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.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more