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Far Corner


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4 stars Stravinsky and Bartok as well as several prog bands from the 70'... The main influences of this new quartett from Milwaukee (Wisconsin) sound supremely promising. Well, on the one hand it seems to be surprising that a young band wants to create a mixture of contemporary chamber music and rock, but on the other hand you have to admit, that several bands showed how awesome this kind of music could be; Present and Univers Zero, just to name two of them. These two bands are also the ones with the stongest resemblances to FAR CORNER. But the heavy metal like cello, the jazzy piano and the roaring hammond impart their music a very personal touch...and suddenly it seems as if the music has no similarities to anyone at all. So Univers Zero and Present are just a kind of benchmark, nothing really assimilable.

FAR CORNER's self titled debut album exceeds the aforementioned expectations with it's interesting style, it's vivaciousness and the well-balanced mixture of compositions and improvised music. Humming bass, sophisticated drumming, jazzy and complex keyboards, mostly piano and measured cello which prevalently degenerates into boisterous and distorted kind of shredding. Maybe somehow comparable to the cello known from Höyry-Kone or Alamaailman Vasarat (two awesome bands btw). All songs seem to be highlights just because they are nearly of the same quality. Nevertheless, I have my favorites which include the opening track "Silly Whim" (download the sample), the quite heavy "With one swipe of it's mighty paw", the very jazzy "The turning" and the closing longtrack "Fiction". The reason for giving 4 Stars instead of 5 is following: Even though all tracks are highlights and not one song falls short, I have to admit that the album on the whole, during more than 70 minutes, can sometimes be described as lengthy. A little more alternation and FAR CORNER's debut would have been a true masterpiece.

I can just repeat my words from the bio, If you like zheul, so called chamber rock with jazzy piano and don't mind a sometimes quite heavy, distorted cello you should check out FAR CORNER immediately. But you should also check them out if you like to listen to modern music with a crazy touch and interesting mixture of styles. Certainly highly recommended!

Report this review (#33634)
Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Far Corner is a chamber RIO band from USA. This band is influenced by few elements which are RIO (especially Univers Zero), jazz/fusion, metal, 70's prog and classic music. The band consists of four members. It's actually a quartet that plays some fine tunes, and this quartet offers its good playing skills, some sort of originality and sophistacted compositions. The quartet consists of a cellist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboardist. The cellist plays the role of a guitarist that isn't afraid of using a distortion, and that role is quite interesting. On the other hand, the cellist also plays accoustically like any other RIO cellist. However, I must admit that the distorted cello is more exciting than the accoustic cello since I hadn't heard anything like that before I heard Far Corner. In a nutshell, if you dig chamber RIO like Univers Zero and Art Zoyd but jazzier and more metallic than this album has been recorded for you ! Moreover, the music by Far Corner is even catchier , in my opinion, than the bands that I've mentioned above. Recommended!
Report this review (#42360)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This is a USA four piece band (and two additional musicians on clarinet and flute) from the Cuneiform label that uses to surprise us with the more complex progressive rock. Indeed Far Corner sounds far from mainstream although the echoes from the symphonic rock dinosaur King Crimson are obvious. The interplay between the instruments (Hammond organ, Grand piano, cello, bass) is captivating if you are up to avant-garde and jazzy inspired progressive music: from experimental featuring Grand piano, cello and percussion to complex delivering flood of Hammond organ, propulsive drums and powerful bass work. Listening to this CD I often got the idea that the music from Far Corner on this album was created by spontaneous jams: at some moments strong and creative but at other moments weird and a bit without direction. The highlight is the long composition "The Fiction" featuring exciting shifting moods, some Mellotron samples and great interplay between piano, cello, bass and drums. These are good musicians and their music sounds adventurous so this band could be a discovery for you if you like this kind of progressive rock.

By the way: JELLE 'the young matador' KLAASEN FOR PRESIDENT!

Report this review (#64847)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first got the track 'Silly Whim'... I was totally blown away. Immidiately I stormed the local HMV and other big stores for the albums... but none was on stock... so I ordered one, and here I am, after 5 weeks of relentless waiting, writing the review, after a good 7/8 spins!

A Masterpiece? Certainly!... Original? Of Course! (We all have our influences... but how they bring out fresh ideas is something to beholden)... Inspired musicianship? Just listen to the album and find out! Finally... Is it worth reapeated listening and does it have what it takes to stand the test of time? Well, for the 1st question... the materials here are extremely well composed to say the least and at the same time have bits and pieces of improvisations to let the performers shine... lots of cello layering, lovely piano/hammond organ, intricate cymbal patterns, masterful bassline --- jems to be discoveedr with repeated listening. For the 2nd question, would I have called it a masterpiece if I thought it wouldn't stand the test of time?

I am a very eclectic music fan... I listen to almost all kind of music there is except for Pop/NuMetal/Punk... It is very hard to be regarded as a Masterpiece in my book...

I won't go too deep into song by song review or the performers, but this I can say:
1) Modern Classical Music Fans (Minus some Boring minimalist music) --- Check this out... You will treasure it
2) Symphonic Prog Fans --- If you like originality, You will love it
3) RIO/Zeuhl/Avant Fans --- Start digging this baby ASAP
4) Jazz/Fusion Fans --- This it the ultimate marriage of rock/jazz and chamber
5) Prog Metal (Spastic Ink/Cynic/Spiral Architect/Symphony X[Divine wings/Odyssey]/Dream theater/Dillinger Escape Plan/Gorguts/Gorgasm [Nerotripsicks]) Fans --- Are you still reading this review? GO get it..
6) King Crimson/Rush fans --- Why are you still on this site... go to or your favorite music store...
7) Univers Zero/Hoyry-Kone/Present/Zappa/Mister Bungle/ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT/French TV/Absolute Zero fans/Egg --- Shame on you! You call yourselves fans and still don't own this album! **********************************************************
8) DIE-HARD Neo Prog/Pop Prog/Smooth Jazz(?)/Easy Listening/Disco/Britney Spears/Hip Hop/(C)Rap Fans and all othe closed minded folks --- Please listen to your already favourite musicians(?) instead and don't bother to think for yourself for a change...

Report this review (#67361)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wild. Untamed. Unpredictable.

There are two things that my mind associates with those three words: wilderness and Far Corner. And why not, given just how intertwined the two are. Far Corner seem to have a wilderness motif that flows throughout their music. Just look at their song titles and album covers. The songs on this album have titles such as Something Out There, With One Swipe of Its Mighty Paw, Outside, and Tracking, and the cover art is of a snowy landscape with a prominent evergreen tree. On their follow up album, Endangered, the cover has some sort of wild beast (wolf, perhaps?) on it, and the songs have titles such as Inhuman, Creature Council, and Claws. There's more to it than that, however. This wilderness motif pervades the actual music as well, and it is generally in the forefront. The music is instrumental, but it is still, as I said before, wild, untamed, and unpredictable. Not once on my first listen to this album was I able to turn my attention away, because I knew that I would miss something worthwhile. There were no points where I could tell what was coming next. It was an entirely captivating listen, and subsequent listens have only deepened my appreciation of Far Corner's magnificent debut effort.

Far Corner create a unique blend of music styles, forming a mixture most accurately described as "avant- chamber-metal." And they do it without a guitarist. Like Finnish band Alamaailman Vasarat, Far Corner uses a cello (though only one - Alamaailman Vasarat uses two) instead of a guitar. Not only do they replace the guitar with a cello, they use the cello exactly as they would a guitar, including distortion. It is from this that they base the metal aspect of their sound, and I must say that if you have never heard metal played on a cello, you are missing out on a lot. The cello in general is a much heavier instrument than the guitar (in the sense of music, not weight), and is thus much better suited to the metal style of playing than the guitar (at least in my opinion - I rarely enjoy metal played on guitar, but when a cello is used, I often find myself going "googly-eyed"). Keep in mind that, despite all my talk of metal, this is not a metal album. Metal is merely one style of playing they go through, one element of their music, which, as I said earlier, encompasses many styles. Far Corner pull metal into their avant-chamber music bass, making themselves unique in the process.

In addition to the heavy cello, every other musician, all of whom are clear in the mix, treats us to fine performances. Kopecky on bass is ever-present, never stealing the show, but always making himself known, and he is clearly an essential part of the music. His textures are clearly evident at all times and contribute mounds to the quality of the music. Craig Walker on drums is always pounding away, keeping the songs alive and giving them the energy that every other band member feeds off of. Like Kopecky, he is not the star of the show, but he still gives an excellent performance and is absolutely essential to the music. The cello may be what most stands out about this band because it makes them unique, but the keyboards (courtesy of Dan Maske) on this album rival the cello work in every way. Maske blazes away with the ferocity of a shark that smells blood, and in the moments when the band is going full speed, Maske is often the one leading the way. Even in their softer (but no less ominous) moments, he is there furthering the music in every way he can.

This album is long, that's true, and other reviewers have commented that it drags on at times. I can almost see where they're coming from, but in the end, I have to disagree. The only moments where it seems to me that they even venture into "dragging" territory is their more avant-garde moments (such as Something Out There part 3) or their somewhat slower openings (like the one on The Turning). The avant-garde moments greatly add to the sound of the band, however, and make them much better, even if they are rather hard to deal with. As for the slow openings, it's really only that one, and I will admit that that is the weakest (in very relative terms) moment on the album, but it soon picks up the pace and the intensity, and I hardly think that two minutes of music that could be improved counts as "dragging on."

Every song on this album is a winner, from the opener, Silly Whim, to the closer, the sixteen-minute monster that is Fiction. In between these we get a wealth of excellent material, such as the three part epic, Something Out There, where each part is quite distinct (and each has a vastly different feel from the other two), showing each side of the band (part one is mostly chamber rock, part two is mostly metal, and part three is mostly avant-garde). With One Swipe of Its Mighty Paw is probably the strongest song on here, as the metal for cello on this song is perhaps the best I've ever heard. The song Tracking perfectly portrays the emotion and drama of a hunt (of a predator chasing its prayThe rest of the songs are no slouches, either, perfectly fitting with the mood of this album while maintaining the band's wild, untamed, and unpredictable mindset.

What all of these elements boil down to is an amazing seventy minutes of music, progressive to the core (and "prog," too). I own both of the band's albums, and I can safely say that this album is by far superior to its follow-up, Endangered. If you like bands such as Alamaailman Vasarat, Univers Zero, Present, Sotos, Ahvak, or any of their kin, you may like Far Corner. If you've never heard of any of those bands, you absolutely must check them out (Far Corner included), because avant-chamber music is some of the best there is. Far Corner have created their own niche within this style of music, and it's a fine niche indeed. Recommended to all fans of progressive rock, and essential for all fans of avant-chamber music.

Report this review (#116204)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Take away the songs "Outside" and "Tracking" and i'd give this album 5 stars. The point is this record is too long and it would have been perfect at 60 minutes. Having made known my only complaint I wish to say that this is a stunning release.The piano and cello often lead the way although the bass lines are huge. Hey, there is no electric or acoustic guitar (didn't miss them), although I wish the Hammond organ played a greater role.The production is excellent.

"Silly Whim" has a nice heavy intro and then piano, cello, drums and organ lead the rest of the way. There is so much to digest here and it's so complex as well. This is exciting music. "Going Somewhere ?" is led mostly by the piano and cello and there are lots of tempo changes. "Something Out There" is actually a three song suite that is over 17 minutes in length.This song and the next "With One Swipe Of It's Mighty Paw" are my favourites. What I like so much about "Something Out There" is that they play a UNIVERS ZERO style of Chamber music that is both dark and atmospheric on the first and last part of the song. These two songs have little in the way of melody as sounds come and go and there's even a spooky vibe to the final section.The middle section is uptempo as drums are beaten furiously while the organ tries to keep up. The bass is so cool and I don't think i've ever heard a cello played like that before ! Like I said I didn't miss the guitar.

"With One Swipe Of It's Mighty Paw" is a title that recalls the album cover that is described as wildlife photography in the liner notes. You can see the animal tracks in the snow and ice. This is a heavy and uptempo track with powerful bass lines. Good organ solo 3 minutes in and the heavy sound is back before this one is over. This is such a great tune ! "Outside" is led again by cello and piano,although the bass and drums keep the rhthm heavy. "Tracking" is uptempo to start with. A climate change 2 minutes in as things slow down with piano and a darker mood. It kicks back in with 2 minutes to go and the drumming is outstanding after 4 minutes. "The Turning" opens with some beautiful piano and it's 2 1/2 minutes in before we get a full sound. Crisp drumming and the cello shines, but it's the piano that is the main focus until the cello gradually takes over that role. "Fiction" is over 16 minutes long and worth the wait. The first 3 minutes are more of the same but then it slows down with some flute melodies. The song picks back up with cello and piano leading the way 6 minutes in. Some aggressive cello follows then we get some chunky bass then some eerie cello. A great atmosphere 11 1/2 minutes in with cello and bass that is very UNIVERS ZERO-like Chamber music. Piano melodies come in as the song speeds up and builds. Hey the organ is back.

Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#138499)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars The perfect album for one of those cold, dark, snowy nights.

The first time this album really hit me was on a dark night in February. My room was temporarily darkened due to an unfortunate accident with the main lighting system, so I was reduced to a small, darkly shaded lamp. This gave the room a very cabin in the mountains feel. Enough light to see in front of your, but the corners were filled with darkness and shadows all but flooded the rest of the room. Add to this the fact that it was snowing. And snowing at a decent rate of speed. This is the atmosphere I brought with me to my first listening of Far Corner's Far Corner.

That is what this album is about...atmosphere. Yes, the musicians are highly talented. Yes, the music is unpredicatable and exciting. Yes, the improvisations are interesting, even with repeated listens, but the atmosphere is what stands out to me, and places this a notch above. Far Corner fit into the chamber-prog (sub)category, although they excel at mixing that sound with rock and the avant- garde. As I said eariler, the performers are very talented musicians and all get a chance to shine throughout the disk. Another standout feature is the uniqueness of sound. Most of this can be attributed to Schmidt's cello and the emphasis on the lower end of the sound spectrum (which is expected of a band with a cello and a bass guitar [which is wonderfully mixed when contributing to the sound and never buried underneath the rest of the band]). Not to say the bass overpowers the rest either; The blending of instruments and sound is also quite astounding, as is thier ability to use melody into their avant leadings.

I won't say much about the indivdual tracks, being this is an album that needs to be heard to be appreciated. Silly Whim starts the album in a fairly atypical style. Less chambery, more rock (which is not a bad thing of course). Going Somewhere starts introducing the bands true sound, but its not until Something Out There where the band releases its full sound and glory. Part One, a beautifully performed avant chamber piece. This song really gives the feeling of hiding in a cave out in the wilderness, hearing various sounds outside and the fear that creeps into your mind that it could be something harmful. Part Two explodes with excellent drumming by Mr. Walker. The drums set the mood and the rest of the band portrays the more physical aspects of the song. The chase is on here...running, darting away, trying to be as agile as possible to avoid capture. Part Three, brings back the uneasiness of part one. Are you finally safe? Things seem to be going your way...until...With One Swipe Of It's Mighty Paw, which is another standout on this record. (As a side note, the track titles are really fitting for this music and for me do add to the atmosphere slightly. The same can be said for the cover, which is one of the most beautiful covers in music, in my opinoin, and certainly fits the music.) Throughout the rest of the album, nothing stays in one place...they jump from agitated, to spooky, to calming, to jazzy passages, without ever truly losing the excitment factor.

All in all, this is one of the finer examples of chamber prog from the new century. I really can't say anything bad about it (perhaps it might be a little long, but for me it still ends too soon). Fans of avant-prog, chamber musics, or music that really sets the mood check this one out as soon as possible. This might also be good for people who aren't huge fans of the avant side of prog, being melodic passages are used to a somewhat high degree. 4 to 4.5 stars. Recommended.

Report this review (#155888)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A company of experienced musicians from Milwaukee, Wisconcin, fronted by award-winning keyboardist Dan Maske.Far Corner came to life during the spring of 2003 with Maske being surrounded by bassist William Kopecky (from the Kopecky band), female cellist Angela Schmidt and percussion wizard Craig Walkner.After some lives around the Milwaukee area they were picked up by Steve Feigenbaum's Cuneiform Records and recorded their self-titled debut at the EDream Studios with guest contributions by Frederick Schmidt on clarinet and Heather Schmidt on flute.The album was released in September 2004.

Typical stuff of the Cuneiform catalogue, Far Corner's style is heavily rooted in Chamber, Classical and Jazz Music, performed over a Progressive Rock attitude, displaying complex rhythms and nervous twists with great energy.The music is atonal, complicated and intricate, featuring full cello strings and frenetic drumming/percussions with Kopecky's bass providing a huge background depth and Maske's performance creating sinister, organic textures or lush, piano-based segments.They kind of recall THE MUFFINS' more experimental period with a touch of MIRIODOR/YUGEN deep-sounding R.I.O. procedures, but the atmosphere in here is more cinematic and sterile due to the powerful presence of cello and intense focus on Kopecky's indredible bass executions.The organ parts of Maske seem to come out of the early-70's Psych Rock scene at moments and thIS fact adds Far Croner's sound an even more original touch.On the other hand this work contains plenty of full improvised moments in an excess of talent and free spirit, which I doubt they will offer some pleasure to casual Prog listeners.The tighter and structured pieces are of course more than impressive, flowing along the progressive principles and featuring emphatic, rich and dark moves, even if some of them sound a bit disjointed.

High-class, complex R.I.O.with experimental vibes, heading for the mystified listeners of the movement.Check out the aforementioned resemblances and it is more than sure you will like Far Corner's debut as well.Recommended.

Report this review (#1214524)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Review Permalink

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