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Black Ladder biography
Founded in Austin, Texas in 2012

BLACK LADDER is a progressive rock trio currently based in Austin, TX. Members include Shane LAMB (keyboard), Clarence RILEY, IV (bass), and Ray CARDENAS (drums). The band?s sound developed from a merging of Shane?s classically influenced licks, Clarence?s heavy funk bass lines, and Ray?s crafted rock grooves. BLACK LADDER recently recorded and produced their first full-length, self-titled album.

Ray CARDENAS: Ray began his interests in drums and percussion when he was about seventeen years old and was a part of the short lived group SOMETHING BETTER, in which Clarence RILEY was also a member. After the debacle of SOMETHING BETTER, Ray went on to join up with Clarence and Shane LAMB to form BLACK LADDER. Ray's influences include percussionists John BONHAM, Steve GADD, Tito PUENTE, Keith MOON, Gene KRUPA, and Neil PEART.

Clarence RILEY, IV: Although initially turning down free piano lessons as a dumb little kid, Clarence took an early interest in music. Clarence and Ray met while in high school and together with two other friends formed the band SOMETHING BETTER with whom they created music until their breakup in 2008. In 2009, Clarence began to have jam sessions with Ray and mutual friend/keyboardist Shane LAMB. This trio would eventually form the group BLACK LADDER. Clarence?s influences include the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, Larry GRAHAM and Les CLAYPOOL/PRIMUS among countless others.

Shane LAMB: Shane began playing piano at age five and has been addicted to music making ever since. He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin and also received a Piano Performance Certificate. When he first moved to Austin, Shane bought a keyboard and helped form the rock band The TONEWHEELS of which he is still a member. Later, Shane met up with Ray and Clarence, and after many lengthy jam sessions, BLACK LADDER was born. Shane's influences include PINK FLOYD, WEEN, The BEATLES, early CAMEL, early GENESIS, and many others.

::bio provided by andrea::

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3.91 | 4 ratings
Black Ladder
3.88 | 21 ratings
An Ambitious Few

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 An Ambitious Few by BLACK LADDER album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.88 | 21 ratings

An Ambitious Few
Black Ladder Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An Ambitious Few is the second album by Black Ladder, an American trio from Austin, Texas. It was self-released in 2018 with a consolidated line up featuring Shane Lamb (keyboards, percussion, vocals), Clarence Riley IV (bass, didgeridoo, vocals) and Ray Cardenas (drums, percussion, vocals) plus the help of a guest in one track, Lisa Lamb (flute). In my opinion, this work confirms all the good qualities of the debut album showcasing great musicianship and creativity while the kaleidoscopic mix of heterogeneous influences craftily brewed into something new and captivating is well depicted by Michael Culler's artwork that probably describes its musical content better than all my words?

The opener "Bora Bora" is a nice piano driven track mixing classical influences and exotic touches of colourful rhythm grooves. The title refers to an island group in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of the French Republic in the Pacific Ocean, and the music could be the perfect score for a seventies Franch-Italian exotic adventure film... The following "Magic Doctor" starts by wordless vocals conjuring up a mysterious atmosphere, then veers to a kind of psychedelic jazz fusion that every now and again reminds me of Donovan's "Barabajagal". Then it's the turn of "Speakin' Easy" a timeless ragtime veiled of shadows and obscure impulsions...

"March Of Cambyses", starts with a martial marching beat and the organ in the forefront. The title seems to refer to the myth a Persian army that entered the Egypt's western desert near Luxor to destroy the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis and was overwhelmed by a sandstorm and destroyed. Sandstorms swallowed the temples, the wind has worn out the face of statues... Yet... Something remains. A vague, dangerous power that sleeps at the bottom of the tombs. It's there, dozing off, and it only asks to wake up. Do you understand? Well this track more than to Cambyses' army reminds me of a peculiar French adventure novel where the desert becomes a puppet theatre for vindictive and jealous gods, Les cavaliers de la pyramide by Serge Bussolo.

Next come the soft, dreamy "One Quiet Night" and "Junk Mail" with its organ waves and funky bass lines that could recall Jimmy Smith. The following "Orionis" starts from a dazzling, classical inspired piano incipit, then the rhythm rises taking you out for a wonderful musical journey through time and space while the aggressive, threatening "Midnight At Dracula's" closes the album with its dark energy and a nightmarish atmosphere.

All in all, an excellent album that really deserves a try!

 Black Ladder by BLACK LADDER album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 4 ratings

Black Ladder
Black Ladder Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Black Ladder are an American band from Austin, Texas that came to life in 2009 from the ashes of a short lived group called Something Better. In 2012 Black Ladder released an eponymous debut album with a line up featuring Shane Lamb (keyboards), Clarence Riley, IV (bass) and Ray Cardenas (drums). During the recording sessions they were helped by two guest musicians, Lisa Lamb (harp, flute, piccolo) and Dexter Weiss (sax) who contributed to enrich the sound. The result is an interesting instrumental album featuring a good mix of different sources of inspiration ranging from classical music to funky, rock and jazz. You can find here traces of psychedelia and space rock trips, strange purple doors opening on a desert storm, frenzied rhythmic passages and classical inspired piano rides, nervous organ waves and funky bass slaps, magmatic energies and romantic, reflectives moments. There are some echoes from the past filtered with freshness and modern taste, a pinch of exoticism and many good ideas scattered all over the album... Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves: you can listen in streaming to the complete album on bandcamp!
Thanks to Evolver for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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