What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Invisible Rays

CD review...

"Invisible Rays"

Morgan Ågren, Henry Kaiser and Trey Gunn

Released March 2012 by Gonzo

When three guys meet at a conference and find there's a few hours to fill in, what do they do?

Well, they might go to a bar and chill out, maybe shoot some pool. Or they might rent some studio time, have a bit of an instrumental jam, and then release the results as an album.

Happily it's the second scenario that happened here, which is just as well really, as listening to a CD of blokes having beers and playing pool would be seriously boring after a short while.

Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Henry Kaiser, and Morgan Agren (drummer with Swedish proggers Kaipa - formerly Ura Kaipa) met in Sweden and this album is the outcome: eleven tracks of improvisational prog.

The opener will likely be comfortable territory for King Crimson fans or even Van der Graaf Generator fans, with its 22-minutes of splashes of guitar textures, occasional grunge, sub-climaxes and then quieter patches, all underpinned by solid drumming patterns.

I always read the CD blurb before I review something, and so I knew the title track was 22 minutes long. I've seldom known 22 mins pass so swiftly! Really enjoying it, I wondered what had gone wrong when it faded out. Was there a technical problem with my playback gear? No, it's just that time flies when you're having fun.

The bane of the music business is categories. However, music journalists love to label things, and 'improvisational prog' is the one I'm going for, here.

Or maybe "experimental instrumental prog" - yes, that's a term that will scare many rock fans straight out the door! However, it's prog with an 80s heavy metal feel, though. In the absence of any vocals, the guitars have to do the talking, and, yeah, I like what they're saying!

Both the opening and closing tracks are lengthy free-form jams, and act as "bookends" for tracks 2 thru 10. These nine tracks are fairly short and somewhat less avant-garde than the bookend tracks. They cover a range of moods and styles, including even a veer towards "tech house" or maybe "techno"; some ELP-like ramblings; and occasional wild excursions up and down the guitar frets.

Since the (almost) passing of the days of vinyl, I seldom bother to pay much attention to what an album cover looks like. This one's 1950s science fiction design I found most striking, though.

A thoroughly good prog release. One wonders if, if these guys decide to do a follow-up, could they achieve the same spontaneity and energy if that project were pre-arranged? Possibly not. But I live in hope that this album isn't a one-off!

(review by Sonic_Hawk)

Buy it now dudes

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