Lion Shepherd — Heat
(MJM5278, 2017, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 2017-09-26:
Lion Shepherd is a prog-oriented project led by friends Kamil Haidar and Mateusz Owczarek. Though living most of his life in Poland, Kamil spent his early years in Libya and Syria, which brings an Arabic influence into his music. Heat is their second album, a strong and consistent set of ten progressive and psychedelic influenced songs with Syrian oud, Persian santour, and various Indian and Arabic percussion instruments adding an exotic element to the standard electric guitar, bass, and drums. In addition to Kamil (vocals) and Mateusz (electric and acoustic guitars and Irish bouzouki), they are joined by Lukasz (bass), Stawek Berny (drums and percussion), Kasia Roscinska (backing vocals), and Wojteck Olszak (keyboards). Both the CD and LP come in lavish foldout packaging with maps, photos, and inserts. The music integrates Turkish and Arabian themes with some gothic West Coast psych elements, a bit of Native American rhythms and chants, and hard rock. The final song, “Swamp Song,” even reminds me a bit of the type of song Steven Wilson would write. Kamil uses music to express his joys and sorrows, but he never relates the inspiration behind his lyrics, wanting the listener to find his or her own way. As an example then, I think that the song “Storm Is Coming” might be about a zombie apocalypse, but I could be all wrong. I find it difficult to single out specific songs, as the entire album is excellent, though I do find “Dream On” and “Dazed by Glory” to be particularly interesting. Lion Shepherd is definitely a band to watch.
by Peter Thelen, 2017-09-26:
About a minute into the first song “On the Road Again,” I thought to myself "These guys sound kind of like Azigza, but without the violin," then the heavy and crunchy Tool-like guitars come into the picture and change my perception somewhat more, and so on it went for the full ten songs here. Also somewhat interesting was the eight-fold packaging that opens in all directions featuring a map of the middle east, with a booklet featuring all the lyrics in a booklet pasted onto the inside of one of the panels. It was definitely a positive experience on first listening. Enough to make me seek out the band’s first album Hiraeth before proceeding. While the first album is a strong entry, and probably features more variety (from heavier rock to melancholy singer-songwriter stuff) and more diverse instrumentation (including harmonica, oud, and santoor), it compares like baby steps to the far more confident and directed sound of this, their second album. So who are these guys? Lion Shepherd is essentially the Polish duo of Kamil Heidar (vocals and lyrics) and Mateusz Owczarek (acoustic and electric guitars, Irish bouzouki), with Stawek Berny joining them on drums and percussion (which includes numerous hand drums, tablas, etc.). The rest of the band includes Kasia Roskinska on backing vocals, Lucasz Adamczyk on bass, and Wojtek Olszak on keyboards, the latter three all new arrivals since the first album. They are attempting to create a fusion of middle-eastern and western Asian sounds and European progressive rock, informed also by jazz, blues, and metal, and fully succeeding. While there is perhaps less variety than their debut, the result is nonetheless a more single-minded and conceptually directed effort that pulls strength and power from their many influences. This is a band with great ideas that is going somewhere.
Related artist(s): Lion Shepherd
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
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