You know what’d go well with this? Rocks.

And what more of a title could you ask for?

Following a period of intense jazz study [an odyssey, one might hesitantly posit], I’ve been joyfully expanding my musical horizons. This may, in fact, be single-handedly responsible for keeping my branch of Fopp solvent.

So, A LOT of CD’s have been whirred and assimilated this past week. It’s always a pleasure to find new artists who can reinvigorate your musical tastebuds, and this has been no exception.

Let’s see what I’ve been banging my head to:

Bartok’s 6 String Quartets

Superb, just superb. It’s easy, with compositions of this nature, to view them through purely academic lenses. But so many textual nuances get sidestepped if you follow the musicological route. Poor old Shostakovitch seems to suffer the same plight. I mean, forget the analysis – this music is rich.
Plus, the recording I have of this [The Emerson Quartet] is top notch.

The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly – Kate Rusby

As someone who really isn’t ‘up’ on the UK folk scene (although I’ve gigged with Vin Garbutt!), it’s nice to reconnect with what’s going on in these parts. Gorgeous music, wonderfully played. It makes me glad I don’t just shred!

Stupid Dream – Porcupine Tree

If you’ve been confused and/or a little intimidated by the sheer breadth of Porc Tree’s back catalogue, I’m here to help.

No, really.

This one’s been on steady rotation – ‘Stupid Dream’ is an excellent cross-over from their roots of ambient-prog-electronica, into a slightly more classic-prog-meets-metal theme that really took over with ‘In Absentia’. The songs, the singing, the playing – they’re all first class. Eccentricity has become hummable!

Erotic Cakes – Guthrie Govan

“Mmmmm…erotic cakes.” echoes every nerd around the world when they hear the title of this CD. Maybe. I mean, how would I know?

Come on…13 years in the making?! We’ve waited, and it’s finally here. It was, admittedly, getting to the stage where I would feel perfectly justified fashioning a rudimentary entry device (say, a brick), and using said article to ‘requisition’ the master tapes from Mr. Govan’s abode.

But I’m too patient for that. So I waited, and hummed ’80s cop show theme tunes to myself in the meantime.

Lots of notes, and a ridiculous sense of humour. Perfect – from the hilarity of ‘Rhode Island Shred’, to the truly insane solo in ‘Fives’, topped with the beautiful tribute ‘Eric’.

OK, not ‘new’ albums, but 2 which I listened to for the first time in a few years:
Rust In Peace – Megadeth

YES. Thrash’s masterstroke. A friend and I agreed recently that thrash guitar just stopped, really, after this. I mean, the bands got more technical, more political, or just damn louder, but Mustaine’s boys had it ALL.

The sophistication of the guitar solos alone make this essential listening.

Dr. Feelgood – Motley Crue

I just LOVE rock ‘n’ roll. While Van Halen served up ‘spring break’ rock with a wink, the Crue were blinking the whole time. Now, THAT’s rockin’.

And finally, my favourite album of the recent present?

Embrace The Storm – Stream of Passion

Born out of Ayreon and Elfonia, this album just does it for me. Arjen Lucassen’s textures and unconventional melodies, coupled with Marcela Bovio’s beautiful voice, just have to be good. And there are some great guitar solos, reminiscent of Michael Lee Firkins actually (with, however, an annoying tendency to step into Hammett-esque ‘obsessive compulsive wah-wah disorder’ mode).

And I know we’ll never hear songs like ‘Out In The Real World’ on the radio, which is just a huge shame. And I’m still shivering thinking about ‘Wherever You Are’…deep.
This is the classier, unpretentious side of Prog-metal. Thoroughly recommended.

So much music. So little time. Thankfully there’s really not much on the telly.

Mind you, Love Island…pretty compelling viewing…

JG.

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