Cellista – Transfigurations

photo by Temira Decay (Yellow Bubbles Photography)

This September sees American cellist, performance artist and the artistic director of the interdisciplinary performing arts group Juxtapositions, Cellista begin a series of live dates in support of her recently released album-book, Transfigurations. They are moments in time sure to fascinate and provoke as classical music, theatre, improvisation and visual art entwine with tapestries and intimations of sound and genres and align with the compelling body of Transfigurations.

The release itself is a politically-charged invitation to thought and imagination with a layer of closer intimacy. From its first breath Transfigurations evoked attention and contemplation as Rupture I opens things up with an aural echo of defiance and oppression. It is a potent introduction to the heart of the album leading to the pure captivation that is Confessions. Featuring the magnetic tones of Rykarda Parasol across the equally transfixing cello led musing of Cellista, the track slowly but firmly strolled through ears, plucked strings a brooding radiance and melodies a captivating sigh alongside verbal intimacy.

Rupture II brings the current US ‘frontman’ with a typical declaration before Look Homeward, Angel steps forward to entice and reward. Cello caresses swiftly and easily seduce and inflame the senses even before the lyrical and vocal rhyming of hip hop artist DEM ONE (a.k.a. Demone Carter) evoke further eager attention. As the track continues to absorb and infest, soprano vocalist Melissa Wimbish accentuates its inherent beauty, it all arm in arm with the simply irresistible lures of Cellista’s strings.

The provocative series of Ruptures continue to separate and mark upon each track, the darkly shadowed and increasingly intense third welcoming the contrasting but no less powerful and consuming piece of narrative that is You Can’t Go Home Again. An electronic shimmer surrounds and accentuates the absorbing storytelling, the track increasingly darker and imposing by the minute and indeed enthralling.

A dystopian air clouds Repetitions, its breath intense and composition unpredictable ensuring fascination embraced every note and creative trespass while the three part movement of When the War Began left a similar maybe even more dramatic imprint on the senses and imagination with its rousing cacophony of tenebrific incitement cast with a craft and invention often as delicate as it is imposing; keys and cello led intimation a wonderfully forceful evocation.

Tzeva Adom brings the album to a close; the sirens of its early-warning radar system the prelude to a radiant and defiant beauty as strings and keys again weave a pungent tapestry of emotion and sound. It is a haunting and arresting conclusion to an album which bewitched from start to finish whilst provoking increasingly darker and tempestuous shadows and emotions.

Words can certainly hint but with Transfigurations only experiencing is the true way to understand its magnificence.

Transfigurations is available now @ https://cellista.bandcamp.com/album/transfigurations-2

Upcoming Live Dates (tickets at the door or reserve online via Facebook):

Sept 20 Seattle, WA – Wayward Music Series (with The Zero Collective, noisepoetnobody)

Sept 22 Portland, OR – a steep & thorny way to heaven (with Operafication, The Zero Collective)

Sept 24 Los Angeles, CA – Coaxial (Noise Soirée) (with The Zero Collective, Crank Sturgeon, Anna Homler)

Sept 27 Denver, CO – Mercury Cafe (with Sean Renner)

Oct. 06 Sacramento, CA – NorCal Noise (Part of Norcal Noisefest)

Oct. 18 Los Angeles, CA – Art Share (with Sean Renner)

Oct. 25 Oakland, CA – Temescal Arts Center (with Mia Pixley)

https://www.facebook.com/cellista.music   https://twitter.com/xcellistax   http://www.cellista.net

Pete RingMaster 20/09/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Erudite Stoner – Self Titled

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There has been quite a few ear seducing instrumental albums over the past year or so but it is hard to remember any as charming yet emotively striking as the self-titled debut album from Erudite Stoner. A one man acoustic based project from Brazil, the band creates music which simply immerses the imagination in beauty and suggestive intrigue. Nothing is imposing and no elements forced, but sound and album provide the paint for a myriad of mental pictures and emotive explorations.

Erudite Stoner is the creation of Matheus Novaes, a guitarist leaning on inspirations from the like of Alcest, Agalloch, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Ulver for his first album. Weaving the potent scents of post-rock, shoegaze, doom, and classical guitar into his sound, the Erudite Stoner freely and so often sublimely caresses ears and strokes the imagination across nine tracks of aural majesty. The pieces of music are the perfect length, never too long and over pushing their persuasive limits but equally never too short and leaving the conjuring of imagery adrift. Together tracks create a seduction hard to get enough of and easy to drift away with time and time again.

The release opens with Spiritual Deliverance, a piece of music initially wrapped in nature’s lonely hug whilst sharing melodic melancholy. A warmth and escape from that harsher climate subsequently surrounds ears, the embrace of acoustic and electric guitar as gentle and descriptive as it is at times dramatically tenacious. It is a bewitching start to the album which continues in the similarly melancholic Alienist. Darker hues line the track’s scenic tempting of melody and tone though, essences flirting with thoughts like shadows in the shade of a lonely yet mesmeric day.

art_RingMasterReviewThrough the emotive fascination of Ride to Nowhere with its sultrily melodic calm and the elegant theatre of Far Away From City Walls, imaginative interpretation and pleasure only increases. The second provokes thoughts of innocent smiling children within depressing and oppressing landscapes; a superb merger of contrasting shades of sound and emotion skilfully woven before the riveting majesty of There is No Home sends the listener into new and quaint but equally cosmopolitan lands.

The song, as with the craft and skill of Novaes, easily inspires praise, their tempting and composing creating the most inspiring and engrossing moment yet within the release though it still gets eclipse by emerging favourite Waiting For the Storm. Listening to the track is like its title’s suggestion with a melodic peace initially romancing ears and attention while around it slightly darker essences are glimpsed and eventfully felt in a dynamic and deliciously intensive finale. The piece is simply irresistible, a rousing companion for ears and thoughts.

The pair of Sand Path and Roads to Somewhere continues to keep both those aspects busy, each providing their own individual and tempting palette of melody and emotive expressive for the listener to wrap themselves in before the brief and folkishly intimate Left Behind brings the thoroughly enjoyable and bewitching adventure to a close.

Erudite Stoner, band and album, is a proposition of sheer beauty which it is hard to imagine anyone failing to be easily touched and seduced by. Go treat yourselves is our sole recommendation.

The Erudite Stoner album is out now @ https://eruditestoner.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/Erudite-Stoner-784870508325321/?fref=ts

Pete RingMaster 19/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The BeauBowBelles – All Over That

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Having been lustfully seduced by the To The Moon EP, the debut release from UK band The BeauBowBelles which uniquely merged the richest essences of gypsy punk, folk, country rock, swing, with a classical elegance, we had an instant lick of the lips when presented with their new single All Over That. It did not let anticipation and expectations down either, from a deceptively slow beginning evolving into another stylishly mischievous and imaginatively flirtatious stomp. The London quartet has a sound which makes the common cold look lightweight in contagiousness and their new single is the band’s most virulent dose of melodic infection yet.

The foursome of multi- instrumentalists, Bertie Anderson (vocals, violin), Emma Price (vocals, flutes, accordion, bells), Ros Wilks (vocals, violin, keytar), and Marcus Daborn (guitar, kickdrum), has continued to breed an impressive reputation and acclaimed proposition live since making their entrance. Along with their previous EP, it has been an exciting emergence by The BeauBowBelles, a potent ascent now receiving a sizeable change of gear through All Over That.

A melancholic embrace of violin wraps ears first, a caress accompanied in no time by a smouldering kiss of brass and an emotive breath of keys. It is an invitingly shadowed and emotionally dark wash which finds a sultry light as horns proceed to flirt with guitar crafted melodies and the first kiss of vocals. The lyrics state at one point a “tantalising tune” and it nicely sums up the opening of the song, an intrigue and unpredictability which truly erupts as guitars and voices add urgency to their croon. It is a momentary loss of restraint though which teases wonderfully before the track slips back into its darkened gypsy waltz to sculpt and cast the same magnetic build-up again.

Eventually rhythms and bass strums get heavy with a passionate relish, dancing with the sweltering melodies as the song develops a seriously irresistible swing to its melodically erotic romp. It is not long into the song that feet and imagination, not forgetting emotions, are wrapped up in the track’s adventure and by its climax all are swirling with the whirling fever of a dervish in breathless bliss.

All Over That is an unbridled joy and devilish epidemic of enterprise, as infectious as it is poetically melodic. The BeauBowBelles are the masters of the dance, for body and soul.

All Over That is available from September 29th @ http://thebeaubowbelles.bandcamp.com/

www.theBeauBowBelles.com

RingMaster 28/09/2014

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Tom James Parmiter – Imperfect Symmetry

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Virulently mesmeric and grippingly enthralling, Imperfect Symmetry is simultaneously a flight through expansive poetic scenery, an exploration of intimate emotions, and a fly on the wall reflection of evocative life. Certainly as the new album from Tom James Parmiter seduced senses and thoughts that is the emotive web which compellingly caught our imagination. Consisting of ten instrumental insights crafted by the undeniably impressive piano and keys skills of UK based composer Parmiter, the album is an emotional and cinematic adventure for a similarly exploratory vision of the listener. It is experimental without being inaccessible and soaked in a perpetual ambience which evolves and caresses with a poignant breath to which the colour rich melodies and descriptive hues of Parmiter’s craft, paints compelling narratives.

The follow up to the well-received 2011 album Providence, the Zube Records released Imperfect Symmetry has been two years in the making with everything from writing to performance Parmiter alone. It is an absorbing brew of classical and orchestral elegance entwined in a modern electronic and melodically twisted voice ensuring each track is an individual premise and provocative tale. It is a big step on from the more electronically sculpted Providence, revealing much more of the artist and emotional invention of the man.

The Paul Barton and Shaun Milton produced release opens with Remembrances, its full height of sound emerging from a sonic mist which instantly engulfs thoughts with dark shadows and haunting intrigue. The synths wrap ears like thick emotional smog clad in sonic insecurities, a bewitching blanket which parts and swirls in appealing squalls as tender reflective keys cast the heart of the song and its evocative pallor. From its start the track transfixes ears to emotions but brings an even deeper enticement with its melancholic beauty which seduces for a long term engagement. With guitars adding additional texture and resonance to its climax, the piece departs for the following title track to sweep majestically into view. Like a fleet footed yet confidently graceful dancer, the piano skills of Parmiter glide poetically over the senses and imagination; every key touch and flight of fingers adding layers of melodic colour to the immersive picture of the track. Percussive scatterings ignite the sky of the piece from its mid-point, the music igniting thoughts of a city skyline under explosive artistic skies with a wave of bodies beneath courting ground and emotions with radiant motion. It is a glorious proposition which leaves the listener basking.

Both Shifting Sands and Aftermath explore unique soundscapes next. The first ventures through sultry yet seemingly stark scenery, drifting with sonic abrasing and a caustic caress within the expressive breath of the impacting incitement whilst the second brings a crystalline elegancy with spatial seducing into an emotionally imposing but smiling reflection dealing with what feels like emotional conflict. Though neither track matches the heights and deep enveloping of the first pair, each provides a thought provoking, attention stealing exploration which the following Cerulean with its clear magnetic air and hand takes back to the earlier plateau. A warm seduction of arresting ambience soaks ears which from within a slow spellbinding casting of piano from Parmiter creates a beauty and resonating melodic rapture. It is the most dramatic and beguiling piece of music, sirenesque in its enchanted and emotive richness, and along with the title track, the pinnacle of the album.

Piano Interlude is as it says, a piece of music which allows atmospheres to rest whilst simply conversing one to one with the ears. The track does not light the imagination as others but certainly has thoughts enthused and engrossed before the sophisticated worldly embrace of The Serpent and the epic evocative structures and emotional grandeur of Angkor Wat lie compellingly within ears. Both tracks take the listener into further rich expanses of scenic beauty and provocative creative enlightenment, and both thrill with a simple and honest breath.

The album is completed by the breath-taking Reawaken where from a slow coming to life, a dulled opening of eyes, you can hear and feel awe struck expression in the sound and breath of the song as it expands with orchestral radiance, and finally the arcadian grace of Serenity, a piece wrapped in pastoral hues and idyllic ideation. The pair makes a restful yet also shadowed conclusion to a quite riveting slice of instrumental alchemy.

There is a one really minute issue with the album which is that the tracks do not seem to have a linking essence or theme to them so that they can also combine for one vast landscape as well as alone pieces. Maybe they do and we just miss it but they feel like a collection rather than a collective but as said it is a tiny shade on a vivaciously fascinating encounter which as an emotional travelogue and imaginative composing brought with transfixing realisation is quite sensational.

Imperfect Symmetry is availably digitally and on CD via Zube Records now.

http://tomjamesparmiter.com/

9/10

RingMaster 01/06/2014

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Night Wolf Presents: The Co Lab Vol.1

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The first in a proposed series of collaborations, Night Wolf Presents: The Co Lab Vol.1 is a magnetic and eclectic adventure for thoughts and imagination provided by a vibrant journey through electronic climes bred with potent essences of hip hop, dubstep, R&B, classical elegance and more.

The project and release is the brainchild of composer/producer/musician Ryan Wilcox aka Night Wolf with the intent of collaborating with a wealth of emerging producers/composers and artists. Hailing from Milton Keynes and Luton based since a child, Wilcox started out drumming in rock bands before concentrating on his own music. Alongside his solo work Wilcox formed Harmony’s Descent with Mike Ziegler aka Centrist from Dekalb Il, the pair’s songwriting and music themed by all aspects of life, from anguish and loss through to happiness and love. Earlier this year saw the release of the Watts The Time and Moonlight EPs, both featuring Centrist, and now the again Fly Productionz Ltd along with Cygnus Music released The Co Lab Vol.1,  brings another varied and captivating encounter from Night Wolf.

The release opens with Move It On featuring German singer songwriter Elsadie Smith and J.A. from Luton trio Soul Rhymaz. Pulsating beats and equally full electronic caresses make the first embrace guided by the dark tones of J.A.; it is a mere moment though as the seductive tones of Smith wash over the ears, her graceful delivery gaining greater potency as the r&b narrative weaves around the senses. It is an elegant and mesmeric temptation with the merging of vocal differences as accomplished and bewitching as the sounds around them. It is a very decent start to the EP if one which pales against some of the following triumphs.

The first of which comes through Work Rate which finds both J.A. and Leo Soul from Soul Rhymaz as well as Liv The Pilot joining the haunting yet tantalising emotive croon. Crystalline melodies dance over the ear from start to finish, a celestial ambience adding to their sparkle but equally there is a sinister breath to the lure, one not far removed from the threatening tempting provided by the soundtrack to Halloween. Plainer vocals make a great compliment whilst the mellower delivery only adds extra warmth to the scenic musical canvas. It is an excellent trigger for the imagination and passions with only one moment where it felt like the cycle of music had come to an end midway and stutters as it returns to the start to roll again to query.

Sucker Free is the pinnacle of the release, its tribal stomping over an energetic hip hop vocal devilry irresistible. Again it is J.A. providing the vocal incentive as the song flexes its electronic muscles and rhythmic tantalising whilst sexy funk naughtiness sways and dances within the hypnotic romp. It is a masterful slice of imaginative bait to catch and spark the passions into a lively and eager hunger.

The following Enemy List is a simmering slow burning success, the smouldering heat and melodic allure of the song taking time to convince but with numerous excursions of its gentle and emotive expanse covered in the impressive tones of Greek singer Gregory Style, emerges as another strong encounter, if still one failing to find the same rich appeal of its predecessor. The guitar strokes provide the biggest highlight of the appealing song but sandwiched between what came before and the following Downgraded it had a tall order to fill, though its attempt is admirable and an easy to return to presence. The closing song which sees Centrsit with Night Wolf is another peak on the EP, a delicious melancholic instrumental lighting the emotions and thoughts, its emotively incendiary washes of strings and classical depths finding a sirenesque enticement.

The song completes a thoroughly enjoyable and emotionally inciting release. It is an unexpected treat to be honest as its style and predominate flavourings are not the usual spices for this musical palate, but one with which you can only see Night Wolf recruiting a wealth of new followers whilst inspiring existing fans to drool greedily.

www.facebook.com/nightwolfuk

www.soundcloud.com/nightwolfuk

8/10

RingMaster 04/12/2013

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The BeauBowBelles – To The Moon

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London quartet The BeauBowBelles is a refreshing treat that is hard to pin down sound wise on the evidence of their debut To The Moon EP, but with rich essences of gypsy punk, folk, country rock, swing, classical elegance, and much more conjured by the quartet of multi-instrumentalist singer songwriters into one melodic blaze of virulent fun, a description of riotous beauty is all that is needed to tempt your intrigue.

Consisting of Bertie Anderson (vocals, violin), Emma Price (vocals, flutes, accordion, bells), Ros Wilks (vocals, violin, keytar), and Marcus Daborn (guitar, kickdrum), The BeauBowBelles has earned a fine reputation for their live shows whilst breeding a strong anticipation in a great many for the release of their debut. Recorded at Soup Studios (The Kills, The Maccabees, Roots Manuva), To The Moon does not let any expectations and hopes down, in fact you suspect it leaves them breathless with its insatiable enterprise and thrilling devilry, musically and lyrically.

Finely plucked strings tease the ear as opener These Days steps into view to start things off. Soon joined by the purely tempting vocals amidst a slowly brewing romp of folk and country bred festivity, the track slips into an energetic and invigorating jig of eager enterprise which switches back and forth with a restrained narrative until stealing the floor for a raucously contagious climax where feet and emotions are enlisted in the feisty dance.

The title track takes over next emerging from a celestial beauty with a melancholic kiss to the opening string sculpted classically honed ambience. From the expressive entrance thoughts are led by wonderful provocative vocals and harmonies alongside an acoustic guitar narrative into a compelling and mesmeric evocative tale and aural caress. With a beacon of light and beauty bursting out of every direction within the song, it is a gloriously bewitching flight of imagination and scintillating craft.

The best track on the EP comes in the shapely drama and sultry mischief of Alien Tango, a song declaring an investigation all boyfriends have probably been under. The potent tango stomps over the senses with relish and incendiary invention, the vocals soaring magnificently across the passions whilst musically the song ebbs and flows through creative brilliance pulling an intensive rapture from the heart in its wake. Like a mix of Molotov Jukebox, Holly Walker, and Cate Ferris, the track is a riveting and inspiring playful frolic, a devilish ‘showtune’ which has thoughts and emotions lusting after its startling charms from the first note through it its last lingering breath.

The release is finished up by the country gaited Need Someone To Talk To and the outstanding Banger. The first of the two stomps along with big beats coring a heated canter through acidic melodies and as ever transfixing vocals, its Western Country lament an easy lie on the ear. It does not quite match up to previous songs though that is down to personal tastes in regard to anything country tainted, but the skilled composition and accomplished presentation is beyond dismissal. Its successor is another impossibly infectious stroll through a gypstep/swing bred celebration, inciting strings painting a richly hued canvas for rhythms and vocals to dance out their call upon the passions whilst the sway of the guitars and energy coats extra layers of seductive mastery upon the senses.

To The Moon is a real treat of thoughtful craft and rampant imagination wrapped in an expansive and varied energy fuelled melodic boogie. The BeauBowBelles just might be like for us your new musical best friend; certainly their EP makes the loudest invitation to that lingering link up.

http://www.thebeaubowbelles.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thebeaubowbelles

9/10

RingMaster 13/09/2013

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James Cook – Reverse Engineering (Vol. One)

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2013 is a busy year for singer/songwriter/producer /video artist James Cook, who follows up his impressive and successful debut album Arts & Sciences of 2012 with two full length releases this year. Towards the end of the year there is the release of his second solo album Ausland, but before that the ex-Nemo frontman and songwriter is treating us to Reverse Engineering (Vol. One), a seven track album of cover songs which is one big treat. Consisting of songs of artists from the late seventies and early eighties who ignited his passions and one suggests aspirations musically, the album is a delicious re-invention of classics ignited once again with James Cook imagination.

Reverse Engineering scientifically refers to finding advanced technology that is beyond understanding and taking it apart, then from the discovery of how it works creating a new version from the knowledge. This can certainly be applied to the songs upon the album, Cook, in the words of a room about the release, ‘creating an ‘alien twin’ of the original version by dissecting and redesigning the original.’ Bringing in expressive and skilled musicians (the Dollhouse band) to add their charm and passion to the songs, including once more violinist/string arranger Anne Marie Kirby who he worked with on not only Arts & Sciences but also the baroque pop curio The Dollhouse of 2009, Cook has given a new breath and energy to songs upon the release which emerge as a vibrant and thrilling companion to the originals.

The album opens with David Bowie classic Ashes To Ashes and instantly opens up a new expanse of thought towards the song, the a0326705245_2rich emotive tones of violin from Kirby and Ed Bruggeme, viola from Charlie Stock, and the seductive shadows from cellist Terezie Kovalova, wrapping the ear in a rapturous embrace which ignites open feelings. The string quartet is arranged by Kirby who consistently over previous releases with her imaginative arrangements has impressed and pushed songs into deeper impacting textures and evocative visions. As Cook begins the lyrical passage of the song, a new breath seduces the senses from within, the dramatic air and passional strength of the song enveloping with seductive and riveting grandeur but it is a majesty which has no sense of indulgence or self-importance. It is a wonderful version which stands boldly by the side of the original for these ears whilst as mentioned opening up a new shadow and life within the song.

The following track is The Teardrop Explodes song Treason and with its successor Making Plans For Nigel, steals the show on the album. With the guitar of Cook and a wonderfully resonating and throaty bass call from Smity immediately capturing full attention, the track strolls with a sure swagger through to the passions. As with the first and subsequent songs, Cook does not attempt in any way to emulate or cheat off of the delivery of the notable frontmen who bred the originals vocals, but infuses them with his own unique and compelling easy on the ear tones. As the strings of Kirby and Kovalova add their again irresistible presence, the track submerges the emotions in an understated but full wash of melodic beauty with the firm and punchy drums of Tom Marsh providing an equally addictive framework. With the elegance of the strings bringing their suasion through an air of dance and mischief, the track is a waltz come stomp which sparks only the purest adoration.

XTC is probably the first band to truly ignite a full lust of passion towards their sounds for us here but Making Plans For Nigel was the only song which wore out its welcome on the heart though from one of the greatest British bands. Cook has managed to bring the track back to its original glory and surpass it with passion and poetic musical imagination. The same line-up as on the previous track takes the Colin Moulding penned song and turns it into an emotive stroll along the banks of adventure and warm playfulness. They take the simple repetition across the song which helped lose the original version its appeal and treat it to an unpredictable yet familiar energy and sense of pride which itself steps forward to outweigh that of its seed.

Through Hiroshima Mon Amour, a track from the original John Foxx fronted Ultravox! and now given a mesmeric and melodic sunset of a passional sound, and The Go Between’s Bachelor Kisses where vocally and musically there is an incandescent to its invitation which inspires only further submission, the album continues to captivate and thrill. Admittedly as superbly crafted and interpreted as they are they do not match the opening trio of songs but that is just down to the beauty and ingenuity of those earlier gems. Our Lips Are Sealed though does reach up and pull itself up to those heady heights, the Go-Go’s song, also recorded by Fun Boy Three and written by Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall from the two bands, carving out its own irrepressible niche upon the album with the cello and bass of Kovalova and Cook respectively, offering a deep captivating presence to the wonderfully refreshing and bracing encounter. There is a Walker Brothers feel to the song which only enhances the tonic it brings to ear and soul with each dance within its breath-taking arms.

Completed by an imaginative take on the Kraftwerk track Neon Lights, the song another with the full string quartet painting a unique and inspiring emotive canvas for Cook to lay his narrative, Reverse Engineering (Vol. One) is a passion capturing piece of colour drenched imagination and interpretation, and one hopes is the first of more such projects from the artists as suggested by the title. Though it could be looked at as an appetiser or piece of creativity to bide time before Cook’s next solo album, the masterful treat shows itself as a valid album in its own right even if its appearance comes as a staggered invitation. Released as a free download one song at a time a monthly leading up to Ausland, and with two songs already available, it is an album all should go to without hesitation.

To get the album go to http://jamescook.bandcamp.com/

http://www.jamescookmusic.com

9/10

RingMaster 15/05/2013

 

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Sam Thomas – I’m Gonna Be A Witch

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The debut single from multi-instrumentalist Sam Thomas, is a song which from its first play right through numerous others, and even now, brings a provocation to thoughts and emotions as well as opening up visions and imagination to go along with its evocative sounds and ideas. The initial lingering thought is do I like it to just how good or impressive is it and in some ways that question is still in the air but the bottom line is that the song is a wonderful piece of composing and realisation incorporating a rich soak of invention and thought. Yes it still niggles at the passions for undefined reasons but in the best kind of way pushing doubts ultimately aside.

Thomas, the son of a former Opera singer, was soon learning the craft of percussion at the age of four which inevitably brought the drums into sight for the youngster. Attempts to learn more classical instruments were not as successful due to, in his assumption, his dyslexia but moving into his teen years Thomas was teaching himself guitar, piano, and bass whilst playing in his school’s swing band and orchestra as well as singing in the choir. Growing up on a diet of classical music for his ears as well as Elvis, Beatles, and Beach Boys through his mother’s record collection, Thomas has evolved the perfect merger in his music on the evidence of the single, the song alone forging a classical touch in a hungry union with rock power and energy as well as pop flavoured warmth. From school Sam undertook a commercial music course at the University of Westminster, learning about the music industry. It also gave him free access to its recording studios which Thomas embraced and eventually composed and recorded an eighteen minute track to which he recruited folk/grime duo iAm1 to add vocals; a piece they played live for a while under the name Samandiam. Further projects for Thomas included a 3-piece heavy instrumental group called Saiga and composing a 27-minute solo instrumental piece. Using the track as extra temptation the musician applied for jobs within the music industry, sending out cut down slices of the track with applications to over 200 people. He received just one reply, that of studio owner and Barber Shop production company honcho Chris Smith which led to an unpaid work experience, which in turn led to meeting Just Music’s John Benedict who fascinated with Thomas’ highly-individual style gave a go for him to record an album, this was just the second day of the work experience. Placed alongside producer Mark Sutherland, work began with the single the first emerging results.

     I’m Gonna Be A Witch begins with a dawning of evocative piano and brewing ambience, its voice haunting and ominous. The track though soon settles into a gentle caressing of the ear with a sample of a child talking about what he would do if he became a witch with his friend. It has to be said the sample takes some time to get used to within the potent and descriptive sounds wrapping it, the guitar flames scorching the sky around and above the children whilst the bass and drums cage all with a firm yet unimposing presence. The guitars dominate the middle section enflaming and riling the intensity of the song to smother everything else but it only goes to spark a stronger imagery and reaction. Eventually with continued listening everything slips into place within thoughts and though still that sample leaves unsure intrigue at times its childlike innocence and imagination within the burning skies of the music is powerful and evocative.

The strong lead track is a single edit and it has to be said the following album version is a far better encounter, the fullness of the piece revealing the whole intent and depth of the invention with an equally fruitful result. The opening to the track is far longer than the single version and perfectly paints an enveloping scene for the sample to lie within and feel organically part of. The playground sounds within the classical piano canvas as well as the female (mother like) vocal caresses broadens the emotive and almost nostalgic air of the music, finding a crescendo of passion right before the children open up their imagination. The latter explosion of guitar invention and fire also brings a more dramatic impact and almost furnace like intensity to elevate the track beyond that initial powerful encounter. Though almost nine minutes in length our suggestion is bypass the single edit and head right for this stunning version to truly find the riches of the song and the invention of Thomas.

The final track on the release is North; another piece of music rising from a distrustful ambience with a phoenix energy and enchantment to unveil another openly emotive and accomplished piece of musicianship and aural narrative. Offering a new imagery with each play the track is a stirring and thought coaxing delight with its orchestral breath simply seductive and as dangerous and evocative in textures as the rhythms and sonic painting alongside.

Sam Thomas is destined to make a major impact, his creativity transcending and inspiring so many genres and flavours, and I’m Gonna Be A Witch an impressive start.

http://samthomasmusic.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 15/04/2013

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Mark Northfield: Alterations

OK let us get the difficult part out of the way first. Alterations the new album from English pianist and singer/songwriter Mark Northfield, is an album of two parts, the almost pop and almost classical. The five songs of the almost classical part are connected to and derived from the five in the almost pop first half whether from a riff, series of notes, or a theme and some may also have a lyrical connection between them too. Ok so far? Alterations is also mirrored at its centre so track 6 is derived from track 5, 7 from 4 and so on…come on keep up. The album is also set up so it can not only to be listened to from start to finish to get the most from and to appreciate the creativity at work. Northfield says it can be looked at also as a collection of five double A-side single’ and listened in that way too. ..phew we got there. The simple part of the whole thing is that Alterations is rather good, an evocative and intriguing venture that might make one work to discover all that is going on but gives ensures full enjoyment trying.

Berkshire born and London based, Northfield is a classically trained pianist, arranger and songwriter who regularly works as an accompanist for ballet and contemporary dance classes at London Contemporary Dance School, Arts Ed, and the Royal Academy Of Dance. These roles make great use of his talent for improvisation and reinterpretation something that is apparent on the album. Alterations follows 2008 album Ascendant, and the two EPs The Death Of Copyright and Nothing Impossible from 2011 and February this year respectively. The new album features a fine array of guest vocalists and musical contributors to bring a distinctly varied and eclectic quality to accompany the equally remarkable compositions.

The album opens with The Death Of Copyright a buoyant pop driven piece of Divine Comedy like grandeur complete with a contrasting rock lined verse and a classical awareness of the truth and beauty of the emotions weaving within the prose. You get the feel Northfield who is the lead vocalist here with the delightful tones of Ellen Jakubiel joining in, is at times having a dig at pop and rock music and their often sense of superiority through the humorous and mischievous wink within the song. The pulsating soul funk melody that saunters throughout is openly 70’s disco sourced with Northfield himself mentioned the song Superstition as inspiration.

In theory we should probably pair up the two mirror images but we would not want to take away the mystery and adventure  from you and truthfully it is not always that open what the linking and pairing is.

The wonderful Some Songs… is a mesmeric track with a darkened show tune grace and drama. It wonderfully feels a little off kilter, like a waltz from a slightly discordant parallel song walking a lonely yet soulful path though the track. The following and excellent You Don’t Need Me To Tell You That with the returning Jakubiel in a duet with Matt Crutchlow is a stunning summery song and relatively conventional for the album. It reminds of XTC around the Skylarking time with lyrical composition that is again more show tune than pop song.

The first half is made up with the pop rock anthem Nothing Impossible, a passionate and emotive song dealing with suicide which unleashes its pent up anger and frustration as it builds towards a powerful and forward moving climax, and the electronic hypnotic Headlonging. The track is inspirational with the chorister voice of Jon Payne a wonderful companion to the effect layered delivery from Northfield.

The mirror half of the album is equally as impressive and remarkable in its own emotional and heart clasped classical breath. The lovely song The Up Shit Creek Blues with the darkened distortions behind the fine vocals of Alexandra Howlett adding a disengaging atmosphere to the lyrics and a song one could imagine Edith Piaf within if her time was now, alongside the world/classical Latin elegance of Aurora stand out amongst the quintet of hypnotic songs.

Personally the first half takes the honours the way Alterations is laid out but listened to as a series of singles as suggested the album and songs work even better and with a more fluid charm. The album is excellent and the more one plays with it the more it endears itself and reveals further the mind and ideas behind. This is our first meeting with Mark Northfield but it will not be the last, more please.

http://marknorthfield.com/

RingMaster 11/05/2012

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