Jack Lancaster & Robin Lumley — Marscape
(Ozone OZ005-2, 1976/1993, CD)
by Mike Ohman, Published 1994-10-01
Lancaster is the former sax player in Blodwyn Pig, but this album is better-known for its side-players: Robin Lumley, John Goodsall, Percy Jones, Phil Collins, Morris Pert... in short, Brand X! Fans of Brand X actively search out this album expecting a pre-Brand X Brand X album. Well, yes and no. One can certainly hear the Brand X style in embryonic form on some songs, but we must remember, this is really Lancaster's show. Lancaster primarily plays sax, but he also plays a lot of Lyricon, an early wind synthesizer. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which synth lines were played by Lumley or Lancaster, although others have a definite "reedy" quality to their sound (i.e., you can tell by the phrasing that the notes came out of a wind instrument and not a keyboard). Other guest appearances include Penguin Cafe Orchestra mainstay Simon Jeffes on koto, while vocalist Bernie Frost graces some songs with his eerie falsetto, though none of the songs has any lyrics. The songs fall into two distinct categories: 1) Soft and atmospheric with gentle melodies expressed on sax/Lyricon/flute backed by Lumley's keyboards (usually piano) and 2) Jazz-fusion somewhat in the Mahavishnu mold with prominent sax and energetic rock backing. The latter passages are those which will be of greatest interest to Brand X fans, Percy Jones' distinctive bass playing being most prominent. One can't help but wonder if the program music on this album was perhaps originally intended to be a soundtrack of some sort. Worth getting if you know what to expect.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more