Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 36

We always strive for variety on these Album Review Saturdays (not that it’s always achieved), but this week we have achieved it for sure! We have a great sextet that has a very unique format and instrumentation that we will get into through the dark jazz guidance of a multi-instrumentalist.  The second album comes from a singer-songwriter across the pond that’s been wowing us for years, and in her latest effort she’s pushing her art-sound even further from where she started!  And, we decided to end on a terrorizing debut note from our friends at Ripple Music because they had us the minute we saw the cover.  The book-by-it’s cover kind of thing.  There’s plenty of sound in this week’s Album Review Saturdays, so make sure you give all of these artists a ear-crackin’ chance!

 

YouTube Album Review Saturdays Version [link]
[Join host, Mark Kuligowski, as he shares these albums and an additional three [3] not in this article]

 

The Lovecraft SextetThe Horror Cosmic

First of all, how did I find this magical instrumental record (well nearly all instrumental, as there are splendid operetic parts and a jazz vocal placed for full effect and affect)?  Well, one of these Unknown Sundays, I’m going to share with you a very, little known band that I absolutely love to play, Red Snapper.  When I saw searching for them, just checking to see what might be going on, I see a tribute album, and it’s done by The Lovecraft Sextet.  Well, that’s good enough for this music obsessive to go down a rabbit hole (as you all know by now).  And, low-n-behold, they have a new album out, and it’s called The Horror Cosmic.  Okay, so to be completely honest, I wanted to start with the tribute album, but I’m dedicated to you, here, people.  So, I start with this absolute fantastic dark jazz record that is as sound and mesmerizing as anything that’s come out this year!

This is the multi-instrumental brain child of Jason Köhnen (MANSUR, ex-The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Bong-Ra, or The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation). This brilliant musical mind from the Netherlands might have coined the phrase “dark jazz” from what we can see in articles, but let’s just face it, he’s definitely the one bringing it truthfully through his music and projects throughout the music multiverse!  It’s exciting, engaging, and never, ever boring.  His knack for timing, instrumental inclusion and foreboding melody is a journey that even hints at classical, moody jazz, and emotional compositions that meld throughout, joined marvelously by sax and atmosphere (created and timed perfectly by the piano, drums, bass, vocals, and whatever else is in there — as I had a very hard time finding someplace that would give me the artists and the instruments.  Hell he could be the entire sextet for all we know).  If, there’s a Rob Zombie of the jazz world, then Mr. Köhnen is the soul thrown sitter, helming the deep sound, leading the underworld to the musical surface for your ears to take great pleasure in.  This is not to be missed, and ‘De Profundiis’ is our pick for instrumental song of the year!

Here is the statement from the bandcamp page, as we thought this would shed some light (darkness) on the project:

“The Horror Cosmic is a Lovecraftian cosmic horror short story which dives into the existential dread of the infinite nothingness.  The album was composed as a soundtrack to
accompany the illustrated short story and is an expanded step in the multidisciplinary aspect of the Lovecraft Sextet project. Therefore this release should be listened to as a soundtrack
with compositions working to accentuate a specific mood to the specific chapters of the story.   The Horror Cosmic will also be release as a very limited custom hardcover
illustrated short story book with a special vinyl color LP.”

The Horror Cosmic Tracklisting

  1. The Horror Cosmic
  2. Deliverance
  3. Approaching Menace
  4. De Profundiis
  5. What Lurks Beneath?
  6. Infermezzo
  7. Event Horizon
  8. Life Beyond
  9. Cold Was The Ground

 

Thea GilmoreThea Gilmore

Here’s another Unknown Sunday we could do.  Thea Gilmore (born in Oxford) has been putting out albums since 1998!  There are some artists that have been around longer that don’t have twenty albums in their repertoire (just so you can put that into perspective).  While her twentieth album, self titled, is not a representation of her past (more acoustic), it does give you a very definitive understanding of song-writer progress, timely interpretation, and the diligent sincere, story writing style that has given her the ability to maintain her career despite being relative unknown in the Northern hemisphere of music.  Thea Gilmore is, in my opinion, the most produced record in her catalog, and this has been growing with each and every album, taking her listeners in and out of her style and compositions, but never out of the melody and poignant writing that feels truthful, sincere, and real.  She’s apparently doing everything on this album, from the loops, samples and instruments and production, which truly showcases her complete, professional grasp and where she wants to take the listener.  She really knows how to place everything, track by track, and in the flow of the album, giving it all room to breath and be understood.

Okay, so she’s doing everything, so, self-titled seems utterly appropriate.  Cool check mark, there, and something I would encourage her to stay with considering the power and poignancy of the record.  Coming this late in her catalog, I’m paying closer attention to the lyric and mood of the tracks, as I’m expecting this to be the most introspective and soul bearing accomplishment of her career.  And, I believe songs like ‘Hope & Fury,’ ‘Unravel Me,’ and ‘The Next Time You Win‘ confirm some of that as she moves her listeners through the album’s heart, beauty and pain of the album.  Now, I want you to realize, at the point of writing this article, I had no idea she had done a project called Afterlight in 2021 (and I didn’t go back to listen to it, but I will after).  Yes, the loop and sample experimentation at first was a little off-guard, as it was something I had not considered in her style, but again I concentrate on the lyrics and their tension as well as he beautiful delivery, as it can take you “right down to the ashes,” as ‘Bones’ points out.  And, once we’re past that, it’s another intentful, soul-filled, indie-rock record with dynamic attention to connections, passionate awareness, and a very controlled, delivery that while grounded in familiar rhythms are guided much farther by her voice and worldly hymn like ‘Talking Out of Tune,’ ‘Home,’ and ‘The Bright Service’ showcase in conclusion of the record.  It’s another one woman triumph that requires paying closer attention to, as does her entire catalog.

Thea Gilmore Tracklisting

  1. Nice Normal Woman
  2. Bones
  3. Hope And Fury
  4. Unravel Me
  5. Ride On
  6. The Next Time You Win
  7. That’s Love Motherfucker
  8. The Chance
  9. She Speaks In Colours
  10. Talking Out Of Tune
  11. Home
  12. The Bright Service

 

TerromaniaNyctophobic

It’s time to get your hard rock metal on!  We can add a little doom feel, but this record’s amped up on the sonic side, reaching for the audience that’s heavy into pace, guitar nuances like that of Van Halen, Devin Townsend, and maybe Zakk Wylde or Niki Strauss.   The vocal, which again, is always something we wait for when it comes to Ripple Music releases, feels like it’s got a Ghost-ly connection with hard lead commitment with that doom harmony, grunt, growl, and even chants that work great within the riffing, grooving and hard driving push of the tracks.  Don’t think it’s all thrash and crash, though, as there’s some really gentle lyrics within ‘Lake Natron’ (wherever that might be).  So gentle I might stick my toe in the water.  No – nice try.  I’ll stay far back on she shore, as I’m sure there’s something lurking in the sand, too.  I’m not going to go skinny dipping anytime soon no matter what demon temptress might glisten above the water.

Nyctophobia is the fear of darkness or night.  While I can’t say that I can relate to that fear, as I’m a night-lover, this album is very intentful on reminding you of every facet of it, doing so in crunching and shredding, old-school throbbing vocals (with wonderfully timed screams I might add), and European-dark harmonies that lift the experience into a progressive nature along with some of the guitar work (aka the Townsend reference above).  The lyrics have their place, too, adding a thin layer of cheese (Alice Cooper comes to mind) to the glorious mix.  We get the range of every kind of darkness, which can be from old world scares to the extraterrestrial kind, and when all is said, played, and done, you’ve got a lot to be thankful for in the dark.  Nyctophobic is a well produced, determined and surprisingly fun debut album.  Metal is not dead by any account, and Terromania is a dark example of what’s lurking in the shredding shadows of the music multiverse of Finland and other places in the world.

The Band

  • Aleks Toppari – Bass
  • Miro Siljamäki – Drums
  • Antti Saarinen – Lead Guitars
  • Jyri Kuntsi – Rhythm Guitars
  • Julius Silvennoinen – Vocals

Nyctophobic Tracklisting

  1. The Invitation
  2. Disturbingly Beautiful
  3. The Pain Makes You Feel Alive
  4. Dead & Loved by You
  5. Lake Natron
  6. Ceremonial Graveyard
  7. Demon in the Rain
  8. In a Broken Mirror
  9. Lovely Nightmare
  10. The Desolation Witness
  11. Fight the Inner Darkness
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