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Crippled Black Phoenix - 200 Tons Of Bad Luck CD (album) cover

200 TONS OF BAD LUCK

Crippled Black Phoenix

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Epignosis
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Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars An unsavory blend of psychedelic and post rock, this album has some good moments, but most of it falls into one of two categories: It can either be called imitative of Pink Floyd (almost to the point of plagiarism), or it can be regarded as some of the most boring, sleep-inducing stuff ever.

"Burnt Reynolds" With one of the slowest starts I've heard, this piece unfolds like a molasses flower. Right from the start, the Pink Floyd influences are clear: This music has a very simple chord progression, bluesy guitar fills, and a gentle rhythm section comprising light drums, piano, and bass. The lead vocals are extremely quiet in the mix, while the backing howls are prominent. The ending consists of some bizarre fairground music.

"Rise Up and Fight" A gritty little guitar crunches out a steady rhythm alongside a simple drum beat- not a bad heavy song, but nothing memorable either.

"Time of Yer Life / Born for Nothing / Paranoid Arm of Narcoleptic Empire" A spoken fatherly voice doling out some trite and perhaps questionable advice begins the lengthiest track of the album. That goes on for about four minutes until a steady guitar riff, percussion, and a wailing lead ease in. The bulk of the piece relies on repetitive but smooth riffs and stringed intrusions now and again. About ten minutes in, it almost completely changes sound, becoming a Pink Floyd imitator so much that even the chords, rhythm and pace are a blatant rip off of "Pigs." "Ha ha, charade you are" indeed. Another change involves a more electronic approach, as a low synthesizer wiggles about, and a higher one whines and quivers over it.

"Wendigo" A lonesome guitar loaded with reverb plays a sad, sleepy melody.

"Littlestep" Piano, guitar, and drums introduce a pleasant David Gilmour-like vocal. This is a rather nice song with a calming sound and great singing.

"Crossing the Bar" A lovely, steady acoustic guitar starts as a knocking bass drum and a growling cello come in. The joining instruments increase in volume, drowning out the acoustic until they all stop, leaving behind a piano plinking out a single tone in even quarter notes for quite some time, which carries on even as chords enter. I've nodded off during this track more than once.

"Whissendine" More quiet acoustic guitar and a Red Hot Chili Pepper-like lead vocal make for a decent song. It has a pleasing post-rock build.

"A Real Bronx Cheer" This thirty-four second track is just theatrical music with some derisive laughter.

"444" A subtle, punk-like guitar rhythm opens this track. This song sounds very similar to heavy Radiohead, especially vocally, but has more of an alternative rock flavor.

"A Hymn For A Lost Soul" Grainy piano and the singing of a sleepy congregation makes this one sound like a bad recording of a church hymn on a Sunday morning.

"A Lack Of Common Sense" Perhaps Crippled Black Phoenix wanted to offer their version of The Final Cut, since with noises of motors and shouts of commands, that's exactly what this sounds like (although it seems to be a man with a chainsaw felling trees). As with the aforementioned album, distant guitar and mournful vocals are to be expected. It does become brighter, with simple drums and guitar bouncing along, and even has a bit of Mellotron in the backdrop. The drum solo at the end is very muddy.

"I Am Free, Today I Perished" A somber piano begins the final piece, while guitar and accordion join in on the dreary festivities. The music builds and bores in post-rock fashion.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#260170)
Posted Saturday, January 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
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Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
3 stars CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX are a project made of proficient musicians. Bass player Dominic Aitchison for example is known for his longtime collaboration with post rock outfit Mogwai. Together with multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves he has gathered a bunch of fellows to produce '200 Tons Of Bad Luck'. As for that you should expect a matured album ... let's see how it works. What attracts attention first and foremost is the album's variety. You often stumble upon releases where the songs sound similar - it's not the case here. Starting with Burnt Reynolds - nice pun, isn't it? - we are confronted with evident Pink Floyd reminiscences, to name the spacey synthy start, the Gilmour adapted guitar ... the whole mood in general.

But on the other hand this is presented so plaintive that you think, all the 200 tons of bad luck have been unloaded here at once. Are this painful voices at the end? I'm not sure - they broaden some mystery ... and the weird funfair music doesn't make it easier. The next song contrasts - well, let's say rebels against the aforementioned atmosphere. Led by a stoic rhythm branch Rise Up And Fight is heavy grooving, the drive is expressing spirit of optimism. Twittering synths and echoing guitars (fantastic!) are serving a spacey note. Motorpsycho couldn't make it better. And this prepares for the epic Time Of Yer Life ... which generally crosses the post and psych border but starts with some narration. A great instrumental improv, it takes time to evolve to something dramatic ... and shows some significant Pink Floyd traces again right in the middle.

Wendigo moves into something pathetic with cello, brass and accentuated slightly droning guitar. A beautiful melancholic snapshot really. The trippy end of Littlestep - a nice psych ballad - is striking where Crossing The Bar is made of post and krautrock repetitives. And now after the catchy ballad Whissendine it all reaches a turning point. A saloon piano here and some heart-wrenching cello impressions there - the following songs are each differing as such but not really bubbling over with ideas furthermore.

'200 Tons Of Bad Luck' provides a psychedelic, space and post rock mixture in a modern renewed outfit. Some songs are inspired by Gilmour & Co, worked out by picking up their spirit especially. We can argue if this has too much of a good thing - for me it doesn't matter. The whole album proves that CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have more to offer than a rehash - even if there is some lack of inspiration coming up during the second half - 3.5 stars in total.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#263813)
Posted Monday, February 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars As an old-school Prog' fanatic It has been a particular mission of mine to try and source out some of the newer groups on the scene in recent weeks. I've come across many new bands - some I've found interesting - some unlistenable but Crippled Black Pheonix cut the mustard for me! There's a good air of Psychedelic/Space Rock/ whatever you want to call it on this record and has a very laid-back edge to some of the sections of the songs - think "no-man." A lot of the music is very reminiscent of early Pink-Floyd which is fine by me! I think its brilliant that some of these groups wear their influences on their sleeves and my word what a tribute! "Burnt Reynolds" (what a title) is a particular favourite of mine - I just love how the song builds from a slow start to an encompassing, yet highly emotive tide of synth and processed vocals - Looking forward to discovering more!

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Send comments to JontyCollinson (BETA) | Report this review (#660624)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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