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Corvus Stone

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5 stars I purchased this album after hearing a couple of tracks on internet radio. I must also admit that I know some of the people involved in making this album but I will attempt to be as honest as I can with this review.

The first thing to say is that it's a long album. Not a double CD album but as long as a vinyl double album. It's also a mainly instrumental album. The next thing to say is that it's not an album that you can listen to the once and instantly enjoy every minute of it. Like the best progressive rock albums, you have to listen to this a few times before the tracks even start to sound familiar, and several more times before you think you know how most of it goes. I've had this album for a few weeks (on MP3) and am only now able to write a review. This week I also received the hard copy which contains some stunning artwork created painstakingly by Sonia Mota.

It's quite unlike any other album I own and is therefore difficult to describe in terms of it sounding like something else. As a whole, it's an extremely interesting listening experience with some fun parts, some heavy parts, some serious parts, and some nice gentle parts. It's by no means a perfect album but there aren't too many of those in the 40+ years since progressive rock has been around. I don't even know if this is progressive rock, but I think it's the genre which encompasses the majority of the music. What I can say is that it's a very good album which grows on you the more you listen to it, the only drawbacks being the time it takes to sit down and listen to the whole thing properly without any interruptions, and the fact that it perhaps seems like a collection of good ideas rather than an album which flows completely naturally. It's not quite worthy of 5 stars but maybe 4.5 if there were such a thing - so I've had to round it up as 4 stars doesn't do this album justice.

I will now attempt to describe each track the best I can.

The Curtain Rises The album begins with a short instrumental featuring some Spanish-style acoustic guitar and some subtle and slightly odd keyboard sounds, setting the theme for much of the album.

October Sad Song A mainly electric guitar-driven instrumental with piano and synthesiser to back it up, and some twiddly bass. The acoustic guitar comes back in briefly. Despite the song name I find it quite uplifting!

Highway To Emptiness Another instrumental, this time with a rockier beat and more electric guitar, but then some early 1970's Hammond organ kicks in, and then Moog-like synthesiser.

Ice King This song has an element of fantasy about it, including the haunting vocals sung by Blake Carpenter. A fairly simple song on the face of it, but with enough going on to keep your interest.

I'll Leave It All Behind This Hammond-driven instrumental conjures up images of 1960's girls dancing in their mini-dresses in a hip London nightclub. A fun, funky track to bop along to.

Corvus Stone The title track of the album is one of the longest at over 8 minutes. It starts off gently with some synthesised strings and acoustic guitar, before the electric guitar kicks in with some gentle noodling. Then the speed picks up a little, drums are introduced, and the synthesiser and guitar take turns to give ever-changing solos. The layers gradually build up and it gets more manic as the song progresses, with some unusual guitar and keyboard stabs to break it up. The last couple of minutes of this instrumental see the music slow right back down and are more like the first part, with synthesised strings and electric guitar accompanied by piano.

Moron Season The second song to feature vocals, and again it starts off gently with a sense of fantasy. However the song completely changes and returns to a funky 60's Hammond sound reminiscent of I'll Leave It All Behind, but with manic vocals on top. A homage to Deep Purple surfaces towards the end.

Horizon This is another short instrumental which reminds me of the melody from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Quite a simple track but lots going on again.

Intermission The second shortest track at only 41 seconds, consisting of layers of acoustic guitar. It does separate the quirky and upbeat first part of the album from the darker second part.

Moustaches In Massachusetts Fast drum beat with more electric guitar on top of organ and synthesiser layers. The theme of the track changes a little but the general sound remains the same until it gets distinctly heavier towards the end.

Pilgrims This track begins with nice gentle electric guitar with Hawaiian sounds, before changing into a more upbeat and heavier track, which repeats a theme a couple of times before the opening guitar returns, then a more quirky, poppy version of the heavier section. This track is the one on the album which reminds me most of BunChakeze, one of Colin Tench's earlier projects.

Jussipussi A track named after Finnish bread rolls (of course!). A quirky, humorous track with strange synthesiser noises and spoken words. Even reminds me a little of the Batman theme!

Iron Pillows Another instrumental led by the electric guitar, but this has a much darker, proggier feel to it, aided by the jazzy organ sounds. Not a track to "get" first time, you will need a few listens before it rewards you ? to me it is probably the most interesting track on the album, with hints of Thrak-era King Crimson.

After Solstice This is an instrumental which is based around the same tune as Moron Season, but the middle section is heavier, reminding me of the faster section of Stairway To Heaven, before returning to the slower tune towards the end.

The Rusty Wolff Attack This is purely a drum solo, those little interludes you sometimes get at live gigs but rarely recorded on albums. For a solo lasting 2 ½ minutes it does vary and just about holds my attention.

Lost And Found A short song featuring a marching band drum beat reminiscent of some songs from The Wall, but starting off like it could be a version of Bolero. Nice vocals slightly reminiscent of the late Richard Wright, and a quite unusual ending.

Scary Movie A dark, insane instrumental which goes with the track name. A well-known riff by Fleetwood Mac kicks in briefly, before drum and bass play along to haunting synthesised strings. This is relieved by some nice electric guitar which continues to the end.

Cinema Another dark feel to this, the longest track on the album at nearly 11 minutes. Some nice acoustic guitar work and a "cinematic" sound whatever that may be! This is probably the most Pink Floyd-like track with hints of both Comfortably Numb and Welcome To The Machine.

You're So Wrong After the dark feel of the previous few tracks comes this rather gentle, uplifting song, beginning with a nice piano and then Blake's vocals. Certainly the least "odd" track but equally as good. This is actually a cover version of a song by Black Widow first recorded in 1972, and it certainly has that early 70s feel to it.

The Ice King This is an instrumental version of the earlier song, it doesn't seem to be much different otherwise.

Ten Inch Lisa A 30 second instrumental to close the album.

Bonus Tracks

The Stones Meet Cheryl In The Soundtrack From Hell This track belongs in the same section as Iron Pillows and Scary Movie. A heavy, dark track.

Cinema (Alternate Version) This is a shorter version of this track, based on the last 6 minutes of the full version but with a few subtle differences.

Report this review (#849796)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Corvus Stone's self titled Album Corvus Stone

I am writing this review as a music enthusiast, one who particularly enjoys and tends to focus on great instrumentals, mostly progressive music from the magic 70's to date; therefore I wish to share with you the listening experience this album has brought me.

This album surprised me entirely. I wish I could add a player to enable the reader to listen while reading this. I enjoy this album so much that I in fact feel guilty that others might miss out and never get to enjoy/experience it or hear the album. Believe me, I have shortened this review the best I could but it is still as long as The Sunday Times newspaper, therefore my sincere apologies. I feel this urge to express in the best way I can, my feelings about the music and share this wonderful album with everyone.

This album is difficult to summarize in one single paragraph. All 21 tracks are very different from each other, so many different styles, therefore I will try my best to describe each song in my own words, my feelings and these hopefully will be articulate enough for the reader to understand what this album has brought to me, in terms of the wonderful music journey it took me and the listening experience I felt.

1. The curtain rises: Not sure how to describe this track in an articulate manner, short and sweet, starts with an intriguing middle eastern sensual wavy mystical eerie tune, then it flows into the Latin feel and when the acoustic guitar kicks in it reminds me of the Godfather movie tune.

2. October Sad Song: This has that jazzy fusion "proggy" feel. Oh yes easy listening, most relaxing, this makes my toes move up and down, my head turn side to side moving and changing direction from one shoulder to the other and back, a great jazz vibe, piano and guitar great lead and response interaction, lovely "tum tum..", bass sound and constant piano keys, great keys, sounding "blub blub?" while also adding another sliding "weehee weehee?" sound above it somewhat higher notes, meanwhile the keys keeping a perfect rhythmic singing tune, varied in levels going up and down. Almost feels like each one is giving the other a turn to sing, starting at 2min14 section is haha, just perfect the guitar and the keys doing a duet, giving each other the stage, each one having their own turn, the perfect combination of lead and response. The other guitar sings so beautiful in the background. This track is so good that one follows the guitar way at the back meanwhile moving in a rhythmic way accompanying the bass and keys.

3. Highway to emptiness Both October Sad Song and Highway to Emptiness if one could describe it to someone who never heard these two track before; I could relate them to Mountain Queen by Alquin, maybe. However, this one has a heavier style maybe. Twenty Sixty Six 2066 & Then - Reflections on the Future (1972) ? reminding me of jazz fusion Krautrock style This track has the same jazz feel as October Sad Song yet it's funkier I cannot sit still here, killer bass by Petri Lindström, the guitar is jamming through this one, then Pasi Koivu's keys kick in, the tune is very catchy too. The instrumental changes and responses are excellent; at times the key tunes even feel/remind me of the Mission Impossible Movie Score.

4. Ice King: This is a sexy track!!!!! Very oriental and mysterious feel, especially the keys, Blake Carpenter's smoky vocals add to the whole mystique and dreamy eerie vibe, I hear the bass, while the Spanish guitar flows in the background adding to the whole atmosphere meanwhile the other guitars taking you to other levels. The "tink? tink.." funny sound constantly spaced in between this track is just perfect, effective for one not to dwell too deep into the each section of the song. Stunning track!

5. I'll leave it all behind: Haha? this is such a fun track! The album is picking up speed now, reminding me of those 80's tv series sound tracks. i.e. Starky and Hutch. Fun and funky to listen to. After listening to the previous songs, this one is a wakeup call, a bouncy happy one. My head is bouncing here, the best description of my head movements while listening to this song, would be one that of a Hawaiian doll with the big bubbly bouncy head, those holiday souvenirs that one glues onto a car's dashboard and voila it goes into "tic toc?" mode, bouncy and happy.

6. Corvus Stone: This one for me is the ultimate masterpiece of the album. Very complex, great key changes, spot on stops and starts. Beautiful and stunning as the track starts with a strong bass with Colin Tench's guitar twiddling and bleeding softly behind while other guitars flow above it. When the keyboard kicks in it starts a duet with the guitar, as it progresses, it turns into a faster tempo, brilliant keys here with great soft guitar riffs. Sudden but perfect timing stops spot on, the keys producing a whistling tune while the guitar accompanies those with his own replies. Very deep jazzy yet spacey, if one could describe it this way. Piano and violin beautiful, touching all our senses and the bass is subtle but constantly present here. At 6min9 the guitar softly takes the lead with the violins and piano, this becomes most stunning!!! At 7min23 it gives you a sad feeling very emotional because it's so beautiful, sensitive.

7. Moron Season: Perfect track to come next, although my body moves with the keys, my mind follows the guitar while Blakes vocals are very soothing before they turn into Lucifer singing in my left ear and Gabriel on the right, both vocals and guitars accompany each other so well, oh and all of a suddenly whoohaaa?. it picks up speed and becomes a fast paced joyride. Those crazy keys and the bass response is excellent, right towards the very end I heard a bit of Smoke on the Water guitar.

8. Horizon: This track is just too cool with a happy vibe and a jazz "jabadabadoo pririripipi?.", tune. Perfect element in terms of timing, everything is spot on. Again I must add, the tempo is perfect bouncy and spot on here!

9. Intermission: This one begins exactly like roundabout by YES! Then it continues with a Spanish guitar flavor.

10. Moustaches in Massachusetts Oh yes this one feels very Santana, early Santana. Love how it calms down and picks up speed again. Great Latin flavor yet it keeps constantly progressing. Or even Camel with The Final encore: great bass guitar heavy middle section and goes back into great Santana guitar mode, climbing several levels.

11. Pilgrims: 110% Prog! This song starts with the ?. "awww and the aaaah's?..", feeling of the gentle guitar weeping and taking us into a fabulous ride of flowing tunes blending perfectly into each other. This is very Steve Hackett!!!!! Keyboard sounds very Hammond. And towards the end the end it calms down and starts again with the guitar making most memorable licks, those beautiful tunes singing to one another, building up again from there. This last part makes my head pick sides, while paying attention to the various tunes, also perfect intervals and balance.

12. Jussipussi: This is the marmite track of the album, most eclectic, either you absolutely love it or you don't.

I love it! Makes me happy aha! Thank goodness I was born prior to doctors prescribing Ritalin, this track is hyper and should be enjoyed the max. This reminds me very much of Frank Zappa, unpredictable yet keeping one's "neuroids" interested and bouncy. This I could describe has the great fun, crazy, Bedlam Inmate Track of the whole album, hahaaha makes me laugh and happy, the bass here is what makes this work, pulling all those insane crazy and odd tunes together. As much as the track title might sound obnoxious (I find it funny), this is such a great and fun listening experience.

13. Iron Pillows: Strong keys here and the guitar follows that tune very well, less lead and response here but nonetheless, great overflowing instrumental sounds. This sounds like a live track.

14. After Solstice: The first thing that pops into my to mind is the amazing keyboard solo followed by incredible dibble and double kick drums. I think these are the best and least annoying cymbals I have ever heard! The guitar here does add great to the melody but it's the keys and drums what make this track stand out, they are exceptional good.

15. The Rusty Wolff Attack: Robert Wolff drum solo, oh yes these stereo drum solo rivals the best, including Chester Thompson and Phil Collins. Only one word comes to my mind; INCREDIBLE, that cowbell added here is great too!

16. Lost and Found: This starts with a marching drum and keys. Gives you a very patriotic feel, then the vocals start, beautiful and becomes more eerie, a bit Porcupine Tree maybe. The rolling of the drums and cymbals are great.

17. Scary movie: Perhaps my favorite song, this track is a bit heavier compared to others, no more Jazz feel in this track, it has a howling sound, having turned a bit darker mysterious, deep, wondering what next, demanding one's attention, a feeling like in the dark full of suspense and like a train is coming from the far end, great blend of intriguing sounds. I love the drum rhythm, the keys are demanding and make you wonder and feel what else is coming next, the guitar throughout this track is powerful; keeping that thrilling sense throughout, you can feel it building up from the pit of your stomach. This whole track does not stay just in your head you feel it starting from your upper torso. I hear a bit of Oh Well by Peter Green too.

18. Cinema: Changed my mind again, this is my favorite track, this one has it all, this song evokes/pulls out the best possible sensations in me, all sorts of sensations, warm, this has no many levels aaahhhh?. You can hear amazing Spanish/latin guitar scales, oh wow yes this track is indescribable really, it has the heavier parts yet it also has the most sensitive "awwwww heart touching" most sensual parts, that guitar, bleeds and sings most beautifully keeps you hanging looking for more, true meaning of perfect Legato. And the keys plus bass tune keep all the warmth. The last section is very Jeff Beck and Floyd, amazing bass in the middle section of this song. The middle section past 4min into the song, with that bass bubbling tune is a killer! This song goes from slow to picking up speed from perfect atmospheric to just incredibly marvelous sounding. When that guitar solo kicks in at 6min6 oh wow, I feel the most wonderful spike coming from my heart, I love this track!!! Yes that's the best I can describe it!!! The spacey and rhythmic whistling synths flying throughout this track also play a major role here!!!! Ah this has the most amazing highs and lows, the melodies, steps that keep going up and up and up?. up .. up? and without dropping that holding on to every note tension, comes back down with the most heart touching/grabbing yet sharp in the nicest hearing frequency, sensitive guitar licks to die for especially from 9min23 to the end?

19. You're so wrong: Black Widow song version, the guitars on this track were performed by the original Black Widow member and former Cressida/Odon of London, John Culley. John does one of the most beautiful guitars solos here at 2.03min, fabulous really, almost saxophone sounding. This is very 60's and might be the most fm radio friendly track of the album, most romantic even, as it has that sweet emotional side. The song composition is kept quite simple therefore not progressive when compared to the rest of the album however in this specific case, this is a perfect example how less is certainly more. This song is most stunning, beautiful; evoking the nicest sweetest sensitive feeling felt from your chest and building up while coming down, one could describe it as precious, giving you this feeling of love coming straight from within. The piano, flute and bass are the main tunes throughout this song. Simply stunning when the vocals start and when the harmonies kick in? oh my? you'll feel this wonderful liberating feeling. Great drumming by Victor Tassone, I especially like the wavy like tingling sound of the cymbals. Blake Carpenter blew me away with his vocal performance. In my opinion Blake is one of the best vocalists and this track certainly highlights the fact. I don't praise singers much, mainly because for me, to be honest, not many are good. This is a song that one tends to press replay immediately once it's finished.

20. The Ice King: (Instrumental)

21. Tench Inch Lisa: This song has a funny name with a short but sweet, Latin acoustic guitar tune.

Finally, to end my long "Thesis" on Corvus Stone; this album has a total 79 minutes of pure euphoric "moozik". I personally love the album length because when I get to the end, I can go right back to the start, replay the whole album and it will sound new, fresh and wonderful again :) giving me enough time for the tunes of the previous tracks in my head to have fizzled away thus I become completely amazed and excited by it all over again meanwhile continuing to discover new tunes which I previously never had noticed! =D This is truly a wonderful addition to anyone who appreciates music that takes you into to ultimate and fantastic musical journey. Most deserving of full 5 STARS!

Report this review (#849799)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Multi-national band CORVUS STONE is a studio only project that found it's shape and form early in 2012 following chance encounters on Facebook resulting in the core trio of Colin Tench, Petri Lemmy Lindstrm and Pasi Koivu finding each other. They developed the majority of the material at hand on what is their self-titled debut CD, with a few supplemental details provided by their most recent members Blake Carpenter and Robert Wolff. The album itself was released in the late fall of 2012, initially as a digital production but with a physical CD edition following shortly afterwards.

The mammoth 21 track CD the core founding trio have developed is a rollercoaster ride that will inspire a multitude of different opinions. Those in close touch with band and musicians alike, of which there are many, will most likely herald it as one of the better productions of 2012. That will most often be the case when people have a strong attachment to a project, and in the case of Corvus Stone a great number of people have engaged themselves in this project. There's a good few hundred people out there who have followed the proceedings and development closely who does feel something of a personal ownership to this album I suspect, and quite a few of them will be visible and vocal advocates of this production.

I know a few of the people involved myself, and care quite a lot about Colin Tench and Sonia Mota. The latter something of a nexus for band interactions as well as the provider of the cover art of the album. And a delightful, charming and spirited person to boot. But while I have an attachment to some of the people involved, I can't allow myself the luxury of treating this production in any other manner than other albums I cover. But just in case someone should point out that my views might be tainted by personal relations in this case, I have chosen to bring them to the table straight away. Then it's up to anyone reading this to decide whether or not this does cloud my judgement.

Personally I feel this production is an up and down experience. The material itself tends to have something of an improvisational nature to it. Improvised by time delay I suspect, as I don't think any of the instrumentalists have been in studio together nor even recording in the same studio. I can imagine quite a few of these tracks flying back and forth between members however, with each successive session resulting in just a few more details added in. Other pieces are more straight forward in nature however, to the point where I suspect quite a few of them only had one session in each members recording studio.

Which of the songs that fall into either category I can't really tell, but personally I'll readily admit that there are excursions here that failed to impress due to the end result becoming a bit too chaotic and somewhat lacking in structure and general cohesion. The least interesting ones assembled in a row starting with the schizophrenic JussiPussi and ending with After Solstice. The latter of these opening up brilliantly I might add, but unravelling into a less than interesting soundscape for this pair of ears.

The high points just about outweighs the low ones however. Ice King is a solid song with vocals and a brilliant one as an instrumental workout. Floydian in nature and with a sound that gave me an automatic association to Canadian Rick Miller's productions admittedly, but a fine effort nonetheless. And amidst plenty of songs featuring playful organ motifs, I'll Leave It All Behind and Moron Season are truly captivating yet also rather different instances of minor magic in that department. The smooth, elegant and mostly Floydian environment explored on epic length Cinema is another high point for me, 10+ minutes of smooth elegance. But Corvus Stone has still has a lot of unfulfilled potential in the songwriting department, and the inclusion of the Black Widow tune You're So Wrong documents this quite nicely, as this piece is the best developed composition by far on this disc. Perhaps not the most intriguing, but a well developed, cohesive affair that feels planned in all aspects and details.

It'll be fun to see where this band project heads off to next. With a drummer joining their ranks too late to really be able to contribute much on this occasion it'll be intriguing to see just how much this addition will elevate the material of this band, as the drums were something of a detrimental factor for this album. The inclusion of a vocalist might also alter somewhat the manner in which future material will be developed by this band. By and large I generally expect their next production to be a better one, at least in terms of coming across as developed and cohesive, and with the now five musicians getting to know each other better the internal band members knowledge about their individual strengths and weaknesses should also see a more interesting second full length production by this act.

As it is, Corvus Stone debut album is a marathon collection of bits and pieces of which some will intrigue, some will not and quite a few will be somewhere in between. A promising but uneven first chapter in the history of a band that those who know more about it will always associate with Facebook. An album I suspect should find favour amongst fans of melodic progressive rock of the Floydian kind, especially if they also tend to like improvisational material of the instrumental variety.

Report this review (#850911)
Posted Sunday, November 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now I am not any type of writer music engineer type or anything remotely close. I am on the other hand a fan. I will do my best to make my opinion heard and let others pick apart my review or "like" it..?So with that lets begin with Corvus Stone debut release . Colin Tench,Petri Lindstrm and Pasi Koivu are Corvus Stone. A curious mix of of musicians, almost "mutt" like. Not that its bad or good just how I see it. I don't think anyone will be confused as to why I say "mutt" because its 3 types of musicians in the main mix of things. The "mutt". One could very well be called psychedelic (Pasi Koivu) another metal (Petri Lindstrm) and last but not least melodic (Colin Tench). Combined we have a very good Crossover between genres that reflect well on the release.

It's a big release 23 tracks(downloaded version) I have yet to decide if the opening track is something that could be from an old spaghetti western background music or something more evil lurking. I don't know if I ever will. October Sad Song is a track which NEEDS headphones to really appreciate it. By the time Ice King is up its already set in place that this will be an ongoing collection of tracks that will encourage the next one to be played. The title track of this cd is what pulls it together from the first section into the 2nd part of a very long cd. I have listened to this in 4 parts. Moron Season is a very heavy track ,reminds me of Oysterhead a bit of Deep Purple as well. JussiPussi starts up the 3rd section for me its quirky,weird,bizzare etc..what did they start their day with I wonder? After Solstice is one of my fav tracks on the cd. Another headphone gem. The Rusty Wolff Attack is the "drum" solo of the cd. Robert Wolff I believe may have said he was in drum corp as a youngster and I believe this shows in his ability. Cinema gives us the end and beginning into next section as I listened to it. This is the epic track if you will. Almost 11 mins of pure grandeur. This is where the whole thing comes together from all the participating members. In my ending I don't want to forget mentioning Blake Carpenter on vocals. Almost "whispering thru Ice King?.chilling. We have terrific keys, deep bass lines and great guitar all making for a good cd. In the big picture I think this will be a combination of guys who can go back and come up with a plan to accomplish yet another good release in the future. Honorable mention should go to Sonia Mota for her incredible cover art!!! Sometimes a purebred isn't what you need?Sometimes a "mutt" is just perfect?..

Report this review (#853086)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars For all of you are unfamiliar with me.... I am NOT a professional reviewer of music. Just a humble musician and fan. It would also be unfair to the readers here if I didn't point out that I am very fond of many of the people involved in this project.

Disclaimers aside.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read the story of how this "plan came together" ... I strongly recommend that you do. It should be available at Melodic Revolutions Records as well as a number of other associated sites. I cannot stress this point too much as I feel it is almost as important as the music itself.

Being able to complete such a venture while sharing virtually no studio time is amazing. Social media (while being a bane to society at times) has given musicians a true platform to collaborate in a new way. This aspect of Corvus Stone makes me feel that real music is not only still alive... but catching fire.

Musically speaking: If you do not have the time to really listen to an album of this length in one sitting and more than may not 'get it' at all. From the production quality to the raw talent (artwork definitely included) and to the sense of humor.... there is nothing to compare this project to. I'm sure we can all comment on each song's genre or similarities to other groups; however that is not the point! If you discount a song like jussipussi for example... for being offensive or foolish than that is your choice. I do however hope we can all laugh at ourselves once in awhile. Does anyone remember the Styx album "The Serpent is Rising"? There is a track called "Don't Sit Down On the Plexiglass Toilet" that still makes me laugh so hard I could cry.

Schizophrenic is an interesting way of describing this project; although not likely to be politically correct.

These musicians give it their all. They do it their way or the highway. The collaboration of such diverse styles and preferences is stunning. Improvisation... sometimes... can just be wonderful. I also believe that it would be unwise to try to put Covus Stone into a cubbie hole labeled "prog" or any other sub-genre thereof. This is not a subject for debate... just my humble opinion.

This release is must listen to material! Not must like. Please just come to it with an open mind and really good headphones. I strongly suspect that you will be blown away!

Corvus Stone's next release should be even more spectacular with the rumored addition of a drummer.

Report this review (#853536)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The debut effort by newcomers Corvus Stone is an easy album to enjoy, but more of a challenge to describe: always a welcome dilemma in the world of Prog. Suffice to say this isn't an album that will yield all its treasures on first (or even third) exposure, presenting almost two dozen (mostly instrumental) tracks, in total pushing the limits of a single CD right to the digital brim, with 79-minutes and 59-seconds of original songwriting.

That's a lot of music to digest in a single sitting. And while it's all very accessible, there isn't a convenient point of reference for newcomers to latch onto. A lot of new music sheltered under the Progressive Rock umbrella tends to rely on familiar touchstones for easier access, but don't expect too many retro-Prog shortcuts from this group (a keyboard-bass- guitar trio at the moment, but expanding as I write).

So what's it sound like, you ask? Well, consider the tags on the MR Records website, where you can hear the album in its entirety. Progressive Rock; Classic Rock; Avant Garde; Camel; Floyd; Crimson; and European Porn Music (!!) are all mentioned, but every influence is already deeply ingrained in the music instead of cosmetically applied on top. The artwork suggests a Heavy Metal experience, which is hardly the case. And guitarist Colin Tench describes the music (with disarming self-deprecation) as "funky '70s to heavy weird to Floyd to stupid and back again", which only covers about half the stylistic cues.

The 'Floyd' aspect of the album recalls later, post "Dark Side" arena-rock Pink Floyd. The 'stupid' must be the tongue-in-cheek interlude "JussiPussi" (the first syllable pronounced with a long vowel sound)...or is that the Euro-Porn influence? The song "Moustaches in Massachusetts" has a distinct Carlos Santana flavor, with weird Zappa-like digressions; "Scary Movie" quotes the Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well" (or maybe the more dynamic Joe Jackson remake, from his "Laughter and Lust" album). And it must have been an involuntary reflex that prompted the "Smoke on the Water" nod, in the oddly- titled "Moron Season".

Clearly this is a band that subscribes to the Zappa maxim "make an honest attempt not to take anything seriously", always a welcome policy from professional musicians of this high caliber. Just as clearly, this is an ensemble aiming at a lot of simultaneous targets, from assertive Neo-Prog riffing to delicate acoustic moodiness, often with an Iberian slant, and fortunately with more hits than misses. There's a strong cinematic flair to the music (one of the longer and stronger tracks is even named "Cinema", immediately following "Scary Movie"), reinforced by an opening number appropriately titled "The Curtain Rises", and a later "Intermission".

Keep in mind it's very much a calculated studio endeavor, almost too smoothly produced at times, not unlike an impeccable demo package. A little ersatz live spontaneity would have been welcome, as when real drums are finally highlighted in "The Rusty Wolff Attack" (name-checking new percussionist Robert Wolff). The pacing isn't always consistent either: pieces like "Iron Pillow" and "After Solstice" never quite locate the proper center of gravity, and the old-school lead synthesizers (in "October Sad Song", and elsewhere) don't do the music any favors, especially next to Pasi Koivu's already effective (and more organic) piano playing.

But the full album never once loses its melodic footing, and the enthusiasm of the performances all but leaps out of the speakers. This is an album fairly bursting with ideas even when it lacks a larger thematic unity, and the effect on a sympathetic listener can be just as exhilarating as it must have been for the players themselves (I'm sure the band would still be in the studio if they hadn't already reached their 80-minute event horizon).

Hopefully that momentum will continue to carry them forward. An unknown band playing unfashionable music in such an unforgiving industry is already facing a steep uphill grade, even more so than the proto-prog iconoclasts of an earlier generation. So I give Corvus Stone a little extra credit for their embryonic efforts, rounding up my otherwise conservative rating in a gesture toward grass roots solidarity. An auspicious beginning, without a doubt.

Report this review (#858849)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I heard a little of this on aural moon radio and thought I was hearing a blast from the past. I listen to all types of music but my real love is for progressive "rock". The probelm these days is not the lack of new music in that genre, it is the narrow field that each album seems to abide in. Deep Purple were once a shock with mysterious but gripping sounds that few could make sense of. As were the Groundhogs. Remember split? Almost everything was new and great fun. Then it got even better as a huge number of bands were trying everything out that they could get away with. From Yes to Pink Floyd to Jeff Beck. Unfortunately that did not last long and genres appeared and narrowed much of the music into narrow bands. That way, we could all live happily enjoying the parts we liked and could easily avoid anything that was not within our own personal preference. I found it all very boring. I found Corvus Stone on Bandcamp and couldn't believe how that old variation was absolutely present in this album. I am not a reviewer but can tell you that if you like King Crimson, Santana, Gilmour, Keith Emerson, Zappa, Black Widow,(Yes.. check that out!), then you have GOT to hear this! The best album I have heard in a long time. A very long time!
Report this review (#860325)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Bluesy prog rock from an international conglomeration of talented instrumentalists that often displays individual skills more than group coompositional skill. There are, however, enough polished, complicated songs to warrant consideration of high marks, but not quite enough for me. This is a collection of songs that are mostly in skeleton condition that could have been worked out a little more. The sound is great, the rhythms are often great, the song structures are often one- or two-dimensional, but when they are not--when the band has really put all of its attention to detail and fullness--the music is excellent.

1. "The Curtain Rises" (1:32) begins like a Mediterranean folk tune, with instruments, rhythms and melody lines straight out of Greece or Spain or Lebanon. Cool little intro to the album. (10/10)

2. "October Sad Song" (4:57) must be Corvus' tribute to JEFF BECK & JAN HAMMER collaborations, though the piano playing is more akin to the style of Vince Guraldi or . The band members pretty much just take turns soloing, which is kind of a jazz-blues way of approaching music?especially in jam sessions between musicians that are fairly new to each other. (which may be the case here). The solos are all tasteful and well executed if a bit flamboyant. The piano actually becomes at times a bit annoying, though it and the drums are kind of the glue that hold the whole jam together. Colin Tench's guitar solo in the fourth and fifth minutes is awesome?the highlight of the song. (7/10)

3. "Highway to Emptiness" (2:28) has a pure SANTANA feel to it, especially the guitar and bass parts. (All that's really missing is Carlos' amazing Latin rhythmatists.) A brief instrumental but well met. Again, it is the guitar that really shines, though the bass playing is awesomely fat and juicy. Can't help but wishing for some tempo changes, though. (8/10)

4. "Ice King" (3:10) is a vocalized melodrama in a kind of ALAN PARSONS PROJECT/PINK FLOYD vein. Haunting keys, nice Spanish guitar, and some creative electric guitar play throughout. The vocal has a HOGARTH-like feel to it. Like the electric piano presence, too. (8/10)

5. "I'll Leave It All Behind" (3:33) feels like a kind of ROBIN TROWER/MONKEYS/ SMASHMOUTH song--ELEPAHNT9 organ and PETE TOWNSEND guitar--all playing a kindof standard blues structured jam. Listen to the bass move! Awesome! The organ work is the best keyboard work I've heard on the album so far. Would rate it higher if the song structure weren't so mathematical/predictable. (8/10)

6. " Corvus Stone" (8:19) starts like soundtrack music--excellent European-style soundtrack. Then around 1:40 (and again around 2:40) it shifts into third gear displaying some of the best guitar pyrotechnics I've ever heard in one song. Eight minutes of jaw-dropping ear candy! Kind of like a great tune from VESPERO or MY BROTHER THE WIND. Even the slow down at 6:00 works! (10/10)

7. "Moron Season" (3:36) What a title! And so out of keeping with the mood set forth by the tender, melodic, dreamy music. Another HOGARTH-like vocal. I guess the moronic part begins with the switch to high octane Wild West rock at the one minute mark. Actually, with the vocal the song sounds more like a ROGER WATERS piece. Perhaps the tightest, most developed song I've heard so far. Very tight! Even the "Smoke on the Water" riff (among others) works perfectly. LOL! (10/10)

8. "Horizon" (1:51) starts like an ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND song--excellent with tongue-in-cheek play from the glockenspiel/toy piano. This is another one to pay attention to the bass playing. Again, a tight, if short, jam. (9/10)

9. "Intermission" (0:41) A brief visit from GEORGE HARRISON and ANT PHILLIPS!

10. "Moustaches in Massachusetts" (4:17) is another instrumental homage to the more free-form stylings of CARLOS SANTANA. Excellent job of capturing that vibe--especially the axe and organ work. I swear that the songs get tighter, the music more polished and worked out as the album goes along. Great shift at the 2:25 mark. And still the organ blisters on! And that bass groove gets me out of my chair and onto the floor! Great tune! (10/10)

11. "Pilgrims" (5:17) Lord I miss ROY BUCHANAN! But here Colin Tench lets me feel that his spirit is still with us! Awesome work, boys. Keys, bass, and, of course, guit-box are awesome. But on this song it's the DRUMS that blow me away! So attention-grabbing! There's also a lot of J TULL here as well as the ROY and ROYE (ALBRIGHTON) stylings. Hope this drummer is with CORVUS for the long haul! Sure makes a difference. (9/10)

12. "JussiPussi" (2:45) Wow! What can I say about this circus extravaganza? Wow! Reminds me of vaudeville and DeVOTCHKA all at the same time. Not sure what the title or lyrics refer to, though. No doubt something French. (9/10)

13. "Iron Pillows" (5:17) starts out with an awesome psych/heaviness like a long lost JIMI HENDRIX song. Unfortunately the pace eventually established by the drum and bass players does not match the intro. The guitar soli are wonderful, as is the organ. Love the time switch at 1:45--the drums reach out and want to grab you. Keys and guitar are so wonderfully supportive of one another. And that bass player must be having a blast! (9/10)

14. "After Solstice" (4:05) is most attractive for the driving bass line groove of the first minute and wonderful drumming. Somewhat reminiscent of some of FOCUS' best work in the 1970s. Colin and keyboard player Pasi Kolvu once again complement and play off one another amazingly well. Lots of tempo and mood shifts in this one. Something missing in the melodic "hook" department, though. (8/10)

15. "The Rusty Wolff Attack (2:30) is a surprisingly nice drum solo--as melodic and rhythmic as it is showy. Interesting for a drum solo! (8/10)

16. "Lost and Found" (2:20) begins with the drums that normally accompany a military funeral. As other instruments join in, it develops into a GSTA BERLINGS SAGA/PINK FLOYD vocal song. Powerful and all-too brief! (10/10)

17. "Scary Movie" (4:21) Definitely one that ended up on the cutting room floor from a LED ZEPELLIN/STEVEN SPIELBERG movie collaboration. Really an awesome tension-filled song. (Now I want to see this movie!) (10/10)

18. "Cinema" (10:50) a very cinematic song (thus the title??)--very PINK FLOYD. I especially like the Petri Lemmy Lindstrm's section at 4:00, but "the hero's arrival" at 5:30 is also great. The ensuing battle is quite climactic, as expected, with some nice axe work from Mr. Tench. (Or is it 'Mr. Gilmour'?) (8/10)

19. "You're So Wrong" (3:51) is a gorgeous little Southern Space Rock in the vein of Captain Fantastic and Brown Dirt Cowboy and HAWKWIND or FRUUPP. Awesome vocal, whoever it is. (10/10)

20. "The Ice King (Instrumental)" (3:10) sounds much more cinematic--(B movie Spaghetti Western)--in this form--despite the excellent HACKETT-esque guitar work. IMHO, the keyboard sound choices don't work very well. (7/10)

21. "Ten Inch Lisa" (0:29) a little dittie CONCRETE BLONDE Mexican Moon-era style.

22. "The Stones Meet Cheryl in the Soundtrack from Hell" (Bonus Track) (2:44) is another dramatic cinematic mood piece--with some excellent tension building until the 2:00 mark when it all turn 180, tension gone; robots we are! (8/10)

23. "Cinema (Alternate Version)" (5:59) is a beautiful version of one of my favorite songs on the album. I think I like this one even better than the 11-minute version! (The acoustic instruments are more prominent.) (10/10)

A lot of very simple Blues-Rock song constructs, sounds, and instrumental riffs (I hear a LOT of MOLLY HATCHET in the guitar play and sounds) pulled together in an almost fun jam session way--as if in a warmup for some real and original music. The other half of the album has very polished, mature song constructs--many deserving of top marks. Throughout there are wonderful performances by all of the musicians but I have to admit that the guitarist rather blows me away. Colin Tench's pyrotechnics are reminiscent of Jeff Beck, Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Arjen Lucassen, Molly Hatchet, Roy Buchanan, Mark Knopfler, Steve Hackett and, of course, Carlos Santana. Mixing/editing and production are not as polished as the instrumental sounds.

4.5 stars, a near masterpiece, rated down for inconsistency.

Report this review (#863985)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Corvus Stone is a multi-national collaborative group that has been working on this album since the three core members started working with each other in late 2011. Colin Trench is probably the most well-known member, being in the band Bun Chakeze. He was asked to work on the album and does the arranging, but everyone else involved with the project volunteered. The album was pretty much recorded by members overdubbing their parts over what they were sent. The end result however, sounds much more 'live' sounding than it should. Generally the music here is very 1970s inspired; sounds like '70s style music recorded on modern equipment. At times the music is reminiscent of Camel, Floyd and Steve Hackett solo.

"October Sad Song" is some nice easy-going, '70s styled prog. "Highway To Emptiness" in contrast, is more upbeat and modern sounding. Almost '80s rock but the keyboard work in particular sounds more '70s. "I'll Leave It All Behind" is more playful and fun sounding proggy retro-rock. "Corvus Stone" is the first of the two long songs. Begins in a more mellower mood with emotive guitar playing. Later gets more busy with synth soloing and start/stop dynamics. Later on mellows out again with some piano and violin joining in. "Moron Season" introduces a melody that gets reprised later. Of all the vocal songs, I enjoy this one the most. After the opening part goes into a more rockin' part with stereo separated double-tracked vocals. At one point you briefly hear the riff to "Smoke On The Water."

"Moustaches In Massachusetts" is one of the better tracks. Lots of nice instrumental interplay here. "Pilgrims" is another stand out. Very symph prog sounding with great playing and nice chords/melodies. "JussiPussi" has an interesting title. Lots going on here for such a short track, including a bit that sounds like it came from a Mario game(?!). "Iron Pillows" begins on an almost prog metal vibe. I like the organ work in this track. The tempo picks up and then a guitar solo. Tempo picks up yet again with more guitar soloing. "After Solstice" starts off reprising that earlier melody I mentioned. Features some interesting drumwork. "Scary Movie" is another standout track. A bit darker and menacing sounding than the rest of the album. I love the groove they go into with slightly spacey synth sounds over top.

"Cinema" is the other longer track. It starts out reminding me of solo Hackett. I like the classical guitar part they go into. The basswork is impressive at times. The remainder of the song is mid-paced classic symph prog; it gets better and better as it goes along. There are two "Ice King" tracks here: one with vocals, the other instrumental. They are both low-key and subdued for the most part. "The Rusty Wolff Attack" is just a drum solo. A really good drum solo mind you, but it seems out of place and doesn't add too much to album overall. Actually, that would probably be my biggest complaint about the album: it's very long. It is apparently 79:59 and CDs only fit 80 minutes. I think that if they cut some of the fat and made a leaner album, it would be even stronger and more consistent.

The album starts off decent but gets stronger in the middle, then getting weaker towards the end. I generally prefer the instrumentals to the vocal songs. Overall this is a really good first effort from this group. They are now working on a new album apparently. Neither the highs nor lows are very high or low. Despite it's length, it is fairly consistent overall. Recommended to fans of classic 1970s prog, but if you want something groundbreaking and may be disappointed. Well written, well played and it sounds good. I will give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

Report this review (#864792)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Blues Based Prog and More Once in a while a recently added artist sends me a PM asking to please write about their album, the first thing I tell them is that this is risky, because I don't have problem in giving 5 stars if a band deserves this rating, but neither my hands shake to rate an album with one star if I believe it doesn't deserve more, so before accepting the MP3 files that the guys from CORVUS STONE asked me to review, did a bit of research, and even when not a fan of most Crossover (I like my coffee strong and my Prog elaborate), read very positive reviews, and sent a PM to the guys.}

This is a decision I don't regret, because I enjoyed their eponymous debut from start to end, the music band. Don't expect the particularly complex music but they surely know how to rock, including references from different genres, including Psychedelia classic Rock, Blues, Symphonic and even some ethnic touches from different regions, all blended with great taste and skills in a Prog package.

I won't make a song by song review as I normally do, because Corvus Stone has 21 tracks and it would take me hours and would be so long that would bore most readers, but of course will mention my favorite moments.

The album is opened by the enjoyable The Curtain Rises, a weird introduction in the vein of Pyramids by ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT, with a Greek touch, which I liked specially for the acoustic guitar at the beginning and an instrument that sounded almost as a bazouki.

The combination of piano and guitar in the vein of Erick Clapton of October Sad Song creating a nice fusion of Blues with folksy bits caught my attention, really an impressive track, they use aggressive distorted guitar applied over rhythmic and melodic music, until now, I like what I listen.

Another favorite of mine is the elaborate Ice King in which the guys of CORVUS STONE blend carefully and with great taste a mysterious atmosphere with some Spanish acoustic influences, nice fusion of sounds and genres.

I paid special attention to Moron Season because of the peculiar name, but was immediately trapped by the frantic music with an almost Psychedelic Hammond, laughed a lot with the DEEP PURPLE reference, when they played part of the famous Smoke in the Water intro.

Well, no review of this album would be complete without mentioning the wonderful albeit short Intermission which surprises with some Indo/Raga elements, and of course "La Piece de Resistance"?The 11:06 minutes epic Cinema, a track that has everything an exigent listener would ask for, from the amazing guitar work to the subtle drumming and dreamy keyboards, some sort of Blues oriented Space meets Psychedelia, really extraordinaire.

I could go for hours talking about the other tracks, but I believe that what I wrote is enough to have a good idea of the music, because that fusion of styles and genres is preeminent all along the album, some harder, others oneiric With Space Rock references (Pay special attention to Ice King (Instrumental), and a couple full of frantic Psychedelia elements like the breathtaking After Solstice, but each and every one solid and entertaining.

People often critique reviewers who rate a record depending on how Progressive it is, well, this time they will have no complains, Corvus Stone is not a particularly Prog release, as a fact is a blend between Heavy Prog and Prog Related, but the important issue is the quality and this album has plenty. Enjoyed it from start to end and in my opinion deserves no less than 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#865126)
Posted Friday, November 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Corvus Stone is the new project by members of other prog artists Bun Chakeze who release "Whose Dream?" in 2010. Guitarist Colin Tench returns with Corvus Stone, playing guitars, and he is joined by Pasi Koivu who is a wizard on keyboards, and Petri Lemmy Lindstrm plays bass, Robert Wolff is on drums, Blake Carpenter on vocals, Stef Flaming on guitars, John Culley on guitars, and Victor Tassone also plays drums.

Now that I have a copy of the CD packaging I have to mention that it has some sensational artwork depicting a red sky with full moon and black crow perched on a crossroads sign. This could mean a number of things but speaks to me of the many crossroads in life we may be lead into. The scary cinema sign and long staircase is alluding to the tracks on the album, and the bird is a running theme on the artwork within. The booklet is very attractive thanks to Sonia's wonderful art throughout including an amusing shot of 3 moustached rock chicks and band members' faces embedded in art culture such as Mona Lisa, Superman, and Mary Poppins. The middle of the book is a closeup of the crimson cover art, and there is also a few more designs of similar paintings with the crow perching on a cross and a grotesque gargoyle. The liner notes feature a picture of the band and lyrics and special thankyous of those who inspired the members, including myself and some progarchives members! (A very pleasant surprise I must admit).

The music varies throughout from jazz fusion, to spacey keyboard dominated instrumentals, to classic 70s rock with heavy lashings of electric guitar. It opens with a symphonic intro on 'The Curtain Rises', with a cinematic atmosphere, and moves along from song to song incorporating a myriad of styles to captivate the listener. The songs never outstay their welcome and in fact some are too short for their own good. However there is a lot to offer the listener; although the songs are not focussing on prog elements per se, there are still a great deal of proggish constructs to revel in. 'October Sad Song' is an accessible musical treat, with Camel like lead guitar melodies. Pasi's synth is clean and retro, maintaining a consistent motif, while Colin blissfully takes centre stage on electric guitar. The musicians answer each other and form some exceptional phrases, and the bass and drums augment the instrumental. The wah-wah electric guitar solo is exquisite, with tremolo bar shudders and incredible soaring string bends.

'Highway to Emptiness' pumps along on a steady tempo, and the organ swells and cascading guitar help it along. The synth surges have that continuum feel made famous by Jordan Rudess. So far a very skilfully executed album.

'Ice King' is here in 2 forms, at first provided with Blake's vocals, that sound like the theatrical work of an Ayreon project. I like both versions of this track, each as spacey, chilling and atmospheric as the other.

'I'll Leave It All Behind' is a very jumpy instrumental with a great melody and awesome keyboards. This one is uptempo with a glorious organ outburst. The beat is strong and it features vibrant guitars, hi hat work and wandering basslines.

'Corvus Stone' runs to 8:20, opening with swathes of keyboards and acoustics. It eventually powers along with a hypno tech sequencer, heavy doses of lead guitar, a sprinkling of ambient keys, and a dash of sporadic percussion. The music is permeated with odd angular rhythms, swells of keys, strange time sigs, and a wash of keyboard and extended lead guitar soloing. The improvisational guitar runs, and very spacey synths, lend a King Crimson feel. This has a peaceful ending and just lulls me into a dream; the haunting guitar and drifting keys are incredible, played to perfection.

'Moron Season' has a return to gentle vox, and then is enveloped in a jaunty melody, the distorted guitar spasms are overpowered by classy Hammond 70s style organ solo, with lightning fingers on the keys. This is a joyous celebration of prog excess; it is fun and even uses the Smoke on the Water riff at one point.

'Horizon' has an accessible melody, a measured tempo, a crossover style vibe and jazz fusion rhythms. It ends quickly before it even reaches the 2 minute mark. The even shorter 'Intermission' is a blaze of Eastern flavoured acoustics. This is followed by 'Moustaches in Massachusetts' that boasts a fast tempo, and feels like Santana focussing on a frenetic percussion, Hammond and lead guitar. When it switches tempo signature, the song is unrecognizable from the one at the grown more intense at the end with grinding distorted chords.

'Pilgrims' has a crystalline keyboard layer and Colin solos eloquently over. This instrumental wafts along on waves of organ shimmers and divine lead guitar. You can drift off into a daydream during this track, it is captivating and poetic.

'JussiPussi' is a bizarre, short blast of hyper energy, with metal guitar blasts, weird acoustic bursts and a frantic bass. It launches into Gentle giant territory with expulsions of xylophone and blazing trumpet freak outs. This is one of the proggiest tracks, and is highly experimental careening all over the place.

'Iron Pillows' is off kilter musicianship, with manic organ runs, a strong beat, and lead guitar with an improvised feel. It is akin to King Crimson, the time sig is delirious and it switches into some dynamic guitar and organ dialogue.

'After Solstice' has excellent drumming, wonderful lead guitar picking and spacey keys. It builds to a grand organ solo and locks into a faster tempo, with high speed picking, then dreamy guitar and keyboard embellishments.

'The Rusty Wolff Attack' is Robert's stunning drum solo, while 'Lost and Found' is a nice slow song with a Mellotron sound and it ends quickly after some soft vocals and ambient strings. 'Scary Movie' is one of my favourites, that has a heavier guitar edge and some recognizable Led Zeppelin style riffs. There is a spacey vibe going on and some rather avant sounds with a razor sharp dissonant guitar over measured rhythms. Petri's bass heartbeat is entrancing, and Colin's guitar spirals wildly out of control until it closes with some crunching metal chords.

'Cinema' is the longest song clocking 10:50, and it latches onto an ascending 4 note melody. The music is dreamy and beautiful. The acoustic vibrations are outstanding and there is a very gentle motif on a Mellotron sound alike synth. This instrumental is a real showcase for this dextrous band.

'You're So Wrong' blossoms with piano and guitar over vocals. It has a similar structure to Yes' 'Starship Trooper' at first. The vox are great, encompassing soft melodies, shimmering organ, and peaceful guitars. 'Ice King' sounds like ghostly theremin, and is a very beautiful slice of spacey ambiance. I really like this track, reminding me of 70s space rock or, more specifically, Goblin. 'Ten Inch Lisa' closes the album with 31 seconds of Spanish acoustics.

The album has so many songs that it has enough to maintain interest even for the most casual listener. There are some masterful tracks on offer, and Corvus Stone blend many genres to form one incredible album. The passion of the musicians as they play together is infectious, and it is a joyous labour of love from beginning to end. I was delighted that the band were able to create such a dynamic sound, that is highly innovative and brimming over with virtuoso skill.

Report this review (#865591)
Posted Saturday, November 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars How to start with a review of Corvus Stone? I really wanted to write one, but this is not a cd which you can describe in two words. I also won't review each song individually, as there are 21 on the cd.

The title of their CD is called after their band name: Corvus Stone. If you look at the artwork, you already realize that you have something in your hands where has been put lots of work into. This is not something of which you find millions of it in the stores; the artwork is so unique and more than worth the price of the cd. It's the band's representation of their originality, and brings people immediately into the right atmosphere of the music. It's like you enter a complete new world. What's happening there in that world, you will probably think? Well, let me tell how I experience it, because that's what you could call them: a total experience. It's like you always want to take a look behind the corner for with what they will come up next.

Pasi Koivu's keyboard, Colin Tench's guitar and Petri Lemmy Lindstrm's bass show the high level musicianship of this band. In some tracks you can hear the brilliant drum work from Robert Wolff which brings their music again to another dimension.

Some tracks sound exotic, some are hot and swampy (Corvus Stone, with much jazzy influences), others have very classical influences and you can easily imagine yourself in their world at that time. Although the cd is mostly instrumental, there is the track 'The Ice King' sung by the absolutely brilliant voice of Blake Carpenter. His voice really sticks to the track, it's like it has been written for him, waiting for him. This is one of my favorite tracks.

There are also moments that you really have the feeling that Starsky & Hutch ended up in Mexico. There is a track (Jussipussi - who came up with that title??? I love it, very original) where you can hear Frank Zappa walking through it, but it's not Zappa. It's not a copy. These guys don't copy, they're writing one track after the other, and it comes out fluently. One can hear that these guys love what they're doing.

You even can dance on some tracks (Moron season, also one of my favorites), which you don't expect from this kind of music. It starts calm, but after nearly a minute you'll hear ting ting ting and the hell breaks lose! What a great track!

Some tracks are really epic, some are perfect as soundtrack for movies. The tracks vary from funny to dramatic. Hauntingly passages, sometimes tickling, sometimes shocking, surprising, grab you by the throat or carry you away. This is not prog in the general accepted meaning of the genre, it's not classic rock, but it's a mix. It's Corvus Stone, and these guys are unique with their sound!

I rate these guys very high, and I have given them 5 stars. Why? I like their guts, their originality and their musicianship very much. I also think that this music has a wider public reach than one expects. that doesn't certainly counts for all the tracks, but there are a few who could end up as a big hit. I really hope that these guys will have their breakthrough.

Report this review (#866787)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Bewildering volcano of sound!

Corvus Stone is an unfathomable quasi-religious foray into the essence of progressive rock, a delirious symphony of sound, atmospheres and structures where the compositions have merit both as sonic arrangements as well as showcasing individual performances by the musicians involved. They have elected to incorporate a wide array of influences covering the entire prog spectrum, avant-garde Zappaisms, profound psychedelia, pastoral prog -folk, bluesy rock, swirly space, euro- eclectic and the kitchen sink! The whole sonic buffet is rather difficult to assess on first listen, simply to cornucopaic to swallow at first but what a menu! Welcome to Snippetville! All aaaaaboard! Pull up your boxers, here we go!

What a crew this is, three masterful weirdoes surrounded by a few friends! Colin Tench is a sensational guitarist, full of dense invention and almost manic subtlety, displaying a multitude of styles and textures. The Wizard Pasi Koivu from Finland (do you play hockey by chance?) shows his mettle on assorted keyboards and bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstroem has the bass shuffling aggressively ahead. Drummer Robert Wolff is a phenom as well, while the Minstrel's Ghost leader Blake Carpenter shuffles the microphone when prompted.

But I am getting ahead of myself (which is entirely caused by the music within), so let's go back to the beginning then, with a rising velvet curtain, aptly named "The Curtain Rises", where sultry symphonic and avant-garde rock meet in introduction to the wild and wonderful world of Corvus Stone. Colin uses a lot of wah and even more wah-wah pedal on his majestically crafted solo on "October Sad Song" , a kiss ass piece of music than has a modern, proggier version of Traffic and some classic Robin Trower thrown in (not bad, eh?). Sustained beat and bright delivery, there is no way one can leave indifferent and skip ahead to the next one! This is a clinic of blues-based prog rock, swarthy, bellicose, suave and sassy, all in one. Twirling Moogs in sustained embrace with the lewd guitar (I mean "lead"), the bass keeps it all solid and then, outright slippery when coaxed into a jazzier groove.

Things get foxily creative with the swirly "Highway to Emptiness", loaded with sexy guitar meows and synth caresses that playfully excite and fascinate. It's short and it's brilliant with that masculine beat (think Diamond Head -era Phil Manzanera) and a little wisp of Latino influence, a backdrop of raunchy Cubanas dancing and swaying to the beat. Then comes the first real killer track, the galactic waltz of "Ice King" features the dancing duo of flat-out space bliss with colossal psychedelic winds, where flavors of Hawkwind, a touch of DiMeola and a weirdness bred by the likes of Robert Calvert coalesce in shuddering awe! Overwhelming influences and an execution to die for (pun)! The vocal from Blake Carpenter is simply put, chilling. I cannot help being reminded of the Stranglers tune of the almost same name ("The Ice Queen").

On "I'll Leave it all Behind" , the ivories take over on mainly the dirty organ with a little groovy piece of jazz-prog so predominant in Finnish prog, playfully juicy and loaded up with some blistering organ solos, and thrashing guitar , sounding almost like Manfred Mann's Earth Band meet Focus in a jam. Bouncy Helsinki! (Good name for a band).

Besides its moniker "Corvus Stone" should also be the band's outright anthem, a finely set jewel of multiple emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Thrown in some topaz, jade, opal and pearls! It all starts out lightly jazzy and then just blooms into a masterful composition that is an absolute emphasis on style and substance. Colin Tench displays his utter guitarring talent, bending notes like a madman, Koivu kills on synth, oozing like molten seed into every crevice and every orifice. The piano work adds exalted passion and the whole just cooks like liquefied foundry of steel. Bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstroem hangs around the guardrail, riffling along for the untamed ride. This will appeal to all fans of prog, its intense darker side toying with their innate zaniness.

The stellar "Moron Season" is stunningly fragile at first, one of those typical Brit folk-rock that feature Carpenter's woozy voice but then thunderously veering into an outright 'Highway Star' boogie, bass searchlights scouring the horizon (I haven't heard stuff like his since J.Geils) , slight adjustment near Canterbury and then , daring to lick "Smoke on the Water", tongue not just in cheek, if you see what I mean!. Nasty and clever, Mr. Wilson would love this! Growling organ dueling with the fiery guitar, now that's nice!

Little ditties also have a place in the nursery, as "Horizon" drives down the country road, "how y'all doin?" those funny Europeans. Cutesy! Almost Beatles 2012. "Intermission" has a pastoral acoustic barely 41 seconds long (Cutesy).

"Moustaches in Massachusetts" is hilarious take on DiMeola era, more rock-jazz than jazz- rock, with whiffs of Carlos Santana of the Caravanserai air, a universe where the sheer and elegant brutality of the electric guitar rules divine, adorned by looping organ motifs and some deadly bass propellers. The drumming is particularly effective, the atmosphere turning denser, heavier and more psychedelic. Slashing guitar throttles the bruising keyboards on the way out. Phew!

"Pilgrims" is a rumbling, clanking sympho-prog monolith with bruising keyboards and whirling dervish guitar solos, alternating delicacy and sizzle. Wolff's drumming is authorative and precise. A fine little workout!

"Jussi Pussi" is lewd in an almost Zappa with Steve Vai way, proposing a playful, "kani'kani boo-boo" carousel in the circus ground, goofball Canterbury silliness. This is nutty, bizarre (some Gong-isms in the vocal effect department) but bloody delightful!

"Iron Pillows" ratchets it up, careening into a King Crimson groove circa "Red" but with some slippery Phil Manzanera-style axe playing, churning organ adding luster and fluster. Rock solid drumming from Robert Wolff keeps this firmly entrenched in your mind. The sense of eternal progress is quite evident in the arsenal-like delivery; these guys are really into it, darn! Nothing soap commercial or sappy fodder here! Just real creative music, played to the hilt breathlessly.

"After Solstice" gets weird, oblique and slightly dissonant, a tortuous slither of strangeitude and deflection, Colin's weeping instrument carving nicely into the ivory whirl. I guess the best way to describe this is a prog-aerobic soundtrack (one-two-three-four, and repeat sideways). This segues nicely into a Robert Wolff little drum solo and a mournful vocoded piece, "Lost and Found".

"Scary Movie" is a highlight track, an absolutely ominous slab ob hulking heavy prog-rock, with a cinematic, Panavision-style grooming, nice binary bulldozing riff that slowly emanates virile from the ambient din. Boom!

"Cinema" is the epic, sweeping orchestral adornments abound, now deadly serious in their melodic approach, settling down a powerful groove (that delicious bass again) and sprinkling some fabulous acoustic guitar soloing and then positively exploding on lead guitar , evoking cloudy cellars and gritty streets, decadent cafes with blasé faces, clowns tossing oranges in the midnight sky. Cinematic is correct in my books, dreamy sections wash over the loudspeakers, the raven-haired beauty in the red dress slurps her mojito in languorous flicks of her tongue. The bartender worried about how late he will be home, the pilfered scotch bottle already wearing its kilt, kneeling at the shrine of girlie magazines stashed akimbo. A phenomenal piece of music, instrumental genius and what a mood! The soloists shine brightly, Tench ripping off one for the ages, tortured, sanguine and resolute. Power and delicacy, what a combo! Koivu paints and Lindstroem rumbles. Darn, this is classic terrific!

Following that monster is no easy feat "You're so Wrong" plays it safe, flute quivering gracefully and the only vocal from Blake Carpenter of the amazing Minstrel's Ghost shows its face, very much like something early Caravan would create, a relaxed symphony of accessible folky pop. Pleasant and fluffy.

"The Ice King Instrumental" only confirms the brilliance of the song, the instrumental prowess on display is second to none. Lush, deviously crafty, seductive and utterly charming, this one burrows very deeply into your soul, yummy!

The lewdly titled "Ten Inch Lisa" is a sprightly wee ode.

Bonus track 1= The silly and confused paranoia of "The Stones Meet Cheryl?" is evocative of circus-like insanity, bizarre effects, brutal noises, marshaling beat, doom keyboard slams, brash guitar rams and pulsator flexing drums. Heavy bombs here and I love it, Bonus track 2= "Cinema- alternate version"

I have rarely heard such a long (70 minutes worth) and lustrous premiere album, with so many gargantuan yet condensed compositions, stellar playing and endless cheery spirit. Some will be turned off by all the stylistic changes that wrongly give the sense of under- development; they just don't like to overstay their welcome. But if you listen to it as a whole, the enjoyment is enhanced by the breathless procession , as weird as it may seem at times. This is Nuggetville, so many gems to choose from. Who cares if it's a tad helter- skelter? That's their style, eccentric, iconoclastic, eclectic and adventurous. They have musical balls and so do you.

A band to follow intently. A glorious debut with so much to enjoy.

Instant gratification, racing pulse, visions of Emerald Beyond, tongue sticking out etc...Please be civil

5 galaxies

Report this review (#869548)
Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Corvus Stone - which features members of BunChakeze, Progeland and Raven, have released their debut self-titled album.

One song from the album was recently featured on a charity album dedicated to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Although the actual band Corvus Stone is a reasonably new outfit, the various members of the group have some notable musical pedigrees. Guitarist Colin Tench is known for his work in BunChakeze, Road to Avalon (featuring former Flower Kings drummer Zoltan Csörsz Jr.) and the Colin Tench Project. Petri Lemmy Lindström (bass) plays in Progeland and Saturn Twilight and was formerly in Lyijykomppania. Keyboardist Pasi Koivu has performed as a solo artist and with Psychedelic Eye. Drummer Robert Wolff was previously in Raven and Micah. The album also includes guest appearances by Blake Carpenter of Road to Avalon and Minstrel's Ghost (vocals) and John Culley (Black Widow and Odin) who provides guitar on one song. So much for the heritage and credentails of the band, now, what about the music? Should you be buying this, or is it another 'supergroup' album that doesn't really deliver?

Actually, this album really does deliver on so many levels, from the fantastic artwork by Sonia Mota to the distinctive and emotive guitar playing by Colin Tench, wonderfully old school keybaord sounds from Pasi Koivu, creative AND supportive bass playing from Lemmy (not that one!!) and with the contribution of Blake Carpenter's vocals this makes for a very rewarding listening experience indeed.

Be prepared to invest in some in depth and focused listening sessions though and you will be rewarded with a better understanding of the complexities of the music. Although it is perfectly acceptable as a casual listening experience, you will be depriving yourself of so much more if you don't listen to it many times, and carefully, to reveal the creative nuances of the writing and playing.

No track by track critique from me as it's a very long album, just a couple of seconds shy of 80 minutes!!, rather an urging to find out for yourself. There is a wide range of styles and influences on this album that only become clear after several listens which makes it all the more astounding for a debut album. Although, i guess, this is as much of a reflection on the combined expertise of the individual members becoming greater than the sum of it's parts.

As Colin told me recently "As long as everyone is allowed to do what they want. If someone tells the others what to do, that magic is lost really" Very true sentiments in my opinion and a truly 'progressive' attitude.

Report this review (#869998)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album surpised me. It has 2 of the same members as Minstrel's Ghost has. The album is out at the same time. That has got to be rare? It should at least sound very much the same.

It couldn't sound more different! This one has almost 1000 tracks on it and is so full of variation, it's untrue. I cannot name a "best" track because they can't really be compared. It has such cinematic intensity at times but then switches to funky and happy tunes. I don't believe I have ever heard anything like it as an album.

If I was to suggest tracks to listen to first, it would be Ice King, Cinema, Scary Movie and I'll Leave it all behind. I chose those because they sounded incredible on first listen. Then try the rest. I have read the other reviews here and you can do the same. What is clear from reading them is that it depends who you are as to which tracks grab your imagination first. This is a 5 star album and that is a fact.

Report this review (#871603)
Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I was asked to write a review about the debut album of this international band and I must say I found it to be far harder than I could have imagined. Not that the music was bad or too far out. In fact, the music here is extremely good in almost all aspects. And we´re talking about a mamooth CD filled with almost 80 minutes of original music! The biggest problem I´ve found is the lack of references. Let me try to explain: they simply don´t sound like anyone or anything else I know. Ok, their music is not something too out there as some might expect reading what I write now. In fact their 70´s influences abound: classic rock, blues, eastern rock, jazz, classical, avant guard, you name it! However, the way they mixed all those references is quite original and not easy to discern when you listen to the album.

As you may have guessed, this is not an easy listening music, although Corvus Stone sound is quite familiar and accessible in several parts. However, the one listener who is patient enough to give it a few more spins will be rewarded with an excellent collection of tunes (mostly of them instrumentals, with a few vocal tracks thrown in to balance it. they were smart enough to ask for outside help to do so, and the vocals are quite nice). This is great prog music done by superb musicians who know how to use their obvious talents for the music. although I found some self indulgent moments here and there (like the drum solo on Rusty Wolf Attack - fortunatly a short one), they are also few and far between. The star of the show is clearly Colin Tench´s brilliant guitar playing: the guy knows how to be both original and familiar with his tasteful, soulful solos and licks. I´ve always loved guitarrists who know how to express emotions thorugh their instruments notes, while others use the music as an excuse to show their technique with endless (and pointless) noodlings. Tench fortunatly is one of the formers, knowing very well when to play and when NOT to play, a rare quality to be found nowadays.

The other two band members, keyboardist Pasi Koivu and bassist Petri Lemmy are also outstanding players who give the album not a small amount of contribuition, but this is really a guitar-led CD. Sometimes I think the record would benefit more if Koivu used more vintage sound timbres on his instruments: things like a Hammond B-3 and a mellotron would fit quite nicely in this kind of music. On the other hand I cannot say for sure if that would make it sound too retro, it´s just an opinion. As it is, I must say I liked his perfomances a lot.

Overall I can say this is a winner. The production is excllent, the songs are very well done, the arrangements are tasteful and the perfomances are impeccable. But more than anything else, they know how to write fine songs, with a great knack for the nice melodies that go together well with the intricated musical structures. It´s hard to point a highlight on this album, since the tunes are too varied and the quality of the tracks is quite even (I heard it from beginning to end just wishing they had dropped two of the 23 tracks). However, three instrumentals do stand out: the hauting title track (definitly their best song), the 10 minute epic Cinema and the fantastic climatic After Solstice. What really amazes me is how on earth those guys could put so much different music together and make it work as a whole. To finalize the tracklist must have been a nightmare, but they made it.

Conclusion: A terrific debut that every prog fan should listen to. I´m looking forward to hear their next releases.

Rating: something between 4 and 4.5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#876121)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
2 stars Corvus Stone is an interesting little project that popped out of nowhere in early 2012 and suddenly released an album only a few months later. Comprised of an international group of internet musicians, the 'band' cooked up a generous offer of quality prog music to the online community of proggies, and many jumped on the bandwagon. With heavy lobbying here, the band quickly became fairly well-known within the forum reviewing community. In no time at all I was approached to review the album, and after hearing the mounds and mounds of positive press, I was eager to hear this new debut as well.

Sporting an impressive play time of 79 minutes and 59 seconds, filling up every ounce of space a standard CD has, the album was sure to contain its fair share of proggy goodness, or so I expected. After spinning the unbearably long album for the first time, however, I realized I was sorely disappointed. The 80-minute opus is a menagerie of progressive styles, ranging from blues rock, jazz, funk, symphonic rock, avant-garde, hard rock, and more. I quickly realized that this album had far too much on its plate for a single sitting. Trying to devour this musical monster required a musical appetite that I simply wasn't willing to sacrifice in one sitting, and even after splitting the disc into a number of separate listens (as the 'Intermission' does provide a nice place to stop and take a breather), I still felt as though so much music was shoved into so little space there was no way I could properly enjoy this album.

Let me break down what I understand to be the basic premise of this album. A collaboration of international musical connoisseurs, a backbone of keyboardist Pasi Koivu, guitarist Colin Tench, and bassist Petri Lindstrom recruited a vast number of 'session' men to record bits and pieces of the album over the course of a year. With the help of their friends, the band's self-titled debut was released. It seems, however, that the bits and pieces of professionally recorded music and not so professionally recorded music (mostly a few of the seemingly programmed drum tracks) do not mix well for an overall messy sounding album. The far reaching influences, highly eclectic musical spectrum, and variety of the level of production quality really muddle the maximum enjoyment this album can give.

Not don't get me wrong. There are a number of truly great moments on this album. Every here and there, I was really impressed by the general songwriting ability of the core of the band and the ability to pull strings from so far away and pull together an internationally recorded album. If the band had cut the album to just these gems, such as October Sad Song, Highway to Emptiness, Intermission, The Rusty Wolff Attack (which is a great drum solo and very well recorded), and Lost and Found, they would have had a superb album. Seeing as that is five of the twenty-one tracks that appear on the album, however, I was overall mostly unhappy with the album.

The music, for the most part, started out very strong. With my first listen to the first few tracks, I could see why people thought so highly of the album. Once the album really started going, though, it lost its shimmer. The album, to me, is cold. While each individual instrumental track is played with emotion and passion, there is no chemistry between parts. There is no "warmth" in the music to add color or dimension to the sound. While this seems to be a common problem with bands who record internationally, I feel like each part of this album is exceptionally 'lonely' in the grand scheme of the recordings. To add to this, most of the instrumental parts are terribly runny in terms of loose instrumentation. While each part is surely played with skill, few songs really play together well. Keyboard parts and guitar parts seem to clash and sound awkward, tones are harsh and non-complimentary, and the album has a horrible mix of real drums, which are superb, and programmed drums, which are just a total drag. Often keyboard tones that should be meaty and organic are flat, boring, and stale. Sections of 'improvisation' fail to impress due to the lack of musical communication. While the album has its golden moments, it is marred by more lackluster ones.

In the end, I feel this project does, however, have a lot of potential. The song structures, melodies, and general ideas behind the songs present on this album are really great. The orchestration is well done, but execution is lacking on many parts. I'd like to hear what the band has to offer next, but I dearly hope that the band's next album is slimmed down considerably and more attention is given to how the music talks. I see the desire, the passion, and the drive to create quality progressive rock, but there is significant work that needs to be done before Corvus Stone can be with the greats. 2+ stars.

Report this review (#876144)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars First I say that this album is not like others that I buy in many years. I read the reviews here and find it interesting. I like many kinds music and very much to mix them. Can a record have too many styles? For some who review this, yes. For me, I hear not too many styles but very much movement from classic rock to epic soundtrack music. I like Santana, Keith Emerson, John Patitucci, Genesis and much of the classic 70s music. I buy many musics CDs but many of them I find interesting for a short time only. In 6 months I forget them. This is not one of those. I hear sounds of many of my favourit musicians here. I heard Jussipussi first on youtube and found it very fun and the stupid video with it. I then heard the cinema and was surprised it was the same band. I heard 2 tracks more on bandcamp and had to buy this. I do not know if the album is genius or luck but I know that it is fantastich. Every tracks is well done. I do not like woman with moustache usually but this band may have changed that! This is fun and epic. Cinema is a masterpiece!
Report this review (#876689)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't care if I feel the need to be critical over an album which is 20-years old or really stinks, but I feel sorry having to be critical with the debut album from a new project by musicians who undoubtedly have put much goodwill and effort in their work, but I have to say that I'm really baffled by the praise that this album is receiving.

Personally I was never too impressed by the BunchaKeze album. This time guitarist Colin Tench seems to have delegated most of the composition duties to new collaborator keyboardist Pasi Koivu but this has not resulted in a much better product IMHO.

My first listening was a disappointment, but given the mamooth length of 80 minutes and the high ratings given by other reviewers I thought that I must have missed it, so I insisted on listening to it again and again before daring to write a review. After repeated spins my first impression has improved but I'm still very far from sharing all that praise.

The music style is not your typical prog or even crossover, it has a lot of 70's blues-pop- rock foundation and it's not explicitly complex, some symphonic, hard rock and fusion ingredients are thrown here and there. Mostly instrumental with a few vocal songs which is not bad because the vocals are not great but having a bit of them helps getting through the album without getting too bored. Most tracks are really short (there are 21 of them!) which helps as well.

In honesty the keyboards and guitar are often really good when considered as soloing or accompanying work, the Emersonian keyboard sounds and often Camel-esque quitar help it sounding more proggy than it is.

But there are several weak points, the first and most important one being composition. It feels like a disjointed collage of musical ideas without any flow and very little melodical and harmonical content. Most tracks are basically soloing over a basic chord progression foundation, but they do not have structure and do not develop anywhere. There are of course some breaks and phrase changes but they do not feel like properly developed songs. There are variations on tempo and energy but neither the individual songs nor the whole thing show any really interesting dynamics. The often artificial-sounding drums do not help either and the production sounds cold and clinical to my ears.

The inspiration in the chord progressions and harmonies is weak in my opinion, when they want to do something different from the traditional blues-rock chord progressions and scales they always resort to the same variations, semitone intervals and those hijaz scales (phrygian dominant with augmented 7th) which brings some egyptian, middle-eastern flavour.

I feel sorry for being so harsh and there are good tracks though, my favourites being the fast-paced "I'l Leave It All Behind" with great keyboards, the 2 longer tracks "Corvus Stone" and "Cinema", the cinematic "JussiPussi" and the 2 very short guitar pieces "Intermission" and "Ten Inch Lisa".

Probably I should be generous and round up my 2.5 stars to 3, but when I think of other albums I rated with 3 stars, they are consistently better than this. Don't give up guys, next time give a bit up in quantity and focus more on quality.

Report this review (#877961)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Corvus Stone' - Corvus Stone (6/10)

Corvus Stone are another band made possible by the convenience and networking of the internet. It's a story most of us can appreciate really; Finland's Pasi Koivu got in touch with Bunchakeze guitarist Colin Tench in hopes of a collaboration, and within no time at all, the online jam had grown to include a host of likeminded musicians. Although the strings remain ultimately pulled by Koivu, Corvus Stone may be seen as a meeting place and dialogue for some of progressive rock's underground heroes. In a sense, it's refreshing to hear an album that's come together with such enthusiasm and sincerity. Indeed, the talent of those involved makes Corvus Stone's self-titled debut an enjoyable piece of composition- oriented instrumental rock, although the fluid, as-it-comes way the album came together keeps the album's pieces from coming together as a fully satisfying whole.

Although Colin Tench is the musician I am most properly familiar with (for his work in the symph prog act Bunchakeze), some of these musicians I have been at least aware of. For one, Pasi Koivu has a longrunning association with the classic band Black Widow as their archivist, and I have more recently heard the work of guest vocalist Blake Carpenter, with his solo project The Minstrel's Ghost. Last, but surely not least, the charmingly ubiquitous Sonia Mota lends her talent with visual art to the project, giving the record an appropriately diverse and dense album cover. Although I have not been introduced to the others (through their music or otherwise), it's clear that Corvus Stone consists of a remarkably consistent and skilled ensemble of musicians so involved because they enjoy what they do. It's as if the intention of Corvus Stone is to take in all of the best things from these artists, and forge something exciting out of it. Fortunately, this open dialogue results in some great musicianship across the board. With so many ideas inbound however, "Corvus Stone" often feels unfocused and even aimless.

At twenty one tracks and almost eighty minutes long, it's clear that Corvus Stone are not worried about being succinct in their music. Their largely instrumental work is divided either into bite-sized idea sketches, or drawn out jams that recall Pink Floyd. Although a handful of songs are able to escape the clutches of either fault, there's very little balance here. Pasi Koivu is evidently a strong composer as some of the album's better tracks attest; the record's shooting star "Ice King" is effective, concise and haunting. "October Sad Song" is a little more jam-oriented, but never forgets to throw in a firm hook or two. Unfortunately, too many of these songs seem to end before they begin. Most of Pasi's compositional ideas hold their weight on their own, but they are never explored to their potential. An intriguing idea that could have been fleshed out into a full song is often left as a two minute sketch, giving "Corvus Stone" the feeling of a compilation album, or a work in progress. On the other hand, the eight minute title track and eleven minute "Cinema" feel too longwinded. Colin's omnipresent lead guitar is soulful and a joy to the ear, but there's the nagging feeling that the ideas and musicianship would have been much better served with a more consistent approach to the compositions.

Considering the album has (presumably) come together via the transference of files between countries and personal computers, the production here is remarkably solid and consistent. Colin Tench's Floydian guitar style remains the album's highlight, although the presence Blake Carpenter's warm vocal style usually tends to indicate the album's best tunes. There is some great talent at work in Corvus Stone, and many of the musical concepts therein are promising. For all of its enthusiasm and skill however, the album's messy flow and utter lack of structure keeps Corvus from achieving their potential this time around.

This debut has me thinking of a child's playroom. There is colour, joy, and vitality here, but the the floor is dirty and things are scattered everywhere. Of course, as children grow up, they tend to adopt a greater focus. If Corvus Stone are able to realize the potential that's plainly evident here, there could be a very impressive album in their midst. Until then, I'm left feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Report this review (#879144)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Ok it's just the time for getting immersed in "JussiPussi" and celebrate the weird world created by three talented killas.

Many thanks I've got a physical one from Pasi KOIVU and Colin TENCH (thanks mates) and enjoyed listening to nearly 80-minute (!) 21 (!) tracks again and again ... several inspired sharp-edged short track cynics are upon here. The beginning of the first track "The Curtain Rises" reminds me something horrible like Exorcist or so, filled with Pasi's ghostly key dread and Colin / Petri's muddy, ethnic percussive guitar traps ... enough for me to have an expectation for this whole album. And yes of course, always shivering with an unclear extreme terror of "Scary Movie" ... make me comfortable with such a freezer burning lol.

Basically some pop-ish tracks (like a fantastic ballad "You're So Wrong", with enthusiastic voices by Blake CARPENTER) are in this album, whilst every song (whether catchy or not) has definitely something cynical as tactics of eclectic eccentricity with their strong suggestion ... "Ice King", released as a single shot, sounds not only like a comfortable psychedelic ambience but also like a ginger-cookie-ish surprising modification. I've found lots of crystallized gems here and there. And let me say sure thing this album be constructed around one of their masterpieces titled "JussiPussi".

"JussiPussi", composed by Stef FLAMING (joining this stuff as a guitarist / vocalist), is a weird but superb track with mysterious air and definite strong RIO flavour drenched in heaviness and ethnicity. Petri's deep, strict bass rhythm, Colin's very 'eavy very 'umble guitar quake, and Pasi's quirky but hearty keyboard monster ... all can be pretty harmonized and matured together. That's a real entertainment of music, and you can understand to watch a videoclip produced by Stef, that notifies you kinda pleasure of a mixture of audio & visual. The most important thing upon this track should be every Corvus Stoner has quite enjoyed in playing / producing, and this fact can kick our b*** away into the hell. Hell yeah.

Another masterpiece, their titled track is a perfect drone psychedelia, that we have listened to in Pasi's albums. Sounds like Colin or Petri throw a massive battle with their strong "rock" elements and loud sound bullets, against Pasi's loose keyboard works and sounds ... what an interesting manner their composition and sound structure are. We can find a bunch of adventurous essence in their creation, that may sound like a crossover between pop and prog just when listening to this whole one. And one more, "Cinema" is their dramatic cinema-ish theatre over 10 minutes ... really a fantastic tragic show with their crying lemonade like owl's eyes.

Anyway, their album sleeve painted by Sonia MOTA is another killa. The booklet is her artistic "hearty heart", love it ... give one more star for her addictive red carpet.

Report this review (#879222)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Eclectic? Yes, Vibrant? Yes, Mainstream? No. There are more musical ideas and styles on here than some bands manage in their whole career. A dizzying ride through elements of Canterbury scene, Krautrock, Psych and garage, jazz and rock. A mixture which may leave some listeners confused and disoriented. That's a good thing. These are top musicians doing whatever the hell they like and enjoying themselves, even drum solo's are allowed. Great musicianship all round and exciting compositions. I am not going to give a breakdown of each track, others have already done that here. Highlights for me are October Sad Song with its excellent guitar work and Eloy-like keys. Pilgrims impresses as does Moron Season with its great power break in the middle. Jussi Pussi is Zappa style bonkers, which is no bad thing and the excellent Iron Pillows also has Zappa like echoes in the arrangement and guitar. My personal favourite, Cinema, sounds like the soundtrack for a futuristic spaghetti western set on Mars. There is a lot of music here to take in. Do yourself a favour and step out of the mainstream for a while, take your time to digest it and enjoy these excellent musicians enjoying themselves.
Report this review (#879366)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Like others have mentioned this is a difficult album to review. It's a sprawling 80 minute affair and as such it certainly has it's ups and downs. The only band member I am familiar with is Colin Tench the guitarist from BUN CHAKEZE, and this is for the most part an organ / guitar driven album. Great art work by the way including the pictures in the liner notes.

"The Curtain Rises" is a great song title for an opening number. It's a short instrumental with deep sounds along with synths and strummed guitar over top. "October Sad Song" reminds me of POPOL VUH for some reason until the guitar comes in soaring. I really like this track. Guitar and piano standout on this instrumental. Synths come and go as well. "Highway To Emptiness" is a bright and bouncy instrumental. The organ pulses as the drums and guitar help out. Not a big fan of this one. "Ice King" opens with atmosphere as reserved vocals join in along with spacey synths and more. It's okay. "I'll Leave It All Behind" is an uptempo instrumental as the organ and other sounds pulse away. Again an average piece in my opinion. "Corvus Stone" is an over 8 minute track that opens in a relaxed manner. The guitar cries out before a minute. A change after 1 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up. It settles back before 6 minutes. "Moron Season" is the best song since "October Sad Song" and it is a vocal song. Some emotion here for a change. It then kicks in with organ a minute in and faster paced vocals follow suit. A guitar reference to "Smoke On The Water" at one point as well.

"Horizon" is a short instrumental that shines. "Intermission" is even shorter at under a minute. It's an intro to "Moustaches In Massachusetts" I believe. The latter is a pretty good guitar driven instrumental with plenty of organ as well. I like it ! "Pilgrims" opens with relaxed guitar and organ. It kicks in before a minute as the drums pound away. A calm after 2 1/2 minutes but it does pick up again. "JussiPussi" is a fun and dynamic track. Crazy stuff. "Iron Pillows" is almost experimental to start then the guitar starts to lead and the organ joins in. More experimentation is mixed in as it plays out. "After Solstice" is another instrumental with the drums and guitar standing out this time. Organ after a minute.

"The Rusty Wolff Attack" named after the drummer who gives us a solo here. "Lost And Found" is a vocal track with drums, guitar and organ leading the way. Good song ! "Scary Movie" has sampled haunted voices as it were then the music turns heavy. Not for long but it will come and go. Lots of atmosphere on this one too. "Cinema" is the longest song at just under 11 minutes. Nice bass after 4 minutes as the music sort of twists and turns throughout this instrumental. I'm reminded of PORCUPINE TREE after 8 minutes and I love the guitar that joins in. "Your So Wrong" is a vocal track. Man this is good. "Ice King (Instrumental)" is just that while the album ends with the 30 second "Ten Inch Lisa".

Well this did get better after my first listen. I didn't even like it after that long first spin but after a week of playing this I feel I got to know it pretty good. Unfortunately the high peaks are few and far between for me but man I love those passages and songs. Still there's not enough here to offer up that fourth star. Good album though.

Report this review (#886874)
Posted Thursday, January 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a sprawling album lasting just a shade short of 80 minutes by an international collective of very talented musicians. If you had to provide a word to best describe it, I think that ambitious would probably best fit the bill.

There really is a bit of everything in here, as other reviewers have noted correctly. From Purple influenced classic rock, to jazz, to blues, to pure symphonic prog, it can, in truth, be a very bumpy ride on the first couple of listens, and I have, therefore, taken quite a bit of time before sitting down at my keyboard to review this.

Let us, then, deal with the main positive feature which shines from this album, and that is the superb musicianship and production. The keyboards of Koivu, the guitars of Tench, and the bass and multi instruments of Lindstrom are, to a fault, exceptional, and I have also been deeply impressed by the complex drumming exhibited by Robert Wolff. In addition, a highlight of this is also the contribution on vocals made by Blake Carpenter, who released earlier this year the sublime The Minstrels Ghost, on which Tench contributed. I should also, by the way, make special mention of the excellent artwork on the cd by Sonia Mota.

This album is a labour of love, of that there is no doubt. There are passages which are simply sublime, with the ten minute Cinema being my personal favourite. This features some deeply moving and evocative guitar work, both electric and acoustic, with a very complex keyboard solo much in the mould of classic Wakeman from an era long ago.

So, there are many positives here. The negative, to me, is that it is perhaps just a little too ambitious in the way the band try to bring together so many different styles and influences into one long piece, so that it is, even after a number of listens, somewhat incoherent as an album. It certainly, to my mind, would have benefited from being a good ten to twenty minutes shorter, and is, certainly, not the sort of album you are going to play continuously on a regular basis, not unless, of course, you have far too much time on your hands. Rather, I feel I will find myself dipping in and out when I play this. For example, I have the beautiful You're So Wrong almost permanently on my iPad playlist, with its lovely vocals interplaying with a dreamy backdrop by the band.

So, to rating this. I, for one, will be interested to see how this project develops, because there is so much great promise herein, and, having communicated with some of the protagonists, can say they are as lovely a bunch of artists you could possibly hope to have.

I see this, therefore, as being a stepping stone to great things in the future, a marker laid down, if you will. It is, to these ears, a very good album, so three stars (3.5 if we had such a rating).

My thanks to Colin Tench for sending me the cd to review.

Report this review (#888226)
Posted Saturday, January 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When looking at the top albums of the year on The Prog Archives, I noticed "Corvus Stone" as a common choice among my fellow collaborators. As it turns out, Corvus Stone was formed through the power of the internet and it's ability to bring people together. I was intrigued and found it on Spotify.

The CD starts out wonderfully with a worldly sound building the tension through a series of effects and noodling weaving a soundscape that had me eager and ready for more. I would love to say that the rest of the album lived up to initial soundscape.

Both Pasi Koivu's keyboards and Colin Tench's guitars sound fantastic and they get a lot of time to shine on the mostly instrumental CD. This is both a good and a bad thing. While they're both phenomenal musicians, they did not start the project with a drummer or vocalist. This makes the album sound mostly like a showpiece / jam album. The majority of songs are relatively simple chord progressions with extended jams over lack luster drum programming.

One of the highlights of the album gives an exciting picture of what is to come, "Ice King" features vocalist Blake Carpenter, a late addition to the band. Mr. Carpenter's voice is a wonderful fit to the spacey atmosphere that they create, again hearkening back to the ambient soundscape that led the album off. The addition of drummer, Robert Wolff, to the band, unfortunately came too late to save the album from the doldrums of the drum machine.

Another highlight is the production, for an album that was recorded all around the world, the production sounds amazing.

I truly look forward to their next release, the addition of vocals and live drums to the majority of the band will represent a huge leap forward. In addition, additional musicians should help add some diversity to the song writing process. Honestly, this is a good debut album and shows a huge promise of things to come.

Report this review (#890268)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars First of all what is up with the number of tracks. I don't understand why these guys don't take the time to make a few well developed songs out of the fragments recorded on this release. There is good stuff here and it seems to me that if they took the time to pull this stuff into a couple of refined tracks, they would really have something here; but nonetheless they did not do that. Second of all, there is way too much cheese. I mean there are at least a dozen epic starts or endings with no completion of the track in between. Don't get me wrong, there is some great music here, but the release is underdeveloped as an album to the point that the good stuff is hard to enjoy. Here is my track by track review:

The Curtain Rises - This first track sounds like an intro to something bigger, but never develops into anything.

The second track "October Sad Song" is horrible. The drums, lead and piano are not in sync. They sound like they are all playing different songs at the same time.

This third song "Highway to Emptiness" is one scale, one time signature and a flat melody. Enough said.

The forth track "Ice Kings" starts with something that would have been interesting in 1974, but in 2012 sounds a little corny. It gets better as the track progresses, but then falls apart at the end. To be fair, there is some talented music embedded.

The fifth track: I'll Leave It All Behind" is straight out of the seventies. What can I say - Startsky and Hutch anyone? It has a funky feel that I like, but just when I start enjoying what is there, it ends.

This is the title track "Corvis Stone": This track sounds like it is trying to be progressive but does not quite get there. The band stays in the same mode continuously and does not do anything special. The track is good but not special.

Moron Season starts in a Latin beat and accompaniment is well executed. It abruptly moves to a heavy fast pasted driving track, but the musicianship here really falls apart. There are moments of solid progressive music but lacks composition, which results in an incomplete track.

I don't even want to review Horizon. It is a song at less than less than 2 minutes of noise.

Intermission - this is a good track but is way too short. It is not long enough to be evaluated.

Moustaches in Massachusetts - It sounds like the typical progressive rock song. The tambourine drowns everything else out. This poor mix distracts from what would otherwise be a decent track. This is one of the better tracks on the record.

Pilgrims - I like this track. It starts with ambience and integrates some nice leads. It moves into an excellent rock ensemble. There are parts where the drums and keyboards are off time with the other instruments, but overall this is the best track on the release.

JussiPussi - This piece start sounding a little like the "Star Wars Bar Scene". Then there is a lot of random noise. There is nothing in this track that is memorable.

Iron Pillows - It starts with a fine guitar solo. The guitar work is really good, but the track does not developed. There is no melody at all. The Keyboards simply follow the guitar lead note for note, and the drumming is boring. As a track it starts relatively strong, but then goes downhill and gets worse as it goes. The song continues into what sounds like a jam session that was not planned or rehearsed.

After Solstice - This song has a very strong start. I like the way this one uses the guitar and keys moving back and forth between lead and follow. The song winds down into a really nice acoustic semi-electric symphonic compilation. If the rest of the release was more like this track, I would be great.

The Rusty Wolff Attack - This is just a drum solo and not a very memorable one.

Lost and Found - We start with the little drummer boy. So it starts sounding a little corny, but then the rest of the instruments join and the vocal starts and it am a little surprised at how good it is starting to sound when it suddenly ends ? why does it end prematurely as does the best material on the release?

Scary Movie - This starts with sounds effects that reflect the name of the song. There are several epic sounding movements, but it never really gets going into anything that I would consider a song. The final jam that does evolve is boring.

Cinema- Step onto the elevator. This is your musac track. It progresses into some bad sounding Latin stuff and keeps going for a LONG, LONG time. This is one track that I wish would end early.

You're So Wrong - This track starts with a vocal that is pretty darn good. There is some good piano and flute in accompaniment. A distant horn with a really good lead guitar foreground keeps it all interesting. Where was this musicianship on the rest of the record? This is a really good track but sounds out of place with the rest of the release in terms of theme.

Ice King - this is a repeat of track four without the vocal. Once again, it would have been great in another era. Why twice on the same release though, I don't get it.

Ten Inch Lisa - This is a nice acoustic guitar piece that does not last long enough to be appreciated.

Overall, the guitar is really good at times, but keyboard and drumming is subpar at best. This release has moments of individual genius talent mixed with subpar performance and horrible composition. Given some of the other reviews, I expected a lot more. What I found was a collection of very short disjointed tracks and overall, a work that lacks continuity of theme. While there are some very talented individual efforts throughout the release, there are very few moments where it sounds like a complete band is playing.

I am a little torn because there is a lot of talent hiding in the individual musicianship, but the release does not come through as a coherent performance. The composition is non-existent. The quality of the recording is not bad.

My overall rating is 2.5 rounded down to 2.

Report this review (#890906)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Certainly one of the more high profile albums of the year, the debut album from Corvus Stone is an extremely impressive mix of colourful instrumental workouts, charming vocal pieces and a multitude of styles all thrown in the progressive rock blender. Comprised of members from Minstrels Ghost, BunChakeze, and numerous other progressive projects, the album frequently displays the skills and imagination of a talented bunch of musicians over a sprawling 79 minute musical landscape with so many twists and turns that's it sure to leave some listeners exhausted! Plenty of vintage synths, epic guitar solos, hazy psychedelia, spacey adventures and a bridging of 70's prog excess with modern production qualities.

Focusing on the instrumental pieces first `The Curtain Rises' sounds like the introduction to a grand and sweeping proggy western movie, then `October Sad Song' floats through on a cloud of Rick Wright/`Dark Side'-styled synths/piano and extended bluesy electric guitar soloing - really lovely piece, I truly dig that bass soloing at about the 2:45 minute mark too! Crunchy stomping hard rock and quirky synth interplay on the driving and upbeat `Highway To Nowhere' that reminds me a lot of the recent Carpe Nota album - no bad thing that. Shame about the abrupt ending though, it could have just gone on and on! `I'll Leave It All Behind' is a frantic and energetic 70's Hammond/guitar run with some very positive themes and melodies.

`Horizon' is a sunny and commercial 70's sounding AOR rocker, while `Intermission/Moustaches' starts as an atmospheric acoustic piece before flying into wailing Santana-band guitar fire urgency. The terrific `Pilgrims' runs through a wide range of 70's vintage prog rock workouts along the lines of Genesis and ELP, and `Jussipussi' (ahem!) is a comical maddening psychedelic showtune/cartoon soundtrack that highlights the band's sense of humour. `After Solstice' is a grand and melodic romantic prog run in true Camel style, `Rusty Wolf Attack' a nicely placed drum solo, `Scary Movie' a wild heavy grinder with some sleazy strutting and brooding atmospherics. `The Ice King (instrumental)' has lovely floating eeriness, while the albums wraps on a lovely but brief Spanish guitar number.

As for the vocal pieces, `The Ice King' is an immersive and mysterious synth/guitar piece along the lines of Ayreon, and I loved the reflective intro to `Moron Season' with charmingly accented vocals, before it diverts into a quirky and ragged fuzzy rocker - reminds me a little of Scandinavian band Five Fifteen! `Lost and Found' is a haunting romantic prog piece in the tradition of the Alan Parsons Project that could have been developed even further, such is a quality of the vocals and melody. `You're So Wrong' reminds me a lot of Floyd's hazy `Fat Old Sun' with the gentle acoustic guitar, piano and warm humming synths. I'm not sure which member sings what, but the vocals are all superb in each of these tracks. Plenty of prog albums have been crippled by inadequate vocals, so that's certainly not the case here.

Special mention must go to the band's self titled track, `Corvus Stone'. They slow things down for a drifting and ambient intro with warm synth backgrounds before raccous ELP organ, swirling electronics and middle eastern-themed electric guitars that weave around the piece. Many parts of it are probably a better example of Ozric Tentacles inspired music than that actual band has managed in recent years (as much as I still love them). Lovely piano and violin during the somber change of direction in the finale. Other extended instrumental workouts like the shifting tempos and swirling electronics of `Iron Pillows', and the ambitious soundtrack-like `Cinema' with it's sprightly acoustic runs, shimmering synths and Old West ambience are also worthy of particular praise.

OK, so it's far too long, and the endless changes in direction and styles can be a little jarring and disorientating, but I'm pretty quick to defend this due to the sheer variety and musical talent of the band members. I should mention that although containing too many tracks, not one of these pieces is actually bad! I personally would have preferred it be entirely instrumental rather than having the odd vocal piece that comes comes out of nowhere thrown in, perhaps it might have been better released as two separate albums, one for vocal pieces and one fully instrumental? I love drifting away on a musical instrumental journey, but don't like that abruptly halted by some sudden misplaced vocals/lyrics.

But the reason I enjoy the album so much is that most of it is simply just FUN! There's a real sense of joy in the playing, and plenty of little humorous fragments worked into the arrangements. This is an album that I've constantly kept in the car and, if I'm feeling a little uninspired or flat, listening to it makes me smile and really raises my spirits! The vibrant and colourful cover artwork from Sonia Mota could not be more eye-catching, and it perfectly captures the colours of the music. Double gatefold this baby on vinyl LP now, Corvus fellas!

2012 turned out to be a another fine year for progressive rock, and this album was certainly one of the more attention grabbing releases. It sets the bar high for a debut album (the beautiful production really gives it a kick too), and it shows a band with so much potential and talent that should be very proud of what they've achieved here. So perhaps a little more cohesion and not so much quantity, and we'll be on to even more of a winner. As it is, though, `Corvus Stone' stands as a supremely enjoyable and inventive release, and makes the band one to watch for the future.

An easy four stars!

Report this review (#891740)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The buzz.

If one record made noise and rose a debate, it's that one. Some liked it a lot, some didn't understood what it was about. Thanks to Facebook, this trio collected material and served to us an all-you-can-eat buffet of varied taste. Is it coherent?

No. Not really. But that's what makes it enticing! The styles are varied, going from Joe Satriani / Steve Vai to the Flower Kings, to ELP to themes of video games (like Final Fantasy IV); at least to me it sounded like that! Some songs would need more tweaking or could be more catchy, but so did Balletto di Bronzo right? You don't need an immediate opinion on everything, sometimes you have to take your time. And some records like Balletto di Bronzo are gems to some and trials to others.

I didn't heard such a flea market of sounds ever, but it's the whole point of a virtual band. The spontaneity, the unpredictable twists and turns, the lovable short melodies in almost every song and yes, the annoying ones (JussiPussi).

It's a record to savor at small sips, track by track. 3 differents guys from 3 different countries who don't know each other, who won't cooperate face to face, we understand it could've been a disaster, but against all odds, it gelled!

Weird and haunting. A test.

Report this review (#893227)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Let's start with what somebody consider to be a defect of this album: it's various. It has a song format, no concept and the sequence of the various tracks seems quite randomic. I don't think it's a thing bad enough to make my rating decrease.

The first thing that I've noticed is the sound of the second and the third track. With the headphones on and with a volume high enough they acquire a "live" sound. Listening to them makes me think to what we were used to call happenings at the end of the 60s, and effectively I hear a link to the Californian psychedelia.

But with the 4th track, "Ice King", everything suddenly changes. There's still some psychedelia but the atmosphere is totally different. The middle-eastern mood reminds to the early Floyd (and to Rick Wright) as well as to the Camel of Mirage.

Back on stage with the excellent "I'll Leave It Behind". A track that I think would work very well live, based mainly on keyboards with excellent efforts of guitar, bass and drums. It's an instrumental which I find very close to Niacin, and this is an indicator of how skilled the band members are.

The title track has a Gilmourish start, but the keyboards sound like Wright or Vangelis are behind. This is probably the proggiest track of the album and another which I can imagine played on stage, even when in the second part it slows down and becomes quite ambient.

"Moron Season" is, if I'm not wrong, the first track with lyrics. A very nice melodic song, initially, which after one minute becomes something totally different, with the instrumental part reminding me to Niacin or to Ozric Tentacles and the singing in heavy prog style. Nice idea the few famous chord from Smoke on the Water in the final.

"Horizon" sounds very west coast for less than two minutes and is followed by a short interlude of acoustic guitar, then it comes a funky track in Santana style, just to become floydian again with the following track, but with a touch of acid blues in the intro. Then a rock canon comes in. "Pilgrims" has so many changes that can be considered a minisuite.

"JussiPussi" was maybe an attempt of avantgarde track in the composer's intention but results to be the weakest track of the album. Weak but not awful.

"Iron Pillows" begins in a similar way but it turns soon into a psych-blues. Really not bad for who likes psychedelia. "After Solstice" is not very different (impressive guitar, anyway).

Speaking of live sound, the stage is where a drum solo results more appropriate. Especially if followed by two minutes of symphonic prog of Crimsonian (Lake) memory. What follows is dark and reminds me to something I can't define. The guitar rocks but the base is undefinable. An interesting track which has maybe a little Hendrixian taste.

After "Scary Movie", "Cinema" is appropriate. The longest album's track has a country-rock flavor but can make me think to Procol Harum, too. A very good old-fashioned ballad.

To close the album another version of The Ice King is completed by a short coda: Ten Inch Lisa, which is made of 30 lovely seconds of classical and 12 strings guitar.

This sudden closure contributes in making me think that the track sequence could have been better. However this album contains a lot of good things and its being so disontinuous and various can be a plus instead of a handicap. Grab your copy and enjoy it.

Headphones on, please.

Report this review (#893512)
Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I will admit that I understand why some here are not impressed with this album. Many of the tracks sound more like rough outlines for jamming than actual finished compositions. But the jamming is outstanding. Colin Tench is a chameleon of the guitar. He glides easily through any stile, from southern rock, psychedelic whirls, light avant-garde, and even some full fledged prog. Pasi Koivu plays some mean keyboard. When he hits the Hammond he recreates the classic 60's and 70's sound and updates it with ferocious licks. And bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstrm is a joy to this bassman's ears.

Compositionally the band is all over the map, which to me is not at all a bad thing. Koivu is responsible for the majority of the pieces, and seems comfortable working in a number of styles. Highway To Emptiness and Moron Season strongly remind me of Phil Manzanera's 801. October Sad Song and You're So Wrong bring Traffic to mind. The self titled Corvus Stone begins like an homage to Frank Zappa's Black Napkins, but evolves into a unZappa-like electro space jam.

The best tracks, to me, are the more experimental pieces. On Pilgrims, Tench has a sound similar to David Torn, which is appropriate as the piece leads into JussiPussi, which in a slight way sounds like something John Zorn (with whom Torn sometimes plays) might have written. The progginess peaks with a suite of tracks that begins with an unnecessary drum solo (TheRusty Wolff Attack) that moves into a Floydian piece (Lost And Found, where Koivu's synths imitate Richard Wright at his best), and then into Scary Movie, which at times seems to be quoting King Crimson's Deception Of The Thrush (as well as a brief passage from Fleetwod Mac/Peter Green's Oh Yeah) and the wonderful Cinema.

So don't take the appearance of simplicity of the album as a flaw. The musicians are so good here that they raise the album to near masterpiece levels. I highly recommend it for the soundtrack of a long drive (that's how I learned to appreciate it).

Report this review (#894132)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Corvus Stone, a musical concept that stems from the meeting of three talented musicians in three different countries. The current musical project is very hard to review due to its length (1h20 mn !) and its variety of musical genres (southern rock, pop, jazz-funk, psychedelic pop, ethnic music, ambient...). The following review will be performed on a track by track basis. The album starts off in a middle-eastern mood with zither, acoustic guitar and percussions. It follows with two upbeat tracks with echoes of southern rock and very fine melodies thanks to tasty piano and keyboards. "Ice King" is a laidback tune with nice theremin layers. It is here performed with vocals, but is repeated in an instrumental version towards the end of the album. Next track is more surprising, "moron season" is indeed in a jazz-funk tone, excellent B3 hammond playing and you really have the impression that you are back in the golden era of Blaxploitation. The title track is intriguing with vintage keyboards hailing to the electronic experimentations of Czeslaw Niemen in the mid-seventies with Aerolit, some meditative guitars conclude the track. Next is a track that starts off like a mellow tune with distant vocals, but soon evolves towards another jazz-funk tune with more daring vocals alternating between right and left side of speakers. B3 Hammond on fire with southern rock style guitar in this track ! Also, one will notice a wink to Deep Purple with a short solo from "smoke on the water". "Horizon" is a cheerful track with various keyboard sounds, among which one like vibraphone played on bells. Once more, southern rock is not far in the guitar solos. An acoustic guitar interlude follows with "intermission", and is soon followed by a psychedelic-pop tune with a play on words in the title. Keyboard/guitar interplay provides this time again great results. "Pilgrims" has a laidback ambient introduction and develops into a dynamic instrumental piece full of great moments showcasing B3 Hammond virtuosity and southern rock riffings. "Jussi Pussi" is an experimental track, avant-garde rock interspersed with circus music. It could be regarded as a transition between the first part of the album and the second part. This second part begins with my favourite track on this otherwise fabulous album, "Iron pillows", very lush arrangements, aerial guitar and once more very tasty keyboards / organ. A real delight for the ears and a good lesson of instrumental progressive rock. "After solstice" has its main theme sounding like a progressive rock version of Shadows, Colin Tench in the shoes of Hank Marvin ! It is followed by a drum solo (Wolff is the name of the drummer, hence the title of the track), highlighting the skills of the drummer, akin to the ones of Marco Minnemann or Simon Phillips ! This drumming is a good introduction to the next track, with its bolero "colors". Afterwards, "Scary movie", as suggested by its title, has a more haunting and intriguing atmosphere. A wink to Led Zeppelin can be witnessed in a short solo from a song that I unfortunately don't recall the title. "Cinema" is the next track, a long song, following in the same line as "scary movie" when it comes to the haunting atmosphere, thanks to the harpsichord-like introduction. The, soon the musicians wander in gypsy jazz and ambient-jazz-world territories. A touch of southern rock can be heard in electric guitar solos and warm kayboard layers arrive towards the end of the tune together with Vai-esque guitar solos. "You're so wrong" is a nice pop tune with Randy Newman-like vocals, and guitar by Black Widows guitarist ! The instrumental version of previously mentioned "Ice King" follows and the album is concluded in an acoustic mood with "10 inch Lisa". The guitar is versatile all along the album, with influences ranging from southern rock to Frank Zappa and alumni Steve Vai through Steve Morse and David Gilmour for the aerial solos. This album is also a must-have for any keyboard lover, as the range of sounds is very wide. Virtuosity is combined with melody and makes for a very enjoyable album, you even crave for more after 80 mn ! A few words about the artwork, as Sonia Mota, the lovely person who created the front cover and the inner images, is part of the band. The front cover with the crow holding a camembert in its beak and the predominance of red and black colors may have a link with french literature (respectively La Fontaine and Stendhal). Also, similarly to Iron Maiden's 'somewhere in time', some song titles are associated with the artwork (the signs with titles 3, 4, 8, 10, 11 / the cinema theater with titles 17 & 18). However, there seems to be a contrast between the overall dark cover (a crow, a celtic cross, the ruins of a church, dusk) and the music (you could expect a stoner/doom band). The signs on the pole pointing towards various directions and the contrast between the modern cinema theater and the ruins are a good illustration of the band's versatility. In a nutshell, a very good discovery, that I owe to the illustrator of the pictures, the talented Sonia Mota, who deserved to be thanked 5 times (!) in the liner notes. An album that easily deserves 5 stars. Open-minded people will find a lot to appreciate in this music played with heart. The musicians played what they like, and we like what they play.
Report this review (#905216)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only now and then does a new CD live up to expectations. You get the pre-release hype and a few teasers that build you up for the big letdown. However, I had high hopes when I got my Corvus Stone in the mail. Having already heard a couple of the tunes and being familiar with other work of the musicians, it was with great anticipation that I popped in the disc and sat down to give a listen. Seventy some exhilarating minutes later, I broke from my trance to start it from the beginning, anxious to discover just why I had enjoyed it so much. I heard fresh sounds that felt familiar. There was dissonance and sweetness, frenzy and calm - a give and take between the instruments like a conversation between friends that is respectful, but open to all ideas expounding on similar points. Where many collaborative efforts can sound a bit disjointed, Corvus Stone draws strength from the freedom each musician has to create and the inspiration that individuals from different countries brings to the group. Pasi Koivu's (Finland) compositions are anything but typical, but when he plays them, the keyboards so smoothly and artfully draw imaginative dreams right through his frisky fingers. Colin Tench (Sweden) joins the discussion with an array of guitars that speak with the tongues of many. Each sound is played with just the right touch, at just the right time, for just the right length - a impressive combination of superb technique and translatable feeling. The smart, full bass lines by Petri Lemmy Lindstrom( Finland) keep the songs honest and cohesive. They dance among the keys and guitars filling intended gaps and punctuating phrases in a way that warms the ears. He plays with great contrast in structure and free form. The to and fro, lively or serene, is driven and cradled by the expert drumming of Robert Wolff (USA), who contributes some sassy punch with a snazzy drum solo. Guest appearances by Blake Carpenter (Minstrel's Ghost) on Ice King and You're So Wrong, Stef Flaming (Murky Red) on Jussi Pussi, John Culley (Black Widow) and Vic Tassone (Unified Past) on You're So Wrong, are delightful additions that provide well placed changes of pace. You should buy Corvus Stone because your ears will thank you for the sensational experience produced by such an assortment of genius captured so well and mixed to perfection. The stunning cover and sleeve work by artist extraordinaire, Sonia Mota, is, by itself, worth the purchase. You should put this CD in the lifetime of listening section of your collection. You will want to listen to it over and over again in order to catch all the little extras that are a mark of "the music first" musicians who refuse to settle for less. Rating? How many stars you got? Seriously. It is that good!
Report this review (#911435)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Once again we have a proof that music has not a particular nationality, it is a worldwide element that gathers us together and makes us fly and feel better. A new result of this premise is the band named Corvus Stone, led by Colin Tench, and complemented by some other great musicians from different parts of the world, who created and released in 2012 a self-titled album in which we can appreciate a carousel of sounds, musical genres and concepts. The album has 21 songs and a total time of 80 minutes (yes, a long one).

"The Curtain Rises" is the classic one-minute introductory track, an instrumental one that opens the gates to the musical realm of Corvus Stone. "October Sad Song" shows Tench's abilities with guitars, both acoustic first and later electric, while keyboards and drums make their work as a cool complement. The music is a strange mixture of prog rock with some soft blues hints, it is easy to dig and enjoy. "Highway to emptiness" is a shorter track which again shows the guitar tendency and a cool rhythm that will make you move your head.

The first song that features vocals is "Ice King" which has a different sound, here they implement some kind of scary sound, like a horror movie passage that at the same time brings some hope and future, hope you get me. "I'll leave it all behind" shows the other side of the face, here keyboards take the leadership and the mood becomes happy and joyful, in some way reminds me of Medeski, Martin & Wood. Here I have to say something, the album does not follow a line, it constantly changes so in moments one may perceive it is uneven.

This feeling happened to me in these last two songs that have nothing in common. "Corvus Stone" is one of the longest tracks, it is a rollercoaster of sounds, a salad of textures and nuances. Here I have to confess that in moments the music is lost in space, there are moments where my attention is lost as well because it did not catch me as I would love to, the first three minutes pass so fast and seems that nothing happened, later they begin to play with the sounds, to make pauses and let us know their coordination, but I must say that I expected more from this particular title-track, though I like the last minutes with piano, guitar and a somber sound, it is not that memorable.

"Moron Season" is a nice song, vocals return and the joyful sound appears again with keyboards as leader, with cool bass lines and drums, the humor element is present here, and they even make a brief tribute to Deep Purple here. "Horizon" is a short instrumental track that offers a new passage of rock, blues and prog. The "Intermission" is a 40-second acoustic guitar track, nothing more. And then all of a sudden "Moustaches in Massachusetts" begins, here I am not sure if the production wasn't the best, but when the Intermission begins we can hear a cut and later Moustaches starts. Returning to the song, it is again an instrumental track where keyboards and guitars share leadership, both create cool passages while drums and bass accompany them.

In "Pilgrims" we can appreciate that Corvus Stone likes to be different in every single track, they do not repeat themselves which is a good point, however, there are moments where changes sound forced, in this song we can listen to several forced changes in my opinion, though it is a good track overall. The humor returns with "JussiPussi", it is undeniable they wanted to include the humor in their music, so one can easily enjoy it, I assume. "Iron Pillows" is another carousel of prog rock, with nice colours implemented by keyboards. "After Solstice" is one of my favorite tracks here, I love the cadence of the guitar, it is put in the right moment in the right place, also, keyboards are the best couple here, while drums and bass produce a great complement.

"The Rusty Wolff Attacks" is a drum solo, cool. And it opens the gates to "Lost and Found" which has some kind of funeral drums, accompanied by keys as background and then soft vocals and acoustic guitar, this is another fine composition. "Scary Movie" has some hints of what the title suggest, it is actually one of the most fresh and original tracks of this album, I love the constant drums, the background keys and the raw guitars that appear all of a sudden.

The longest song is "Cinema", the only one that passes the ten-minute mark. Contrary to the other long song, this one does have a nice structure, an appealing sound that catches the listener's attention, I like how it is involving me little by little until I am practically inside the music, with images transmitted in my mind. The bass lines are a great guide. The passage that begins after the fifth minute is beautiful, relaxing, mindblowing, with excellent instrumentation and a delicious sound in general, this might be my favorite passage of the whole album, with exquisite acoustic guitar and a great keyboard background.

The last part of the album is composed by three short songs. First "You're so Wrong" which is a soft rock track, with nice vocals that remind me of some US rock/blues bands from the 70s. Next is an instrumental version of "Ice King", which sounds nice. And the album finishes with "Ten Inch Lisa" which is just a 30-second track of nice acoustic guitar.

Well, I liked this Corvus Stone album, the project is ambitious and with a bright future, but I would like to make a couple of suggestions, the first, that the album is really long, so there are moments where I felt tired and lost interest, and second, those forced changes and uneven passages, it is my appreciation of course, but I feel these two thing damaged a little bit my experience, this is why I will rate the album with 3 stars.

Enjoy it! Thanks Colin for the introduction, congrats for the album, it is a very good one.

Report this review (#928091)
Posted Sunday, March 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've had this rather nice album for a while now but perhaps held off reviewing it until the music had settled in my mind. Although classed as 'crossover' in general terms this is eclectic instrumental music played by a very talented bunch of musicians. The core line up is: - Pasi Koivu / keyboards - Colin Tench / guitars - Petri Lemmy Lindstr'm / bass, various instruments although 4 others also help out in various other departments.

In total there are 21 tracks and the 79 minutes is 'beefy' even by modern standards. You might reasonably expect some filler but to my ears there is none. Although mostly instrrumental there aren't any tracks that are filled with aimless soloing. There is a vision here and every single peice is a proper composition not something that has just been chucked out. You get a feeling of evolution throughout the album but also its a journey with many sights to take in along the way. Lots of influences are apparent but nothing sticks out a mile. Its pleasantly jazzy at times but the synths help to create atmosphere where necessary.The playing is snappy and energetic and most of all a sense of fun pervades the whole project.

A lot of people have remarked that this lacks a coherence and I can understand that view but debut albums are about discovery not about laying down a definite agenda. Perhaps not a masterpeice but this album is as enjoyable as anything I have heard in the last few years and there is probably more to come. A slam dunk 4 stars.

Report this review (#934564)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Corvus Stone'. Wow. What a difficult album to review. Not only because of its sheer length (1 hour and 20 minutes), but because it can't really be labeled in any genre. Is it prog? Yes. Is it jazz? Yes. Pop? Check. Rock? Check. Blues? Also check.

While there isn't really a sense of continuity or a concept usually found on prog albums, one must ask oneself: Does it really matter? The music is flawless, cleverly arranged and marvelously executed. Is it all over the place? Perhaps, but that's the beauty of Corvus Stone: It is so eclectic that it can please even the toughest crowds.

I've been a hardcore Bunchakeze fan since its release in early 2011, and Colin Tench is a hard guy to keep up with: 5 known bands, and many others we may have never heard of. That's a lot of music to listen to, and when I first heard of the release of a new album from a whole new band, I just HAD to get it.

There seems to be some sort of obscure alchemy surrounding these guys. First, what impressed me is how LITTLE time they needed to make an 80 minutes album. And second, how can so much stuff be going on at the same time? But somehow they pull it off. Pasi Koivu's eclectic keyboards seem to compliment Petri Lindstrm's high-octane bass playing, and Colin Tench's sometimes furious, sometimes mellow guitar just perfectly.

Robert Wolff on drums and Blake Carpenter (you may remember him from Minstrel's Ghost) step up and put the icing on a very ambitious cake.

Must-be-listened tracks: 'Highway to Emptiness', 'Ice King', 'Corvus Stone', 'Pilgrim's, 'Iron Pillows', and of course, Corvus Stone's showstopper: 'Cinema'

Corvus Stone is definitely a band to keep an eye on. God knows what is next in their future, but one can only be sure that it is going to have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of Music.

Report this review (#936771)
Posted Friday, March 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I heard the ice King and was amazed. I Never heard of this band before I heard that on youtube and now I wonder if there is any limit to what music there is nowadays. Frost, Comedy of errors, Kotobel. All new to me. The great thing with all of these and more, is that there is always something that grabs you by the balls and a lot of music that is rather odd sounding on the same album. Perfect. Enjoy and learn at the same time. I recommend taking a listen to Cinema loud and if that doesn't grab you, go to the doctor. This album is stunning. I will buy the next album unheard and I rarely do that with any band, especially the old guard.
Report this review (#965783)
Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Found a short version of Cinema on the new progstravaganza album and was reminded to buy the album at last. I already saw the Purple Stone video, tho that is not one of the tracks on here. This album is just stunning! It bears no relationship to most of what is released os progressive these days. Maybe more related to what was popular 40 years ago and that is a very welcome sign. These guys never stop for a rest. The changes and journey through various genres could be quite alarming to mere mortals. When I hear so many bands playing safe and doing what they assume will sell well. Favourite track? It keeps changing! Just buy it.
Report this review (#1019364)
Posted Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars CORVUS STONE The Curtain Rises on a bright opening to a recording takes you into a bazaar in another country, uplifting instrumental that only lasts 1 minute 33 seconds but lets you know that you have started listening to Corvus Stone.

OCTOBER SAD SONG a wonderful instrumental track that is filled with a cocktail of musical styles that satisfies every musical taste. The start of the track places you on a precipice overlooking a massive landscape of musical notes turning to see a highwayman riding his horse hat tilted to one side he dismounts his horse taking water at a nearby stream. Yes this is a strange way of describing the track but this is how it makes me feel wearing my headphones I hear every nuance placed very carefully in this masterpiece of music, the keyboards swell and fall like an eagle on the wing the guitar plays out a melody that draws you along allowing you to take in every note. The drum track keeps pace with the highwayman's horse pulling you in to the music's colourful core.

HIGHWAY TO EMPTINESS Corvus Stone pull you out onto a long hard road making you walk its entire length, making you swing your arms with every chord change on the screaming guitar. The Guitarist is almost making fun of you, coaxing you to move faster, until you find your destination of emptiness.

ICE KING Watch out for this man, the Ice King, he will make you succumb to his weary ways, a wonderful track of colours and patterns of magic music that fills your very being with warmth, but take care the melodic voice of the Ice King will get you and vanish you away.

I'LL LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND A very jazzy number that hits the ears with a smack then gets the old foot tapping, I find myself tapping on my desk with my hands. It is fun that makes a smile come on your face.

CORVUS STONE after hearing the sample of this track I actually miss Colin's narrative, but hey you can't have everything you want. The track starts of very calm drawing you in then at the right moment pulls you into an almost Lord of the Rings moment with skirmishes of guitar and keyboards the drums simulate hits of swords and shields. (When I say Lord of the Rings I mean Bo Hanson's musical version) The guitar in this slows to a wonderful stop the keyboards burst into life giving you a feel of a person running for their life, failing to escape the onslaught, finally dying on their own on a bed of dead leaves in a forest clearing with the sun beaming down on their body. The magician comes into the clearing taking the body to the river and placing it onto a boat and setting fire.

MORON SEASON the vocals on this one give you something to think about while you are getting a grips with the instrumental which is truly mind blowing to the ears. Every note has been put in the right place. If you have missed this, put it on headphones and see what I mean. I love the way the instruments answer themselves.

HORIZON 'Please take me home' comes to mind when I hear this track although it is a little gem, wonderful use of the keyboards tweeting in your ears bouncing back and forth, the use of the Wah is great.

INTERMISSION here we sit awaiting the next track, for 40 seconds then, ah, this is Moustaches and Massachusetts which bursts into your ears making you hum to yourself a real runner of a track that is drawn along by the rhythm track nice use of keyboards here. Colin's use of high notes I like gives it almost a Mexican feel but then it changes to something more urban. It's flowery interludes earlier on are really lovely, ending with a single snare drumming.

PILGRIMS A lovely guitar heavy track that has something in there for every prog music lover. The drums singled out I like as I like the drums, each instrument has been placed perfectly in this track the guitar harmonies are special, the melodic keyboard hits the mark making it a special event.

JUSSI PUSSI What can you say, I think this is homage to 'Monty Python' which is one of Colin's favourite comedies, fantastic fun using every sound they can concoct. It is a cacophony of wonderful sounds. The title is not rude as it is a type of cake or bread in Sweden, cos I looked it up. The instruments are fun and the clunk ending, homage to the Python team.

IRON PILLOWS This track almost certainly at first sounds just like a cacophony of sounds all put together, but listen harder and you will get the point of it, some really nice instrumental sections to this. There is a melody but do listen to find it. I really like the randomness of the sections that do build up to a fantastic jazzy whole.

AFTER SOLSTICE A rich guitar sound takes us into a lovely colourful track that gives the feeling of warmth. The track iterates some of the passages gone before on this track but then that adds to the fullness of the piece. All of the players go full out at one point only to slow down to calm us down again. I see a flowery meadow while listening to this track making me feel I am young again playing amongst the long grass of my youth.

THE RUSTY WOLF ATTACK Nice this with the drums and percussion, you very rarely hear any drum solo's anymore. It got my foot and hands tapping on the floor and keyboard.

LOST AND FOUND The last track moves into this one giving a very military feel at first. The keyboard section is beautiful and Blake's voice complements the instrumental, which then moves into, SCARY MOVIE Now I always liked this from an early section of track that I heard somewhere (lol) All the instrumental sections instil an uncertainty that is what a scary movie does, you are always looking forward to the next bit to see if you jump or are scared, but don't forget, look behind you.

CINEMA Yes you are sitting in the cinema waiting for the main feature to start and up it comes, the trailers for the new films, they come on dynamic and full of life. Well this track gives you the same feeling with many twists and turns, delivering you to your seat where you await your film to begin.

YOU'RE SO WRONG This track gives a warm feeling, the vocals are soothing with the instruments, they melt together like chocolate on a warm surface. The backing vocals give it a fuller feeling. The keyboards are subtle but necessary. Till finally it melts into the distance.

THE ICE KING (Instrumental) This has a whole new dimension, although I like Blakes vocals this on its own allows the instruments so shine forth giving it an almost Star Trek backing track. The wailing of the guitar mixed with the keyboard gently running along. The gentle rhythm of the drums carries the whole piece to the end where we meet..

TEN INCH LISA A very short track that sweetens the air rounds up the whole album as quickly as it started.

Tony Cragg

Report this review (#1084156)
Posted Sunday, December 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
3 stars My understanding is that this band came about when the three main musicians, Colin Tench (guitars), Petri Lemmy Lindstrm (bass) and Pasi Koivu (keys) found each other through Facebook, and they recorded most of the album before some other members came into the fold, which is one of the reasons why it is mostly instrumental. Before I started writing this review I thought that I would have a perusal of what others have been saying about it on PA. I don't normally look until afterwards as I don't want to be influenced by others, but I was intrigued to understand just how much of a minority I was going to be in. And yep, there are a lot of people who really like this and it is currently #33 in the Top 2012 charts. But, there are also quite a few people who feel the same as me, which is that it is perhaps a little too disjointed and fractured at times for its' own good. I have no idea how the songs were written, but we can go from crossover prog to something that is far more intricate and Zappa-like to sometimes go through fusion and into RIO, which definitely can make it confusing for the listener.

There is no doubt that the three of them are wonderful musicians, with Petri providing some incredible fretless bass lines, Pasi having a wonderfully delicate touch, and Colin being an amazing guitarist, no matter what style they are working on, but it doesn't always work. At one point I was reminded of the story Rick Wakeman told of him telling every member of his band that they were going to start with a different song the next night, so when they all started playing it wasn't exactly what was expected. Each of them was a professional but none of them were working together and that was the feeling I had here, but on only some of the songs, and that is why I found this an incredibly frustrating album to listen to.

It is very long for a single CD, a fraction under 80 minutes, and there are times when this is nothing short of sheer genius, but there are others when the listener just shakes his head and asks what one earth is going on. I have to confess that I smiled when I heard the snippet of "Smoke On The Water: inside "Moron Season", and again when "Oh Well" turned up inside "Scary Movie", and the latter is one of the standout songs on the album for me as it could easily have come from the masters of horror prog themselves, the mighty Goblin. The more I played this album the more I liked it, but consequently also the more I felt that there were some things wrong with it. I mean, a drum solo on a studio album in 2012? Come on, we weren't that fond of them in the Seventies (unless you were John Henry Bonham of course).

I had a long hard think about the grading I gave to this album, as there are many times when it is at least 4*, and others when I can only give it 2* at best, so 3* is probably fair. But, if I put this onto my ipod and only played the songs I liked then it would be 4/5. So, this is one when it really does pay to listen to it before purchase so give it some plays on Bandcamp and then either download or pick up the CD that contains a 16 page booklet.

Report this review (#1086553)
Posted Saturday, December 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The best is yet to come, I hope.

Corvus Stone first, 2012, release "Corvus Stone", has a lot of good things going for it and the "normal" ones against. Good things like extraordinary and disciplined performances, against self-indulgence (a drum solo, really?). Good "rooted influences", that are hardly visited, because in time, they lasted only, a "couple" of years. These roots of course, can be "detected" in early Deep Purple, but mainly in the "non-blues", or "white americana" native music. Coming the same as the blues, from the "fields", it has an authentic own musical language and structure. These "roots" appeared again in the popular music of the 60s, which extended to all its forms. Rockers saw in these "structures", forms of de-constructing the 4x4 beat, with different approaches. In this "fragment" of time, the USA saw its RnR turn to the "raunchy" Prog USA manufactured, style. This fragment of time brought upon "prog-oriented" bands which were also powerful "rockers". Eventually it all came to today's "mainstream" Prog, that has pervaded its way through Prog and its sub-genres, with its caravans of followers.

Corvus Stone, takes from that fragment of time, and acts a whole play. Proving to anyone that they are Top Players. Now and Next, they have to absorb all the Alice Cooper ( whose first works are even RiO), Grand Funk, Creedence, early DP (and jokingly or not, the 'Smoke on the Water" riff, is fun, but also proves what I'm talking about), Led ZEP (their solos), Neil Young, etc,etc, influences.

Once they do this, because it is clear they, I repeat, are top performers, (that just like that are in this PA page,with an only album addition), something else would have been the story.

But first, to play in these "PA big leagues", you have to learn the "Golden Rule"

"NEVER TO SACRIFICE THE WHOLE FOR A PART". (not only the solo, more than one song, could have been omitted).

Once these guys absorb all their non-blues/roots, and polish their OWN musical language to make it work for them, and not otherwise, they could turn something better, than mere-good musical compositions with virtuous performances.

For now, ***3 "original sources and great performances" PA stars.

Report this review (#1089464)
Posted Friday, December 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars This multi-national group came together almost by accident, starting from a chance meetings on Facebook. The music is written by the Finnish keyboardist Pasi Koivu, who is on PA also as a solo artist. The British guitarist Colin Tench is known from Ocean 5 (among others), and like the album of that group - or project - , also this one has the nice cover art by Sonia Mota. Very barbeque-flavoured cover, but the music has many spices as well. It's mostly instrumental, adventurous, playful and joyful, sometimes like jazzy rock'n'roll; musicians are audibly enjoying themselves. 21 tracks is a lot, and it comes as no surprise that not all of them are very thoroughly thought. The nature of the compositions is sometimes close to a happy jam session. Here and there it's flirting eclectically with various music genres from country rock to avant-garde, etc, without ever getting very difficult listening.

'Ice King' is an atmospheric vocal song, sung gloomily by Blake Carpenter. 'Corvus Stone' is a long intrumental and among the highlights with a progressive tendency and beautiful, melodic playing. And so is 'Cinema' (10:50). 'Moron Season' is another vocal song, starting like a tender Camel ballad but soon turning into a fast and tight track. The riff from 'Smoke on the Water' appears for a moment, and the album has several such little surprises. It's up to the listener how valuable they are.

'Pilgrims' is a slow track... no, it isn't. Hmm, this sums up the major problem with this album. It is too full of everything, restless to build on various moods without a hurry. There's not much of cohesion, like several reviewers before me have already pointed out. In the end, I can't exactly say how much I'm impressed. Halfway the album I'm actually losing my concentration. The playing and production are both excellent and there are myriads of fine musical ideas, but sadly they mostly result as very short and artistically a bit pointless and half-baked tracks. Surely some further self-criticism and thinking of the album continuity would have improved it. More of Corvus Stone music is already being made (they felt that the CD maximum length of 80 minutes is way too little), and I'm looking forward to hear it. Hopefully they have a little more patience to really work things out next time.

Report this review (#1111660)
Posted Friday, January 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars It took a while...

...before I got around to writing a review for this album. A bit over 14 months ago, I got a copy through valued ProgArchives member Kati, who did the art work for the album. Across these 14 months, I've played the album a number of times - at home, in my car, even at night in a tent in Slovenia. Every time, I heard something new, in this interesting melting pot of music. Some folk like things, some Marillion, Pink Floyd, but also the occasional 1970's Deep Purple or Free riff.

Wonderful, but at the same time requiring you to really listen in order to be able to enjoy it - there is so much going on, and not everything is as easy to grasp casually. The album is a so varied that it gets hard to describe everything - so I'll refrain from that. Instead, let me point out that the musicians who joined project leader Colin Tench on this album are amongst the best on their respective instruments, that the compositions are truly prog worthy and I only `realised on the third spin that the album was not fully instrumental.

All in all, a prog journey worth taking, best experienced on a warm summer night, in front of a tent in Slovenia.

Report this review (#1138938)
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An internet project, which actually started through Facebook, installed in 2011/12 by BunChakeze's Colin Tench, guitarist Pasi Koivu and Petri Lemmy Lindstrom on bass, the leader of Progeland.Ideas came and went, proposals for adding musicians in the process were set on discussion and thus the first album begun to take its final form.Blake Carpenter of The Minstrel's Ghost and legendary drummer Robert Wolff, previously with Micah and Raven [USA], jumped in to help and the line-up was expanded with the acceptance of drummer Victor Tassone, guitarist Stef Flaming (borh of the Art/Folk Rock act Oceans 5) and John Culley from Cressida, also on guitars.Different parts of the album were in this way recorded in Sweden, Finland, USA, Belgium & UK and the self-titled debut of Corvus Stone was launched in 2012.

To talk about influences and musical styles related to this album is almost impossible, as Corvus Stone scan so many different sounds and sights that their debut is characterized by a positive inconsistency.Positive because the music is generally well-crafted, interesting and atmospheric, incosistent because the exhibition of so many different moods result to an absence of cohesion.24 tracks as a whole and let's start unfolding the sound here, where all tracks have something in common: They appear to be based on 70's Prog Rock and Classic Rock, but composed in a modern way.I can hear shades of PINK FLOYD mainly in the vocal pieces, which appear to be low-paced with cool guitar solos and atmospheric keyboards, while some other tracks with organ and keyboards in the forefront next to some quirky electric guitars come close to a BRIAN AUGER style of playing, a mix of Jazz-Fusion with keyboard-based Prog Rock, filled with good solos and rhythms.Then there are these more symphonic tracks with the Neo Prog touch, close to the sound of THE MINSTREL'S GHOST, based on flashy keyboards, extended instrumental themes and elaborate melodies, followed by some more rockin' pieces with a more pronounced electric guitar and even some ethnic and Latin tunes towards a SANTANA-like style, albeit much more modern and heavier.In several tracks a MIKE OLDFIELD vibe is also displayed, mixing atmospheric backgrounds with acoustic sections, based on acoustic guitar and mandolin with a definite bucolic edge.The 11-min. ''Cinema'' seems like a good recollection of the band's sound, combining the PINK FLOYD/OLDFIELD-like hypnotic textures with more energetic themes based on keyboards and washing the whole stuff with ethnic overtones, orchestral grandieur and CAMEL-esque guitars.

More like a collection of songs and instrumentals than a tight Prog release.Rather incohesive as a result, but you have to admire this group of musicians, who can play almost every possible style out there.Recommended, consider it as a tribute to Progressive Rock history and a good listening experience is guaranteed.

Report this review (#1287426)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Corvus Stone is among those CDs that I bought, listened to, but couldn't get emotionally involved enough to form a coherent opinion or to write a review.

However, lately there has been quite a bit of buzz about Corvus Stone and some of its members, so I thought it wouldn't be inappropriate to weigh in so as to add my take on this interesting band and its first album.

The first impression: the very pleasant cover art by the talented Ms. Sonia Mota (who has already immortalized herself in the hearts and minds of the PA collabs). It's such a shame Corvus Stone is not available on vinyl; I'd buy it for the album art only (unless they ask more than $20.00).

The following impressions aren't quite as positive. Overall, it feels like a series of studio demos by a bunch of reasonably competent players, meant to demonstrate their music-makingl skills. None of the 21 tracks feels like a self-sufficient, whole "song" in the prog sense. Which makes them somewhat boring.

The singing is kind of average, but that's the unfortunate characteristic of very many prog albums. Thankfully, the album is largely instrumental, which kind of mitigates the damage, done by its mediocre vocals. The musicianship, as noted above, is OK, but not outstanding.

Style-wise, Corvus Stone is kind of demo-like as well: it's like the musicians are saying, See, we can play a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As an album, Corvus Stone doesn't seem to be going anywhere particular, other than announcing the new band to the public.

If not for the album art, this would be 2.5 stars.

Report this review (#1312072)
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was introduced to the music of Corvus Stone through their second album. Though I'd read reviews that called the music eclectic and because of that I had expected a disjointed album trying to cover everything, I was actually very pleased to hear an album that exhibited variety as well as cohesion. The band had an established sound and they could do a lot with it. Different guest vocalists augmented the sound palette of the album with their individual voices. After some time, I was fortunate enough to get hold of a copy of the debut album. How would I like it? Some reviews said it was more like an album of demos.

I have to admit that it has taken me time to get into this one. That is not a bad thing, of course, as sometimes albums that need time to grow on you turn out to better the more memorable ones. But I also went off exploring other areas of music which called more for my attention shortly after acquiring a copy of 'Corvus Stone'. So I didn't have the mindset for really listening to the music. Also, the album is long. When I left my house in the morning and pushed 'play' I would still be listening to 'Cinema' by the time I reached work. There were yet three more tracks to go!

Now I have finally had the chance and the desire to listen carefully and carve out an opinion of this album, albeit the last two listens were done piecemeal and not in one sitting.

First, let me say that the sound of the band is there and intact on the debut right from the start. Colin Tench's unmistakable guitar playing, with his occasional salute to Ritchie Blackmore, is perhaps the easiest to pick out (so to speak). He has quite a large bag of tricks which he employs with great skill and cunning. Keyboardist Pasi Koivu also takes the lead often and provides plenty of textures and atmospheres. Bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstrom wields the bass and rumbles to the forefront from time to time, most notably for me in 'Cinema' and 'Moron Season'. And drummer Robert Wolff, who was not yet a full member of the band until near the end, even gets his own drum solo. There are two guest vocalists this time, unlike the sophomore album which features more singers.

The album includes fewer songs and more instrumentals. In fact, there are only four songs: 'Ice King', 'Moron Season', 'Lost and Found', and 'You're So Wrong', which is a cover of a song by Black Widow. The rest is all instrumental, though with the occasional weird spoken line or word as in 'Jussi Pussi'.

Though the album begins sounding like Corvus Stone alright, I find that the first few tracks often pass by without my mind latching on to anything permanently. It's as if the band are still trying to work out exactly how they will use their individual talents and they are striving to establish what Corvus Stone should be. The band's theme song is where the first of the progressive instrumentals really catch my radar. But then we enter the beginning of the more experimental stage of the album. The music begins to move ahead here with a guitar and organ rocker 'Moron Season'. Now 'Horizon' and the short but beautiful instrumental 'Intermission' begin to bring the album into form. Things get weird by 'Jussi Pussi' but next up, 'Iron Pillows' brings us back to familiar prog land. From here on in there are plenty of ear-catching moments and songs and instrumentals that demand replays.

I have now heard this album several times through since first acquiring it and it is indeed growing on me. To the credit of the band, they sound like they are composing music that they enjoy playing. They are not overly technical but they use their individual and combined skills to make it sound like they are serious about having fun with music. As an analogy, I'll use a box of crayons. Some bands start with a big box of 24 colours and try to cover a large sonic palette. Others have a 12-colour box and use the colours to create a landscape of various tones. Corvus Stone sound to me as though they had only a box of basic 8 colours and they start out the album really working on how to get the most out of their colours. By the middle of the album, there's more experimentation and then they have found to best mix their colours in order to create colours they didn't have. In other words, you won't find cello, oboe, harpsichord, ulleann pipes, or bouzouki being played. Instead you'll find a band that works hard at being creative, versatile, and interesting with the instruments they are each individually good at playing.

For me the hardest hurdles to overcome are the selection of keyboard sounds on some tracks and the sheer number of tracks, especially instrumentals. The keyboards occasionally sound too much like supermarket Muzak to me and it makes the band sound like they are doing a Muzak cover of an original song that possibly sounded better. Thankfully, they are some other much better sounding keyboard solos that rescue that aspect of the music.

The thing with the instrumentals for me is that they often feature guitar and keyboard solos and there are times when I don't feel the solos are as inspired as I came to expect after hearing the second album. For many years before I had kids, I would sit up at night with my guitar and attempt to solo along freely to songs and there were moments when I really felt I had hit a sweet spot, when I felt I had just played something soul tweaking. One time I composed a simple piece of music on the keyboard at the school where I worked and recorded it to minidisk and took it home where I tried to come up with a guitar solo that I could play to the music for the staff Christmas party. The notes were all in key and the solo began as simple and built up, but I couldn't feel any wow factor. It was just composed and played very methodically. Sometimes I feel the solos of 'Corvus Stone', in particular the keyboard solos but occasionally something on guitar as well, are like my humble composition of years back ' the notes are in place and follow the music but in the end there's no fiery moment of 'oh, yes, that's awesome.'

Wrapping this up, this album is a great start, setting Corvus Stone firmly on the route they would continue to follow, but there was a bit of a shaky beginning where the boat seemed to veer a little left and right before they got it firmly on course. By the second half of the album they got sailing under clear skies with a stiff wind bolstering their sails. From there on they would be in full sail in time for 'Corvus Stone II'.

I find myself hesitating to give this a firm four stars but three stars is only worthy of a few tracks, mostly near the beginning. I gave the second album four stars easily and I like it much better. Then my four-star rating here is with a twinge of hesitation, more like a 70-75/100. Perhaps I need to reassess my rating of 'Corvus Stone II', to which I would give somewhere around 85-90/100. Or perhaps with further listens this will grow on me even more.

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Posted Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | Review Permalink

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