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torstai 10. tammikuuta 2019

Musta Risti - S/T

Svart Records (Svart175)

This is the debut album by Finnish proto/doom metal band Musta Risti (Black Cross in English) following one mini LP, one 7" and a few cassettes etc. I have only seen the band live a couple of times but I have enjoyed their brand of 70s/80s heavy metal and Sabbath/Pentagram/Reverend Bizarre styled doom. This album was released in November last year so I'm a bit late again but since the band is supporting Lucifer on their Finnish gigs later this month I thought a review would still be in demand.

There is nothing on the album that could not have be done already in the 80s. So if you are looking for modern, technical metal you can forget it. Luckily for Musta Risti, I'm completely old school what comes to my taste in heavy music and doom metal so this is pretty much down my alley. The album starts off with the more energetic and fast-rocking "Peto" ("The Beast") that has some Motörhead vibe even. Great opener! "Kelmeät Silmät" is at first a slower, doomy track that starts to rock out faster in the middle bringing to mind some of the NWOBHM masters. "Tuhkaviitta" is a cool, mid-tempo heavy rocker. The gloomy "Laivue" is one of the heaviest songs bringing to mind the amazing Reverend Bizarre. One of my favourites for sure! "Kaaoksen lapset" is the longest track at over eight minutes. It's another totally superb, heavy, doom journey with clear Saint Vitus/Reverend Bizarre vibe. There's also some Trouble in there later on which is great... "Moottoriritari" is faster heavy metal not unlike some of the Finnish pioneers like Oz, I like it! The album is finished with the heavy and doomy "Tule esiin tuho" that makes you bang your head. It's another killer track, absolutely. All in all, this is great debut full-length that the band can be proud of. Great songs, great riffs, great playing, great vocals and even great production, it's all there. Warmly recommended for all lovers of  traditional heavy/doom metal.

torstai 3. tammikuuta 2019

Moonwagon - Zen out of Ten - Live

Presence Records ‎(MPLP001)

Moonwagon from Kokkola, Finland, is one of our finest purveyors of (mostly) instrumental, progressive space rock. Since they turned into a trio a few years ago, I was curious to find out how the band deals bass, drums, guitar and synthesizers live. In studio, this was of course no problem. I was lucky to catch them alive at Semifinal, Helsinki in 2017 and see how it was done. The bass player and guitarist both switched into keyboards from time to time and they also used some pedals, so no problem. It was  a great show and I also got to party with the guys afterwards. Zen out of Ten is a live album recorded at the very same, dear little live venue at the downstairs of Tavastia Club in the middle of Helsinki but one year later in 2018. I sadly missed that show, so it's wonderful to hear how it went.

The albums starts off with "Starmask", originally from the 2011 album Night Dust. Great, driving mid-tempo piece! There's even a bass solo in there sounding a bit like Alan Davey... Cool! "Forgotten by Time" (from 2015's more jazz/rock fusion inspired The Rule of Three) is a bit more progressive number with some great, adventurous stuff and superb playing by all (lots of more bass soloing too!). The guitar solos are great as well. The longest track on the album is "Shadows Whisper Fire" (from Foyers of the Future, 2012) at nine minutes. I'm somehow reminded of the more atmospheric side of Rush here, alhough without the high-pitched vocals of course... "Saturn Summer" is another great prog tune including the band presentation. The only previously unreleased track "Nights of Neon" reminds me of Rush again and maybe olso Blue Öyster Cult a bit, great prog pop/rock. "South of Bermuda" from 2017's great EP Devil's Labyrinth is the heaviest piece on the album and also has some vocals. You can hear the Hawkwind influences in here I think. One of their best tracks if you ask me! The only track with full vocals (as well as acoustic guitar!) "Run to the Sun" ends the album in a cheerful mode. This is a great live album with excellent production but the vinyl version (including poster and MP3 download code) is limited to just 100 copies so be quick if you want one! Also available on CD.

Elfin Bow & Gary Lloyd - Who Knows Where The Time Goes 7"

Fruits de Mer Records (Winkle 33)

I have never heard of British folk singer/guitarist/mandolin/fiddle player Elfin Bow (real name Elizabeth Kearney) before, but she has released at least one album in 2016. This self-released, eponymously entitled album was mixed and mastered by Gary Loyd, who this time is also responsible for the orchestration and electronics on this wonderful single. The Scottish Session Orchestra is conducted by Adam Robinson. I love Elfin's crystal clear, beautiful voice and the music is superb although not that psychedelic in any way.

On the A side there's an amazing cover version of songwriter and musician Sandy Denny who started her career in the late 60s. Some of you might remember her from her work with Fairport Convention, but I must confess I was not familair with her music before. Anyway, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is a very nice, atmospheric and melodic little song and the orchetration makes it even more effective and emotional. Very nice. I must say that I still prefer the Elfin Bow original "The Wisdom" on the B-side. It has a more traditional folky vibe, although also it has some beutiful string orchestration. This is just pure magic, and I also really like the wise lyrics. The open gatefold cover is also great. Check this out!

nick nicely - All Along the Watchtower / The Doors of Perception 7"

Fruits de Mer Records (Winkle 35)

One of the four "end-of-the-year" 7" releases is a new double-A-side single by nick nicely, one of my idols. It just can't be a mere accident that a lot of my favourite artists have been picked up by the label in ten years... nick, who turns 60 this year has been making his own mix of experimental electronic music and psychedelic rock/pop since the beginning of the 80s and he definitely still has the skills to produce pure magical bliss.

"All Along the Watchtower" of course is a cover version of the Dylan song also made famous by Jimi Hendrix. nick makes the song sound like nobody else than himself, as you migh have guessed. You can still recognize it, though. The synths & electronics are mixed in a very cool way with highly manipulated vocals and electric and acoustic guitars. What an excellent job of doing a very trippy, experimental but highly enjoyable version of this stone-cold classic! "The Doors of Perception" is a new original that goes well with the flipside. It has a celestial, mind-expanding vibe that suits the subject matter just perfectly. You don't need psychotropic drugs while listening to nick nicely, his music is a drug on its own! Just close you eyes and let nick take you on a mind-journey, you won't regret it.

The Chemistry Set ‎- Firefly 7"

Fruits de Mer Records (winkle 034)

The Chemistry Set from London already started in the late 80s with their brand of neo-psychedelia pop. The band is now going strong celebrating their 30th anniversary and Lovely Cuppa Tea, their previous 7" EP on Fruits de Mer last year was a really killer including a marvellous The Moody Blues cover "Legend of a Mind". I have been playing that tune a lot as a dj, and the two originals are excellent as well. A new release by this band is always a remarkable even for me and this two-tracker is no exception.

On the A-side we've got the heavy and mind-blowing "Firefly".  This might well be their best song yeat and yeah, at least it is the heaviest I've heard. You'll get sucked into a psychedelic, hypnotic whirlpool of sound. The verse is fuzzy, heavy and mysterious, but you can still find the melodic side of the band on the great chorus. I also love the tripped out solo part with phasing at the end! Just wow. "Sail Away" on the B-side is a lot mellower affair with acoustic guitar, tablas and slide guitar among other things. I like the vibe on this one that might well be a Kula Shaker out-take or something. In addition to these two great new songs you'll also get a bonus remix CD with two remixes of the aforementioned Moodies cover by Astralasia's Mark Swordfish and as a big Astralasia fan this release would have been worth getting for those alone! This is absolutely a release that I will play often and my dj audiences will hear it too for sure... Just go and get it!

Touch - We Feel Fine 7" EP

Fruits de Mer Records (Crustacean 88)

Touch was one of those very promising late 60's prog/psych bands that only made one amazing album and the faded into the mists of time. Of course this eponymous album released in 1969 is now a mega rarity. The writing of the album took place in a castle at Hollywood Hills and the party-like recording sessions are rumoured to include the attandance of Mick Jagger, Grace Slick and Jimi Hendrix.

This three-track single release can be seen as the first actual Fruits de Mer reissue single, which was the reason that the label was originally set up for ten years ago. There are two classic tracks from the S/T album plus one extra track from an aborted 1968 single to make this somewhat special. "We Feel Fine" is an energetic, progressive and organ-heavy master piece of late 60s progressive psych rock with great harmony vocals. It has a groovy vibe and lots of different stuff including cool fuzz guitar. I love it! "Down at Circe's Place" is a hypnotic psych rocker with piano and latino-styled percussion etc., very lysergic stuff! The unreleased, catchy single song "We Finally Met Today" is a bit more "normal" but still psychy and somehow brings to mind Spirit. All in all a very enjoyable little EP and a great way to get into this great 60s band.  The 7" comes with a nice mini-poster. Warmly recommended!