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Mike Keneally - Scambot 1 CD (album) cover


Mike Keneally


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4 stars What an honour and privilege for me to be the first reviewer for the new MIKE KENEALLY album!Yes,the master is back this year with a brand new album full of musical goodies in the pure tradition od the previous MK 's albums!What brings new this album is.the fact that the ensemble of the album seems to be more compact and the songs are more defined!The orchestration is more varied and dense because it includes additional musicians on chords and other classical instruments!Of course,this is music for open minded persons and for those who like to escape from musical limits and boundaries!MIKE's music is an expressiom of free thinking and parmanent search for new ways of musical expressions!It's obvious that ZAPPA's spirit is present and actual in Mike's compositions and the very nice voice of maestro KENEALLY fits perfectly with the songs,that always have their freshness and spontaneity!This man has so many brilliant ideas and all his albums are full of surprises,very enjoyable surprises,it never brings to boredom the listener-NO WAY!!The orchestration is very rich and dense ,please just take a look at the impressive line up for this new and very inspired MIKE KENEALLY new album!Monster drummer MARCO MINNEMAN plus the spectacular ace on drums JOE TRAVERS are on duty together with the musical brother of MIKE,BRYAN BELLER,and...SURPRISE..we find a part of the METROPOL ORKESTAR frum Holland,led by the brilliant CO DE KLOET as musical director,a very open minded and brilliant musician,responsable for the classical orchestral album of MIKE and TERRI BOZZIO plus STEVE VAI'S musical extravaganzas on the classical orchestral area!So,be prepared for exploring new musical territories,for being a part to a new journey in the world od unexpected sounds with this new sincere and inspired MIKE KENEALLY album,you won't be dissapointed at all!Check the SPECIAL EDITION with bonus cd,it's EXCELLENT! 4,5 STARS to a musical genius!
Report this review (#258511)
Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#279380)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dense, dynamic and diverse is Mike Keneally's 'Scambot 1.' The usual high standard of recording quality frames rhythmic, subtle fireworks that detonate in combination with melodic color and texture changes. Different instruments cue up unexpectedly, with beauty in the timing of their arrival: The entrance of the guitar during the drum solo on 'The Quiet Children' is just one example. 'Gita' is an instrumental that exemplifies all of the above. The scope of the singing is broad in style and range, with some keen harmonies. The actual compact disc resembles a relic from Angkor Wat, and is accompanied by a 20- page booklet relating the story of Ian McPlant (a.k.a. Scambot) in tandem with lyrics and individual song credits. The plot of this narrative is propelled by evil industrialist Boleous T. Ophunji's "passion to manipulate and control mass consciousness," and Scambot's hapless place as an unsuspecting victim. Chase scenes, dream sequences, betrayal and free drinks are elements of the tale. 'Scambot 1' is "dedicated to anyone who still listens to entire albums with their headphones on." Repeated listens with the volume up support this dedication/recommendation. I give it 4 stars.
Report this review (#294034)
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars It's really something of a shame that Mike Keneally is so obscure at ProgArchives. For a site where so many people complain that modern prog rock is "not progressive enough", it makes me wonder why this wonderfully unique artist has less than two dozen reviews for each of his albums.

Gaining notice in 1988 as Frank Zappa's "stunt guitarist" on his final tour (a seat once filled by Adrian Belew and Steve Vai, to give you an idea of what that takes), Keneally, who grew up as a fan of classic prog rock, soon began releasing compact disks of his own material, beginning with the masterpieces "Hat" and "Boil That Dust Speck". Settling down a bit after that, his albums became more of a mix of his off-beat avant-prog and slightly more traditional pop tunes. Recent years have seen him branching out with acoustic, orchestral, and piano-heavy albums.

But here, Keneally went full prog. Released as a concept album, Scambot tells, in Keneally's extremely odd and somewhat incomprehensible style, the story of a strange creature, the Serial Consciousness Agent (Military Division) Bringer Of Truth. The liner notes give you the story, and I have to admit, I find them barely relevant to the music on the disk. But the story is hilarious.

Musically, this may be Keneally's finest work, using his anything goes style to create a wonder of off-the-wall pieces. While I love his own style, I have to applaud his use of Frank Zappa's style and phrasing in the piece, Chee, with tuned percussion and a blaring horn section that must be an homage to his former mentor.

The album keeps up all the way to the end, where Keneally chooses to bring things to a peaceful conclusion with a mostly acoustic track. A wonderful end to this great album.

My copy is the deluxe edition, that comes with another disk, "Songs and Stories Inspired by Scambot 1". This is a disk of alternate takes, experiments and songs not included on the Scambot 1 disk. While many times when listening to bonus disks included with an album, it is easy to understand why the tracks were left off of the final album, here we get more high quality work that just didn't fit on the single disk.

Easily a five star album.

Report this review (#1003485)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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