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Jonas Hellborg

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jonas Hellborg Octave Of The Holy Innocents (with Buckethead And Michael Shrieve) album cover
4.13 | 22 ratings | 6 reviews | 41% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Rana & Fara (15:00)
2. Death That Sleeps In Them (5:22)
3. The Past Is A Different Country, I Don't Live There Anymore (9:14)
4. Child King (5:47)
5. Kidogo (7:13)

Total Time: 42:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Jonas Hellborg / acoustic bass guitar
- Michael Shrieve / drums
- Buckethead / acoustic guitar

Releases information

Day Eight Music DEM 032 (Sweden)

Re-released in US by Bardo Records BARDO 132 (2004)

Thanks to dick heath for the addition
and to snobb for the last updates
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JONAS HELLBORG Octave Of The Holy Innocents (with Buckethead And Michael Shrieve) ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (5%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JONAS HELLBORG Octave Of The Holy Innocents (with Buckethead And Michael Shrieve) reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dick Heath
5 stars There are two jazz rock albums of the 90's which I rate highly: 'Octave of The Holy Innocents' and the difficult to find 'Save The Robots' by Conrad Schrenk's Extravaganza.

'Octave' was recorded in the early 90's, when Hellborg was crossing and recrossing many music boundaries, in his musical experimentations and fortunately many ended up on record. Hellborg here is joined by the original Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, (by this time having had 15 years as an independent musician), and a young, then unknown, Buckethead (a connection no doubt made because of Hellborg's collaborations with Bill Laswell - e.g. check out Praxis).

What makes this a very special jazz rock album, is the unusual combinations of instruments: acoustic bass guitar (Hellborg) and acoustic guitar (Buckethead). Both guitarists will pleasantly shock with their sheer speed of attack and complex playing - this is both an essential album for acoustic shredders and those who desire to know what one of the best acoustic bass guitarists in the world can do. And Michael Shrieve - always an individual drummer - his playing is a delight, complimenting Hellborg and Buckethead perfectly.

Hellborg wrote the following to describe the reasons for writing and recording this album, and the anger clearly expressed in the words with be heard clearly expessed in the playing:

"In a World of premeditated mass murder by governments, of rampant pedophilia, of values turned inside out by media tycoons in order to make money, of torture and unchecked genocide. Who is innocent? Who will protect the innocents? And who will stand up and face the grotesque explanations of why a 10-year-old girl walking to buy bread is shot in the back by a soldier, why parents molests their own children. How can a soldier who is somebody's brother rape.

Why can people be annihilated in the name of God the merciful.

Is it a consequence of these peoples evil? Are they aware that they are evil? Is their evil maybe only somebody's perception? Are they maybe just defending their own truth against somebody else's evil or truth. Who is pure? Who is innocent? We need to protect innocence. Not only individuals rights to be innocent but also innocence as a source of beauty, creativity and wisdom."

This is one of my rare 5 star albums.

Comment must be made of the remix/remaster "Represented" version of 'Octave', released 11/12 years after the original. Hellborg on the Bardo Records site states: "When looking over the tapes of these sessions I discovered tracks that I did not use the first time around. So there are no extra songs on this reissue, but a fundamental reworking of all the compositions of the first release. Some new light on this music that I did with 2 of my absolute favorite musicians". Personally vocals of sorts find their way into the background, seemingly randomly, while not annoying can be distracting and do not add to the original release of the early 90's; (hence I rate this version 4 star).

Review by Negoba
4 stars Explosive Acoustic Fusion Set Ranging from Good to Otherworldly

Jonas Hellborg has played with some of the best, THE BEST, ever in the last 20 years. It is amazing that some of the most phenomenal modern fusion all comes under his name, yet features vastly different talents and quite contrasting sounds. For OCTAVE OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS, Hellborg enlisted the skills of modern guitar madman Buckethead along with veteran drummer Michael Shrieve (a minor star of the Woodstock festival while playing with Santana.) There are two versions of this album, an original power trio version and a 2003 update which includes gothic choir voices at various spots in the music. I have the update, and unlike some reviewers, I think the voices add to the exotic ambience Hellborg and company create.

I must mention that although I am a guitar shred fan, I am not very big on Buckethead. His signature move is fast chromatic runs both out of time and out of key with the music he's playing. There are very specific instances where this technique makes musical sense, but most of the time it's like an out of place announcement of "yeah it's me, the guy in KFC hat." Fortunately, on this album, all of the playing is acoustic (I believe Buckethead is actually playing a nylon string) and on all but the first song, all of the instruments play much more within the compositions, without the long-form soloing that reveals the individual, rather than collective, musical voices of the band.

This brings me to the difficult aspect of this album. The opening tune, "Rana and Fara," contrasts with the rest of the album sharply. Opening with an almost electronic-sounding beat, the song spans over fifteen minutes and is all over the place. The early drums are extremely out of place with the acoustic sound of the album (? Part of the 2003 redo), and there is way more noodling on the track than on any of the later songs. All three players get extended solos, and Buckethead's are particularly annoying. Again there are a few places where his hammer technique actually benefits the song, but mostly it's his distinctive "look at me, I'm weird" sound. Hellborg and Shrieve's soloing are both nice but unmoving. For me, this track is 2-3 star material.

Then comes the rest of the album, which I would be tempted to rate as masterpiece. These pieces are compositions which use polyrhythms, complex tonality, and intertwining parts to create a dark but colorful exotic sound that is unique to this particular album. The solos exist much more within the context of the song. On "Death that Sleeps in Them," Buckethead's solo spot is tasty and bluesy with just a touch of his "outside" style at the end. His choice to simplify the tonality is brilliant, a musical choice on an abundantly musical album. "The Past is a Different Country" is a slow, beautiful piece where Hellborg and Brian Carroll (his real name, I'm tired of typing "Buckethead") exchange lines with the delicacy of new parents. Carroll is hauntingly restrained, and Shrieve is simple and subdued. The sense of openness in the composition is akin to recordings of jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, simply transcendent.

My favorite track is a fast paced Middle-Eastern inflected piece called "Child King." In perfect contrast with the previous track, the song bristles with excited energy. Shrieve swings away with a superficially classic jazz beat, but adds in plenty of pepper to accent Hellborg and Carroll's fleet lead playing. There is no wankery here, as the players seem to have found enough interest "inside" the exotic scales used. We end with "Kidogo" which has the most harmonically interesting lead motif of the album. Hellborg takes his best solo spot on this one, and the interludes feature intricate, quick melodic lines. In other words, it's a great prog song! The goth choir voices are especially effective hear and send the listener out in a ghostly release of calm. Again, the darkness spun here is neither scary nor cold, it's more angelic shadows of the past, whispers of remembered beauty.

I usually don't dock a masterpiece album for one bad song, but when the artist chooses to lead with that song, and it takes up a proportionately huge part of the album, it's hard to ignore. I actually always skip past the track when I listen to this album, something I rarely do. The album still comes highly recommended. Another Hellborg gem.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is quite unique - great Swedish fusion bassist Jonas Hellborg plays with still young and unknown Buckethead and ex-Santana drummer Michael Shrieve as acoustic power trio!

Hellborg is known by his experimental look on what the fusion is, and his bass often sounds not like you possibly expect. Buckethead from another side is controversial guitar player with tons of recordings (of very different quality). Happily there small miracle happened - the music being acoustic doesn't remind McLaughlin-DiMeola-De Lucia trio's sound at all. Sound is sharp and extremely energetic, no Spanish flamenco or even traditional jazz guitar's elements are presented. Music there is pure jazz-rock rooted fusion with all characteristic rock elements!

Musicianship of all three musicians is excellent (I was especially surprised by Shrieve jazzy drumming), compositions are enough melodic and structured with space for improv at the same time. If you like quality jazz-rock with guitar on the border with shredding, and wonder how could it sound in acoustic version - this album is one of the best you can find around!

Possibly one of the most original acoustic jazz-rock album from 90-s.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars One of my pet peeves when it comes to music is that whole "unplugged" or "acoustic" scene. Im sorry but give me electric instruments with fuzz and power. I just never "got" why there was an appeal to hear an electric album done live but unplugged or re-done in studio acoustically. I'm not into Folk music or traditional Jazz either so I know it's just me. Despite these strong feelings I thought I'd take a chance with "Octave Of The Holy Innocents" by Sweden's own Jonas Hellborg, bass player extraordinaire and this all-acoustic album released in 1992. I was convinced to track this down because it seemed almost unanimous that this record is the cat's ass. They are a trio with SANTANA's Michael Shrieve on drums and Buckethead on guitar. The playing is lights out and beyond reproach from where I sit. The problem is thinking about how good this could have been if they let their hair down and added some electricity to the proceedings. Also I get tired of hearing the guitar strummed with that same tone over and over.

"Rana And Fara" is a good one as the drums seem more upfront and deeper here. The guitar is so intricate and fast at times, it's hard not to be impressed. It calms right down around 4 1/2 minutes as the drums and bass stop and the relaxed intricate guitar continues. It kicks back in a minute later and again the guitar stands out the most for me. The bass accomplishes this as well before 7 minutes then it settles back again as the guitar solos. There's almost silence before 10 minutes then it starts to build.

"Death That Sleeps" has this repeated guitar melody as the bass and drums support throughout. It's pretty good. "The Past Is A Different Country, I Don't Live There Anymore" is a sparse track as it is very relaxed and laid back. I like the atmosphere and deep sounds. "Child King" is excellent as we get tension throughout and I keep waiting for it to explode but it doesn't or can't(hey it acoustic). One of my favourites for sure. "Kidogo" features uptempo strummed guitar, bass and drums for 3 1/2 minutes then we get a calm until it kicks back in around 5 minutes to the end.

I seem to tire of this one quickly yet there's lots to enjoy here. Overall 3.5 stars seems right to me. I really enjoy a lot of this album but for me there's plenty of flaws, at least when it comes to my musical tastes, certainly not in the performances on display here.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The album OCTAVE OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS (which is a mixing of two Christian biblical accounts - "Massacre of the Innocents" referring to the infanticide of Herod the Great and the term OCTAVE which refers to the eighth day after a feast) is a crossroads for the three distinct musical careers passing for a brief blip in time. The album was constructed and initiated by the Swedish jazz- fusion bassist JONAS HELLBORG who after working with the likes of Shawn Lane, John McLaughlin and a whole list of others decided to put together an acoustic trio of performers to cross-pollinate his jazz-fusion style with other musical talents.

On drums is the veteran percussive talent of MICHAEL SHRIEVE, the percussionist extraordinaire who helped usher Santana to worldwide fame when he wooed a new generation at Woodstock as the youngest performer in the entire event. Also on board was some new blood in the form of the strange chicken loving guitarist BUCKETHEAD who after only one album under his belt was already making waves in musicians' circles. This is in fact only the second album he played on in 1993 at the tender age of 24. Instead of releasing the album under a solo billing, HELLBORG democratically gave the album credits to all three participants.

OCTAVE OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS is an all acoustic instrumental affair with five lengthy tracks clocking in over the 42 minute mark. BUCKETHEAD plays exclusively acoustic guitar whereas HELLBORG plays acoustic bass and adds keyboards occasionally. SHRIEVE sticks to a traditional drum set and steers clear of any of the Latin rhythms of his Santana days. The music on this one is primarily set within the context of HELLBORG's style of jazz-fusion progressive chording and virtuosic bass slapping techniques. The tracks are well constructed jazz-fusion pieces that allow extended jamming sessions to let all three instrumentalists strut their stuff.

The fifteen minute opener "Rana And Fara" swallows up a whole third of the album and runs the gamut of extreme placid tranquil build ups that peak and trough and ultimately cede into more technical and energetic workouts. The true technical prowess is displayed on "Death That Sleeps In Them" where all three performers engage in jazz-fusion workouts that are literally melting strings and skins alike and display the newbie BUCKETHEAD more than able to keep up with the big kids on the block. "The Past Is A Different Country, I Don't Live There Anymore" is a much more reflective piece that stretches out to over nine minutes and reminds me of some of Mahavishnu Orchestra's more serene moments which obviously rubbed off on HELLBORG during his days with John McLaughlin.

"Child King" is probably my favorite track on the album as it traverses through flamenco meets jazz type workouts with a touch of Classical Hindustani in the mix. SHRIEVE exercises some of his most adroit drum and cymbal action on this one. "Kidogo" is an energetic closer that shows an exciting tension in the contrast of HELLBORG's bombastic bass compete with the drums while BUCKETHEAD creates atmospheric slide effects and other mind-bending riffage. OMG! This is truly an album of top notch professionals at the helm and they all perform with each other spectacularly. There is not a shred of ego to be felt and each musician perfectly complements the other for the entirely of the album's run. A very exciting stripped down piece of musical art here.

4.5 rounded down

Latest members reviews

5 stars These guys are redefining the power trio. Each is able to showcase awesome playing power while remaining as a unified whole. I don't know what I'll call this album, except for really cool jazz. It's like these guys know what people want to hear, so they play that. This album, however, is diverse ... (read more)

Report this review (#170809) | Posted by kabright | Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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