AltRock Extravaganza – 2011

From the very first instant I received a CD release from the independent AltRock label from Milan, Italy, I have been increasingly impressed by the exceptional quality of their releases (see Yugen & Rock In Opposition posted on Saturday, October 30th, 2010). Indeed, the AltRock label appears to be increasingly the “go to label” for prog music lovers. The following four new releases which arrived in my mailbox only add to this label’s increasing appeal. Now, “Let’s hear it for a great Italian label…”

Sanhedrin is an Israeli band, originally known as a Camel cover band, yet before long they were composing and performing their own music, influenced by such classic prog bands as Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Asia Minor, and Anglagard. Their Fading Records album “Ever After” released through AltRock presents some very intriguing symphonic prog:

Il Tredici

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Sobriety

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Steam

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Line-up / Musicians:

Gadi Ben Elisha – Electric, Classical, Acoustic 12 String Guitars, Mandolin
Sagi Barness – Bass Guitar
Aviv Barness – Keyboards, Saxophone
Igal Baram – Drums, Percussion
Shem-Tov Levi – Flute

Guests:
Michael Lam – English Horn
Elinoy Yogev – Bassoon

Five years after their much-acclaimed debut album, Inaudito, Calomito returns with Cane di schiena, a Progressive rock, Avant-prog album with elements of the Canterbury sound, jazz and folk. Besides the usual electric instruments, their arrangements include a peculiarly nice assortment of acoustic colours – trombone, violin, viola – that gives Calomito a really recognizable sound:

Infraditi

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Antenna

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Max Dembo

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Line-up / Musicians:

Filippo Cantarella – violin, viola
Nando Magni – trombone
Nicola Magri – drums
Marco Ravera – el. guitar, synth
Tommaso Rolando – contrabass, el. bass, synth, trumpet

Humble Grumble is a Belgian band that has built their own original sound by skillfully mixing a sometimes number of juxtaposing genre – rock, jazz, folk, prog – and in doing so creating one of the most uniquely stylized bands I have heard in a very long while. Following the tradition of such Belgian alternative bands as X-Legged Sally, Fukkeduk, Think of One – Humble Grumble’s music creates complex structures, rhythmic intricacies together with an expressely melodic vein with a heavy dose of ironical attitude (largely due to Frank Zappa’s influence, I suspect). Humble Grumble’s Flanders Fields will appeal to any Zappa and Prog fan alike:

Sirens dance

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Horny

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Purple frog

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Line-up / Musicians:

Humble Gabor – guitar, vocals
Jouni Isoherranen – bass, vocals
Jonathan Callens – drums
Pedro Guridi – clarinet, whistle
Pol Mareen – alto saxophone
Pieter Claus – percussion


Shivering with cold by humblegrumble

Coming from South America, thanks to their sound and musical style Factor Burzaco are also known as the “Argentinian Thinking Plague”. With their new album II – a sequel to their self titled debut album – the group moves forward with their unique musical vision. Driven by the awesome vocal ability of their female vocalist, Carolina Restuccia – whose uncommon vocal extension and expressive register make this album my absolute favourite of the four AltRock releases:

Inmemorian

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Guantanabu 3

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Straviko

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Mereditika

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Line-up / Musicians:

Carolina Restuccia – Vocals
Pol Gonzalez – Vocals
Paul Torterolo – Drums
Fernando Taborda – Guitars
Nahuel Tavosnanska – Bass
Alan Courtis – Guitars
Carlos Lucero – Guitars
Fabian Keroglian – Vibraphone, Percussion
Sebastian Schachtel – Accordion
Sergio Catalin – Flutes
Federico Landaburu – Clarinet
Will Genz – Bassoon, Contra-Bassoon
Mauro Rosales – Soprano Sax
Nolly Rosa – Alto Sax, Baritone Sax
Dana Najlis – Clarinet

3 Responses to “AltRock Extravaganza – 2011”

  1. Slap says:

    I plan on listening to these when I get home, many thanks.

    It’s no surprise to me that progressive/avant stuff is being handled with such care and fervor by an Italian label. For me, the Italian prog bands were the ones I tended to enjoy the most from that era. (Don’t get me wrong, the English provide me much joy, as well — but there’s something about the way the Italian bands fused jazz, FZ, classical and that Canterbury vibe into this really unique hybrid.) I think the Italians kept the flame alive long after Prog became a dirty word.

    If I am not mistaken, VanDerGraaf Generator were superstars in Italy. THere’s a claim to fame!

    My best examples of Italian prog bands, in no particular order:

    PFM (the Italian albums, not the Manticore releases)
    Le Orme
    Goblin
    Reale Academia de Musica
    Picchio Dal Pozzo
    Alberto Cassiopaglia
    Nova
    Banco

    Great to see it’s still alive!

  2. urbangraffito says:

    I was completely ignorant of Italian prog bands, Slap, (and by extension, current prog bands in wider Europe and beyond) until AltRock contacted KUR a little over a year ago. I can say that I’ve been given an education of sorts since then. The exceptional albums that AltRock releases makes me drool for each coming release. These are not merely examples of keeping the prog flame alive, rather, they are many instances complete reinterpretations altogether. Exciting stuff.

  3. Jamez says:

    I’ve always been aware of Goblin, as they did a lot of soundtracks to Italian horrormeister Dario Argento’s movies. They played in Britain a few years back, but like a fool I missed ‘em. Apparently they still sound great.

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