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Friday, December 31, 2010

Frogg Cafe Bateless Edge

Frogg Cafe Bateless Edge 10t Records

Boasting an dizzying arsenal of orchestral instrumentation, the fourth album by this New York-based outfit serves up a heavily-scored blast of frenzied sturm und drang that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Frank Zappa album.

Pasta Fazeuhl echoes the complex chamber orchestrations so beloved of bands such as Magma (the direct inspiration for this 14-minute suite), Henry Cow and Univers Zero. Replete with mechanistic thrashing, opposing harmonic forces engage in a battle for dominance, and the kind of contrapuntal foreplay that would have Bartok’s knickers in a twist. This is absorbing, visceral stuff that comes with truly inventive arrangements, and some close to bone wigging-out.

Yet whilst there’s a obviously a rigorous discipline in the compositions, such is this ensemble’s lightness of touch, it allows some gorgeous melodies to be let off the leash in order to go for a run-about. Move Over I’m Driving seems especially playful with guitarist Frank Camiola’s sustain-driven tones flying off in a satisfyingly rhapsodic flurry.

Whilst Nick Lieto’s vocals occasionally seem dwarfed by their expansive surroundings, this is a minor niggle and shouldn’t devalue what it is a rich and powerfully rewarding listen. More please!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Best of lists are funny things at the best of times. Even worse when they’re done under pressure. My problem is I either change my mind too quickly or simply forget what’s come across the desk during the course of a year.

Here’s my list for Classic Rock Presents Prog submitted at the start of November. Looking back at it now there’s a couple I’d probably not include.

Worst of all, I can’t believe I forgot to include Man Alive by Everything Everything!

Top 20 albums
1 Nik Bartsch’s Ronin Llyria
2 Travis & Fripp Live At Coventry Cathedral
3 UMA Hymn To Undiscovered Land
4 Soft Machine Legacy Live Adventures
5 Danny Thompson & Jon Thorne Watching The Well
6 Rangda False Flag
7 Goldbug The Seven Dreams
8 White Hills White Hills
9 Dirk “Mont” Campbell Music From A Walled Garden
10 Lisa o’ Piu Behind The Bend
11 Doubt Never Pet A Burning Dog
12 Iron Kim Style
13 Nosound A Sense of Loss
14 Moraine Manifest Destiny
15 Frogg Cafe Bateless Edge
16 Stick Men Soup
17 Radio Massacre International Time And Motion
18 The Black Swan Effect Admission
19 Anathema We’re Here Because We’re Here
20 God Is An Astronaut Age of the Fifth Sun

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Retail Therapy In Edinburgh IV

A marvellous evening spent chatting, eating, drinking and watching Whisky Galore followed by The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest at the Cameo. Then after a lovely night's sleep we caught sight of the sunrise over Arthur's Seat...

a couple of minutes later the fog came down and Arthur's Seat pulled a spectacular disappearing trick...
A morning spent wandering around enjoying the gothic presence of the city...

and an impromptu ice sculpture...

After mooching about we headed toward what I thought was to be an exhibition featuring Dali, Miro and other surrealists. It turned out I'd got the location wrong and instead we were pitched into the white-hot avant-garde world of 10 Dialogues...

I'd seen DeMarco himself when he came to Newcastle to talk in the 70s. Part-chancer, part genius he certainly had a gravitational field about him that held the interest. Debbie it must be said hated the show apart from the installation by Alastair MacLennan.

The grainy early video footage of some of the action-based pieces was strange, as though we were peeping through a curtain at some inexplicable ceremony whose purpose was now forgotten. As someone who was lucky enough to have attended events which would have been similar (a one-to-one show given by Stuart Brisley, a continuous 24-hour piece by MacLennan, etc) , I know that with things like this, it was definitely a case of "you had to be there".

Topped up and chuffed off in roughly equal measure we headed out along Princes Street on our way to catch the train home. Debbie and I would happily relocate to Edinburgh at the drop of a hat...

Water Tower Wednesday XXXV

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Retail Therapy In Edinburgh III

About this time last year Debbie and I took off to Edinburgh for a day. We enjoyed it so much we decided to book a room and do a couple of days. Despite feeling pretty grim with whatever bug I had, we went up to Central Station...

The countryside going up was beautiful and dreamy in its covering of snow...

After a lovely, toasty warm train journey, we arrived in Edinburgh on time and checked into hotel, whose room had this splendid view of Arthur's Seat...

Without wasting any time Debbie and I legged it out of the hotel and hit the streets...

There wasn't really any snow in the city to speak of but there was a mist which simply enhanced Edinburgh's mystery!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Walk Across The Rooftops...

We had a lovely evening yesterday but I could feel myself succumbing to some kind of flu-like bug as the rest of the family enjoyed a game of Cranium. This morning I just wanted to stay in bed but Tom was departing and it seemed churlish to have him see himself off.

Having arrived on the 23rd in a swirl of snow Tom was off back to uni today. Whether this is to continue with his studies or get set for a right rave up on New Year's Eve is open to speculation. We grabbed a cuppa in the cafe as we waited for his train. No hold-ups or service disruptions had been reported. Fingers crossed!

After Tom's train pulled away, I went for a walk amongst the rooftops to try and clear my ailing head...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Festive Family Feast

A lovely afternoon spent with Tom and Joe (not counting the potentially rancorous argument about the existence of God) preparing and cooking the food for the get-together with The Quinns...


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