Schloss Adler — Tales of Survival Horror
(Cyclops CYCL 099, 2001, CD)
Vulgar Unicorn — Jet Set Radio
(Cyclops CYCL 068, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2002-09-01
A band named “Vulgar Unicorn”? Sounds like it must be some sort of fantasy-driven throwback to the days when songs about wizards could actually crack the Top 100. But not so. I don’t know why they call themselves Vulgar Unicorn, but they are a prog band incorporating modern pop styles into their sound, like IZZ (also reviewed this issue). The band is a duo consisting of guitarist Bruce Soord and keyboardist Neil Randall, along with various guests. The first track, the 11 minute “Where It All Began,” goes from a start reminiscent of Porcupine Tree to a long section with “ba-ba-ba” vocals that remind me of soft-psych from the 60s like “Windy,” but the guitar parts break that image fairly quickly. “It Didn’t Used to Be This Way” works into little bit of a Genesis (circa Lamb) sound, with strumming guitars and synthesizer melody. My favorite track is probably “Tierce de Picardie,” the heaviest of the lot, with some fun screeching guitar. All in all, I’d say Vulgar Unicorn is what Porcupine Tree might have sounded like if they had embraced the high tech of Signify rather than shying away from it.
“Schloss Adler” is the name Neil Randall uses for his solo work, which has some similarities with the band, but a distinct style, obviously more reliant on keyboards than guitar. The melodies and tonalities are sometimes similar, though Horror has more quiet (sometimes almost ambient) moments. The samples from movies and TV shows are used to an even greater degree. In some ways, I prefer the Adler release, though both are worthy efforts.
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