Japonize Elephants — Mélodie Fantastique
((Not on label) TZME 04, 2012, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01Perhaps this is one of the most eclectic bands around, nothing quite like their mix of styles and influences. Although it's been ten years since their last album 40 Years of Our Family, I knew they hadn't given up because I kept seeing notices for their live shows, even went to one at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley about five years ago. From humbler beginnings in Bloomington, Indiana back in the mid-90s, their original collision of styles included Appalachian fiddling, gypsy circus sounds, humorous interludes, middle-eastern modal threads and straight-up hillbilly music presented by a large and variable lineup that might include fiddle, guitar, banjo, flute, trumpet, saxes, vibraphone, accordion, bass, vocals and junk percussion. All these years later, the band is now established on the west coast in the SF Bay Area, and with this latest release (their fourth), the range of styles and influences has been blown wide open to include just about everything – all of the above plus jazz, rock, country, show tunes, a capella, folk, classical bits, and much more. Currently a twelve-piece lineup with additional guests all led by guitarist Sylvain Carton, the production level is far more sophisticated than it was in those early days. After ten years some evolution was inevitable, and in this case it's all for the good, but amid all this bizarre sonic diversity, every tune still carries the Japonize Elephants unmistakable signature. Whether you're an old salt that cut your teeth on Bob's Bacon Barn, or you're a newcomer that’s never heard the band before, Mélodie Fantastique offers a treasure of great tunes for the open minded listener.
Related artist(s): Japonize Elephants
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more