All posts by Conor Fynes

Corvus Stone Album Cover

Corvus Stone – Corvus Stone

Corvus Stone Album Cover

Corvus Stone are another band made possible by the convenience and networking of the internet. It’s a story most of us can appreciate really; Finland’s Pasi Koivu got in touch with Bunchakeze guitarist Colin Tench in hopes of a collaboration, and within no time at all, the online jam had grown to include a host of likeminded musicians. Although the strings remain ultimately pulled by Koivu, Corvus Stone may be seen as a meeting place and dialogue for some of progressive rock’s underground heroes. In a sense, it’s refreshing to hear an album that’s come together with such enthusiasm and sincerity. Indeed, the talent of those involved makes Corvus Stone’s self-titled debut an enjoyable piece of composition- oriented instrumental rock, although the fluid, as-it-comes way the album came together keeps the album’s pieces from coming together as a fully satisfying whole.

Although Colin Tench is the musician I am most properly familiar with (for his work in the symph prog act Bunchakeze), some of these musicians I have been at least aware of. For one, Pasi Koivu has a longrunning association with the classic band Black Widow as their archivist, and I have more recently heard the work of guest vocalist Blake Carpenter, with his solo project The Minstrel’s Ghost. Last, but surely not least, the charmingly ubiquitous Sonia Mota lends her talent with visual art to the project, giving the record an appropriately diverse and dense album cover. Although I have not been introduced to the others (through their music or otherwise), it’s clear that Corvus Stone consists of a remarkably consistent and skilled ensemble of musicians so involved because they enjoy what they do. It’s as if the intention of Corvus Stone is to take in all of the best things from these artists, and forge something exciting out of it. Fortunately, this open dialogue results in some great musicianship across the board. With so many ideas inbound however, “Corvus Stone” often feels unfocused and even aimless.

At twenty one tracks and almost eighty minutes long, it’s clear that Corvus Stone are not worried about being succinct in their music. Their largely instrumental work is divided either into bite-sized idea sketches, or drawn out jams that recall Pink Floyd. Although a handful of songs are able to escape the clutches of either fault, there’s very little balance here. Pasi Koivu is evidently a strong composer as some of the album’s better tracks attest; the record’s shooting star “Ice King” is effective, concise and haunting. “October Sad Song” is a little more jam-oriented, but never forgets to throw in a firm hook or two. Unfortunately, too many of these songs seem to end before they begin. Most of Pasi’s compositional ideas hold their weight on their own, but they are never explored to their potential. An intriguing idea that could have been fleshed out into a full song is often left as a two minute sketch, giving “Corvus Stone” the feeling of a compilation album, or a work in progress. On the other hand, the eight minute title track and eleven minute “Cinema” feel too longwinded. Colin’s omnipresent lead guitar is soulful and a joy to the ear, but there’s the nagging feeling that the ideas and musicianship would have been much better served with a more consistent approach to the compositions.

Considering the album has (presumably) come together via the transference of files between countries and personal computers, the production here is remarkably solid and consistent. Colin Tench’s Floydian guitar style remains the album’s highlight, although the presence Blake Carpenter’s warm vocal style usually tends to indicate the album’s best tunes. There is some great talent at work in Corvus Stone, and many of the musical concepts therein are promising. For all of its enthusiasm and skill however, the album’s messy flow and utter lack of structure keeps Corvus from achieving their potential this time around.

This debut has me thinking of a child’s playroom. There is colour, joy, and vitality here, but the the floor is dirty and things are scattered everywhere. Of course, as children grow up, they tend to adopt a greater focus. If Corvus Stone are able to realize the potential that’s plainly evident here, there could be a very impressive album in their midst. Until then, I’m left feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Tracklist:

1. The Curtain Rises (1:32)
2. October Sad Song (4:58)
3. Highway to Emptiness (2:28)
4. Ice King (3:11)
5. I’ll Leave It All Behind (3:36)
6. Corvus Stone (8:20)
7. Moron Season (3:27)
8. Horizon (1:51)
9. Intermission (0:41)
10. Moustaches in Massachusetts (4:17)
11. Pilgrims (5:17)
12. JussiPussi (2:45)
13. Iron Pillows (5:17)
14. After Solstice (4:05)
15. The Rusty Wolff Attack (2:34)
16. Lost and Found (2:15)
17. Scary Movie (4:22)
18. Cinema (10:50)
19. You’re So Wrong (3:52)
20. Ice King (3:10)
21. Ten Inch Lisa (0:31)

Line-up:

* Pasi Koivu – keyboards
* Colin Tench – guitars
* Petri Lemmy Lindström – bass, various instruments

With:
* Robert Wolff – drums
* Blake Carpenter – vocals
* Stef Flaming – guitars, vocals
* John Culley – guitars
* Victor Tassone – drums

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/CorvusStone

GekkoProjekt_ElectricForest_FrontCover_1500

Gekko Projekt – Electric Forest

GekkoProjekt_ElectricForest_FrontCover_1500

Long before the time Gekko Projeckt and their debut “Electric Forest” rolled around, each of the musicians that comprise this quartet were experienced performers, and this maturity translates well into their poppy melange of prog rock. At forty minutes and ten tracks, they have created an album that even the most delicate rock listener could appreciate. Their talent is evident throughout, although this relatively unambitious take on prog leaves me in want for excitement.

The sounds of King Crimson, Rush, and Camel all find a place in Gekko Projekt. Above all, “Electric Forest” may be seen as an instrumental rock guitar album with a smattering of ‘vocal’ songs. Instrumentally, Gekko Projeckt find a familiar nook for themselves, drawing in the exploratory nature of fusion jazz with the classic style of symphonic prog. “Electric Forest” is then filtered through a sheath of poppy melodies and accessible song structures. For the most part, this works pretty well, thanks in large part to guitarist Peter Matuchniak’s elaborate performance. With particular regards to the beautiful instrumental “Cognitive Dissonance”, Peter is skilled with melodic lead playing as much as he is with finding the perfect guitar tone for the mood.

GP

Though fairly few in number, Gekko Projekt throw some vocals our way. Of these, “Black Hole” is the most memorable, a warm and catchy track with some vocals I might expect to find in a folk rock album. The voices- performed on the album by Vance Gloster and Alan Smith- are not excellent from a technical perspective, but warmth and feeling is there. Instrumentally, the music is rarely complex, and, with the exception of Peter’s guitar work, the musicianship does not really stand out, although I have a feeling that this is more a result of the fairly straightforward song structures rather than the talent of the musicians themselves.

In short, “Electric Forest” is a pretty enjoyable album to listen to; a fine piece of music to put on while relaxing. It delivers the warmth and sound of prog, however exchanging the genre’s typically challenging song structures for accessible compositionship. Fans of Camel will enjoy what Gekko Projekt have to offer.

Tracklist:

1. Particle Dance (3:42)
2. Black Hole (4:54)
3. Cognitive Dissonance (4:44)
4. London Vibe (2:21)
5. Avatar Jones (6:03)
6. Erdinger (5:00)
7. Martian Sunrise (5:25)
8. State of Siege (2:32)
9. October Skies (5:48)
10. Particle Coda (1:12)

Line-up:

* Peter Matuchniak – guitars
* Vance Gloster – keyboards, vocals
* Rick Meadows – bass
* Alan Smith – drums, vocals