Ampledeed — BYOB
((Not on label) no#, 2016, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 2016-02-19:
Three years ago Ampledeed released their debut album, A Is for Ampledeed. 2016 sees the release of their sophomore effort BYOB – so I assume that their next release will be brought to you by the letter “C.” The cover art reminds me of the children’s magazine Highlights, how many items can you name in the picture that begin with “B?” Looking closely I see bubble gum, brain, Beach Boys, bug, bee, bear, booze, burger, beetle, baby, books, Beelzebub, beer, ball, bike, bubbles, baboon, bunny, burning, bun, etc. I challenge you to find something I missed!
Now to the music. For BYOB, Ampledeed have expanded their lineup. In addition to original members Max Taylor (vocals, keyboards), Aaron Goldich (vocals, keyboards), and Luis Flores (vocals, guitar, cuatro), they’ve added Isaac Watts (drums, bass, vocals), Lisa Vitale (vocals), Allie Taylor (vocals), and Aaron Munoz (bass). In contrast to their first release that was mostly instrumentals, BYOB contains mostly songs. The musical compositions continue in the same direction charted by their first release; complex melodies and arrangements of jazz / progressive rock fusion. The addition of vocals, especially the female vocals, is a nice accompaniment to the music. On a number of songs there are interesting organ licks similar to Keith Emerson as well as some soaring guitar solos that impart a 70s ambiance to the modern progressive rock arrangements. Once in a while Ampledeed throws in a Robert Fripp reference for good measure. Ampledeed has matured over the past three years and BYOB is definitely a step forward from A Is for Ampledeed. Let us all hope that we won’t have to wait another three years for their next release.
by Jon Davis, 2016-05-04:
If I had to pick a short phrase to sum up Ampledeed’s second album, it would be “meticulously complex.” It’s been nearly three years since I first heard this band, and it sounds like every minute of the intervening time has been spent assembling this sophomore effort. This is not the kind of music you can just throw together in a few weeks, with each tune built on one riff, a chorus, and maybe one other bit for variety. Each track, even the shorter ones, is composed of intricate interactions between guitars, keyboards, vocals, and rhythm section. Elaborate vocal arrangements are a big part of this Ampledeed collection: not only do the three original members all sing, but some of the newcomers do as well, most notably Lisa Vitale and Allie Taylor, whose parts nicely complement the male vocals and provide an appealing alternative sound. This band definitely fits in the stream of American progressive rock that stems from Echolyn back in the 90s, combining tricky rhythms and arrangements with catchy melodies immaculately sung. But they have developed a sound all their own, and can’t be pinned down in any particular stream of progressive rock. The thing they do best, and most impressively, is to produce music that leaves virtually nothing to chance (every drum fill and keyboard lick planned in detail) but doesn’t sound sterile and lifeless. It’s pretty hard to image the band pulling off this music in a live setting, especially given that all of them play multiple instruments, at least not without substantial reworking and adjustment. But that’s okay — BYOB manages to be exciting and full of the kind of intricacies that lend themselves to repeated listening. It’s an amazing achievement, and deserves a spot in the highest echelon of current American progressive rock.
Related artist(s): Ampledeed
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
Louisa John-Krol & Oöphoi - Alabaster & I Hear the Water Dreaming – Australian singer Louisa John Krol has been releasing music for about ten years, although these mark the first time she has been reviewed in these pages. Alabaster is her 2003 solo release (a newer... (2006) » Read more
Sea Level - Sea Level, Cats on the Coast, On the Edge & Long Walk on a Short Pier – The Allman Brothers in their prime were no doubt one of the best American rock bands of the early 70s, covering a little bit of everything and doing it all extremely well — never a shortage of... (1999) » Read more