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Helmet of Gnats

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Helmet of Gnats Timeslip album cover
3.91 | 45 ratings | 5 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Almost Babylon (8:23)
2. Chinese Leftovers (7:55)
3. Yesterday's Brain (7:45)
4. Crumbs (5:53)
5. Lesser Beings (3:34)
6. Misfit Toys (6:07)
7. Chimps in Space (13:05)

Total Time: 52:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Fox / electric & acoustic guitar
- Matt Bocchino / acoustic & electric keyboards
- Wayne Zito / fretted & fretless bass
- Mark Conese / drums, percussion

Releases information

CD Ambient Records (2004)
Ambient records is run by band member drummer Mark Conese

Instrumental Progressive Rock Multi-channel SACD/CD Hybrid released on Dec 15 2004. The basic tracks were recorded live in the studio, without the use of headphones. All tracks were recorded as direct as possible to the analogue multitrack. The mixes were made by the band in the analogue domain without the use of automation directly to DSD, this SACD represents the sound of an all-analogue production

Thanks to Garion81 for the addition
and to Todd for the last updates
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HELMET OF GNATS Timeslip ratings distribution

(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(67%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

HELMET OF GNATS Timeslip reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Helmet of Gnats great name to describe this music. High energy, proficient, melodic and some fine rock. This CD never gets boring for me because there is lots of diversity among the tracks and the instrumentation as well. Chris Fox is a competent, versatile guitarist inspiring images of Dimeola, Holdsworth and Jeff Beck. Matt Bocchino is a monster on keyboards. He uses that percusive Hammond sound when playing organ reminiscent of Keith Emerson but his synth playing is more like Chic Corea and Mark Parish(Dixie Dregs). Bass player Wayne Zito has that fat bass sound that you would hear from Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. Drummer Mark Conese drives this bus with some power ala Billy Cobham.

Track one is called Almost Babylon. Think of a a very percussive Hammond played by Keith Emerson in Return to Forever. This song smokes! Chris Fox produces some top notch solos as well as some fine sounding hard edged rock guitar sounds.

All of the tracks feature fusion based material with some rock influences thrown on top and the bottom. Sometimes the lack of vocals hurts an instrumental band but not in this case. HoG remain very melodic and interesting without the use of vocals. Occasionally a very symphonic prog melody joyfully rears up amongst the jazz. I hear the music move from Tony William's Lifetime to Yes to the Dixie Dregs fluently and expertly.

The fourth track is Crumbs and sounds like it was a track left off of Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Chris doesn't mention Jeff Beck as an influence but it is unmistakable. Crumbs is a very good tribute to the ol' master at a great time of his storied career. Parts of the 6th track Misfit Toy sound like Jeff Beck's Wired with Jan Hammer until the last minute and half when you hear shades of Al Dimeola in Chris Fox's guitar work.

The last track belongs to the keyboard player who's style reminds me of Chic Corea meets Tony Banks with a bit of Keith Emerson thrown in the mix also.

I am really having a hard time trying to describe this music with any kind of credibility in the statements. I use the other musicians here as a style starting point but this band takes those points and jumps so high with them.

I give this one 4.5 stars. I would give it 5 but I think there may be something better coming from these guys in the future. Keep 'em coming!

Helmet of Gnats will be at Calprog July8, 2006.

Review by Rivertree
4 stars I don't think they have a helmet full of gnats!?

This release contains very good Fusion based tracks without vocals and with Jazz and Rock patches. Dominated by Fox and Bocchino who are playing together since 1980. They convince with their great interaction by guitar and keys. This is sometimes similar to 'Return To Forever', 'NeBeLNeST' or 'Niacin'. 'Almost Babylon' is the highlight with 70's Hammond and an excellent guitar solo from Chris Fox.

A recommendation for all Jazz Rock and Fusions fans!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars A HELMET OF GNATS are an American all instrumental band who offer up some great Fusion here on their second studio album. I have really enjoyed this album a lot, and while these guys know their instruments very well they also know how to compose a song.These tracks were recorded live in studio on analog equipment. The sound quality here is pristine to say the least. Just a quality release all around.

"Almost Babylon" has a good beat with organ as the guitar comes in. The guitar will come and go until the organ takes the spotlight after 2 minutes. Nice bass 3 1/2 minutes in then some relaxed guitar arrives a minute later. The guitar melodies from earlier are back around 7 minutes. "Chinese Leftovers" has a good solid sound to open as organ, bass, drums and guitar almost pulse together. Then it settles in. I like the guitar and drums that follow as contrasts continue. A change before 3 1/2 minutes as it lightens but not for long. A heavier sound follows. Some soaring guitar before 5 1/2 minutes then the organ takes the lead. The guitar is back ripping it up.

"Yesterday's Brain" opens with keyboards. The guitar and drums become prominant. The sound changes 2 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. The guitar is crying out 4 1/2 minutes in, and then it takes the lead. "Crumbs" features laid back guitar as the organ floats. When the organ stops the guitar becomes more aggressive with piano. "Lesser Beings" has no melody really as some children come in singing "Ring Around The Rosie". Dark sounds follow. Cool track. "Misfit Toys" is an uptempo track to start. It settles before a minute. Some nice bass lines follow. I like the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "Chimps In Space" is my favourite. I just love the sound here. Piano, drums and bass stand out early before it turns intense. The guitar, piano and drums all trade off, then the bass takes a turn before 3 minutes. Guitar comes in over top. Lots of piano after 6 minutes but it's the emotional guitar that follows that does it for me. Amazing tune !

I highly recommend this record for many reasons. A must for fans of Fusion styled music.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Helmet of Gnats needed almost 8 years to come with a follow up, well it may seams long time between the first album and this one, but the band manage to came with another sensational release that for sure keeping the flag high in this field. Seftitled II from 2004 in a great digipack format issued at Ambient records and available at cdbaby, the album has all the ingredients of a succesful album, top notch musicianship, instrumental again all, with some fascinating moments. Why this band is so unknown is beyond me, they realy kick ass. The bass player and the drumer from previous album was replaced by another two musicins, but is no problem, all members play as a unit here. Great fusion , remind me in places of Holdsworth kind of arrangemnts, quite lenghty pieces, the technique of the musicians are excellent, each one giving the best they got and is clear that this is another worthy album of this scene that goes rather to unnoticed worldwide. The progressive elements are so well melted with jazz fusion ones that in the end the result is a fascinating trip in a subtle area where the band feel so confortable. All track are simply amazing, no weak moments , only highlights. The keybords , the guitar is where they belong, no note is left aside. 4 stars again for this II selftitles release.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A Helmet of Gnats has been around in various incarnations since around 1980, playing music of bands like U.K., Return to Forever, Zappa, Brand X, Happy the Man, Ponty, Focus and the Dixie Dregs along the way. You can hear the amalgamation of these bands in the unique sound of their second epon ... (read more)

Report this review (#119849) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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