Tag Archives: experimental

The Mercy Stone

Interview with THE MERCY STONE

The Mercy Stone is a 12-piece ensemble that is breaking the boundaries between the worlds of rock, jazz, and classical music. Performing all original instrumental compositions, The Mercy Stone’s music possesses all the intricacies of a finely tuned contemporary-classical chamber ensemble and the energy of a high-octane rock band.

Back in September, the ensemble released their debut album titled “Ghettoblaster,” and we talked with guitarist, composer and the man behind The Mercy Stone, Scott Grady.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Thanks for asking. Things are great – feeling happy to talk about our music today!

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Ghettoblaster”?

This album fuses aspects of “classical” music composition with a rock-based aesthetic. I imagine that most of the people engaging with this album would be coming from a listening background that was largely rock/pop oriented with most of their “classical” music experience coming from background music in movies or television. On many tracks, I think that the surface elements of the music would quickly convey a good idea of where we are coming from artistically. My hope is that, without any sort of pretense, the raw elements of the music are compelling enough to draw listeners in for a deeper listen. There are elements in “classical” composition that most popular music doesn’t really deal with, generally. While it is not necessarily important to me that anyone hear the music and correctly identify the octave cannon with augmented rhythmic values (sorry to geek out there for moment), it’s fun to think that they might hear it and just feel the tremendous groove it creates.

Ghettoblaster

What was it like working on the album?

We started recording the album with only a few pieces composed from beginning to end. But once the recording process began, the rest of the material really started to flow. Each individual track and the album as a whole came together very organically in what I could jokingly call a very long drawn out stream of consciousness process. Even though the album was written and recorded over many months, there was still definitely an aspect of just excitedly and blindly seeing where the music would lead without an extremely specific plan.

We were fortunate to work with some very patient engineers/producers who helped immensely in getting the sound of the record into its final form. I think mixing was a big headache for all of us. The instrumentation of the group along with the subtleties of the arrangements presented some pretty daunting challenges in this regard. There were moments along the way where I would feel like the entire project was a failure because we just couldn’t get the mixes right. It’s hard to put into words how great it feels to be on the other side of that process with a finished record that you love.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Ghettoblaster”?

Absolutely. At the moment we are polishing the material from the album, along with some new music, for live performance and will start gigging regionally in southern California in the near future.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

I’m looking forward to taking The Mercy Stone to every corner of the globe where we can reach people with our music. The dream of being able to see the world as a touring musician versus simply a tourist is quite intoxicating.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Authenticity in any form is inspiring to me. Lloyd Rodgers was a composer and a composition professor of mine. He once took a written copy of a piece I was working on and threw it on the ground in disgust because he felt that I wasn’t writing music that was true to what he knew of my musical/artistic inclinations. He was enraged at this thought. Any student of Dr. Rodgers would not be the least surprised by this story. I’m still not sure that I agree with him completely in that instance. But, god, I loved that guy. He recently passed and I’m quite sad that I never got to share the music from this album with him. The piece, Conception, was directly inspired by my time studying counterpoint with him.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Being a lifelong musical omnivore, there is music from almost every genre I have encountered that has been influential and inspiring. Though this album primarily deals with the synthesis of rock and classical elements in an instrumental setting, I’m still a sucker for a great song. I’m way late in discovering the music of Elliot Smith. His music is just brilliant. There’s a lot of classic rock that has a special place in my heart. I just re-listened to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for the first time in about 5 years and it filled me as completely as the first time I heard it.

I’m also fortunate enough to have creative people in my life that are of great inspiration to me, musically. My bandmate, Emmanuel Ventura-Cruess, has a band called Emael. He is a cellist, singer, and songwriter who is making some of the coolest rock/pop music that I’ve heard in a while. His first album will be out soon and his music is just fantastic. While I was working on my master’s degree in composition, I met another student named Craig Michael Davis. When we met, he was just beginning to compose. He went on to study with the composer, Michael Gordon, in New York and is making some really beautiful post-minimal music. I think we have both taken great pleasure in being friends and watching each other develop as composers.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

It’s been a blast connecting with people who dig our music since we released the album a few months ago. I hope we can continue to excite and surprise our audience with each new musical endeavor.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

ART AGAINST AGONY Announce "Russian Tales" EP

ART AGAINST AGONY Announce “Russian Tales” EP

Germany-based collective Art Against Agony announce today their new EP titled Russian Talesscheduled for the release on July 22nd. The ensemble of musicians and artists combine different elements; their instrumental music evolves around progressive metal, experimental rock, jazz fusion and avant-garde.

Speaking about the forthcoming EP, the band commented: “The ‘Russian Tales’ EP gathers all of our experiences from our tour through Russia during the Siberian winter of 2016: Driving 12000km and playing 20 shows in 3 weeks was heaven and hell, with wonderful hospitality & delicious food, marvellous nature & wild animals, but also including insomnia, anxiety & social break ups.

To coincide with the release of the Russian Tales EP, Art Against Agony will embark on a tour across Russia in late July, followed by dates in Brazil in August. For the full list of dates see below.

Russian Tales is available for pre-order from Bandcamp (downloads) and Bigcartel (CDs). A video trailer for the EP can be seen below, and “Coffee for the Queen” single can be heard on Bandcamp here.

Russian Tales EP Track Listing:

1. Königsberg Präludium
2. Nothing to declare?
3. Tea for the Dragon
4. Coffee for the Queen
5. Saratov Incident

Art Against Agony – “Against All Odds Tour 2017” live dates:

29.07. Back Luny Festival, Russia
30.07. Kaluga, Russia
01.08. Yelets, Russia
02.08. Voronezh, Russia
03.08. Tula, Russia
04.08. Zelenograd, Russia
05.08. Saint Petersburg, Russia
08.08. Sao Paulo, Brazil
09.08. Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
10.08. Rio de Janeiro – Botafogo, Brazil
11.08. Petropolis, Brazil
12.08. Rio de Janeiro – Barra, Brazil
13.08. Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil

Randomnicity

Review: Konstant Singularity – Randomnicity

Konstant Singularity is a project of Russian multi-instrumentalist, but mainly guitarist, and composer Konstantin Ilin who lives in Dublin, Ireland for a few years. In May 2014, Ilin released his debut album with KS entitled “Music Diversity Party” (available here), and back in December 2016 he returned with its followup — “Randomnicity.” A quick comparison between the two releases reveals that the new record feels far more free-form than its predecessor.

“Randomnicity” is at times a brutally minimalist avant-rock exploration of loathing and at others a nostalgic trip through a bad 1960’s acid trip, 1970’s progressive rock, 1980’s art pop, and 1990’s jazz fusion. “Randomnicity” is driven in equal parts by noise rock’s harsh guitar, and a sense of sonic adventure and true experimentation. Album highlight “Hyacinth Sky” is a stunning masterpiece; Ilin and drummer Alex Vostrikov abandon all pretence of accessibility, and that it is the very core of the album. This doesn’t seem like a record that is easy to digest, what is in the core of the experimental music, but there is definitely a lot of balance and determination in the band’s improvisational approach. This only adds to album’s intrigue though, as it makes us question the ideas of nostalgia and longing so built into the record’s sounds.

Konstant Singularity have released a powerful statement here; this is an album that should definitely be on radar of many prog fans. Get it from Bandcamp.

You can read the interview with Konstantin Ilin here.

Too High To Say Hello

Review: Kiss Kiss King Kong – Too High To Say Hello

Norway’s power trio Kiss Kiss King Kong assault listeners’ ears with highly energetic and sporadic bursts of brilliant dynamics on “To High To Say Hello.” Colorful, complex, and superbly catchy, the band’s debut album is an exceptional collection of hyperactive post-rock and noisy flights of fancy, with momentous musicianship infectious hooks scattered throughout. This album is adventurous, imaginative, and surprising. In fact, it’s the most fearless and unique album I’ve heard this year, although it’s a release from 2015.

The opening “Intro the Night” kickstarts “Too High To Say Hello” like an auditory coma. On “668: Neighbour To The Beast,” the music jolts with a start/stop frenzy that’s too tremendous to ignore. The guitarist provides an impassioned melody for each wildly creative rhythmic shift, which vary between hectic, tranquil, and atmospheric. Best of all, this song proves to be one of the most inventive and unforeseen tracks I’ve heard all year. The psyched-out guitar work is seductive, and the instrumentation on this tune veers more towards psychedelic swing than anything progressive. It bleeds into the equally exciting rock’n’roll banter “Rock All Night” and its follow-up “On A High,” making for completely unexpected stylistic shifts.

Further on, “Bordell California” lives up to the zany awesomeness of its title. It’s luscious, multifarious, and wholly confident — considering it is the longest piece on the record. It is perhaps the most experimental piece on the album, and definitely one of the biggest highlights of “Too High To Say Hello.

Post-punk trails on short “Jet Age” further contribute to the album’s overall multicolourness. The closing “Rewind” is an elegant piece with soaring vocals and tasteful melody.

Too High To Say Hello” is so inimitable. Rarely have I been so impressed with the sheer nonconformity of an album. Then again, it’s equally rare to find a modern band who strives so hard to set itself apart from the pack. Without a doubt, this one is special.

Grab a copy of “Too High To Say Hello” from iTunes. Like Kiss Kiss King Kong on Facebook.

Orion Tango - Orion Tango - Orion Tango

Review: Orion Tango – Orion Tango

Five tracks and almost fifty minutes of music is what you get with the debut album from Philadelphia bass experimental outfit Orion Tango. The band members, Tim Motzer (guitars), Barry Meehan (bass) and Jeremy Carlsted (drums), have played together in various projects already, but this is their first time together in a power trio format.

Orion Tango - Orion Tango - cover

The band members are skilled musicians who understand being in a band that largely relies on improvisation. The guitar and electronic textures are astonishing; the drums are usually heavy and grasped with the prowess of a master craftsman, great tone and very vibrant, sometimes leading the songs through complex instrumental workouts. The same can be said of the bass. Barry Meehan often delivers a fuzzy tone, giving the tunes a heavy bottom end when there is a need for that. Usually the main issue with this kind of albums is with melody, because it often gets lost in the predominant experimentation, but Orion Tango answers that challenge flawlessly. These three gentlemen are to be commended for making challenging music completely outside the box.

Find Your Happy Place” opens the album under a nodding groove; the trio gives the soundscape an almost unsettling atmospheric feel. The song comes along with energetic motives and gentler, almost ambient atmospheres. “SuperGun” is when all hell breaks loose as heavy drum beats and greasy bass take the piece in completely free form regions. The band often takes different directions with psychedelic guitar and space rock atmospherics. Orion Tango take the extraordinary to another level. On the seventeen minute epic “Gravity Knife,” Orion Tango engages into another improvisational affair with equal amounts of heavy eccentrics and space rock multi-coulourness.

If you are a fan of experimental music, Orion Tango’s self-titled debut release is definitely an album that you’ll find enjoyable.

Buy it here.