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Avant Garden - Maelstrom CD (album) cover


Avant Garden

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars Though this may appeal to the harder-edged fans of progressive rock who like the LOUD sound of modern King Crimson or Dream Theater, this album feels more like an exercise in fusion jazz pyrotechnics than a progressive rock album per se. Though the musicianship is superb, though there are moments, each groove seem to drag for too long - just feels like endless solos without much interplay.
Report this review (#90918)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars Most people who have heard this album are usually left trying to figure out what the hell just hit them.These four guys from California have made a huge statement with this album which is not surprisingly called "Maelstrom". Hibou in her bio of this band here ends it with these words. "If you enjoy a good sonic beating, AVANT GARDEN can't wait to give it to you." And Mike Prete from the Gnosis site says "Make no mistake these guys are out to kick your ass. Don't take it personally though-they only have the best intentions in unleashing this hybrid of Psychedelia and Jazz / Rock." There is some stunning instrumental work here including the upfront bass, aggressive sax and killer guitar and drum work.The flute is a nice touch as well. Again I can't say enough about the way these guys play.Wow ! In the liner notes they thank a lot of people i'm not familiar with except for Steve Roach who guests on here and surprisingly DEUS EX MACHINA. We get five long tracks over about 55 minutes of music.

"Dragon Feed" hits the ground running as everyone lets loose. It does settle back a little as drums and bass lay the groundwork while the sax and guitar set the soundscape on fire.The bass is so good. And check out the guitar 1 1/2 minutes in when the sax lays off. Sax is back after 2 minutes.We get a bit of a repreive before 6 minutes as the bass starts to solo and drums continue. It doesn't last long though and soon the guitar is ripping it up before 7 minutes.The guitar and sax start to trade off before dissonant sax ends it. "Archemedes Tub" is led by drums early on and it's heavy. Flute takes that roll after 1 1/2 minutes as the heaviness comes and goes.Guitar to the fore after 3 1/2 minutes.The flute and guitar start to trade off then the sax comes in.The guitar takes over before 7 1/2 minutes and starts to light it up. Flute is back as the bass continues to shake the soundscape.

"Oceana" opens with flute as acoustic guitar joins in then bass and drums.The tempo starts to pick up before 2 1/2 minutes.Here we go ! It settles back after 4 minutes then picks back up a minute later. It's heavier 6 minutes in as it kicks back in with the guitar out front. It settles a minute later as the flute returns with acoustic guitar, drums and bass. Man this is so good. Here we go again as the sax comes in blasting as the guitar lays a trail of fire. Percussion ends it. "Into The Maelstrom" opens with rain and thunder as drums join in then the guitar starts to build. Sax a minute in. It settles with flute after 1 1/2 minutes then kicks back in a minute later.The bass leads then the guitar kicks in wreaking havoc (that's going to leave a mark). Check out the sax / guitar interplay before 5 minutes.

"Path Of The Farwind" is the 18 1/2 minute closer. Some nice atmosphere with flute to start. Drums and bass join in. Sax after 2 1/2 minutes. How good is this mofo ! A calm with flute 9 minutes in then it kicks back in quickly as the flute continues.The sax replaces the flute before 10 minutes then it's the guitars turn as he goes balistic. It settles back after 12 1/2 minutes but it's still heavy almost TOOL-like until the sax blasts in. Some beautiful guitar after 14 1/2 minutes then the flute is back leading almost to the end. I think that's Steve Roach on his didgeridoo that does end it in a thick atmosphere.

I've been absolutely blown away by this instrumental maelstrom.The thing is there are some gorgeous mellower parts here as well but it's that storm of intensity that leaves me feeling very overwelmed.

Report this review (#337632)
Posted Sunday, November 28, 2010 | Review Permalink

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