Sunday, April 05, 2009

Julian Sas
Wandering Between Worlds
Some manner of euro Strat sailor and saluter a la Walter Trout or Gary Moore it seems, perhaps even a Jeff Healey, though this Dutchman isn’t quite so frantically intent on wearing fingertip size indentations in every fret of a guitar within the first three songs. Owing similar homage to Hendrix and Peter Green as those two, this live album, backed just by cohorts on drum and bass activities, comes as CD with DVD available as well, presumably to indulge the fraternity of bedroom fret-fantasists, and also includes four new tracks. Loudly proclaiming it to be absolutely live with no post-op surgery, invasive or otherwise, it must also be said that this SAS gent can certainly wring seven bells of sweetly stinging sermons on the strife’s and fallacies of this existence outta his Strat to stain your soul clean, though it may well depend on how staunchly set up your stomach is to cope with the staple of protracted blues odysseys. Picture this – two discs there be with roughly an hour’s music on each (eight tracks and six tracks respectively). This should cut a large, crusade-winning swathe through any beliefs you may still unwittingly hold about preconceptions as even a brief calculation of the average song length should elicit groans if not digestive collapse. Sure, among aficionados of the still, on this evidence, fertile field there may well be a Great White style feeding frenzy in rapture at the gilded, glistening gamut of prodigious guitar graft on display. But, to the fan of song, or casual listener, this holds the danger of representing the ultimate in labouring a point. And with many tracks being of a sedate, however sizzling, pedestrian nature it’s also a long-winded way to labour those points.
Stu Gibson
Rock Child
Rock Child
While the name may well lead you to approach this with caution bordering on malicious, disinterested ridicule, these New Yorkers are at home in the oddity community most often associated with their adopted home city – in the case of frontlady Tat Jane Bego, at least - over their rather poor name more suggestive of palm tree-lined boulevards and spandex-clad simpletons and swag-blaggers than this utterly deceptive crossover, under, sideways, down. So, thankfully not exponents of Aerosmith style balladeering for the most decrepit of old buzzards but a very curious amalgam of rock, metal and the arch artiness long of NYC repute. Rambling shambling arrangements with metallic-edged themes coexist alongside stuttering rhythms but a suitably NYC looseness and idiosyncracy is also not going to be passed over with just scant asides in this script. There are shards and smudges of Blondie and Lydia Lunch’s disdainful experimentalism, yet married to dated, but endearingly durable, euro metal possessed of the primordial looseness inherent in the early hardcore scene. Although far from identical, there are similarities to Kate Bush in delivery (possibly helped along by Bego’s Dutch descent) had she been a product of Big Apple’s bowels rather than Home Counties kook, as the vocals frequently fly off the handle and ascend buildings by shinning up drainpipes and inching along windowsills, playing cat and mouse between disembodied shriekery and atonal, hard-of-hearing, harpy of the radioactively glowing lands. The guitar styles, heedlessly – laudably! - throwing stabbed rhythms interspersed with arpeggios that suddenly descend into chainmail unlinking interludes, suggest they may ideally have been after a heavier sound but, being unsigned, perhaps budget constraints put paid to further production. As it is, despite having a definite demo quality to it, which in this case is a damn good thing, there’s an intelligent design here that the name and somewhat amateurish sleeve work kept hidden. It’s intriguing working out if this is a happy, classic, punk-rock style coincidence - an entirely accidental fusion of forms where the Siouxsie meets Toyah or Hazel O’Connor vocals lend it an ethereal, sci-fi aura, atop the deliciously cantankerous and unpredicatable guitar squall a la classic early Hole. Their stated love of Neil Young alongside the regular metal influences indicates a method behind, and probably hovering about and inbetween, the brash banshee abrasiveness to unite in the unique isobar they seem to have randomly and recklessly stumbled across on their way to speed metal, especially, as they do frequently, the tendency towards the epic anthem shared by both the major league metal titans as well as the sprawling voyages undertaken by several late sixties / seventies country rocking scruffs is indulged. Maybe a full-scale production would allow extra tangents to be investigated, though what is gained in power and poise may well suppress the gauche ingenuity in the depths here. Just ditch the name. In fact ditch it, concrete over said ditch instantly, do not mark the spot nor ever speak of it again. Promises of metal for error-fuelled nights as well as possible colossal sojourns through country curses and arid crescents are far more than was expected. Go ahead, ignore all insistent urges to not bother and surprise yourself. Pleasantly or otherwise is entirely up to you. Stu Gibson
Nico's Alchemy
Fundamental Darkness
Dirty Dog
No, come back, don’t be alarmed, well not as much as if it were the Maiden drummer, surname McBrain, who’d come a-conjuring of a sudden, anyway, in some vague attempt to ensnare us as to his wit, wisdom and quite probably woeful writing talents. Music and a fair few inhabitants of milky ways, spiral galaxies and medium-sized provincial towns and cities can breathe easier, or perhaps just as easily as usual, for one suspects this isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon, except maybe to a few well-manicured hands of guitar magazine hoarders (cursory net searches already reveal it to be the 5/5 album of the month in Guitar Technique magazine. Need we progress? Well, this Nico, it appears, is a chap - full name Nico T. Tamburella - and is an Italian-born, presently dwelling in London, fret-head and euro warrior somewhat akin to Gary Moore’s continental doppelganger who got lost in the widdle-worshipping eighties, where he started out first in his native Italy before swapping coasts for LA, in an Aldo Nova, Marino or Joe ‘definitely not Strummer’ Satriani mould with Piling on the pomp like a Poison pre-party hairspray parade in 1986 – would you just look at that title! By the powers invested in him and unlocked with years of careful study at the feet of a grand master he is going to wipe the world’s ailments away with a few (or several) gentle nudges of his whammy bar and a few itinerant tapping techniques and obtuse scales, just as if he was brushing a child’s hair. If this were toilet roll it’d certainly (think it should) be four-ply cushioned with truffles. As for circumstance, there may well be more in a cycle track. Closet nerd boys or right out in the open (leather) anoraks can debate the varying merits of the guitar aristocracy – fer instance, you can actually produce a heroically guitar-centric record that is also a very magnificent work of art (see Scelerata, or Ozzy’s Randy Rhoads Tribute) rather than songs by and large being a vehicle on the back roads while the guitaring is equivalent to a specially constructed jet-pack contraption. Ponderous backings over which the guitar floats and flurries occur too often, much rock is awol somewhere along the way, unless you are in desperate need for stodgy plodding allotment rock like It’s Enough, that make Thunder look like the types to push boundaries way past those dismantled by the likes of Captain Beefheart, Zappa, Waits, even that Radiohead lot. Even the piano-led, mid-morning strum-sesh of Miss Sensation isn’t safe from the incessant, rampant strafings of the effects-laden string-straining. It may appear to be self-contradictory to now say it isn’t that bad (the main riff of Save Me Jesus could desecrate Sunday services as efficiently as Sabbath, though the rest achieves the dubious distinction of appearing to be Bon Jovi with less cloying over-bearing sentiment sans soul), but again it’s just sorta there, ambling along pleasantly, if somewhat self-importantly at times. Nico surely can play the geetar but so can the likes of the aforementioned Satch and Steve Vai. It doesn’t necessarily follow that such virtuosity ensures appetising sounds issue from those flickering fingers, as Yngwie Malmsteen famously, amply, though not fabulously, demonstrated. Not unlikely to provide certain kinds of businessman or office management type a surge of rock’s clandestine thrills, before that morning meeting or lunch-schmooze.
Stu Gibson
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