Monday, September 27, 2010

A non-music post

After a hectic weekend, I haven't had much time to tend to my blog or check out anyone else's. I should be back soon with a new review but in the meantime, here's a picture a friend sent me that made me laugh.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tanzwut - Schattenreiter (2006)

As their name suggests, Tanzwut is not an English speaking band. In fact, they’re German (Tanzwut translates to dance-rage). Schattenreiter (Shadow Rider) is their latest album, released in 2006. Their sound is a mix of Neue Deutsche Härte (new German hardness) and medieval metal. The thing that stands out most about Tanzwut’s sound is their use of bagpipes.

Schattenreiter is a very heavy album, while still having a melodic quality through the use of synthesizers and bagpipes. The general feel of the album is that of dance and techno music, but it is far from synthetic. Schattenreiter makes a great soundtrack for racing games as well, because a majority of the songs are fast-paced & ‘jumpy’.

My favorite song is Toccata, which is a cover of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor in their musical style. A church organ provides the timeless melody while distorted guitars shred in the background. The vocals in this track sound very hymn-like during the verses and a chanting chorus completes the overall mood of the song.

So if you’re a bagpipe-enthusiast looking for some heavy music and you’re not bothered by the language barrier (unless you sprechen sie Deutsch), this album might be worth checking out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Serj Tankian – Imperfect Harmonies (2010)

I was pretty psyched about this album, being a huge Serj fan and I wasn’t let down. Serj described it as electro-orchestral-jazz-rock and that is what it is. The album is very orchestral while keeping a heavy rock feel.

My favorite thing about Imperfect Harmonies is the diverse instrumentation. There are typical rock instruments (guitar, bass, and drums) along with orchestral instruments (strings, brass, woodwind, etc), sitars, accordions, synthesizers/drum machines, and of course, piano. This album has a lot of layers, so if you’re fond of music with a simple layout, this might not be your cup of tea. I love this kind of music because there’s so much complexity, you can listen to it a hundred times and still notice something new.

It was difficult for me to choose a favorite song because the album as a whole progresses in a way where the songs weave together while having a completely different feel. The song that I’m drawn to the most at this point is Deserving, which starts out with an acoustic guitar riff accented with the cold, low buzz of a contrabass. You can also hear Serj in the background saying something, but I have yet to decipher what he’s saying. After the intro, a subtle use of synth-bass greets Serj’s vocals. The chorus has this slightly-upbeat, techno (UHN-TSS-UHN-TSS) feel which juxtaposes the rest of the song.

As much as I approve of the music on this album, I do have a few non-music related griefs. One of them is the album art; while it bears a message and was intricately put together, I enjoy album art that is a little more abstract (I guess I should mention that I still buy CDs. I believe owning a physical copy is much more safe and rewarding than iTunes). Another thing is, I bought the Best Buy exclusive version which came with an extra DVD of one of Serj’s performances for the Elect the Dead tour a few years ago. The performance itself was amazing, but it was censored for reasons I don’t understand. There weren’t many swears during the performance (I believe the number was 4) but it’s really the principle of the matter; you don’t include an edited DVD on an unedited CD.

So to wrap things up, Imperfect Harmonies is very imaginative musical journey and although it is not necessarily a concept album, the songs all weave together and a large theme throughout the album is heartbreak, and how we as humans have lost touch with nature to the point where we think we’re higher and more divine than the land that owns us…..duuude.

Also, if edited/censored material pisses you off as much as me, don’t get the Best Buy exclusive version because the DVD is censored.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Tea Party - The Edges of Twilight (1995)

(**Special note: Although the name can be misleading, this album has nothing to do with The Twilight Saga.)

The Edges of Twilight was the third release from the late Canadian rock band The Tea Party. While the initial sound of this album has deep roots in psychedelic and blues rock, it also has a worldly, middle-eastern feel. The album starts off heavy with Fire in the Head, which features a metal-esque onslaught of distorted guitars. To be honest, I tend to skip this track while listening to the full album because it isn’t as melodic or adventurous as the rest of the album.

Next on the track list is The Bazaar, which is the epitome of The Tea Party’s sound during this era; a fusion of middle-eastern and psychedelic rock. This song starts off with a gloomy bass line accented with the gentle hum of a harmonium, before bursting into a fast-paced rock riff to introduce Jeff Martin’s vocals. This song is also a single and they made a music video for it (see below).

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a new album to add to your collection, The Edges of Twilight is definitely worth looking into if you enjoy a little diversity. 

The Tea Party - The Bazaar