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LAND OF CHOCOLATE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Land Of Chocolate biography
Jonn BUZBY from FINNEUS GAUGE returns with a new group with Brett KULL from ECHOLYN producing. BUZBY changes from drums to keyboards for this release. He did find a very capable replacement in Jordon PERLSON. The compositions are complex and the musicianship is the focal point. The music will appeal to fans of YES, GENTLE GIANT and IT BITES. An excellent debut album from a promising band!

In early 2003, Buzby relocated from Philadelphia to Chapel Hill, NC, reforming the band to now include John COVACH on lead guitar, who brought a more traditional prog dimension to the band's sound. This new line-up released Assorted Nonpareils that summer, which was an EP of demo tracks. In the summer of 2004, the same line-up released the full-length studio album, "Regaining the Feel", produced by Buzby and Covach.

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LAND OF CHOCOLATE discography


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LAND OF CHOCOLATE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 7 ratings
Unikorn On The Cob
2001
3.28 | 8 ratings
Regaining The Feel
2004

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LAND OF CHOCOLATE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Unikorn On The Cob  by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.60 | 7 ratings

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Unikorn On The Cob
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars US act from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, formed in 2000 by bassist John Jens and guitarist Brian O'Neill, after they came in contact with Finneus Gauge's drummer Jonn Buzby.Buzby, who was not interested in playing the drums, took over the keyboard/vocal duties and the trio temporarily brought in Echolyn's percussionist Jordan Perlson to play the drums during their first recordings.However these were completed with new member John Germuga behind the drum kit.The debut ''Unikorn on the Cob'' was privately released in 2001, co-produced by Echolyn's Brett Kull.

Land of Chocolate played complicated, quirky and heavy-sounding Progressive Rock with tons of shifting moods and the sound comes actually as cross between FINNEUS GAUGE and ECHOLYN, being less complex and jazzy than the first but also less symphonic than the later.The album combines the Progressive Rock's melodies and sudden breaks with the grandieur of bombastic Prog in the vein of DREAM THEATER and the virtuosity of Jazz-Rock in a cool way, while the vocal work of Jonn Buzby is pretty good, offering even some ECHOLYN-like multiple voices at moments.The music is adventurous, well-structured and highly intricate all the way with numerous changing climates between the melodic parts, the well-arranged vocal lines, the extreme power of Heavy Prog with full-blown synthesizers and the jazzy guitar solos of Brian O'Neill.However the album lacks the memorable still intelligent themes or intense instrumental music of ECHOLYN and FINNEUS GAUGE respectively, but the final result is quite positive with a few cuts being great like ''We Love You Lots'' or the eponymous piece.

For fans of Progressive Rock with a high level of technique this is an excellent purchase.Challenging, powerful music all the way with plenty of virtuosity.Recommended.

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 Regaining The Feel by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.28 | 8 ratings

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Regaining The Feel
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Second effort of Land of Chocolate from 2004 named Regaining hte feel is a good one for sure, but less captivating like the first. Even here only Jonn Buzby remains, the other 3 musicians from first album gone, replaced by other 3, the music mainly remains on same coordonates like on Unikorn on the Cob, but little less intrsting and with no very much original moves. Like others observe on this album sometimes is to much talk and less instrumental passages, not realy bad but only Mechanical Pencil save the album from being monotonous. Anyway the album is dynamic and has some good passages, as a whole falls in some same passages on every tune, not very diffrent to each other. The music is again ivery jazz fusion with prog metal elements added and with complexity and eclectic moments of Gentle Giant, also some Echolyn moments are present and some avant prog moments not far from Zappa in his glory days. So, as a whole is fairly good album, but without shining as their first, still has some good moments, but not spectacular passages can be heared here. 3 stars is best I can give to this album. Somehow Land of Chocolate was a promising band with great musicians and potential, but they gone unnoticed to many prog connoisseurs and for many years now nothing is known about their future or if still this bands exists.

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 Unikorn On The Cob  by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.60 | 7 ratings

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Unikorn On The Cob
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Land of Chocolate is a very intresting band from USA, releasing so far two albums, first one named Unikorn on the cob issued in 2000 is an excellent example of how must melted the diffrent subgenres of prog. Here I find passages from eclectic most of the time remind me of Echolyn period, jazz fusion and even prog metal here and there, the result is a great one, belive me. The band was formed by Jonn Buzby of Finneus Gauge, and Jordan Perlson of Echolyn, both great musicians who left a trademark on these albums. The music is quite complex, even all pieces doesn't goes above 6 min, no problem with that, the musicianship and all passages are well performed with plenty of good moments. The music sometimes is very dissonant and complex very similar with Gentle Giant in places with a good doze of jazz fusion and elements of prog metal very same with Dream Theater (Scenes from a memory era for ex) - Upping the Ante is a perfect match. The opening track Musical Findings is an instant likable, very good are the vocal parts, great opener and the albums goes like this on entire pieces. Definetly a grower for me, I begun to fuly apreciate only after 2-3 spings, but after that I like it a lor and is their best out of two. Great druming aswell, very precise drumer, who has some fine chops, not to mention guitarist who does an outstanding job here. Little under rated band, not many knows abot them and for sure needs a far better view, this album is a perfect example of how great this band was and still is in prog circles. Fans of prog music might give this band a try, both albums worth it. 4 stars to this one and recommended.

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 Unikorn On The Cob  by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.60 | 7 ratings

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Unikorn On The Cob
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars Fans of Echolyn shoud rejoice in this band. Of course, there is a strong relationship. John Buzby I presume is the brother of Chris from Echolyn. Jordan Perlson played drums on Cowboy peoms Free. And producer Brett Kull has been a fixture in Echolyn.

The music sounds like a cross between Echolyn and Bill Bruford's self named fusion band. The vocals, like Echolyn's are rich and layered (but not quite as precise). And the compositions are strong and complex.

And the lyrics stand out (at least to me) as some of the best in recent years.

From We Love You Lots:

"We love you lots We love you really lots Leave me alone - you're annoying Leave me alone NOW!"

Who can't love that?

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 Regaining The Feel by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.28 | 8 ratings

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Regaining The Feel
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is the second offering by Land of Chocolate, a band born out of the ashes of Finneus Gauge (which, in turn, was a fractal from first-era Echolyn after its momentary dissolution). Led by John Buzby (brotehr of Echolyn's keyboardist Chris), the band's sound is ver yrelated to second-era Echolyn and Frogg Café, plus touches of Happy the Man and the standards of melodic jazz-rock. The final result is a dynamic mixture of arsty jazz-rock and symphonic prog, translated into cleverly complex yet catchy pieces that avoid over-indulgence in pure dexterity. Due to its precise scheme, the repertoire of "Regaining the Feel" as a whole can be listened to all throughout its sequence in its fluid untiy. The instrumental and vocal harmonies deal with soft dissonances with elegance and a discreet complexity, all of the mperformed in a very solid way. The opener 'Film at 11' has a catchy feel to it, while not falling into the easy-listening category. The same goes for the namesake song, which later on offers a colorful exercise on funky rock with properly inserted progressive ornaments. 'The Pursuit of Happiness' and 'Killing with Kindness' reveal an important portion of the band's most bizarre facet. The former leans toward the jazzy while the latter bears a more patent psychedelic aura, which helps it to absorb and display a harsher overall sound. 'Killin with Kindness' is admittedly one of my definite fave tracks in the album. 'Misanthropic Cattle' goes to introverted places, not being too languid per se but melodic enough as to offer a clear musical portrait of melancholy. The flowing phrases played on guitar create a sort of sonic breeze that effectively surrounds Buzby's singing. 'Counting Sand', not unlike 'Killing...', contains fiery guitar inputs during the hardest passages, while the softer moments create a robust contrast in benefit of the song's inherent melodic richness. Personally, I wouldn't have minded if this one had been longer in order to create an increased sophistication, but this is what it is and it is actually quite fine. 'Red Pill' brings back the melancholy of track 4 with the addition of some hard rocking passages serving as transitional adornments. As a counterpoint, 'Military Mindset' is built on a recurrently syncopated cadence effectively filled by the duelling guitar and keyboard as the track progresses. The instrumental 'Mechanical Pencil' gets started with an evocative classical guitar intro whose last notes give way to the ensemble's full display around the main motif and its subsequent permutations. Another individual gem full of hooks and dynamics in this brilliant album. Finally, the last piece 'Ungrateful' kicks off in a languid atmosphere that sounds intriguing in a subtle way until the aggressive blows on guitar and drum kit gives entry to a moment of sustained intensity. The combination of reflective moods and explicitly intense moments makes 'Ungrateful' sucha convenient closure for "Regaining the Feel". Land of Chocolate's material, while not being as inventive as Frogg Café's nor as peculiarly magical as Echolyn's, surely feels at home alongside with such great compatriots in a good progressive collection. This album is, to say the least, pleasant and enjoyable, and that's what a prog listener will usually get from a few first listens. After that, the appreciation of its melodic sensibility and textures should make them label it as an excellent recording. Well, that was my epxerience...

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 Regaining The Feel by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.28 | 8 ratings

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Regaining The Feel
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Peace Frog

3 stars Regaining The Feel is somewhat hard to get fully into; it is a good album, but the band uses its talent in a way that isn't quite fitting to the songs. The vocals seem to dominate the album, and there is one instrumental track. It has the potential to produce very good instrumentals, but I find that there is a lack of purely instrumental sections. Each song has vocals crammed in and doesn't go for a minute without words. Overall, the album seems a bit awkward, but listenable.

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 Regaining The Feel by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.28 | 8 ratings

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Regaining The Feel
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Is it possible to take a band of four, replace all but one member and still sound exactly like the first band? Sure it is, here's your proof. LOC said goodbye to it's bassist, drummer and guitarist, recruited three new members and guess what? Know one could tell the difference. There may be some minor sonic changes, the guitarist sounds slightly different in his chording technique, however, he's playing the same chords. The music is again great, but mostly vocal dominant, with little space for the new guys to stretch and break some new ground. Heavily influenced by Fiineus Gauge, Echolyn, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Zappa. The harmonies are the same, the vocal stylings of John Buzby are indentical to Unikorn on the Cob.

So what we have is some very talented musicians playing very difficult music, but subjected to rather lackluster vocals that keep the music from progressing. I'm sure that in the live setting, LOC kicks ass without remorse. They open up, improvise and soar to the skies, free of the studio confines and a dominant leader.

So, it's all about taste in vocalists. If you like 'em, get 'em. John Buzby's voice is somewhat static and sounds the same on every track. The jacket doesn't list the lyrics, so I haven't gone too deep into the words. On the surface they are good, competent. No walls are broken down, no tear worthy momemnts.

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 Unikorn On The Cob  by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.60 | 7 ratings

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Unikorn On The Cob
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Land of Chocolate is the brainchild of John Buzby, former drummer of Finneus Gauge and brother of Echolyn's Chris Buzby. Jordan Perlson, former percussionist for Echolyn, handles the drum kit. Brian O'Neill is the guitarist and John Jens holds down the bottom on bass and Chapman Stick.

The music is in the vein of Finneus Gauge, sort of an updated Bruford style fusion outfit with heavier prog sensibilities.There is a lot of Gentle Giant/Echolyn vocal harmonies. Some songs even ring of Echolyn. I hear some 80s/90s King Crimson as well. Heady, busy music. In the tray insert there is a milk carton with Land of Choclate Milk printed on the side. Below that is the message, "38% more music than other bands." I'd have to say that statement is valid, these guys play their asses off. The music shifts textures and rhythms faster and more often then the TOP 40's next biggest thing.

Musically, this band is chock full of talent, ideas, interesting solos, complex themes and stinging chord structure. Lyrically, they are a bit off the wall, Zappaesque, similar to Frogg Cafe, Adrian Belew, Mike Keneally or Bubblemath. Vocally, now here is the challenge, John Buzby has a voice that wears thin after a few listens. Not a bad voice, just not a pleasant, "let me hear that again," type of voice. That is the reason for a simple "good" rating and the reason why it doesn't get much playing time in my CD player. I prefer this type of music sans vocals. With only one instrumental, title track "Unikorn on the Cob," this is a problem, for me. I would also say there are too many lyrics, too much singing. Nearly every tune is 60-70% vocal, not enough space for the music to do the talking.

The production is great, Echolyn's Brett Kull was behind the board, so there really is no surprise there. Each instrument has presence, space and owns some space in the mix.

Walk Fast is one of the better tracks, a bit slower, not as harsh vocally. Musical Findings has some great lyrics about listening to the music that impacted our lives and tastes. Upping the Ante is another tune that isn't harmed by the vocals. Broken Record is another ballad, nice synth work, sounds like guitar synth to me. Making Friends could have been left on the studio cutting room floor or is that the recycle bin? Making fun of multiple personalities isn't at all funny, scary really. Self Control has a bit of the King Crimson stick loop at the beginning. Another good track.

So there you have it. It all about John Buzby's voice. in my opinion. If you like it, great! If you don't, it's still good.

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 Unikorn On The Cob  by LAND OF CHOCOLATE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.60 | 7 ratings

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Unikorn On The Cob
Land Of Chocolate Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Steve Hegede
Prog Reviewer

4 stars LAND OF CHOCOLATE is a 4-piece project that includes Jonn Buzby of FINNEUS GAUGE, and Jordan Perlson of ECHOLYN. This project originally started after Jonn, tired of playing drums, decided to write some songs on keyboards for a future solo project. After finding 3 other musicians interested in his compositions, the "solo idea" quickly turned into a band effort.

"Unikorn on a Cob" consists of 10 tracks that average about 6-minutes each. The vocals, which really stand out here, seem influenced by ECHOLYN. For those of you not familiar with ECHOLYN's vocal-heavy style, try to imagine the vocal interplay found on most GENTLE GIANT albums mixed with a unique sense of dissonance that is quickly likeable. The music, on the other hand, is a different story. It's hard to describe, but if you can imagine a modern style of progressive jazz-fusion (light on the jazz) influenced by GENTLE GIANT, and some of the musical passages found on DREAM THEATER's "Scenes from a Memory" you'll have some idea of what these guys sound like. The interplay between guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums is tight, somewhat frantic, and eclectic. Not to mention, that the production is top-notch (Brett Kull of ECHOLYN produced the CD).

What really impressed me here is that as prog as the music sounds, I could see these guys playing in front of college kids, and actually get respect. Their overall sound is modern, heavy (yet not metal), and catchy. In my opinion, the lyrics seemed to have been written for a wider audience rather than for prog fans. They tend to talk about relationships, or feature gen-X humor. My only warning here, is that a couple of tracks are a bit too commercial. Otherwise, this is some good stuff, and I recommend LAND OF CHOCOLATE to fans of ECHOLYN, and FINNEUS GAUGE. If you're not familiar with those two groups, the band website has some sound samples.

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