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.
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more