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Grand General

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars I clicked on this under the new release section on the homepage and the sub-genre for this album said Jazz Rock/Fusion which is not really a genre I listen to that much. Looked around for a version to listen to and there was nothing on Bandcamp, but it was on the Amazon MP3 store so I checked out the short previews of the songs. Well I was pretty surprised by what I heard in those brief seconds of listening because it didn't sound like other Jazz Rock/Fusion that I had heard. Now there is a definite jazz rock flavor to the songs, but it is mixed in with other elements like post rock/math rock, melodic jam rock, psychedelic/space rock and even some perhaps neo or symphonic prog-ish elements. I hear parts of the music that sound like they could fall under eclectic prog or art rock/experimental rock. Plenty of quirkiness sprinkled throughout the music which adds an playful sort of sense to it all. There are a few spots where the music tends to wander off into that acid jazz noodling, but it is rare and never gets too out of hand for my tastes. Quite an interesting listening experience and this was actually pretty easy for me to get into despite not being a big fan of the particular sub- genre. Oddly enough my favorite songs were the medium length songs The Fall of Troy, Tachyon and Ritual, as I am a fan of long songs, but all the songs are enjoyable to listen to.

All around great debut album. I think this is the first thing I have bought that was labeled with the word jazz hehe.

Report this review (#1011593)
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have listened to "Grand General"'s record Grand General which was released this year. It is a Norwegian jazz rock band made up by Trond Frönes on bass, Kenneth Kapstad on drums, Even Helte Hermansen on guitar, Erlend Slettevoll on keyboards and Ola Kvernberg on violin and viola and this is their debut record. The cover picture is cubistic and shows a skull.

Grand General plays heavy instrumental melodical jazz rock. I got a feeling that this music is very progressive and perhaps one of the best nowadays, more sympathetic than many other genres. What makes this good is especially the violin and viola which stands for a folk music inspired melodical soundscape. Especially the two first songs has big inspiration from the Scandinavian folk music. The first two tracks are perfect: "Antics" and "The Fall of Troy" (both 10/10). Even the names are sophisticated and give a glimpse of the glory in these tracks. "Clandestine"(4/10) is a boring track that destroys something but "Tachyon"(7/10) is cool, both brutal and melodical. "Ritual" is a good but quite boring track(6/10) and finally "Red Eye" is a great final(8/10) of this album.

The record is rather uneven and that's a shame. Four great tracks and two quite bad make up the album. As a whole I find the result enjoyable and very interesting. Thank you for the fine music. Four stars!

Report this review (#1045175)
Posted Friday, September 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Norway seems to be the latest hot-spot these days when it comes to Progressive music and certainly the "Rune Grammofon label is helping in that regard. GRAND GENERAL was originally called the KENNETH KAPSTAD GROUP as they formed to play at a Jazz festival in Norway. They decided to change their name to GRAND GENERAL and this is their self-titled debut from 2013. Kenneth Kapstad by the way is the drummer for MOTORPSYCHO which is also on the "Rune Grammofon" label along with such bands as SHINING, ELEPHANT9, KROKOFANT, PANZERPAPPA and many more. GRAND GENERAL features members that have either "Metal" backgrounds or contemporary Jazz backgrounds. The music at times reminds me of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA especially with the violin being so prominant, and ELEPHANT9 came to mind at times.

"Antics" is the longest tune at 12 1/2 minutes and it opens with this raw sounding guitar as the violin joins in with cymbals then bass as it builds. Things pick up after 1 1/2 minutes as they continue to jam. A heavier vibe arrives just before 3 minutes then the organ joins in bringing to mind ELEPHANT9. Some excellent drum work here. The violin starts to lead then it's the guitars turn then the organ as they continue to jam heavily. What an intense and heavy opening number. "The Fall Of Troy" has a heavy and melodic intro then it settles into a really good groove with the violin playing over top. Again the drumming is outstanding. The guitar comes to the fore 2 1/2 minutes in then the violin is back leading a minute later. The guitar is lighting it up 5 1/2 minutes in. "Clandestine" has this sparse beginning that slowly builds. Love the restraint here that really recalls MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA as it seems like it's going to break-out but it never really does. A stunning piece.

"Tachyon" has a punchy rhythm to it then the violin joins in after 1 1/2 minutes playing over top. Keyboards replace the violin a minute later. Here comes the violin again after 3 1/2 minutes ripping it up. It calms down some around 5 minutes but still sounds amazing. "Ritual" is my favourite and it has this eerie atmosphere to start as random sounds come and go in an experimental manner. It starts to become melodic 2 1/2 minutes in as the drums and violin create a groove. The guitar joins in as well as we get a solid Jazz/Fusion flavour. "Red Eye" has a good groove to it with fuzzed out bass. It does settle back some before 3 minutes as the violin solos over top. Again the drumming is outstanding. The violinist is really putting on a show here then the guitar replaces the violin after 5 1/2 minutes. The violin is back after 9 minutes then a big finish.

Fans of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and ELEPHANT9 really should check this band out as they are incredible. A very solid 4 stars, maybe closer to 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#1371627)
Posted Sunday, February 22, 2015 | Review Permalink

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