Ensemble Nimbus — Scapegoat
(Record Heaven RHCD12, 19998/1998, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01
Ensemble Nimbus play a sort of electric-acoustic chamber music. Percussionist Hasse Bruniusson of Flowerkings and Sammla Mammas Manna is joined by Håkan Almkvist on guitar and other instruments, Lars Björk on clarinets, and Kirk Chilton on violin and viola. Almkvist is really the driving force here, as he is the only one with a hand in composing all eleven tracks (seven on his own, four in collaboration with various of the others). He’s a good writer – the tunes are inventive and full of interesting twists and harmonies. Only occasionally do they approach rock, like in the opening track, “Burning Arrows,” where halfway through, after a bouncy Middle Eastern flavored melody from the clarinet and viola, we suddenly get a distorted guitar feeding back. But the backing behind it is rather sparse drumming, and it’s topped by strange shouted words.
What they remind me of more than anything is a less aggressive Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, taking the developments of 20th Century composition and putting them in a (more or less) rock band context. The clarinet provides a different sound to the group, where a saxophone would be more expected. Studio effects like taped voices and found sounds spice up the arrangements. Nimbus is really doing something different, giving us a unique combination of modern classical, rock and electronics. While the playing is not generally flashy, the musicians work together to form a quite satisfying, well, ensemble.
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