Andrea Ianni: LikeWise

Pic by Manos Fotiou

You more than likely will not have heard of Andrea Ianni yet, well unless you are one  of the fortunate ones to have caught him busking in London but even then his name was probably not in the air. He is the magician behind the excellent and impressive album LikeWise. The release is an eclectic collection of songs which will have you smiling, enthused, and maybe even slightly confused, but it will certainly make an hour of your life one of the most imaginative and thoroughly enjoyable.

Born in Rome and brought up in Milan, Ianni has been London based for the past five years and as mentioned can be seen busking 5 or 6 days a week in his new home city. He is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (drums, bass, guitar, piano), and vocalist with his own distinct and inventive style which is as experimental as it is controlled and accomplished. For gigs he has assembled a trio to bring his songs to life in the live arena, Ianni the vocalist and drummer alongside a guitarist and bassist. LikeWise though is all he, from songwriting and composing to the vocals, all music with just a couple of guest performances, and artwork. He is a man who has more than his fair share of talent, obviously stolen that which should have been ours here, but with a release this thrilling we will let him off.

As mentioned the album is a diverse and enterprising release. It takes inspirations from a varied and wide spectrum of sounds and styles often stretching them into shapes and textures which they probably never knew they had in them. Its heart is rock based but unafraid to explore deeply other creative influences. Nothing is predictable or expected on the album which makes for one exhilarating ride of intrigue and mystery for the senses and one feels for himself when creating this gem.

Things start off heated and energetic with Strawberry Girl, a song with a classic rock drive and melodic imagination. Immediately on appearance a riff which would grace any Sabbath or Priest song wraps itself around the ear to instantly grab attention. As the vocals of Ianni introduce the first of his tales inspired by life and people who pass however briefly through it, the song fluctuates from expressive restraint into a high octane rock anthem. Infectious and inspiring the song is a great introduction to the release and artist.

As each song enters from this point on, the wideness of the variety within LikeWise is evident. The excellent Jackals  just one example as it teases and stomps through the ear with a brewing funk breath to its rock n roll feast of sound. It has a strong Red Hot Chili Peppers gait to its swagger to take the senses into a riot of unbridled melodic boisterousness and rhythmic taunting.

Songs like Widows with its inspiring progressive and hard rock meld, the impassioned and glorious Strange Words with its dramatic guest cello accompaniment, and the quite brilliant Tibetan Stork, leave senses and thoughts elevated and hyperactive with their ingenuity. The last of these three is a song which guides one through a kaleidoscope of soundscapes It starts as a feisty rock pop track with electro/industrial leanings before evolving through a slight stoner rock conjuration into a primal meditative/progressive envelopment. Admittedly one is too busy wondering just how we got there from the beginning sounds to be evoked into any deep emotional and inwardly looking reaction, but it is easily one stunning and wholly pleasurable ride.

Further exceptional moments in a series of highlights upon the album come with Martha and King Of Prisoners. The first is a blues sauntering with warm pulses of reggae charm which enchants from beginning to end whilst the second and the first single (and video directed by Ianni) from the album, is a mesmeric slice of sound which captures the imagination from its first magnetic footstep. With a subtle yet dramatic piano presence and pulsating atmosphere the track has a flavour of Faith No More and Nine Inch Nails to its stroll, though it offers extra abrasions to bruise the ear and twist the track into another compelling shape as it progresses. With a sharp guitar solo from guest Cri Coltro within its impressive shell the song is a sure treat.

LikeWise is a real gem and a secret which should be exposed from the rooftops whilst its creator is an artist who brings a unique imagination and passion back into music. The album can be downloaded for free from so there is no excuse for not knowing the name Andrea Ianni anymore.

RingMaster 28/08/2012

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Ophidian I: Solvet Saeclum

Technical death metal is having an impressive flourish of releases right now with already the outstanding new album from The Faceless and the excellent more progressively toned release from Over Your Threshold having enthralled the ear these past few weeks. Now there is a third to excite and intrigue the debut album from Icelandic metalers Ophidian I. Though it feels like an apprentice alongside the two mentioned in some ways, Solvet Saeclum is an impressive and powerful release exuding great promise and dealing in nothing but satisfaction. The album takes no prisoners but once within its muscular grip, its nine tracks light up the senses with skill and enterprising invention. Arguably it is not bursting with the most groundbreaking sounds but it is hard to fault its imagination and passion.

Formed in 2010 and featuring members of Severed Crotch, Beneath, and Angist, Ophidian I were soon in the studio recording demo tracks, the band returning to Studio Sýrland in Iceland for the recording of their album the following year alongside Jóhann Ingi (Beneath). The band signed with Russian record label SFC Records the same year as plans were laid for their debut to be unleashed in 2012. Now it is here, it is an album which shows all the rewards of hard work and intricate detail, its sound a compulsive consumption which leaves sonic trails in the air with its melodic technicality and bludgeons flesh through aggressive intensity.

The release opens with the guitar fingering of Mark Of An Obsidian, its introduction a slow tease upon the ear and a breath which is warm and welcoming. As the guitars unveil their sonic heart the track evolves into a surging onslaught of barbaric riffs and combative rhythms. Drummer Tumi is a storm of crippling beats whilst bassist Þórður prowls the track with an evil glint to his play, both combining to bring a menace and depth to the expressive technical skill of guitarists Símon and Unnar. With the vocals of Ingó a guttural fury throughout song and album, it is a mighty confrontation the band offer behind its progressive artistry, though the song does not explore this element as much as later tracks do but still offers a mesmeric heat within the sprawling oppressive energy.

Shedyet followed by the title track, both stretch themselves more than their predecessor as the band get into their creative stride. The first of the pair surges between rampant attacks and dazzling prog lilted asides which make seamless and evocative interludes between the overall enveloping tempests of intensity. It is a beast on the prowl despite its eager attacks whereas the following Solvet Saeclum leaps at the senses with an incessant eagerness and sharp ideation to ensure nothing but focus and interest in its direction.

All the songs are strong and inventive brutes but the trio of Tectonic Collapse, Ellipse, and Ethereal Abyss, stand apart from the others. The first is a serpentine violation which festers within the senses with corrosive inventiveness. It is abrasive and disorientating through its ravenous intense energy and heady melodic conjurations, the guitars twisting the air with ingenious blackened skill and mischief whilst the rhythms chew on the ear with unrelenting aggression. It is the outstanding track on an impressive album though the other pair are not left wanting in their effectiveness. Ellipse is a technical mischief to excite and ignite the heart whilst Ethereal Abyss is a song with a maelstrom of flavours to its glorious body, its death cored heart veined with jazz and progressive essences which entwine around a black metal groove. Arguably it is the most inventive song on Solvet Saeclum and only enhances the deep promised the band and release inspire.

Solvet Saeclum is a great release which fans of the likes of The Faceless, Necrophagist, and Obscura will lap up. Ophidian I may not have reached the top rung with their album but with a release this strong it is certainly on the cards at some point.

RingMaster 28/08/2012

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Rusted Pearls and The Fancy Free: Roadsigns EP

This past twelve months has seen Italy spawn some strong and enjoyable music with a heart inspired by blues and country rock sounds from the US. Earlier this year Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles released an album which pleased the ear whilst the tail of last year saw equally impressive releases from Smokey Fingers and Blueville. Now we have the debut EP Roadsigns from Rusted Pearls and The Fancy Free, a quartet from Udine. Containing six blues soaked slices of heartfelt melodic rock, the release is a soulful embrace which has the quality to delight most palates.

The band consists of Dario Snidaro (guitar, vocals), Andrea Mauro (guitar, slide guitar), Maximum Mattiussi (drums), and Mark Fabro (bass), its seeds starting with the solo acoustic work of Snidaro in his 2010 release 2 Words, Travel Alone. The sound of the band has evolved into a dusty blend of Rolling Stones like blues, Black Crowes and Smokey Fingers flavoured country rock, and the hard rock breath of Tom Petty. It is a mix which is honest and open whilst inviting a similar response from its audience. The music is not groundbreaking or opening up new avenues to explore but offers nothing less than its full heart to satisfy and please.

The release brings a nice blend of energies across its tracks from the eager and lively Free to the slower reflective Chilly Girl. The first of this pair strokes the ear with heated guitar play and firm rhythms whilst in the back ground keys whisper with emotive charm. It is the guitar though which steals the show especially the sizzling solo at the centre of the song. The vocals of Snidaro are expressive and earnest, you feel his emotion hanging from every word through his lips, to enhance the emotive atmosphere the music creates. The second of the two is a gentle and tender caress with again its heart on its sleeve. The guitars come with a blues kiss for the ear whilst the bass is as deep and emotive as the words sung. The two tracks show the variety of the release whilst still slipping easily within the covering intent of sound.

Roadsigns and White Lines is a heated piece of rock which stirs up the senses from its striking start, a road driven song with electric tread marks across the ear in its rear mirror. It has an infectious air which scorches the senses, its energy restrained though it seems to want to press on into a fury of sound.

The release closes with Precious, another tender embrace for the ear which is all passion and soul but before its arrival the two best songs on show excite first. Home is a steely piece of rock music which has an edgy surface to its instinctive call to the heart. Musically the song  borders aggression whilst within its muscular presence the lyrics and vocals are exuding deep emotion for a blend of slight extremes. The other track Rusted Pearls is a gritty piece of expression with riled energies and unleashed passion. It is a song which evokes a deeper reaction to its stirring tones and harsh blues energies than to other tracks and lingers around long after its official departure.

The Roadsigns EP is a release which is not trying to be anything more than a pleasing and engaging collection of songs steeped in the pure oils of American rock, blues and country. It and The Rusted Pearls & Fancy Free achieve that aim with ease.

RingMaster 28/08/2012

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Over Your Threshold: Facticity

Facticity, the debut album from German progressive death metalers Over Your Threshold, is one of those intricate little beasts which need multiple ventures in its company to appreciate and discover all of its aural nooks and sonic crannies. It is a striking and adventurous release to occupy the senses with accomplished skill and strong invention. Personally it did not admittedly ignite a frenzy of adoration but without doubt made the hours in its company compulsive, refreshing, and ultimately rewarding.

Over Your Threshold was formed in 2006 by guitarists Lukas Spielberger and Leonhard P. With drummer Julian Matejka joining the following year the band started drawing attention with their live shows which saw them support the likes of Obscura, Deadborn and Hokum locally. Their self released debut EP Progress In Disbelief caught many an imagination in 2008 as the progressive infused death metal the band was exploring found more eager recipients. With bassist Christian Siegmund having joined in 2009, the quartet entered the studio in 2011 to record Facticity. The result a release which is a technical and aggressive storm which finds an equal balance to bruise and light up the ear with ease. With the added guest skills of Steffen Kummerer (Obscura, Thulcandra) and Jonas ‘JoeC’ Fischer (Hokum, Ex-Obscura) bringing their own craft to the album, it is a release of enterprise and passion. Since its recording Leonhard P has left the band to be replaced by guitarist Kilian Lau and new vocalist Ludwig Walter.

Released through Metal Blade Records, the album goes for the throat from the off with opener Cortical Blindness and its synapse juggling manipulations and ear plundering riffs. The track mesmerises and disorientates masterfully and though it emerges as not the heaviest assault to appear on the album, it is a challenging and satisfying introduction. The guitars and rhythms instigate whiplash at times but also ‘croon’ the senses into a gratified state with their blend of pace, energy, and intrigue. Immediately the song also reveals the stunning invention of bassist Seigmund. His fretless bass, additive lines and obvious skill a hypnotic conjuration, the work of a bedlam spawn predator with fine control and even deeper imagination.

The following Contextual Fluctuating and Obscure Mind Stasis bring darker shadows with their presence. The first is a blackened consumption which within its dazzling melodic weaves, has a menacing and corruptive heart. The second song has an even more malevolent breath to unsettle and taunt the ear but again the melodic soundscape of ideas and guitar is a flourishing shaft of warmth permeating the dark corners. The drums alongside the bass are ominous and commanding, framing all the impressive invention within their muscular arms tightly. It is a magnificent track which steals top honours, just.

As tracks like Self Exhibition, Body Part Illusion, and Antic, descend and feast the ear with excellent musicianship and unmistakable invention, Facticity only pleases more and more. There is never a moment one can sit back and just immerse within a song as there is so much going on, though never to excess. This means as mentioned earlier, many returns to the release are needed to fully grasp its wealth, the continued effort though always enjoyable and rewarding. The third of this trio of tracks is another exceptional song which lights up the air with its electric contagion. It offers the most intensity and threat to be found on the release, its heart snarling at the senses with a vicious hunger. As ever though, the melodic and startling progressive play is rife and magnetic within the sprawling oppressive weight.

Over Your Threshold have created an album which is immensely impressive and gratifying, though as mentioned for some reason it did not fire up enough passion to elevate it the highest plateaus of acclaim. But as that well used line goes, Facticity, it is not you it is me.

RingMaster 28/0/2012

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Presley Johnson: Anita’s Last Dance

Presley Johnson is a Northampton based band which has been drawing sure attention their way with their vibrant and enchanting mix of pop, folk, blues, country, and 60′s influenced rock. The band release their new single Anita’s Last Dance to again capture the imagination and keep the anticipation for their second album, which they are currently working on, fresh.

Formed in 2010, Presley Johnson soon caught the imagination through the release of their debut self-titled album the following year and high profile shows within the UK and Germany. Now, as mentioned, the band is working on their full length follow-up and if the single is anything to go by it will be one pleasurable treat when it breaks into the light of day.

The quartet of Wesley Manning, Jon Martin, Andrew Miller, and Alex George, immediately entice the senses on Anita’s Last Dance, the guitars a gentle tease and tender caress upon the ear. A light folk mischief plays throughout with a big grin on its lips to match the enthused vocal harmonies and warm ambient air, and though the song gets excited and energised as it touches its chorus and climax, there is an English reserve and melodic elegance which whispers summer days. This makes for a fresh and mellow presence but with a tasty hint of rock n roll to keep things wonderfully energised.

The song comes with the companionship of My Muse, a track which is more laid back in pace but has a scuzzy edge to its breath for an expressive rock sound to light the ear. The song has more shadows than its predecessor and an agitated blues air which agreeably stirs up the senses. It is less accessible than Anita’s Last Dance, but with a deeper heart and diversity again marks the future album as one to certainly investigate.

Released via Stalkers Records, the single is a fine teaser for the future. Presley Johnson have a distinct way of fusing genres and emotions with Anita’s Last Dance being the perfect example.

RingMaster 28/08/2012

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