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Mike Keneally - Scambot 1 CD (album) cover

SCAMBOT 1

Mike Keneally

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.21 | 41 ratings

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Megaphone of Destiny
5 stars If there's a music today (2010) that makes me write and say everything about music is Mike Keneally. So this deserves a 4,6 stars which makes it a 5. This is a music appreciation. The Scambot story is ignored for now.

It all starts with a cooking recipe in a tv show. We hear the melody of "Life's Too Small" in background, played by a relaxed saxophone. And then, music from the 60's with "Scambot". Ophunji's Theme shows us the beautiful atmosphere of the record. Choirs alternate with big guitar solos with jazzy backgrounds. Then we have "Hallmark", the single, which I love, beautiful playing of piano and acoustic bass by keneally, beller, reminding us of their joining forces alive. The choirs join forces when the dinosssaurs do the same, it looks like Tears for Fears met Gentle Giant or that Radiohead like harmonies got a pump rhythm. :) Beatles comes to mind but this we'll be most straight-mainstream effort of the record, this is no last hurrah, it is just another melodic somewhat serious and jazzy tune with some flutes and saxophones in the end to make it a bit more problematic for future cover versions. "Chee" features some musicians from netherlands on a jazzy tune with Gentle Giant synths. The 3/4 feeling makes it almost Carla Bleyish. The playings is marvellous, there are sax, guitar solos. The violin appears, we have a feeling of Zappa's "Hot Rats", and we come back to beautiful melody of the theme. It is a very unusual kind of theme in Keneally reportoire. Segue with "Tomorrow" a Zappaesque hard rock riff with unison vocals "yes i will try harder..." with odd time signatures, electronic drums and beautiful singing by Keneally as always. 1.57 of pure delight. "Cat Bram Sammich part 1" and "2" sandwich "You Named Me". Both ends of the bread are just monstruous clock work recordings of vocals, with different parts, diffrente atmospheres that put the ususal song singing mainstream kind of music with chorus etc, to shame. We're on a different realm here, this is just story telling with pitches. "You Named Me" is a written guitar solo interwined with some vocal chords beautiful recorded. Keneally pushes not only assumes his progressive vein, he blasts all our conceptions of rock music, creating a world where improvisation begins the composing mode. How much of this stuff is improvised and then fixed in "actual" melodies? "Saturate" returns to the "normal songs" feeling. Even if we feel the song is on the brink of collapsing. The odd time signature makes it limp until the final coda that could come out of a 70's recording of Frank Zappa. "M" just takes us again somewhere with acoustic guitars and marching drums before we enter in the "country & western" "Cold Hands". It is as crazy as Keneally could make it without losing the cowboy feeling. The recording of bass and drums are excelent, the voices are superb. Beautiful song. "We Are the Quiet Children" returns to the hard written stuff that looks improvised in its essence but only before we notice the unisons and perfect balance of the drums/guitar/bass alternation. Here Keneally gets to the core of progressive music. It is hard to listen to, nobody can expect to enter this music on one hearing, but that is not, at all, the aim of this type of music. I think Keneally is reaching for something more open, improvised material that can reach places unthought of. The excelent technic of all the players makes it possible. At 5.10 both drums and guitar reach a controled climax, but without losing the temper. At 7.00 there's another amazing/impossible guitar part as the drums clatter, atfer which everything joins for a "easy" guitar melody that leads us to "Foam". The latter is a sort of chill out kind of rhythm with some open chords and guitar crying. Segue "The Brink" with Keneally playing drums and recorder. Zappa melodies come to our heads as the theme finishes, When we arrive "Life's Too Small" we hear the melody that opened the record. It is as if the record is ending. As the song melts into the acoustic guitars arpeggios and saxophone adlibs we wonder where we went and delight in pure bliss with the hramonics and the electric guitar solo that Keneally launches at 3.00. Gentle Giant voices arrive at 4.30, beautifully harmonized. Rock riffs alternate, it is an amazing tune, just like the title states, life's too small. "Behind the Door" reinforces the feeling that this is something outside the record. It is as if we are already in another world. Different from Scambot, the voices are pitch altered, the musical landscape is falling apart or, more plausible, is gathering all the sounds it can to continue the journey - i think it is the second alternative. Again we think of Radiohead kind of loops with strange melodies and sounds hovering. "Gita" is the great effort of Mike Keneally. We could take a whole review just to analize this tune. Is a intricate written piece, again with the feeling that its core comes from improvised stuff. The different instruments used makes it a gigantic symphonic progressive work. I'm listening this record for almost 3 months and Istill didin't get to halfd of what is produced here. Absolutely breathtaking! "Da Dun Da" looks like it is a left over of "Wooden Somke" or something like that. Beautiful acoustic guitar playing amazingly recorded. Nice vocals, an excelent end to the record. It is an amazing progressive album. Mike Keneally stands, for me, as one of the most brilliant musicians of the XXI century. And he has so much to give us yet!

Megaphone of Destiny | 5/5 |

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