Rush — Clockwork Angels
(Roadrunner Records 1686-176562, 2012, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01
For most of Rush's fans the music on the Canadian trio's 19th studio album won't come as a complete surprise. The songs "Caravan" and "BU2B" were released a couple years back and played live to test the waters, and the positive feedback unleashed drummer Neil Peart's first crack at a conceptual suite of lyrics since 1976's 2112. Guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee quickly joined forces and the result is arguably Rush's strongest effort since their early 80s peak. That is if you accept the premise that Rush always has been and always should be a progressive power trio, the sort of group that blazed trails with songs like "Temples of Syrinx" and "Tom Sawyer." The narrative is too complicated and there are too many musical highlights to cover here, but what sets Clockwork Angels apart from recent albums – apart from the conceptual framework – is a fierce sense of urgency behind the performances and a hard kick in the ass in the recordings (tip of the hat to co-producer Nick Raskulinecz). My theory is that the love and reverence showered on Rush via the Beyond the Lighted Stage biopic caused them to re-evaluate their recent output relative to the albums that created their fame in the first place. And this time out they were determined to produce something that would measure up, at least as well as men their age and bearing the scars of a long career in rock could muster. The results are an unqualified success.
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