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Moraine Groundswell album cover
3.78 | 19 ratings | 5 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mustardseed (3:11)
2. Skein (3:52)
3. Fountain of Euthanasia (3:25)
4. Gnashville (4:12)
5. In That Distant Place (6:20)
6. Synecdoche (3:52)
7. The Earth Is an Atom (5:12)
8. Waylaid (7:20)
9. Spiritual Gatecrasher (7:18)
10. The Okanogan Lobe (7:41)

Line-up / Musicians

AliciaDeJoie: electric violin
James DeJoie: baritone saxophone, flute
Kevin Millard: NS stick bass
Dennis Rea: guitar, electronic interventions, Mellotron
Tom Zgonc: drums

Releases information

CD Moonjune Records

Thanks to apps79 for the addition
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MORAINE Groundswell ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MORAINE Groundswell reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Progulator
3 stars Few bands have come out of nowhere to surprise me like Moraine. About a year ago I was seated at the Nor Cal prog festival, waiting for the first band to come on stage. It wasn't like it was a band I'd never heard of?Moraine, the Seattle based jazz-rock outfit, had spun a bit in my CD player with their live album from Nearfest?but that night when I witnessed them in San Mateo it was a whole nother beast. Everything was perfect, from the studio-level clarity of the mix to the power and ferocity with which the band performed, making the festival opener the highlight performance of the night. After the show, and subsequently at Baja Prog, I got a chance to chat with the band and they commented that they were doing a new album. As I was anxious to see what these guys would come out with, I was naturally pleased when their latest release, Groundswell, arrived at my doorstep.

The opener, "Mustard Seed," launches us into a realm that is immediately dark and pensive. Capitalizing on its doomy pace and slightly eastern melodic flavor, this simple song does a fantastic job at building into a massive onslaught of power and texture. While the pace is quite different, "Synecdoche" similarly favors a huge sound, this time with an emphasis on upbeat, heavy drumming throughout, thickly distorted jazzy chords on the guitar, and delicious bari-sax riffing, making for an all out aggressive approach. "Gnashville" provides an interesting blend of heavy jazz-prog with a country twang and an overall raucous feel, while "Skein" leads us along with some groovy Chapman Stick riffing in 7 that provides lots of space for soloing. The real highlights of this piece though are the marvelous transition from sax solos to violin which plunges us deep into tension. And I'm not going to lie, the way the band builds into a frantic and all out, in-your-face climax really brought a smile to my face. Listen loud.

When it really comes down to what grabs me about Moraine though, it's their masterful ability to incorporate oriental music elements into a distinctive brand of jazz-prog. One of the most recognizable pieces, and a standout of their live performances, would be the album closer, "The Okanogan Lobe." This wonderful piece lands on a seamless combination of jazz and eastern melodies, churning out everything from exciting fugues and upbeat riffs to the powerful chord progression that builds heavy sax playing alongside guitar improvisations and harmonies into a moving final variation on the main theme. "Spiritual Gatecrasher" provides quite a distinct take on the eastern feel, this time with lots of quirkiness as it features the flute as a principle instrument and makes effective use of jolting transitions, strange digital effects on the sax, folk-tinged percussion, and lots of open canvas for mysterious improvisation. Undoubtedly the most experimental piece on the album in terms of jazz or prog, however it somehow manages to pull in a more authentic eastern flavor than any other track in its musings that, while perhaps excessive for some, were delightful to my ears. With "Fountain of Euthanasia" Moraine brings us a beautiful oriental jazz-rock piece full of weaving melodies and fascinating shifts in mood. The way the bass flawlessly compliments the violin melodies, as well as Rea's 8th note stream of guitar starting in the middle section all builds towards a moment of supreme tension where a series of dramatic chord changes over gong-like effects lead to an explosive outro.

Finally, I must mention "In that Distant Place," perhaps one of the most evocative pieces on the album. The song kicks it off with the sax and violin splitting a variation on the melody before the violin pulls it in all alone, once again with a strong Chinese folk touch due to it's being based on a traditional tune. As it moves into the B section, variation adds a slightly more mysterious tone which serves as a perfect transition into a freer, more ambient section led by moody drumming, slowly plucked guitar chords, and a bit of sax adding light improvisations. As the sax makes its exit, the band brings it down another notch to give space for the violin, creating an absolutely haunting feel. Its initial raw tone is wonderfully complimented by random interjections of reverby violin in the background. After an eventual return to the main theme Moraine ends it off with a twist, taking us in an unexpected jazzy direction replete with quick drumming and sax riffing, all of which holds the ground down for Rea's guitar improvisations.

Groundswell, in my opinion, is a huge album for Moraine, marking a step forward in their songwriting as well as capturing the magic on a studio recording, something that I feel was missing on their first studio release, Manifest Destiny, an album which exhibited great songs but had production values that didn't pack nearly as much punch as the band actually has in a live setting. With Groundswell we get everything that makes Moraine a great band, from the catchy melodies to the avant-deviations and heavy Chinese folk influences. If you ever get a chance to see these guys live, you're in for a real treat, but if they aren't coming through your neighborhood Groundswell will certainly clue you in on what makes Moraine tick.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band MORAINE was formed back in 2005, and has quickly been established as a quality band for those in the know with an interest in music that ventures outside of the proverbial box, a reputation that landed them a spot at the new defunct festival Nearfest a few years back. "Groundswell" is their second full length studio recording, and was released through the US label Moonjune Records in the fall of 2014.

Moraine's second studio album "Groundswell" comes across as a breath of fresh air for me. Vibrant and engaging instrumental music that explores the contrast between frail, light toned and delicate instrument details and dark ominous motifs quite nicely, and does so within a jazz rock or fusion framework that allows for room to add some unexpected twists and details here and there. Strong moods and atmospheres are key features, and those who enjoy instrumental fusion liberally flavored with foreboding atmospheres and a touch of the unexpected here and there should take the time to give this CD an inspection.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My first experience with Moraine was not with an album, but with a live show at the Baja Prog Fest this 2014. They were the last confirmed band due to the cancellation of another group, so it was a magical incident, because I totally loved their show, which made me get interested on their music. I also met Dennis Rea, a very kind person who was happy with their performance and the crowd's response, we talked for a while and got their first two CDs. But well, that was just my introduction to Moraine's realm, now I will focus on their recent production, "Groundswell", their second studio album, released some months ago by Moonjune Records.

The music you will find here cannot be pigeonholed in one single label, no, because it blends several styles with an exotic sound that might please the tastes of jazz fusion, avant-garde and rock lovers. So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for this 10-track instrumental album. It opens with "Mustardseed", a 3-minute track with a mid-tempo rhythm where winds, strings and drums speak the same language. The sound might appeal to either RIO or Canterbury fans. "Skein" is a great track where all the musicians do the right thing in their personal world, I mean, we can listen to a sax solo while the bass player makes addictive lines, while the violin enters with cadence, while guitar plays some low-profile but necessary figures, while drums mark the rhythm. All seem to be separated, but all have the same goal.

"Fountain of Euthanasia" brings a nice diversity of textures. Here, I love the stick bass' job and how it perfectly connects with the "leader in turn", I mean, sometimes violin takes the moment, others the sax, but no matter the instrument, the music always flows in the right way. "Gnashville" is a very cool composition that has an inherent rock sound, but it is pretty experimental. Here Rea's guitar become crazy and produces some stoner-like riffs that are nicely accompanied by drums, bass and sax.

"In That Distant Place" is a longer composition that brings a softer sound, here one can close the eyes and feel embraced by a relaxing and charming atmosphere, mainly created by saxophone, but perfectly complemented by the other instruments. "Synecdoche" is a wonderful piece, it seeks for and gets your attention immediately with its hypnotic fusion sound. I love that the musicians are equally important for the musical direction, I mean, though sometimes it is easier to perceive sax, violin or guitar due to its solos, they would not success without the help (complement) of the other ones, so Moraine is a solid band as a whole, with humble musicians that simply do what they love.

"The Earth is an Atom" brings wonderful carousels of sounds, passages where softness and tranquility prevail, contrasted by bombastic explosions and raw-exotic nuances that let us know they are a band of talented composers and performers. "Waylaid" is a nice but not-easy-to-dig track, because it might be divided in different passages that have nothing to do between each other, so here you will start listening to a jazz fusion jam that all of a sudden turns into a spacey-atmospheric tune where you might either get involved or get lost.

"Spiritual Gatecrasher" is an enigmatic composition and a very interesting one, a favorite of mine. Here we can gather slices of experimental moments that bring different moods, some jazzy passages, some folk ones reminiscent of eastern cultures (I love the flute's introduction here) make this a unique track, which honestly was not a "love at first sight" no, one has to listen to it several times. The last song is "The Okanogan Lobe", and I am not sure, but my memory says that this was their first song at Baja Prog. The sound is addictive, it is repetitive but never boring. After a minute it changes and offers a charming tune for some seconds, until it returns to its initial form; guitars and saxophone interact, later drums, bass join and create a pretty cool structure. Excellent!

This is another great 2014 release in this progressive rock realm, another satisfactory record that asks to be discovered by more and more people. My final grade, four stars.

Enjoy it!

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Last time I reviewed a MORAINE album was in 2011, when had tje pleasure to listen the challenging Manifest Density, a record that broke all my preconceptions, something unusual after more than 30 years of listening Progressive Rock and Jazz, but a few days ago I received Groundswell from my friend Leonardo "Moonjune" Pavkovic and found it as exciting as the debut, with the advantage of being more eclectic, combining the usual Jazz Fusion with Rock, folk and even a touch of classical influence sound provided by Alicia DeJoie with the violin.

There's no doubt in me that we are talking about a Jazz ensemble, but the diversity of sounds an influences makes the experience richer.

Again won't try to write a song by song review, because it would take me days, but will mention some of my favorite tracks, starting with the melodic Fountain of Euthanasia in which the band creates a delightful blend of Rock with typical stick and drums work. Captivating from start to end.

Gnashville also caught me from the start with a sound that I would describe as KING CRIMSON music played by MAHAHAVISHNU with some Avant touches. Not what I'm used to listen but also very enjoyable.

The distorted guitar riffs in Synecdoche simply left me speechless, but what really captured me is the diversity of layers created by the different instruments, really elaborate and so frantic that leaves no time to rest...And that's good.

Many people ask me why a Jazz album is featured in a Progressive Rock website, I would ask them to listen the fantastic The Okanogan Lobe, a track that has everything, from dramatic changes to impressive solos jumping from dramatic to soft and melodic sections, just what any Prog fan will ask even when in a different mood. A brilliant closer for an impressive album.

Even when I was tempted to rate Groundswell with 5 stars, will go with a solid four, because I'm a 100% sure that MORAINE will offer us even better releases.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars MORAINE are a five piece band out of Seattle who play an Avant style of instrumental music. Lots of violin in this one but also flute, baritone sax, guitar, bass and drums. My favourite sections are those where they sort of drive off of the road in a musical sense and forge their own path. Love those experimental passages.

"Mustardseed" has this solemn beat to start with sax as the violin starts to play over top. Things turn experimental after 1 1/2 minutes with electronics. So cool as it sounds like they have just deconstructed what they just built. A great way to begin. "Skein" has a nice bass intro as drums, sax then violin join in. This is more uptempo than the opener. The guitar starts to solo just before one minute then it's the sax taking over that role a minute later, then violin. Themes are repeated then it's more powerful late to end it. The bass, violin and sax are outstanding in the melodic "Fountain Of Euthanasia". It calms right down after a minute then it starts to pickup and build. This is good. "Gnashville" is such a great title and the music is just as good. Lots of deep sounds as the violin plays over top. It settles back but not for long. Check out the left of center violin before 2 minutes and the guitar that follows. Nice. We get back to that earlier sound after 3 minutes. "In That Distant Place" is laid back to start with violin playing over top. It's almost dreamy when it settles back even more with the sax replacing the violin. The violin is back after 3 minutes then it kicks into a much higher gear after 4 1/2 minutes with guitar taking the lead and it sounds amazing.

"Synecdoche" has more of a "Rock" flavour to start with the drums and guitar leading. Sax and violin join in. The baritone sax sounds so good 1 1/2 minutes in, then the guitar solos as the drums and bass pound it out. Sax replaces the guitar then it's the violin's turn late. "The Earth Is An Atom" is a catchy mid-paced tune with plenty of violin and sax. It settles back after 2 minutes with the violin leading the way. Guitar to the fore around 3 1/2 minutes and it's angular! The sax is back late then we get a big finish. "Waylaid" has this violin melody that has got stuck in my head several times over the last week and half. It comes and goes in this one and we get plenty of bass and sax as well. It calms right down 1 1/2 minutes in with the violin becoming experimental and this section lasts until around the 6 minute mark when that earlier theme returns to end it. "Spiritual Gatecrasher" is another great title and this is my favourite track. Bass to start as flute then violin join in in this mellow intro. The flute is fantastic, very expressive, and I love that the bass is prominant throughout. Lots of atmosphere here as well. Mournful violin replaces the flute but the flute returns late. "The Okanogan Lobe" opens with guitar before it turns fuller rather quickly. It settles back with violin out front but this is brief. Sax then leads the way when it kicks back in as themes become repeated. I like when the guitar starts to solo 5 1/2 minutes in. Great track!

If your really into violin driven music then you need to check this album out, but this will satisfy most of you adventerous listeners out there. A solid 4 stars.

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