Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 12

There are places in this music multiverse where it would almost seem impossible to be heard as a musician.  Take Bermuda as an example.  Growing up in the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps, or war torn desert region of Africa, or maybe one of the largest urban cities in Italy.  The beautiful voice that survived the mysterious water triangle, of course, was Heather Nova.  That war torn region brought us the unique blues of Tinariwen, and the final one is one of two Italian bands on the list.  One totes a surf-punk sound with high energy (maybe they’re on steroids), and the other delves into murkier aggressive progressive instrumentalism.  Our third album for Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 12 comes in the form of a Mister.  A mister from the western sea of Italy as well.  Wait a minute!  All these fuckers are from Italy!?  What gives?!  Is Italy changing it’s top 10 exports?  Could they be taking the music multiverse by storm in all genres now, rather than the progressive rock and progressive metal they’ve been cultivating like the super-Tuscan soil surrounding the greatest red producing vineyards in the world?  Let’s explore some current sounds in Italy, and while I’m at — here’s the list of Top 10 Exports of Italy just to kind of shock you — that it ain’t wine.

Top 10 Exports of Italy [Yes, there’s no wine on this list]
  • Machinery including computers: US$106.2 billion (16.2% of total exports)
  • Pharmaceuticals: $47.4 billion (7.2%)
  • Vehicles: $45.5 billion (6.9%)
  • Electrical machinery, equipment: $40.8 billion (6.2%)
  • Mineral fuels including oil: $33.7 billion (5.1%)
  • Plastics, plastic articles: $27.1 billion (4.1%)
  • Articles of iron or steel: $22.9 billion (3.5%)
  • Iron, steel: $21.2 billion (3.2%)
  • Gems, precious metals: $20.4 billion (3.1%)
  • Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $16.1 billion (2.5%)

Stop “wine-ing” — ok.  But, perhaps after 2025, it could be musicians!  Wouldn’t that be – Stupendo!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discuss these (3) albums + adds 1 more Italian Import and (2) more reviews!]

 

 

Couchgagzzz – Gosports!!!

Bari, Italy yielded a man by the name of Ivan Iusco, a composer a record producer whose record label (running out of Los Angeles) has been connected with artists like Brian Eno and Depeche Mode.  He has an affinity for avant-garde and dark ambient, which he fixated to a band called Nightmare Lodge (there’s a place that’s probably not on the Bari landscape).  So, in this large urban, maze-like, coastal city, we’ve got this fifty-four year old, who in his formative years was engaged in the dark arts of rock, industrial as well as classical compositions (film scores), now in Los Angeles rubbing music elbows and making enthralling musical compositions and influencing a generation on either side of the world.  Now, did he influence this surf-punk band from the same city?  I’m going to think – not. But, what it does prove — is that out of anywhere, music love, appreciation and reach can and will happen.  Enter, Couchgagzzz.

You know me, I’ll say it — not even close to a smart name for a band (even if you had famous members).  If there’s an inside joke, no one is going to get it past your already known audience.  In fact, looking you up, they’re going to misspell or misassociate.  Can you overcome it?  That will remain unanswered at the time of this article, but I can assure you that my man,  Marco Gargiulo of
Metaversus PR is certainly spreading the sound word throughout the music-multiverse.  So enough of me living still in my show That’s Your Band Name?!  Let’s talk about this amped up sonic punk band from Bari, Italy that seems to have an affliction for a signature sound in the works.

The album is like a sports reel on a sonic punk tempo, complete with augmented vocal that kind of reminds you of a little bit of The B 52’s, right?!  Cool, infectious, riots, up-tempo guitar and tint-bashing symbols.  The rhythm guitar and mash up of sound and then back to an instrumental refrain all works so throw-back-like well.  I was completely drawn into the music and pace of it that I kind of left the lyrics on the cutting room floor, paying close attention to the changes in the guitar work and fun, simple riffs.  They throw it down, slap it all over the room, and then are clever enough to leave a little space to seemingly catch their strumming and solo breaths.  So evident on ‘Fap Challenge,’ which is a song that does not have vocal accompaniment, but it in that song I found the aching deficiency of the band.  How come I can’t completely follow or hear the vocal?  In the third listen, I’m starting to pick out pieces, but is it the foreign language?  No, I don’t think so, because the Italians are pretty amazing at speaking English.  Is it the sound wall and production?  It might be to some degree, but what I’m laying my ear on, is the commitment to it.  What am I saying, you ask?  You know the minute you put this record on that the tempo (the steroid induced pump-a-tude) is the signature.  I can hear and imagine the Italian club jumpin’ and slammin’ to their wall of sound and infusion of shifting rhythm and riff.  But, I think the vocal is left on the killing floor, enjoying the ride provided by the musicianship surrounding him, as the lower boot moshes on.  No one in the band is committed to it, as you’ll see below it’s three of the four.  Perhaps, when the ‘roids’ wear-off and the sophomore record comes to creation, they’ll find that voice, construct it and produce it to rise within or above.  That is what I’m anxious for, as this debut (in their own unique punk environment) has a lot going for it, and they’ve got the energy to fight for a really nice spot in the music multiverse!

The Band

  • JJ –  Drums, vocals
  • BB – Bass, vocals
  • Garko – Guitar, vocals
  • Snafu – Synth, guitar

Gosports!!! Tracklisting

  1. United
  2. Fap Challenge
  3. Gosports!!!
  4. Digimon
  5. The Wheel At The Finish Line
  6. Burak Won
  7. Bad Holes
  8. Astrazeneka

 

 

 

Modern Stars – Termination

It’s a fine line the progressive industrial rock environment and psychedelic progressive rock (for me anyway).  That line of ambient-drone, the music that speaks to intro, but sometimes never gets far enough to lead you somewhere.  There are bands that take it to the level like, Tool, and there are bands that linger in the myre of moodiness and nurturing as if it is Bonsai tree.  I like both, but I love the journey of going somewhere, so Modern Stars, from Rome Italy, is a tougher sell for me.  Wait!  Don’t you give up on Termination, their latest album, just because I said that.  I just want to provide a hint of context before diving into the vast moodiness of this album, also sent to me by Marco Gargiulo of Mettaversus PR.

‘If/Then’ is one hell of a start up song for this album.  I love the building moody underscored guitar and psyche, and the growing drum beat.  But, it doesn’t go anywhere, but into the next song.  Ok, I will play along, as there’s nothing wrong with an intro into another song (considering the prog-environment it could be lending itself to). It does allow for entry of a male melancholy moaning vocal along with an electronic pitchy, ominous slide-whistle (you remember those right — look it up).  Okay, while it didn’t go exactly anywhere, it was (like the Bonsai tree) sculpted to have a uniqueness and signature that was developed enough to appreciate.  This is where Modern Stars hangs their musical sculpting hat.  While you starve for the vocal to reach a better Depeche Mode tone and delivery, you enjoy the clever molding, patterns, and final product of the band’s musicianship.  Again, were in that same issue vocal, lyrical commitment issue.  The band is delivering, and even though it’s not reaching a tremendous crescendo, it is doing some fantastic and bold bass and psychedelic fused and rhythm centric progressive rock.

This was my first listen to the band, and I see that they have a catalog that is another three albums deep.  While I am not sold on the vocal delivery and lyric of Termination, I am still curious and excited to hear where their sound has been sculpted from and to, considering how well produced and instrumentally clever Termination is.  I plan to roam (almost spelled that wrong) in their sound for some time here, and I think you should to, especially if you like this kind of dark-ambient heavy on psychedelic sculpting of progressive mood rock.  Perhaps Modern Stars is the modern answer to moody bridge needed to elevate this murky mood driven genre?  If there’s any title that intrigues me to this notion, it is their Psychindustrial album for 2021.  And, away I — go.  Will you join me in this?  This is a miniature band in the grand scheme (something we always enjoy here at Beyond Your Radio), but their sound is larger than their stature and shaped carefully to reach even the most discerning ears.  I have a feeling the Bonsai terminology here will keep them in their wheelhouse, comfortable in the small shallow container, but believe me the sound is much bigger than that and should be allowed to expand.

The Band

  • Andrea Merolle – Electronics, guitars, vocals
  • Barbara Margani – vocals
  • Andrea Sperduti – drums
  • Mario Bruni – bass

Termination Tracklisting

  1. If/Then
  2. Nowhere
  3. Confession
  4. Bartleby
  5. Organization
  6. Be Pure
  7. Coming Down

 

 

 

Mr. Bison – Echoes From Across the Universe

That’s a big album title.  That’s a grand scope of an album cover.  So, what will you bring?  Mr. Bison decides to not wait a solitary second to give you what you should and thought would be coming out of an album and title like this!  Good for them!  The progressive psychedelic rock band from Tuscany, Italy really lays down some very impressive technical compositions here on Echoes From Across the Universe.  You saw the ‘echoes’ in printed form but also in the design of the album cover, and the band makes sure that you feel those in the subdued electronic keyboard, and the fuzz of their Yes-ian-psychedelic rock.  Yes, I said Yes.  Think Big Generator in the context of the sound, after all, this is Heavy Psych Sounds Records label, so you better bring the alternative stoner intensity, but they also manage to give you that vocal harmony that makes you make the comparison.  What also thrills me, and this is selfish, it’s the Yes I prefer, where the keyboards don’t go — way too far.

The riff and flow of this album from start to finish is careful to be progressive enough, but hold tight to the psychedelic nature and hard rock instrumental positions.  ‘Dead In the Eye’ which doesn’t feel seven minutes, encompasses the passion of every single member’s commitment to the project.  The bass holding, the guitars shimmering and riffing, the drumming courting the chaos, and of course the vocals reaching and seering with melodic intensity.  It seems that most of the band can play bass, so it’s not surprising how the fabric of breath in the album holds to that instrument and the meshing of the prog-instruments of Mellotron, synthesizer, and Hammond organ.  The harmonies within Sciocchetto’s vocals really make the album stand out, too!  It’s actually a fantastic second listen, where I was picking up on all of the intricacies of the instrumentation, progressive moments, and the mission of this concept record.  It took me some time to get there, but the musical experience and the bombastic vocals did rise to this occasion, and did echo across the album and its universe!  This is a fabulous listen of 70s fused with today’s progressive hard rock environment, a complete audio emersion of past, present and maybe future of how music can escape predetermination!  Escape is at hand.  Take Mr. Bison’s hand…by your headphones!  You’ve made the right choice!

The Concept, as told by Bandcamp page

The “Concept Album” is based on the Norse Norns myth, who weave the threads of universal destiny on a tapestry, in which all existence, in a continuous mix of past, present and future, intersect and influence each other, thereby generating a kaleidoscopic vortex of infinite and unpredictable possibilities. For this reason, we have used them as a symbol of freedom of choice, which never excludes but indeed implies, the element of chance.

The Band

  • Matteo Barsacchi – Guitars, bass, synth
  • Matteo Sciocchetto – Guitars, bass, vocals
  • Lorenzo Salvadori – Drums
  • Davide Salvadori – Acoustic guitars, synth, Hammond, Mellotron, bass

Echoes From Across the Universe Tracklisting

  1. The Child Of The Night Sky
  2. Collision
  3. Dead In The Eye
  4. Fragments
  5. The Promise
  6. The Veil
  7. Staring At The Sun  (Please don’t do this April 8th, 2024)
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