Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 3 Part I

What do you mean there’s no Album Review Saturdays this week?  (That was last week, right?)  Oh, now I’ve gone and really messed things up by being sick.  You would think that music would be able to sooth my sickened-soul, pull me from the mouth of illness, or lull me into a moment of enough zen to write three reviews.  Truth, it could have.  Bigger truth!?  I run six dentistries as my “real” job, and when you move to static IP — no not Static-X (I wish) — and your router won’t comply, and you’re on the phone for four hours trying to make it work with technical support that’s only qualification is they can answer a phone, be polite, and wait to get the answers from someone else — you suffer time loss that is inescapable.  Dread.  Oh, I was in a foul mood.  I was having trouble breathing, and I certainly was not going to recover.  My apologies, my music multiverse listeners.  So I figured I’d do a back to back, as I don’t want you to miss out on these albums, especially if you’re into something really pulse pounding, riff and rip your ears off!  Oh yeah, there is a four alarm fire on this one.  I’ll let the cover spoil it for it you!  Onward and sideways, as I muttered to myself after leaving the office last Saturday at 10pm (knowing I didn’t help myself or Album Review Saturday’s momentum).  Here’s Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 3 Part I!


[Mark Kuligowski discusses these (3) albums + adds more reviews at the end]



The American Analog SetWhat Are We Going To Tell Guy?

I was introduced to The American Analog Set in 1996 by Bill of The CD Exchange in Orchard Park, New York.  Bill, would never play anything coarse or hard rock in the store due to clientele, which made absolute sense.  So, why I browsed at lunch time, on the days I was in the office and not traveling for restaurant equipment sales, I would spend time listening to what he was playing.  The lo-key instrumentation, subtle shifts, bendy strings and light alternative electronica was elementally soothing.  There was nothing the same about each song, even amidst the calm being of the music.  Vocals, if included, were always tempered into the mix.  I knew why he played it in the store, but I also know WHY he played it in the store.  I probably put his dogs through doggy college with the money I spent in his store, but he always had his pulse on what he could have playing in the store.  There are stories in that store – galore!

I’m partial to the 1996 and 1997 albums, and I had not heard a new album from somce 2005’s Set Free.  That’s right I missed, For Forever.  Hell, I didn’t even see it come up in my spreadsheet, so that was a true, real miss (I’ll be playing it soon for sure).  So, What Are We Going To Tell Guy?  The set up is still the same.  The electronic carefully minded hum is there with the instruments flowing soft and gentle over, layering the mood, and allowing the songs to shift like they have pretty much always done.  The lyrical content here is sparse and honestly left to repeat rather than inspire or narrate (although they do as the question of the album title).  I feel we’re not in the “know” here on this one.  Or, at least, I am.  It’s still pleasant and soothing, but there’s a much more stripped, weaker presence, which could be absolutely by design, and I just didn’t get it.  The playing of acoustic guitars and organ are lovely (it could even be a flute for all I know – eh, vibraphone maybe), especially on the ‘I’m Too Tired To Shine I.’  There’s melancholy pace that I liken to the possible mental state of an assisted living ‘guy’ adjusting to the habitat, soaking in the pale surrounding, navigating the days enjoying some of the modest luxury of the time, until a light shown in something or someone.  Now, toward the end, this ‘guy’ is finding out the pace might be one thing, but there is a beauty and enjoyment in it because the music here has its place.  Just like ‘guy’ does.

The Band

  • Andrew Kenny – guitar, vocals, organ, electric piano, synth
  • Jesse Lee – bass, tapes
  • Mark Smith – drums
  • Sean Ripple – vibraphone, backing vocals, guitar, drums and percussion
  • Tom Hoff – organ, electric piano, guitar, drums

What Are We Going To Tell Guy? Tracklisting

  1. What Are We Going To Tell Guy?
  2. You Don’t Want Me To Arrive, Do You?
  3. Too Tired To Shine I
  4. Where Did You Come From?
  5. Queen of Her Own Parade





Slift – Ilion

Holy shit!  There’s knowing how to play an instrument, and then — there’s knowing how to PLAY and instrument, and get every last drop out of it.  Holy Shit!  There’s knowing how to play in a band, and then — there’s knowing how to PLAY in a band, and knowing how far you can push each other!  Ilion has no concept of fear, no concept of taking a moment to breathe the ether, or turn off their pursuits for progressive metal nirvana.  They are like me, a gorger.  The Toulouse France trio went into the studio, took their creative time, pushed each other at every corner of production and talent, spared no mental expense, methodically and progressively made their metal masterpiece, and delivered it up, throwing down their eight tracks (no not the magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s) goring the ears of the listener in one hour and nineteen minutes!  Thrashing them all over the primal landscape of anything they could sonically muster into the macabre (yes, there’s even industrial in this, too).  The elevated musicianship spares no moment.  They remain at this heightened progressive metal, stoner rock. industrial drip sense of sound, dialed in, dialed up, and unrelenting, accept maybe a fading song exit (nope! that wasn’t an exit –  Jesus).

We know the French can bang it out.  You know Gojira, so there’s a model.  However, Slift, makes the gorging elongated, darkly compelling, and beyond musical comprehension in every place on Ilion. It’s a wonderment of conception, song per song, in timing, in dramatic (yet controlled) crescendos that unexpectedly become another monstrous patterns of crushing riffs or rock licks, or metal solos, string tapping or bending or sonic spillage.  I kind of liken this to very dark early Genesis in technical aspects in the weaving of the music, just taken to a much darker and metal based world, and then torchuring it further.  The vocals do not completely share this sentiment (for me).  They know their place, sculpted carefully to contour the exceptional compositions.  There is no way they could compete at the heightened position the music is at anyway.  A lead singer wouldn’t survive.  They would be replacing them after a year of touring after draining their very life force.  To do anything other than the vocal here would never even come close to working.  The harmony in it is like a string arrangement; the only thing anywhere near subtle about the recording.

I feel like the band could play forever, or that they’re playing for the very devil that gave them their talent and joined them into perfect guitar, bass and drum playing flesh.  They either have no choice, are possessed marionettes of a primordial maestro, or they are the new coming of masters of the progressive metal meets sonic industrial!  Dark designers extraordinaire!  Any progressive metal or progressive rock ear is going to be completely drawn in.  It’s unavoidable, and you’ll know it on the opening, title track, and be cataclysmically aware when you ‘Enter the Loop.’  Trust me!  Accept it, like an exploding supernova into a black hole.  France has more than the Paris, The Olympics and Champagne this year!  Viva la Slift (or is it le?)!

The Band

  • Jean Fossat – guitar, vocals, synthesizers
  • Rémi Fossat – bass
  • Canek Flores – drums

Ilion Tracklisting

  1. Ilion
  2. Nimh
  3. The Words That Have Never Been Heard
  4. Confluence
  5. Weavers’ Weft
  6. Uruk
  7. The Story That Has Never Been Told
  8. Enter The Loop




Sean ShibeProfesion

Classical guitar.  The mere mention of it, and I feel ill-qualified to have a review.  Not because of my non-technical expertise.  I’m just intimidated by it.  I mean, could Eddie Van Halen play classical guitar to the works of Agustín Barrios, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera?  I would assume so, right?  I’m thinking Joe Bonamassa could, considering his performance in Vienna.  But, those names!  They are intimidating, more so, right?  They composed this music in detail and without the help of advanced technology — and in some cases even void of decent lighting.  Still, I’m drawn in.  I love the expertise, the incredible dexterity and calculated manipulation of the thick strings at the sacrifice of skin and nerve damage (okay maybe it’s not that bad).  I am wowed by their command of the delicate wood based instrument and the variety of ways they hold, caress and rub to make it become alive with sentiment and age battled melodies that somehow continue to be a revelation in this day of the swipe and play, scroll and pick that is the recording industry’s measure of success.  No.  I don’t need a cold shower.  Not yet anyway.  Let’s check out Mr. Shibe on the classical guitar.

No, I don’t know Barrios’s “Profesión de Fe” (profession of faith), but after hearing Sean Shibe brilliantly profess his own through Profesion, I’m fairly certain I have a minute grasp of the delicate, commitment required to make sure a profession.  The cover art itself, had that life and devotion kind of look to it, and the picture held true to the maestro’s intention and the musical palette within.  There’s a simple beauty in the Old World, and the strings at his fingers convey it devoutly from within the church that provided the acoustic arena for such sounds to flourish (like the lovely plant growth shown in the album cover).  While Sean is not South American, you might feel that he is, considering the depth of attention and the style capabilities that are probably required, as well as modified within his interpretive concepts.  The opening three tracks are compelling arguments for the beauty and somewhat sonic sounding acoustic flare that is capable in the right place, and in the right hands.  The playing is light, not overt in complexity, but complex in beauty and timing.  There’s a story-telling feel in the “studies” section,.  Yet, the “sonatas” area definitely lets the passion have its way for a bit, intensifying tempos and strumming, but careful to share the original spirit of the record in acoustic beauty.

This is a musical world to explore, my music multiverse travelers.  It is a perfect world to immerse into your background of life, or in the silence of beautiful room, or, if the moment arises, a spiritual or romantic moment thick with beauty and passion.  Sean Shibe came to me via Moon Dog, Louis Thomas Hardin, (yes that Viking dude on the corner in New York City).  He did an album much like Kronos Quartet (that I reviewed last year on Album Review Saturdays) on him, so it’s a wonderful music multiverse of so many degrees of Moon Dog separation!  Whatever leads you to classical guitar.  I hope you appreciate and enjoy in between your usual listening habits.

Profesion Tracklisting

  1. Preludes, W419, A419: No. 3 in A Minor (Homage to Bach)
  2. La catedral: I. Preludio (Saudade)
  3. La catedral: II. Andante religioso
  4. La catedral: III. Allegro solemne
  5. Julia Florida
  6. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 1, Allegro non troppo
  7. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 2, Allegro
  8. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 3, Allegro moderato
  9. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 4, Un peu modéré
  10. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 5, Andantino
  11. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 6, Poco allegro
  12. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 7, Tres animé
  13. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 8, Modéré – Lent
  14. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 9, Très peu animé
  15. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 10, Très animé [ME-1953]
  16. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 11, Lent
  17. 12 Studies, W235, A235: No. 12, Animé
  18. Sonata, Op. 47: I. Esordio
  19. Sonata, Op. 47: II. Scherzo
  20. Sonata, Op. 47: III. Canto
  21. Sonata, Op. 47: IV. Finale
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