New 2013 Releases From AltrOck
review by Mark McCawley
Each time I receive a package from AltrOck I am amazed by not just the variety of alternative music offered by this Italian label — from experimental to avant-jazz, Rock In Opposition to contemporary classical and progressive rock — but by the sheer excellence of the musicianship of the bands as well as the musicians themselves. The new 2013 releases from AltrOck (including one co-released with Fading Records) continues this ongoing tradition of filling their catalog with the best artists of contemporary progressive rock, anti-folk, fusion, avant-classical, avant-jazz, and RIO, nodding both to great musical innovators of the past while reaching forward with innovations of their own.
Humble Grumble is a Belgian band who has built an original sound mixing skilfully and effectively a number of genre – rock, jazz, folk, prog. They follow the great tradition of Belgian alternative bands such as X-Legged Sally, Fukkeduk, Think of One. In their unique style one can easily find complex structures, rhythm intricacies together within an expressly melodic vein. With an inexhaustible ironical attitude, one can hear the influence of early Zappa as well as that Captain Beefheart (circa Trout Mask Replica).
With the release of Guzzle It Up! Humble Grumble continues a distinctive musical path begun with their prior release, Flanders Fields. Recalling a golden era of European 70’s prog and Eastern European folk, Humble Grumble transports one with Zappaesque humor as well as the daring grooves and improvised melodies of Funkadelic, yet with Humble Grumble’s own unforced originality.
Humble Grumble — Accidentally in San Sebastian
Humble Grumble — Skunks
Gabor Humble – guitar, vocals
Megan Quill – vocals
Liesbeth Verlaet – vocals
Jouni Isoherranen – bass, keyboards Jonathan Callens – drums
Pol Mareen – saxophone
Pedro Guridi – bass clarinet
Joren Cautaers – vibraphone, percussion
Jana Voros – baby sounds on “Accidentally in San Sebastian”
Lisa Jordens – backing vocals on “Accidentally in San Sebastian”
Francisca Rose – pronouncing “tartiner” correctly on “Accidentally in San Sebastian”
If you have a penchant for progressive rock groups of the early 1970s — Genesis; Yes; Emerson, Lake & Palmer — then AltrOck’s sub-label Fading Records release You Have a Chance by Camelias Garden is definitely the CD for you.
Camelias Garden are a very young band from Rome born around the singer and poly-instrumentalist Valerio Smordoni. Their music features lyrical atmospheres and particularly elegant vocal arrangements. Their sound, bounces between acoustic, vintage 70s prog, Folk-prog and Italian bands like Acqua Fragile and Celeste. Songs such as “We All Stand In Our Broken Jars”, “A Safe Haven”, and “Clumsy Grace” stand out most beautifully.
Camelias Garden — We All Stand In Our Broken Jars
Camelias Garden — A Safe Haven
Camelias Garden — Clumsy Grace
Valerio Smordoni: Lead and Backing Vocals, MiniMoog, Keyboards, Piano, Harmonium, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine and Taurus Pedal.
Manolo D’Antonio: Acoustic and 12-String Guitar, Electric Guitar, Classical Guitar, Ukulele and Backing Vocals.
Marco Avallone: Bass, Synth Bass, Taurus Pedal and Percussions.
Francesco Favilli: Drums and Percussions
Carlo Enrico Macalli: Flute
Andrea Bergamelli: Cello
Eliseo Smordoni: Bassoon
Giovanni Vigliar: Violin
Not That City, Five-Storey Ensemble’s debut album release by AltrOck is my personal favourite among the three new releases of 2013. The 11-piece Belorussian group possess a minimalist or even post-minimalist quality, yet given an upbeat, folkish quality. Some pieces transition into lengthy phased notes from strings and reeds beneath a static two-chord piano motif, and an increasing tension is introduced by a bass line that the other instruments ultimately join, pounding away in a powerful assault. Not That City is one of the least rock-ish albums in AltrOck’s catalog — and that by itself makes it stand out. One of my two favourite selections, “Fear-Dream” floats darkly with an undercurrent of staccato jitters before building to a shattering climax.
Five-Storey Ensemble — The Protector
Five-Storey Ensemble — Fear-Dream (live at Gouveia Art Rock Festival, Gouveia, Portugal 27 April 2013)
Accordion – Alexander But’ko
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Andrey Evdokimov
Bass Guitar – Dmitry Maslovsky
Bassoon, Saxophone – Vitaly Appow
Cello – Nadia Christia
Double Bass – Vyacheslav Plesko
Drums, Percussion – Nikolay Semitko
Electric Guitar – Jury Korogoda
Flute – Olga Polakova
Oboe – Natalja Malashkova
Piano, Keyboards, Vocals – Olga Podgaiskaja
Violin – Anastasia Popova, Cirill Christia
Vocals – Sergey Dolgushev
Order this CD directly from AltrOck, here.
– Mark McCawley