is no attempt to copy.
The name Hamadryad comes from the legends. The Hamadryads were wood nymphs
who lived and died with the tree they were believed to be trapped in. Their
mission was of intermediary between the mortals and the immortal entities.
Hailing from the Montreal, the band is comprised of Jean-François Désilets
(bass guitars, lead and backing vocals, Taurus and midi bass pedals),
Denis Jalbert (six and twelve string electric and acoustic guitars, backing
vocals), Yves Jalbert (drums and percussion, Roland octapads, backing
vocals), Jocelyn Beaulieu (lead vocals, six strings electric and classical
guitars), and Francis Doucet (B3 and C3 Hammond organ, Mellotrons, Minimoog,
This cohesive album full of epic-length tracks opens up with "Eternal
Loop"/"Amora Demonis" reminscent of Yes in many ways, especially from
their Relayer period. Tracks blend nicely from one to the next
with breaks almost non-apparent. Jocelyn Beulieu's similarity to Jon Anderson
continues in the vocally-rich introduction "Carved In Rust" and subsequent
choral harmonies used throughout the short track "Still They Laugh." We
especially enjoyed the inclusion of the bass pedals in the arrangement.
The dynamic progressive rocker "The Second Round" effectively blends guitar
melodies with mellotron and other keyboard arrangements, a shattering guitar
solo and Yes-style harmonies before an intense and spacey keyboard-laced reprise
of "Still They Laugh" returns. "Shades Of Blue" is a song-based progressive
tune of widespread appeal. "... Action!" is instrumentally harder—almost
metal-edged—at times with loads of shimmering electric guitar and lead vocals
drifting away from the Yes or Rush style yet the symphonic keyboards and
percussion clearly reveal the band's progressive roots.
One of three standout Yes-style tracks from the album is "Nameless."
The keyboard-rich arrangement supports a highly accessible Yes-style vocal
harmony and progressive rock melody. Bass pedals again add tremendous
texture while the guitar solo during the instrumental bridge and keyboard
passage at the song's conclusion are especially notable. "The Second Coming"
is written and performed in a similar Yes-oriented style, but sung over lush
acoustic guitar passages underscored with symphonic keyboard support.
Delicate percussion adds to the track's texture. The four-part epic
concluding track "Watercourse Hymn" is dramatically performed blending
stunning vocals with lush acoustic and electric guitar passages and
swirling orchestral keyboard arrangements.
Conservation of Mass has been one of the most intriguing
progressive rock albums we've heard this year. Production quality, song
writing and the band members' individual performances are all tremendous.
By all indications, Hamadryad must be a fantastic band to see perform live.
The album is currently available from
and the band online although more widespread distribution may be arranged
later. Visit their
further information. Clearly worth a cross-country journey, this album
is most certainly a must listen!
Trouble in Shangri-La
Image © 2001 Reprise Records
Image © 2001 Reprise Records
(03 June 2001) The first solo album from Stevie Nicks on Reprise Records
is entitled Trouble In Shangri-La (9 47372-2, 2001). Joined by
singers Sheryl Crow and Sarah McLachlan this lushly produced 13-track
collection of her own material produced by John Shanks has once again
heightened the attention of Stevie Nicks' worldwide audience.
"My music often unfolds like the book of my life," declares the legendary
rock poet. "I believe in telling the truth ... actually, it's the only
way that I can exist as a writer." She continues, "Every step along
the path of my life, I've been writing it all down, taking incredibly
detailed notes. Instead of partying, I run back to my room, open my
journal, and pour out my heart onto paper. It can take minutes, or it
can take all night. But it's always deep. And it's always real."
It's to that end that Nicks created the sterling, often confessional
Trouble In Shangri-La, her first solo collection since 1994's
Street Angel and her first musical voyage with Reprise Records.
She says, "The project has been slowing percolating for several
years, taking different shapes and forms. But it never seemed quite
right until recently. I needed to live my life. I needed to replenish
my well of life experiences." The track "Every Day" is a heartfelt
reflection of these feelings.
Nicks mixed things up inviting an array of new friends and musicians
to participate in Trouble In Shangri-La. Macy Gray vamps with
seductive soul on "Bombay Sapphire," while Sarah McLachlan harmonizes
on the stately, piano-driven ballad "Love Is," seasoned with a splash
of funk percussion. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines is a complementary
presence on the country-spiced rocker "Too Far From Texas" complete
with slide guitar. Classic Stevie Nicks-style tunes, including the
acoustic-based "Candlebright" and the gentle ballad "I Miss You," are
tempered by the pop accessibility of the album's opening and
title track. The anthemic "Planets of the Universe" is a standout
featuring lovely backing vocals by Lori Nicks and Sharon Celani whose
voices grace a majority of the album's tracks.
Stevie worked with Sheryl Crow on five of the album's tracks
("Candlebright," "Sorcerer," "Too Far From Texas," "That Made Me
Stronger," and "It's Only Love"). Among the more satisfying results
of their kinetic creative union is "Sorcerer," on which Nicks scales
to a rich falsetto during the song's mystical verses. "She was
completely open and in-the-moment while we were working," Crow told
us. "She never stops working or striving to be a better artist."
You can find further information on Stevie Nicks at her
website or at the Reprise Records
website. Read further
reviews, hear soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. Clearly the latest album from Stevie Nicks is worth a
cross-country journey. Our readers should agree it is a must
Image © 2001 Reactive Records
(06 June 2001) The latest album from West Of Eden, entitled
Rollercoaster (Reactive Records (Sweden), is the second from
this six-piece Celtic crossover group. Comprised of twelve average
length tracks, the band has developed their sound, making it even
more accessible than on their self-titled debut album
Fronted by stunning vocalist Jenny Schaub who also plays accordion,
the band also consists of Martin Schaub (piano, keyboard, acoustic
guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals, accordion and additional
electric guitar), Lars Borg (bass), David Ekh (electric guitars,
dobro, e-box, nylon-stringed guitars), Ola Karlevo (drums,
percussion) and Tobias Edvardson (fiddle and harmony vocals).
Guest performances by David Stiernholm (whistles, oboe) and
Jorgen Fischer (Uillean pipes), Sventa Gustafsson (bodhran)
and others as well as a four-piece a string ensemble on four
of the tracks round out the album's lineup. The album was
written by Martin and Jenny Schaub.
The upbeat title track that reintroduces familiar audiences
to Jenny's sweet voice opens the album. Layers of harmony vocals
and traditional instrumentation blend during the chorus contributing
to the accessibility of the band's sound. "The One" and "Hold
Your Horses" continue to develop the band's accessible sound,
uptempo with richly arranged vocals and lush arrangements
blending modern with traditional instruments.
The traditional folk-oriented ballad "(I Still Remember) How To
Forget" begins with a calling whistle part before Jenny's gentle
lead vocal begins to carry the tune. A contemporary arrangement
of traditional instruments during the bridge is highly notable.
"Short & Sweet" and "Mandolin Song" are similarly arranged but
are both vocally more delicate. Jenny's vocals in "My Alien" are
delightful and are mixed way up; the acoustic guitar is wonderful.
The "Crescent Moon" and "The Swings" ballads are quite enjoyable
with Jenny's vocals being perfectly complimented by the supporting
arrangements, especially in the tracks' choruses.
The upbeat tunes "In A Little While" and Corrs-like "Didn't
You, Didn't I" balance pop accessibility with folk roots in typical
West of Eden style blending traditional with modern instrumentation.
Instrumental work in the bridge of each track is especially
notable. The album closes with an everso quiet ballad entitled
"Just That I Love You" dominated by Jenny's vocals with very
light, almost non-existent instrumental backing.
You can find out a lot more about West of Eden at their
website. There you'll
find photos, further information, soundbites and ordering
information. A most enjoyable follow-up album perfectly blending
stunning vocals with traditional and modern instrumentation, this
new one from West of Eden is worth a trans-Atlantic journey
and is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Experience Soundescape Productions
Image © 2000
Experience Soundescape Productions
(07 June 2001, revised 11 May 2002) Balligomingo is the new electronic/vocal musical project of producer /
programmer, Garrett Schwartz and co-producer/guitarist, Vic Levak. Similar to the
Canadian group Delerium, Balligomingo combine pulsating rhythms, sonic string
textures, synth vibes, and some of the best female vocalists on the North American
continent to create a mysterious and haunting listening experience.
Garrett, who hails from Los Angeles and Vic, a resident of Vancouver,
B.C. first met during a Kristy Thirsk show at the 1999 NewMusicWest conference in
Vancouver. Garrett was in Vancouver at the time working on a track with the group
Delerium and with singer Kristy Thirsk. Vic Levak was then producing Kristy
Thirsk's solo material. Upon meeting, the two discovered that they shared a
similar creative musical vision. Balligomingo's music has already been featured
on the compilation albums Underwater Vol. 1 and Elevation 3.
The promotional album reviewed here is merely a preview of the
forthcoming full-length release planned for 2002. Initially, Balligomingo
expected to release a full-length album in April 2001 on an independent label.
However, after word of the band got out, Balligomingo were signed to a major
label deal with BMG. Currently, Balligomingo plans on re-recording some of
the tracks so as to incorporate live strings and other instrumentation.
Although the future full-length release is highly anticipated, the 8-track
promo album provides an exciting taste of what's to come.
"Falling," the first track on the album, features chilling
classical-based string arrangements, a seductive mid-tempo groove, and
Canadian singer, Beverley Staunton's
devastatingly beautiful voice. Balligomingo leave no doubt as to their ability
to create amazingly heavenly music with this opening piece.
"Heat," featuring Juno Award-winning vocalist
Kristy Thirsk of The Rose Chronicles
and Delerium is a driving yet languorous track that recalls Madonna's "Justify
My Love." As with her performances on the Delerium tracks "Heaven's Earth,"
"Wisdom," "Enchanted," and "Incantation," Kristy again demonstrates why her
voice has frequently been compared to that of an angel's.
Jennifer Baldwin's lovely vocal contribution makes "Wild
Butterfly" possibly the best track on the album. The sound of soothing
waves at the beginning of the track are quickly replaced by a trance-like
percussion line that is likely to inspire listeners to get up and
dance. Samples from Enigma's "The Rivers of Belief" and a vibrant
piano accompaniment make for a blissful and radiant aural journey.
Closely resembling a slightly slower version of the Delerium
song "Incantation" in both melody and texture, "Lost" showcases the dynamic
and assertive voice of Camille Miller. Again, Vic Levak's guitar work
adds an exotic flavor to the music while Garret Schwartz's synth and
rhythm arrangements are near perfection. Probably the most radio-friendly
song on the album, "Purify" is a lush, warm number that features
Jody Quine on vocals. One
cannot help but be reminded of a more upbeat version of Madonna's
ballad, "Rain" when listening to "Purify."
"Marooned" is another ambient masterpiece. Particularly
impressive is Beverley Staunton's brief vocal phrasing which may be one
of the most deliriously beautiful 25 seconds of female singing ever
recorded. While "Marooned" deceptively starts out with an epic and
portentous melange of guitar and strings, it quickly settles into a
gentle and thoughtful mode making for a wonderful contrast of sound.
Beverley Staunton once again appears as vocalist and lyricist on
"Beyond," a slightly groovy uptempo track. Here, Beverley's stark
voicings are penetrating while remaining pleasing.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Balligomingo is their
ability to merge the electronic and organic in a way that is enlivening yet
intimate. The use of a variety of talented female vocalists is also
a brilliant stroke, as each singer brings her own measure of character
and distinction to each song through her own voice and lyrics. This
is late night, voluptuous melody-making at its best. Furthermore,
while each song on the album is distinctive, the tracks weave
themselves seamlessly in the ear of the listener. Their preview is certainly a must listen!--Justin Elswick
Balligomingo's album Beneath The Surface
will certainly be worth watching out for in 2002.
Our feature reviews the entire album and incorporates interviews with
Garrett Schwartz and numerous photographs of the seven stunning vocalists involved with the recording. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
Image © 2000 Azigza
(06 June 2001) The debut album from Azigzga is a self-titled
nine-track recording blending Middle Eastern percussion and
instrumentation with progressive textures and the vocal work
of Cyoakha Grace. The album, which is receiving a lot of
attention since the group was booked for ProgDay 2001, is
on the Lionharp Music label.
azigza also consists of Kevin Evans (guitars), Aryeh Frankfurter
(violins, viola, cello, harp, guitar, mandolin), Stephan Junca
(drums and percussion), Pierce McDowall (bass, sitar, tamboura)
and Raja (tabla, kaneera, djembe, zils, drums, percussion) and
Pedro Rivera (djembe, doumbek, conga, shakers, zils, percussion).
Cyoakha's vocals soar above complex instrumental arrangements
in the upbeat progressive track "Glass" and the darkly evocative
string-rich and percussive "Remember." Progressive arrangements
of traditionally-based sounds work quite well especially in the
instrumental "Ratzinitza." "Petra" shares similar instrumental,
vocal and percussive intensity and with its complex arrangement
is less accessible.
"Touch Moon Window" and "Distance" have superb vocal passages
and blend traditional sounds with experimental-style instrumentals.
We especially enjoyed the layers of vocals and string accompaniment
in the worldly track "Zaman." The heartfelt and soaring jazz style
vocal passages of "Friends" are underscored by Middle Eastern-oriented
arrangements. The final track of the album, entitled "Edallah ya
Rashidi," is an incredible instrumental soundtrack-like number.
Read further about azigza and listen to soundbites at their
to attract further attention from the progressive rock press in
the near future, this band is worth further exploration. We
found their album intriguing and worth a journey. It's a
very nice listen!