Backhand — Through the Turbulence
((Not on label) , 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-09-25
The eleven minute multi-part instrumental opening cut “Introspektion” by this Venezuelan five-piece featuring Canadian singer Phil Naro (of Druckfarben) is like a calling card that features a diverse collection of styles and some outstanding playing by everyone. The piece starts in earnest with some heavy metal chugga-chugga riffage mixed with with bombastic choral keyboard blasts before it finds its way into genuine symphonic prog territory, then in a quick scoop the listener is led away into a jazzy rock passage driven by keyboards, then onward into a sweet bluesy section that starts gently and slowly grows into full throttle blues rock, with the reappearance of those choral blasts and some truly outstanding lead guitar, full of power and emotion, all culminating an a massive coda, covering all the elements of a classic prog rock opus and more. Indeed, if the album ended right here it would alone be worth the price of admission. But it doesn’t.
For the remainder of the disc’s 76 minutes the listener will hear plenty of material that straddles mainstream prog (think Saga, later Kansas, Wall era Floyd, and post 90125 Yes) and straight-ahead classic rock, often punctuated with generous moments of instrumental brilliance. Naro’s vocals are a perfect match when the band is in this mode. Cuts like “The Big Red Wall,” “Me, Myself and I", ”Hold the Light” and “Crime Story” don’t really break much ground stylistically, staying too close to the all too comfortable and often hackneyed realm of accessible prog. The band throws some decent instrumentals in along the way that keep the fire of that opening track burning, like “Hardwood,” with its gentle and jazzy center section driven by piano and guitar. A couple other instrumental pieces that shine brightly are “Tears from the Sea,” with its emotional attack and melodic substance, and “Spider Riff,” a multi-part workout that shifts gears continuously as it goes through its six-plus minute duration. So there you have it; there are really two distinct albums here – one of commercial sounding vocal cuts, and another set of inspired instrumentals by a promising group of outstanding players and writers.
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more