Saturday 29 November 2014

BRAND X: US Reviews

Classic Unreleased Progrock by Brand X

While Brand X was considered an experimental side-project by Genesis' Phil Collins, in actuality the band was a gestalt of some of the more talented talents from the progressive music genre of the late Seventies, including: Percy Jones, Brian Lumley, John Goodsall, and Morris Pert.

BRAND X: Missing Period (CD on Gonzo Multimedia)

This CD released in 2013 features 51 minutes of previously unreleased music recorded in 1975-76, prior to the band's "debut" album.

For this release, the band line-up is: Phil Collins (on drums), John Goodsall (on guitar), Preston Heyman (on percussion), Percy Jones (on bass) and Robin Lumley (on keyboards).

High energy tuneage generated by instruments in the hands of master performers.

Rhythms are mostly dominant here, a plethora of them, cascading out with determined fury. A series of exquisite tempos interweave their complexity to form a dazzling tangle of wondrous coherency. The percussion is astounding in its slick delivery and relentless entanglement. Besides the standard drum kit, a profusion of inventive beats are displayed, lending extra layers to the crowded tempos.

The guitar delivers searing riffs of blazing character. These riffs spout with hyperactive beauty, shimmering and coalescing into melodics of superior luster.

The basslines are equally complex and spry, creating a throbbing bottom that frequently surfaces to lead the tunes.

The keyboards provide an endless stream of sinuous threads that glisten with progressive charisma. Often utilizing the higher end of the sonic spectrum, these keys sparkle like gems burning with interior lighting, casting off radiant riffs that sweep and soar and cavort with cosmic jubilation.

These compositions exhibit an unbridled enthusiasm, delivering tuneage that is captivating and exhausting. Infusing modern jazz with an agile rock influence, these songs seethe with more oomph than one can imagine.

BRAND X: Live at the Roxy LA (CD on Gonzo Multimedia)

This 2013 CD features 71 minutes of dynamic progrock recorded live at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles on September 23, 1979.

The band line-up here is: Phil Collins (on drums and vocals), Robin Lumley (on keyboards), John Goodsall (on guitar), Percy Jones (on bass), and Peter Robinson (on keyboards).

The performers live up to their reputations, delivering a live show packed with even more energy than their studio recordings.

Here, the guitar gets the chance to lead the band with some brilliant pyrotechnics. The riffs are stalwart and nimble, the type of stuff one expects from a master guitarist.

The percussion is hyper and durable, often exhausting in its deliver of pounding rhythms to motivate the audience's dancing feet.

The keyboards contribute a bevy of fluid melodies, undulating with serpentine disposition and spilling through the rest of the instruments like a shower of hot honey.

The bass smolders with ebullience and delightful bite.

One track features lyrical vocals, while another has vocals that are more of a chanted anthem.

Many of these tunes come from the Product album, revealing the band's versatility in balancing powerhouse songs with more delicate, almost floating pieces. One piece offers the performers the opportunity to exhibit their skills in solos. Overall, though, the tunes are high energy and surging with the dazzling gestalt of all the instruments blending into a satisfyingly awesome fervor.

BRAND X: Is There Anything About?(CD on Gonzo Multimedia)

This 2013 CD reissue of a 1982 album features 34 minutes of contemporary jazz music.

This album's band line-up is: Phil Collins (on drums and concussion), Percy Jones (on bass), John Giblin (on bass and vocals), Robin Lumley (on keyboards and vocals), Peter Robinson (on keyboards), John Goodsall (on guitar), Raf Ravenscroft (on saxophone), and Steven Short (on syndrums and vocals).

With this album, the band shifts from adventurous progrock to a more steadfast dose of contemporary jazz.

While the guitar has its moments in the spotlight, a lot of the lead licks belong to the bass. Its sultry vibrations lend an urban flair to the tunes, evoking evenings spent in smoke-filled cafes. The instrument issues notes wrapped in popping throbs.

Meanwhile, when the guitar shines, it does so like the sun at high noon, dazzling and crisp. Slithery notes cascade into sinuous riffs of an almost romantic character.

The percussion is more relegated here, delivering modulated locomotion to the music with durable but often restrained rhythms.

The keyboards exhibit a similar restraint, invoking softer sweeps and delicate pitterings that ooze through the mix with tasty subtlety.

The introduction of saxophone completes the band's transition to modern jazz. The horn injects a cerebral quality with its willowy wail.

The vocals that are present in one song are lyricless croonings.

These compositions, as one might've picked up on, are more straight-ahead modern jazz in style. The passion is still there, just subdued into a relaxed mode. Near the end of the album, though, the pace and intensity increases, offering tunes more of the band's forte.


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