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Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone II CD (album) cover

CORVUS STONE II

Corvus Stone

 

Crossover Prog

4.07 | 338 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Corvus Stone travel catalog, issue number 2 is finally out featuring the fearsome foursome of madman brit guitar whiz Colin S. Tench (I added the S, so as to smell better!), the sweet Swede bassman Petri Lindstroem, his neighbour the Suomi keys holder Pasi Koivu (a hockey family dynasty) and newbie/oldie Robert "El Lobo" Wolff, master of drums and investigative drama. The cover art is once again the domain of that illustrious Mozambican diva and prog hottie Sonia Mota, who wastes little time (or paint) in producing a sexually alluring depiction that will surely harden (harden what, Thomas?) the resolve of certain puritanical Internet censors whose mission is to eradicate any hint of naughtiness. As my friend Colin would say in his best Shakespearian tone, "HA!".

The quartet have studiously surrounded themselves (at a fair distance though) with interesting mercenary vocalists such as ex-BBT and solo War & Peace man Sean Filkins, Canada's Druckfarben vocalist Phil Naro, Phoenix prog maestro Blake Carpenter (same profession as Jesus) and adding a little spice with Red Hot Chilean German Vergara (no relation to Sofia, too bad!). Also on board causing some Argie bargy is Andres Guazzelli from lovely Buenos Aires, Lappman Timo Rautiainen (sounds like a rally race car driver, wot?) and finally the fiery former firefighter Stef Flaming , he of Murky Red. New Yorker Vic Tassone 'woo-alks his doo-og' while hitting some cymbals and some odd loose bongo. Did I mention the word travelogue earlier? Yup. Global economy, globalization and now, kids, global prog, a new sub-genre is born! Humor is a factor that is often missing from the wonderfully serious world of prog and we should all be praising the very merits that Corvus Stone bring to our genre, now that Zappa is long gone yet still dishing out releases! Laughter, giggles, smiles and chuckles are the easiest of pleasures and this somewhat insane crew certainly delivers in spades. Corvus Stone is a musical three-ring circus , loaded up with clowns, acrobats, ferocious animals (that's mostly Colin, BTW), magicians, jugglers, but no bearded lady (did I mention that Sonia is very pretty?). It's all entertainment, lest we forget!

So what's on the Corvus Stone airlines menu, you may ask? The usual wide, very eclectic variety of styles that encompass the entire prog panorama. Vegetarian, kosher, vegan and halal, oops, sorry I got carried away by my own silliness. Damn music will drive me into insanity. Which is the avowed purpose of this sophomore album. Focus, Thomas, focus. Okay = Jan Akkerman, Thijs van Leer, etc?.Loud ringing sound as Koivu takes me to the penalty box. Speaking of which, many linear critics had a hard time with Corvus Stone's debut, seemingly there are still those who want an album full of songs that are just a variation of one song. Prog is a banquet of glittering cornucopia with an endless procession of delicious dishes, tasty sauces and euphoric wines, a whirlwind adventure for the hungry prog gourmet. This time, the way more seamless delivery is very much accentuated, as the album flows with a greater sense of purpose and a heightened sense of discovery. Now, shorter tracks are united in prepping up the inevitable epic piece, and this technique is repeated a few times with great success.

The 2 minute "The Simple Life" and three minute "Early Morning Call" prepare the stage for the sensational 9 minute extravaganza "Boots For Hire". There is a fresh and breezy 'good morning'- Beatles-like mood, just to gently enter the fray, a splendid hint of mindset control. This is followed by the somewhat more technical companion, featuring some crisp playing, guitars and bass particularly chatty but still very nice and pretty. This means we are now ready for the corkscrew guitar-led sweaty blues of the streetwalking "Boots for Hire" that has the audacity of evolving into a quasi-Hawkwind vocal (thinking "Magnu"), courtesy of Stef Flaming wearing Bob Calvert's WW1 pilot gear. Good old Colin thinks he's Robin Trower (which is a very lofty compliment) as he screeches, growls, purrs and pirouettes on his abused fret board. Koivu slices off some synthesizer runs that scour the cosmos, where Wolff (get it, werewolf!) pounds like a deranged and brutal madman, while Lindstroem does some dark damage on the bass guitar.

The same cynical Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll process is rebooted for the next segment, whereby the pubescent Spanish guitar lewdness of the 31 second "Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa" (she did taste somewhat tart) is subjected to an outright parody of "Highway Star" on a track defiantly titled "Purple Stone", a three minute+ pile of raucous Machine Head (Lisa, por favor!). This coming out piece only serves to introduce some dual vocals from the Arizona woodworker and the messi Argentine gazelle. Fun! The following epic is another instrumental scorcher "A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff Rat", a platform for the players to really let the genie out of the bottle and wreak havoc musically speaking, sarcastically, infusing little winks and nods throughout (Alice Cooper, Focus, Jethro Tull, and many more). Propelled by some stellar rhythmic performances from both Petri and Robert, this is killer music.

Round three, the sultry harlot returns from powdering her nose (or somewhere else) on "Lisa has a Cigar", another nice 'inter-lewd' to announce another highpoint tune, "Mr Cha-Cha"(sounds like a Yello song title) , a rollicking instrumental that gives Colin the spotlight to fry his crispy guitar like some poor Alabama chicken, fritter and grits not far behind. Koivu sizzles in the background, putting on some finnishing (sic) touches on the whole enchilada cha-cha. For the ultra- mini "Dark Tower", Lindstroem starts doing a number on his bass ( nasty wobble) , getting juiced up for the terrific samba of "Scandinavians in Mexico" which actually does sound like a prog-rock version of Swiss techno band Yello that had rather intimate relations with Carlos Santana's axe. The tremendous Sean Filkins grasps the microphone with breezy tropical gusto and delivers a whopping performance. Phil Manzanera could not have done better (another stratospheric compliment!). The piece de resistance "Mystery Man" is sung by Blake the Carpenter, done in a very traditional Blue Oyster Cult/ Spooky Tooth-like manner, loaded up with riveting organ flurries and extended sharp guitar slashes, incredibly dense and sweltering in its delivery. The lengthy "Camelus Bactrianus" really throws the listener for a loop, as Timo Rautiainen sings in his native Finish, a language that at times could be interpreted by some as an offshoot of zeuhl. Lots of lovely vowels are swirled around within a clearly Nordic prog-folk veneer, icy synths, blustering organ, biting guitar parts and binary bass/drum attack. There is a protracted opportunity to really hammer at a specific mood and keep the pressure on, relentless.

Round four debuts with the eccentric and axe-centric "Uncle Schankle" , a classic jazz-rock fusion number where the guitar and electric piano vie for the spotlight, with Colin tearing off some serious 'Al DiMeola revisits John Goodsall' licks, Wolff doing his Tony Williams imitation as Petri carves the 'basso profundo' with butcher- like precision (Fender?). Ivoryman Koivu is so enamored with the hot Latina Lisa, that he thinks he's Chick Corea! Stop staring googly-eyed at Sonia's artwork, Pasi! Second layer is in the form of "Eternal Universe", a fine prog song extolled by the suave Canadian voice of Druckfarben's Phil Naro. Thrilling accessible tune that one can actually warble to. The set-up now is ready for the 14 minute tribute to that sexual bombshell we all now know and love, "Moaning Lisa", a singularly perfect Sean Filkins English vocal, aided by second vocalist German Vergara in spanish, evoking hints of Al Stewart in its storytelling methodology, Colin's acoustic guitar paving the way in pastoral tones. The mood gets more aggressive, the bass twirling amid the dense waltzing orchestrations, some Tullisms come into passion play, mouth organ as if led by J.Geils Band harmonica player, believe it or not his name was Magic Dick! (That's enough innuendo for today, Thomas!). Sing with me, canta con migo !

This sophomore masterpiece is laid to rest as the band brings out some marshmallows and sticks them into the reverential "Campfire", a fun time was had by all, singing a Suomi-language folk song as the aurora borealis colors the Nordic skies, on some beach near Ivalo overlooking lake Inarijärvi.

What, my review is too long? That's exactly what 'mamacita' Lisa said last night when I finally found her slightly lingerie-clad entrance. I was very very pleasantly offended by this racy recording, and somewhat grizzled by it all. Now where is that cigar, she dropped?

5 Sonia Motas

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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