No-Man – Returning Jesus (2002)

Not a doubt: No-Man is one of my favorite bands. Mixing pop, ambient, some jazz and melancholy, subdued. Seems like a perfect mix to me. Of all No-Man cds, this is one of my most favorite. For some, the music may be a bit whining. And I relate to that. Still, apparently No-Man have made a succesfull mix of melancholy and interesting music and soundscapes. Give it a go.

David Sylvian – Blemish (2003)

I became interested in Sylvian’s music quite late (some 12 years ago, he’s been around quite longer), but must say I appreciate his work a lot, but not all. However, Blemish is already one of my all time favorites. The dream like sounds and progressions are very to my liking. The orchestration, or arangements if you will, are innovative, but I suspect not to everybody’s liking.

It is an intimate record, mainly produced by David Sylvian, and only in some instances augmented by others. It seemsĀ  quite a departure from his earlier work. Less rock or world oriented, but more ambient. Definitely worthwhile to listen to.

Memories of Machine – Warm Winter (2011)

Tim Bowness has a new collaboration. Because of the popularity of Porcupine Tree, No-Man has difficulty to continue to exist (to my kowledge they are not disbanned). Still, Steven Wilson makes a guest appearance along with many others (eg Fripp),

Tim Bowness’ voice always stands out, always recognizable. It still refers to his work with No-Man, but is distinct enough to add significantly to his repertoire.

Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins – A Scarcity of Miracles (2011)

Well well, Mr. Fripp has not retired yet. This is a very fine release. Kinda lay back, by some referred to No-Man. I do not know about that.It’s classified as a King Crimson Projekct, but as far as I know it is nowhere near as neurotic as the other Projekcts.

Furthermore, it’s nice to hear Gavin Harrison play easy for once. To his defence, his other work predominantly in Porcupine Tree needs his excellent intricate heavy beating. Collins’ his soprano sax is sometimes a bit disrupting (kinda like “hey I’m here also”). Oh yeah, Tony Levin is also present.

Conclusion, this might become a favorite over time, but not yet . . .

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (2010)

I’m not that good with newer genres, so I decided to look it up on Wikipedia. Here it says Gold Panda’s Lucky Shiner is microhouse, glitch, minimal techno, folktronica, Japanese music. OK . . . Anyhow, I came across the cd on Amazon, and occasionally I take a gamble by buying stuff totally unknown to me. And this time it worked out. Nice techno, with some Asian references. Ah, now I remember, the Asian connection did it for me.

Mike Keneally – Hat.

First heard of Mike Keneally on a radio show by Co de Kloet celebrating Frank Zappa’s music. It must have been around the 1988 FZ tour. This is his first full-blown cd, very eclectic, spontaneous. Maybe a musicians’ cd, but who cares. It definitely has a Mike Keneally feel to it already. It ranges from harmony vocal popsongs, heavy rock, experimental fooling around. Songs don’t have the standard lyrics: listen to The Car Song. References go back to the 70s (Eno and the Actor), and 80s (cf. XTC). Definitely one of my all time favorites.

The hat – if I’m correct – he received from a fan in the Netherlands during a Z tour. Just as the BeatlesĀ  got their hats (cf Help) from the 1964 canal tour in the Netherlands .

 

Mike Keneally and Beer for Dolphins – Sluggo! (1997)

Ah, this one is nice. Mike Keneally is one of my all-time favorites. There are some artists you always buy the next record of, regardless. This, again is a mix of catchy, yet quirky pop / rock song, and some reaaaaaaaally weird stuff.

Some say his guitar playing resembles Frank Zappa’s. Well, he has rough edges in his playing and he definitely likes to solo. Which here works great. He also plays the piano, which makes this album quite diverse. His voice, although not one of the best vocalists, is quite pleasing to hear. Many would say his music is particularly appreciated by musicians. That’s probably true, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some highlights: Why am I your guy?, Potato, Tranquilado. Two special songs are Chatfield Manor and Beautiful.

The band rocks. Some long time members such as Bryan Beller, Toss Panos and Joe Traver. But also Mike Mangini who payed with Steve Vai. Well, Keneally played with Steve Vai regularly…

 

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations (2006)

I have the tendency to ignore massively popular bands. That is, until they’ve established themselves for a number of years. Then I’ll give them a try. Sometimes they convince me immediately, such as Muse. Solid rock with a touch of theatre. Some might call it prog rock, but no. They like their synths though, sometimes quite pompous. Severely distorted and synthesized rock guitar. Luckily they don’t take themselves not too seriously, otherwise they wouldn’t have recorded Knights of Sydonia.

What surprises me that this band is massively popular in the UK. Well, music’s wonders still works, I guess.

Steven Wilson – Insurgentes DVD (2010)

This week I bought Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes, a documentary on him as a person as well as his music. It also has a bonus DVD which contains a long excerpt of a Bass Communion concert and some unreleased Insurgentes songs and some songs with different mixes and edits.

The documentary is interesting to watch. It’s not a straightforward documentary but has some artistically and abstract footage of landscapes, airports and cities. It’s a nice piece of work detailing his opinions about music, destroying Ipods because of their lack of sound quality and the convenience of acquiring music. He revisits his school and school-days, although he’s still a bit young to do so in my opinion.

The added songs on the second disc are very nice. I especially like A Western Home, according to Wilson an orphan song because it didn’t fit other albums. Maybe that’s why I like it. And the drums are beautifully recorded.

Interestingly, he mentions Frank Zappa twice, once as a genius. I don’t think Steven Wilson is a genius. But I do like his work ethics, releasing a lot of music, mostly of high quality and very diverse. However, most of the times his influence on various can be heard clearly.

From all his projects in which he is involved I think No-Man is the one I’d take to the proverbial deserted island.

Return to Forever – Romantic Warrior (1976)

Ah again a classic. Classic in older material, not in the sense of being for eternity. Why? Well, it’s freakish jazz rock. I mean, jazz rock is is freakish to being with. But to have freakish jazz rock . . . . Well I’ll stop here. Apart from me saying it’s nice to listen to once in a while. I like Chick Corea’s playing and still am a fan of his analogue synth sounds and the Fender Rhodes. But what I really like is how Lenny White’s drums sound. The tom-toms are just sounding great: very open, clear. Al diMeola is OK, I like him more on his solo albums.

Unfortunately some tracks are a bit corny, such as Majestic Dance and The Magician. The rest is good for the genre in it’s era.