Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 30

Welcome, again, to another Album Review Saturdays.  See how I did that, bowed to the algorithm? I hate having to do that.  I could have been valuable words deep into talking about these three albums this week, but I have to mention the title.  Stupid.  Accomplished.  Done.  This week I listened to a wide variety of albums, and there was a lot to choose from.  There were those sent to me for review, so I picked one that definitely slid into a type of delivery that I am the most uncomfortable with (for me it always has a hard sell).  There were a few that I had been anticipating, hoping, and I chose one of those, which I have to say was truly a great showcase album for this legend (for most of us), and a catalog that I feel those that are just getting into music should explore.  Then there several that I had never heard of, so I grabbed one of those.  The odd story there is, I actually knew the band and some of the artists on the record, what I had NO IDEA of was the story of “the Viking of Sixth Street.”  Curious?  Of course you are.  It’s Album Review Saturday Episode 30, and you’re raring to go! (Okay, one more algorithm jab – so painful).


The YouTube Version Link
(This includes a video version of these articles with three additional reviews)


VoidescentDust and Embers

The music multiverse is all-encompassing, and there are such forms of music out there that are mathematical challenge, a conceptual challenge, as well as even a genre challenge.  Everyone knows I do not have an affinity for country pop music, but I love bluegrass, rooted country, alternative country, and other spin offs and throwbacks, but the overall genre is a arena I step into with trepidation.  In the hallowed halls of death metal, I find myself in the same conundrum.  While I do enjoy the machine gun drumming and fast feet bass drumming and out of control metal riffs and screaming guitars that are the sanctuary of the metal genre, when it splinters into death metal, where my definition means that the heaviness is compounded by rough-gutteral inaudible at most times vocals, I find myself struggling to follow, comprehend, and enjoy.  However, when the chips are laid down, I pick up the album and jump into it with the goal that this time my experience here will lead me to the promised land, so I can join the dark masses, the power head jolting, mosh monstrocity, and music intensity that continues to thrash the sinister venues around the globe.

Enter (thanks to Marco at Metaversus PR), Avantgarde Music‘s entry from the great country of Spain into the death metal multiverse, Voidescent.  The name, yeah, it’s fitting!  Okay.  Dust and Embers is the album title, and that too definitely fits the sound that is about to fill the dark chasms of my candlelight only basement mood.  Even the album cover is pressing the death metal flesh, if you will.  So, we got three checkmarks in the death metal wheelhouse before we’ve even scratched its vinyl surface!  Now, let’s crank this and prepare for that which we believe is coming, and will it finally change my position and fear.

The first immediate ear thrashing experience is the overall crashing of the instruments together within the monumentally mind melding drum work that is all out warfare from all sides with very little break.  It’s almost as if the drummer is playing both sides of this war with incredible aptitude or somehow has been possessed to die at the drum seat from catastrophic overload.  The guitars are marching, surrounding on all sides, riffing and bashing within the studio walls trying (probably with some success I would imagine, as I would have no idea how a studio would hold together amidst this) sealing their commitment to death metal lovers everywhere!  Hell, they can probably be hear from everywhere!  That’s cool, and I get it.  The gutter growl and dragonic in audible vocal is the only mere set back for me (and I certainly attempted), but it didn’t deter from the scary, exhilarating and anxiety tripping experience.  In fact, I saw it as other-wordly chaotic callings to summon more mounting sound and minions of the mosh to the fiery depths of metal mayhem swallowing this record, until it is sucked into a black metal vortex at the end.

There are slower dark elemental openings that are heavy still and gripping, but they last mere moments against the pure relentless this album represents. The drumming is absurd and shocking.  He probably didn’t survive and needed to be replaced.  Thrown away like some pawned spawn of drummers of the deep that spewed into human form from the dust and embers.

The Band (oh yeah they’re committed)

  • L. – bass
  • Th. – drums
  • A. – guitars
  • Kv. – vocals, guitars

Dust and Embers Tracklisting

  1. Black Crowned Triangle
  2. Crosstunnel Descent
  3. The Necrotic Veil
  4. Cauldrons of Sabbath
  5. Venom Scythe Liturgy
  6. Arcane Enlightenment – The Bone Offering



Trevor RabinRio

This genre exploding, cover to cover, vocal extortion album, does one thing really really well in my opinion.  Rio showcases the guitar talent, compositional aptitude, and overall concept entirety that is present in the house and mind and skillset of Trevor Rabin.  Rio is a treasure of rock parts, clever rock-jazz combinations, manifestos of tapping progressive movements that flutter and vibreate feverishly throughout despite the voice modulation that slightly hinders the listen.  The musicianship and orchestration is so well held together and irresistibly put together with in the tracks and in the production flow, which might seem like an impossible feat once you’ve completed your first listen.

There’s no mistaking the Yes impression, as the opening track (Big Mistake) has that Big Generator, 90125 feel, and it’s a great hook into the start of the record, putting the listener into a familiar place and pace.  It also has some wicked fun guitar moments in it that might be a kind-of-new solo orgasm if you will.  From there we are definitely headed into the progressive environment, and the tapping and synthesizer, which is more familiarity but hinting more to past influences.  All of this while his voice never wavers, holding true and perfect within the tracks paths.  There are just way too many instrument maestro moments to mention, and they span keyboard, guitars, bass and drums, leaving no one to common place practices.  It’s got hooks, grooves, and mind melding progressiveness galore!  There are songs that start in an Al Di Meola meets Rodrigo y Gabriela acoustic force, then with addition of warm, reaching vocals, then to brilliant progressiveness.  ‘Oklahoma’ is a massive example of this – just fantastic!

Why is called Rio?  I have no idea.  Why did he have to use synth-vocals?  I have no idea.  There’s my only two problems with album, and it’s kind of minimalistic thinking on my part (or hearing if you will), but it is distracting for me, and seems slightly cheap as to how far those vocals do extend into the record.  The album name, for a South African, and a musician that is basically letting it all out on this record, seems more like it should have been appropriately titled something in the “Opus,” or “Wow” if he just wanted to have three letters.  It’s absolutely, just that — wow!

The Band

  • Trevor Rabin – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, and whatever else he felt like playing.
  • Lou Molino and Vinnie Colaiuta – Drums
  • Violins were done by studio musician(s)

Rio Tracklisting

  1. Big Mistakes
  2. Push
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Paradise
  5. Thandi
  6. Goodbye
  7. Tumbleweed
  8. These Tears
  9. Egoli
  10. Toxic



Ghost Train Orchestra & Kronos QuartetSongs & Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog

So, I love it when I discover something completely off the wall.  A story within an album I’m going to listen to.  Finding something way too cool, juicy, or odd about either the making of, the people involved, or the history within.  When I saw the album name, Songs & Symphoniques:  The Music of Moondog, I did not think anything of it.  I just saw Kronos Quartet, and I had heard some really cool things from Ghost Train Orchestra, so I was in anyway.  The title meant nothing to me, and I even figured I wouldn’t understand anyway, considering the knowledge and scope of Kronos Quartet in the classical world as well as even the folk-classical and crossover accompaniments they continue to fuse with from year to year.  Actually, I just thought they wanted a different word other than symphony.  I also figured that Moondog was some figure in the grand space of folklore, an odd constellation name, or a Peruvian mountain cat.  I had no idea it is an actual person, not to mention the oddity, influence, and story behind him.  So, here we go.

He was known as “the Viking of Sixth Avenue” in New York City, as to his poetic readings and playing his compositions on the particular corners of either 53rd or 54th and Sixth Street.  As for his compositions and his musical position in the music multiverse, let’s just say that due to an incredibly freak accident he was left blind, so a turn to music would certainly be a soul saving and emotionally immersive profession for him.  He hung with the likes of Benny Goodman, Leonard Bernstein, and Charlie Parker.  Louis Thomas Hardin had become a player in the jazz community, a sound like no other, and after branding himself as “Moondog” (after a dog that would howl at the moon like no other, and having to win a lawsuit against a radio DJ in 1954 to secure that name, thanks to the influences of Mr. Benny Goodman and Arturo Toscanini.  He is not only a composer that influenced the likes of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich, but adored by Frank Zappa and Igor Stavinsky.  His style was unfit for genre, reaching all over the place, but he was definitely one that did not like structure and it was evident in music, but also in a direct quote from him that he would “not die in 4/4 time.”  He even has a recording with Julie Andrews, if that doesn’t say the span and scope.  I’ll let you dig into the rest and there’s even a documentary featuring Phillip Glass, Jarvis Cocker, John Zorn and Debbie Harry.

The album is stretching, interpreting and delivering some songs and compositions of this very interesting, avantgarde musician which features Jarvis Cocker, Rufus Wainwright, Marissa Nadler, Joan As Police Woman, Petra Haden and others.  It’s classical expose is very interesting, incorporating the very likes and ambients that he was noted for as he kept defying structure.  Some might say he might have been a father in the realm of the early stages of ambient music.  This a record with whimsical moments, rhythmic drive that even includes the lyrical deliveries of the guests, as well as making sure to hold homage and composition moving within and from song to song.  ‘All Is Loneliness’ and ‘High On A Rocky Ledge’ and ‘Behold the Willow Bows Before Me’ I found uniquely engaging with the vocal additions, but there is a lot here to digest in various genres, especially in older bluegrass feel.  You need to be paying most attention to the structure, absorbing the Moondog experience and then you’ll start to realize the lesser known legacy hidden within that so many in the music world of the time so the triumph and beauty in.  Then, you can decide how far down the music rabbit hole you want to go in songs and symphoniques of either Kronos or Ghost Train Orchestra, as you have to understand how brilliant they all are to pull off something of this nature.

The Band

  • Kronos Quartet – Violin(s), Viola, Cello
  • Ghost Train Orchestra
    • Brian Carpenter – trumpet, harmonica, musical director
    • Curtis Hasselbring – trombone
    • Ron Caswell – tuba
    • Andy Laster – alto saxophone
    • Matt Bauder – tenor saxophone, clarinet
    • Dennis Lichtman – clarinet
    • Mazz Swift – violin, vocals
    • Emily Bookwalter – viola
    • Avi Bortnick – guitar
    • Brandon Seabrook – guitar, banjo
    • Michael Bates – double bass
    • Rob Garcia – drums
  • Joan As Police Woman – Vocals
  • Rufus Wainwright – Vocals
  • Marissa Hadler – Vocals
  • Petra Haden – Violin, Vocals
  • Karen Mantler – Piano, Vocals
  • Jarvis Cocker – Vocals
  • Sam Amidon – Banjo, Fiddle, Vocals
  • Aoife O’Donavan – Guitar, Vocals

Songs & Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog Tracklisting

  1. Theme
  2. Be a Hobo (ft. Rufus Wainwright)
  3. High on a Rocky Ledge (ft. Marissa Nadler)
  4. Caribea
  5. Why Spend a Dark Night with You (ft. Joan as Police Woman)
  6. Enough about Human Rights (ft. Karen Mantler)
  7. I’m This, I’m That (ft. Jarvis Cocker)
  8. Speak of Heaven
  9. The Viking of 6th Avenue
  10. Down is Up (ft. Petra Haden)
  11. Coffee Beans (ft. Karen Mantler and Brian Carpenter)
  12. Behold (ft. Sam Amidon & Aoife O’Donovan)
  13. Choo Choo Lullaby (ft. Brian Carpenter)
  14. Fog on the Hudson
  15. See the Mighty Tree (ft. Petra Haden)
  16. Bumbo
  17. All is Loneliness (ft. Joan as Police Woman)


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