Posts Tagged ‘Fusion’

John Diliberto’s Top 10 CDs 2013

December 30, 2013

This was one of the hardest lists ever to compile.  It’s different from 25 Essential Echoes CDs of 2013, which is our picks of the best music played on Echoes.  And it’s also different from The Best of Echoes 2013 Listener Poll results.   These are my picks from all the music I heard in what turned out to be an epic year for new music.  And in an epic year, these are the albums that rose to the top of the top for me.

Metheny-Tap-Tzadik-cvr1- Pat MethenyTap: John Zorn’s The Book of Angels, Vol. 20
Metheny takes fragmentary themes from composer John Zorn’s “Book of Angels” series and orchestrates them into expansive, electro-symphonic works.  The fact that it features some of Metheny’s most unbridled and psychedelic guitar playing in years is just a bonus.

Stories2- Rhian Sheehan –  Stories from Elsewhere
On his 7th album, Stories from Elsewhere Rhian Sheehan created one of the most sublime shadings of ambient chamber music since Harold Budd’s Pavillion of Dreams.  It’s a magical CD of soaring strings, surging rhythms, childlike music boxes and ambient expanses that sounds both familiar and timeless. It was a CD of the Month in May.

UNQOTSA-5003 – Olivier Libaux Uncovered Queens of the Stone Age
I don’t know if I could’ve gotten behind an album more than I did Olivier Libaux’s sublime covers of music by alt-metal band Queen’s of the Stone Age.  Part of the New Wave/Punk cover band Nouvelle Vague.  Libaux stepped out on his own to record the albums with singers including Emilianna Torinni and Inara George. He accomplished a melancholy re-imagining of this alt-metal band’s music. It was a CD of the Month in July.

TimeLapse4 – Ludovico Einaudi –  In a Time Lapse
In a Time Lapse is a defining album on which pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi pulled out all the stops, synthesizing a 21st century classicism that is all-embracing in its musical influences, and all-enveloping in its emotional sweep. It was Echoes CD of the Month in March,

Innocents-2505 – Moby   Innocents
Moby completes a trilogy of atmospheric, introspective songs that began with Wait for Me and Destroyed.  A CD of the Month in NovemberInnocents is the most soothing melancholy.

Olafur-Arnalds-For-Now-I-Am-Winter-2506 – Ólafur Arnalds   For Now I Am Winter
Both sophisticated and edgy, Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds inhabits his own sonic universe, balancing emotions and mood on a laser’s edge of strings echoing out of frozen skies and electronics trawling the substrata.  For Now I Am Winter is his most mature work to date and a CD of the Month in April.

Long Way To Fall7 – Ulrich Schnauss A Long Way To Fall
A wonderfully melodic, groove driven album of synthesizer wonder as Ulrich Schnauss explores childhood memories with electronic dreams.  The title track will leave you breathless.  It was an Echoes CD of the Month in February.

WInterwell8 – Mree   Winterwell
Serene dream pop from a 19 year old musician who comes from a singer-songwriter tradition but creates Enya like choirs with her voice on this lush and powerful album.

Bleeding-Raainbow-Yeah-Right CVR9 – Bleeding Rainbow   Yeah, Right
This Philadelphia based band created a garage-rock psychedelic ecstacy that often attained the epic mixing shoegaze guitars with motoric grooves and heroic girl-group choruses from singer Sarah Everton.  I’m still trying to figure out why Savages got so much hipster attention and this album slipped away.  Play it loud and you’ll wonder why as well.

kveikur10- Sigur Ros  Kveikur
Sigur Ros kick out the jams on this album of delirious, roiling textures and Jonsi’s falsetto melodies of prayer.  This is one of the Icelandic groups more aggressive outings which is saying a lot for a band that has no restraints in their electric storm.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))


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New Music: Azam Ali and Loga R. Torkian & Roger Eno

July 17, 2013

Hear new music from Azam Ali & Loga R. Torkian tonight on Echoes

Azam Ali & Loga R. Torkian, both play in the Persian Electronica band Niyaz, but you may also remember them from Ali’s group, Vas, and Torkian’s band, Axiom of Choice.  They’ve just released a new CD called Lamentation of Swans: A Journey Toward Silence that takes a more contemplative approach to their music. We’ll also hear new music by Roger Eno.  The pianist and one of the earliest Ambient Chamber Plumbline-ConcreteMusic composers teams up with Plumbline, an English electronic band on the album Endless City/Concrete Jungle.

Here’s a beautifully produced video of  Azam Ali & Loga R. Torkain’s for “Oceans” that puts together a smorgasbord of New Age mysticism.  The woman in the video is not Azam Ali.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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Eastern Moods for Echoes October CD of the Month

September 27, 2012

You can trace many movements in modern music back to The Beatles, and they are at the roots of Hans Christian and Harry Manx.  Not The Beatles of “She Loves You,” but the eastern-influenced Beatles of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and especially “Within You Without You.” Musicians like the German-born Christian and English-born Manx were inspired by those sounds to head east, although each approached it from a different perspective.

HANS CHRISTIAN is a classically trained cellist whose 1990s albums, Phantoms and Surrender, took his instrument into electronic and ambient terrain.  But it was his work with Rasa where he found his true voice, partly inspired by George Harrison’s recording of devotional chants from the Radha Krsna TempleHe’d become expert on the Indian sarangi, the Swedish nyckelharpe and the sitara, and he curved the sounds of these instruments into yearning melodies, wrapped them up in electronica atmospheres, and caressed the voice of his partner, singer Kim Waters.  Rasa broke up, but Christian contines that sound, sans Hindu chants, on You Are the Music of My Silence.

HARRY MANX joins Christian, singing, playing guitars and the Indian lap guitar called the Mohan Vina.  He went east through the The Beatles and the blues, and he has several solo albums out as a singer-songwriter that fuse those worlds.  On his own, he has a lighter, more pop and punny approach as evidenced by some of his album titles: Bread and Buddha, Mantras for Madmen and West Eats Meet.  He goes a bit deeper with Christian, forging an album that seduces you with gentle, folk-like melodies and lifts you with an exotic instrumental array: they’re global mystic minstrels jacked into the net.

Every song on this album is a journey.  Sometimes it’s a slow river ride like “Harmonious Convergence,” which lazes along on the laziest, haziest summer day.  But more often, it takes off on the melodic flights like those on “Apparently an Apparition,” mixing electronic grooves, string sections and solos on Mohan Vina, in an exhilarating swirl.
Some songs are gently lulling, like “I Saw It In Your Eyes” while others, like “Shorthand Prophecy,” propel you through an imaginary bazaar at the crossroads of Ibiza and Mumbai, with Manx singing the rhythmic syllables of Indian bols.  In the midst of this Indian drive, Christian drops in a startling jazz fusion electric bass solo that makes you realize what a supreme instrumentalist he is.

Like George Harrison and The Beatles, Hans Christian and Harry Manx aren’t attempting to make traditional Indian music.  Instead of straight ragas, they channel that spirit into a new sound, one full of ear-catching melody, propulsive rhythms and serenely enticing atmospheres that beckon you into their temple.  You Are the Music of My Silence is the sound you might hear in your deepest, quietest space.

Hans Christian & Harry Manx’s You Are the Music of My Silence will be featured on Echoes Monday, October 1 and the weekend of October 5.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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From Miles in space to Jazz for the Deaf: Ben Neill & Mörglbl

May 19, 2009

Two distant jazz mutations from opposite directions when Ben Neill and Mörglbl hit Philadelphia.

Ben Neill @ The Gatherings (photo: Jeff Towne)

Ben Neill @ The Gatherings (photo: Jeff Towne)

I caught two very disparate shows in Philadelphia this weekend, both drawing upon elements of jazz, but ultimately having little to do with jazz at all.  First up was Ben Neill, performing at Saturday, May 16 at  The Gatherings concert series.  He’s released several recordings including Green Machine, Tryptical, Goldbug and Automotive.  A new CD is slated for the fall.

Neill doesn’t make it easy on himself.  He wrestles with his “mutantrumpet” a Rube Goldberg contraption with 3 trumpet bells, one of them muted, 2 sets of valves, a mini-trombone slide and electronics that trigger other sounds.   He creates a layered, realtime performance with trumpets sometimes having contemplative inner dialogues and sometimes shout out call & response exchanges.  All the while,  electronic sounds  swirling to the rafters on waves of synth pads.  As near as I can tell, he was controlling everything in real time with rhythm loops triggered in Ableton live.  Even the screen images were being manipulated via his trumpet, pulsing and warping in sync to what he was playing.

Ben has roots in the usual sources, notably Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, but he’s staked out his own terrain in the sonic landscape, mixing fractured jungle loops under his free-form improvisations.  His music is like a digital river, with a different fractalized scene around every corner, the constant being Ben Neill greeting you on your way.

As usual at Gatherings shows, it could’ve been a lot louder.  The opening act, Soporus, especially suffered from low volumes.  A guitars and bass quartet, they play melody and rhythm free textural drones soaked in reverb. Immersion is the key, but their volume was so low, you could hear the acoustic sound from their electric guitar strings when they tuned up or strummed their strings before a volume swell.  Note to The Gatherings, turn it up as loud as “you” think it should be, then put another 5db on it.

Jazz for the Deaf At the other end of the spectrum was Mörglbl, the French power trio that features shredding guitar playing from Christophe Godin.  Ben Neill makes you want to stop and ponder things.  Mörglbl doesn’t let you catch your breath in a nonstop delirious charge, punctuated by pulled faces, devil horns and mock-crotch symbolism.

They appeared Sunday, May 17 at The North Star Bar, a return to the area after their triumphant showing at NEARfest in 2008.  Their new CD is called  Jazz for the Deaf and that title says a lot about both their humor and their music.  Godin is a formidable player ripping off fret-defying runs, squonks and squeals, all while mugging for the audience.  He has self-deprecating wit, simultaneously mocking guitar hero mannerisms, while also embracing them.  Yet, no matter how fast he plays, or how often he strikes a Spinal Tap pose, every note is crafted with the perfect inflection, then slammed and twisted with more whammy bar than I’ve ever seen used in a concert.

Godin’s bandmates are with him all the way through heavy metal riffs to lightning rhythm shifts.  Mörglbl seems so tightly wound as a band that I was surprised to read that they claim most of their music is improvised.

“All the solos on stage are all improvised. In fact, the only written things are the riffs,” said Godin in an article from

But they sounded completely tooled within razor thin tolerances.  Except for some bass solos by Ivan Rovgny, it didn’t seem like they were ever winging it, to the point that things got a little predictable over the course of nearly two hours.  “Our next song is going to be a ballad.  No really!” they quipped in a running joke.  Then they’d lay into another rip-your-head off tune, with Godin filling every available space with a flurry of notes.  But in fact, a few slower, more pensive tunes would’ve provided a bit more dynamic for the show.  I’m sure they’ve got one somewhere.

Mirthrandir opened for Mörglbl.  They sounded like you’d expect from a 3rd tier prog band who takes their moniker from the Elven name for Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.  That is, stylistically accurate symphonic prog ala Yes circa 1972.

You can hear Mörglbl on their new CD, Jazz for the Deaf due out June 2.  And they still have a several dates left in their North American tour.   Catch them if you can.  Ben Neill’s new album is due in the fall.

For Philly readers/listeners, if you want to get a mostly-weekly update of Philadelphia concerts like these, email us Philly Concerts in the subject line.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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