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Frogg Cafe

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Frogg Cafe Bateless Edge album cover
3.99 | 212 ratings | 21 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Terra Sancta (12:25)
2. Move Over I'm Driving (7:58)
3. Pasta Fazeuhl (14:02)
4. Under Wuhu Son: In the Bright Light (8:22)
5. Under Wuhu Son: Left for Dead (5:36)
6. Under Wuhu Son: Brace Against the Fall (6:15)
7. From the Fence (12:05)
8. Belgian Boogie Board (10:31)

Total time 77:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Ayasse / violin, viola, mandolin, hand percussion, vocals
- Frank Camiola / electric guitar, banjo, string bass
- James Guarnieri / drums, glockenspiel, orchestral percussion
- John Lieto / trombone and bass trombone
- Nick Lieto / lead vocals, piano, keyboards, trumpet, flugelhorn
- Andrew Sussman / electric bass, cello, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians
- Sharon Ayasse / flute (3, 4, 5, 6, 8)
- Dennis Lippe / electric guitar (1, 7)
- Dee Harris / indian slide guitar, tambora (1)
- Nitim Mohan / tabla (1)
- Vessela Stoyanova / marimba (1, 4, 5, 6)
- Michael Kollmer / marimba, xylophone (3, 8)
- Jon Preddice / cello (3, 8)
- Steven Sussman / clarinet, bass clarinet (4, 5, 6, 8)
- Steve Kastikas / keyboards (4)
- Mike Kauffman / alto and tenor saxophones (8)

Releases information

CD 10T Records

Thanks to Todd for the addition
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FROGG CAFE Bateless Edge ratings distribution

(212 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FROGG CAFE Bateless Edge reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is one of those reviews that won't justify the music one iota, but here goes. This latest album from FROGG CAFE was an automatic buy for me after getting so much enjoyment from both "Creatures" and "Fortunate Observer Of Time" over the years. I just wasn't prepared for what they created here. At over 77 minutes i'd usually complain about that ,but not when every song is so good. They've really changed and added to menue here at the cafe, sure we get the things we love about this band, but they've really brought in some new flavours including a dark, avant mood at times. Lots and lots of guests as well to fill out the sound. Frank Camiola who wasn't on the last album but who's been on all the other studio albums is back.

"Terra Sancta" is dedicated to the children who lost parents on 9/11. It opens with Indian slide guitar. We also get tabla in this track. It kicks in with horns around a minute. Vibes too. How good does this sound ! The instrumental section stops as thunder and rain arrives. Vocals follow with these words "Any other day a snack in your lunch and a kiss from mom sends you on your way. Not this day." Nice guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. A change a minute later as the bass becomes prominant and the piano and guitar play over top.This is great ! Horns 11 minutes in then the guitar lights it up. Vocals are back. "Move Over I'm Driving" written by Nick Lieto has this thought behind the title."It's not really fair that you can't drive the taxi yourself once you flag it down". It's jazzy to start out with horns and violin. Bass and drums add some depth. It settles before 4 minutes as sax plays over top. Violin is back around 6 minutes,guitar too. "Pasta Fazeuhl" ends with "zeuhl" in the title you may have noticed. The song began it's life after Frank saw MAGMA play at NearFest in 2003. "It's not so much in the style of MAGMA per se, but rather in the spirit and energy that the band exudes, and it's a tribute of sorts, Frogg style". The song builds until it kicks in after a minute. Vibes after 2 1/2 minutes. A calm follows then things get a little Avant-garde. Another calm after 4 1/2 minutes as cello enters in then it builds. Check it out 7 1/2 minutes. Nasty ! Strings only before 9 minutes then it kicks back in after 10 minutes. Killer track. "Under Wuhu Son" is divided into 3 sections. This song is based on a book and related to Andew (I beleive) who with his wife had a four year struggle to adopt their daughter from China. First up is "In The Bright Light" which opens with intricate sounds. A gorgeous intro but I like when it turns darker and heavier 2 minutes in.Vocals follow as it settles. Man this is good. Love his vocals. It kicks in before 4 minutes. So good after 5 minutes both lyrically and instrumentally. Emotion. The guitar 6 minutes in is a nice touch. Horns and vibes after 7 minutes.

"Left For Dead" opens with horns blasting with a heavy rhythm section joining in. Too much ! It settles before 3 minutes. Nice. Chunky bass as it builds. Thunder and rain end it. "Brace Against The Fall" is the final section. A good rhythm section with horns eventually leads.The vocals before 1 1/2 minutes are again so good from Nick. They stop after 3 minutes as horns lead. The guitar before 4 1/2 minutes is sublime. Horns and vibes a minute later. Amazing ! "From The Fence" settles with vocals before a minute. It's so uplifting. Check out the thoughtful lyrics too. I just get lost in this one. "Belgium Boogie Board" is the closing 10 1/2 minute instrumental. It's experimental to start then the strings and horns rip this mother up. Drums join in and vibes. It turns dark with violin and piano after 2 minutes. Intense. A good rhythm follows then it settles after 4 minutes as sounds come and go. It turns dark before 7 minutes.This is so good. It's like Chamber music here. It picks back up before 9 minutes. I like the last gasp of music here after the song has already ended. Like a monster not willing to die.

Without a doubt this will be right at the top of my list for best 2010 release. This must be heard to be believed.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars FROGG CAFÉ Bateless Edge is an exciting find for me because its sounds and instrumentation choices are rather unique and unusual: Brass with tuned percussives and Zappa-Frippish guitar leads?! Ultimately, however, like it's comparable genre-mate ECHOLYN, the music never quite attains consistent heights of glory, cohesion, and accessibility.

The album has, for me, four highlights of admirable height, however: The opening song, "Terra Sancta," with its highly engaging electric guitar riff and powerfully chaotic and frenetic electric guitar solo (8/10); "Move Over I'm Driving" which recreates the JEAN-LUC PONTY-FREDDIE HUBBARD-WEATHER REPORT-MOTHERS OF INVENTION album that never occurred (7/10); "Pasta Fazeuhl" which fuses so many unusual musical styles into one song that it defies categorization (fusion-fusion?!) (7/10), and; "From the Fence" a more traditional song of almost ballad feel, beautiful lyrics and singing, interlaced with some awesome hooks from violin, CHICAGO-like brass section, trombone and trumpet soli. Actually, all in all this song has a very CHICAGO-ECHOLYN hybrid feel/sound to it (8/10).

The rest of the album (one 10 ½ minute song and a 24-minute, three-song suite representative of the process of adopting a Chinese child) fail to engage and/or entice me.

Overall an album of very interesting music and songwriting from very talented and adventurous musicians. I will continue to listen and look for FROGG CAFÈ music because it makes me pay attention and smile. 4 stars. Try it! You'll (probably) like (some of) it!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Frogg Café is more than just a rock or prog rock band, it is a musical force encapsulated simultaneously in the minds and souls of a host of talented musicians blessed with A-level musicianship and indefatigable creativity, and all this glory is once more confirmed by the reality of "Bateless Edge", the band's most recent effort. It is, indeed, a mandatory member of any Top 5 or Top 3 list of 2010's outstanding prog releases worldwide. I am so glad that the devotion I have been feeling for Frogg Café has currently met a perfect reassurance. As in their previous release, the double album "The Safenzee Dieries", the younger Lieto on trombone acts as an official member, and unlike the last two releases, founding guitarist Frank Camiola is back in the line-up. The presence of an important number of guest performers helps the band to achieve a solid, fully expanded sonority for each track: not that this is a Baroque-oriented or overdone repertoire, but it is evident that the textures and harmonic schemes of each track are craftily benefited from the presence of more musicians than the very band itself. Well, this is after all, a major album. As a major album, it starts on a major note right away with the exotic tambora and acoustic guitar prelude of 'Terra Sancta'. The exquisite jamming and the tasteful orchestrations delivered on brass, violin and tonal percussion bring a delicious journey that sounds a little like some sort of "Echolynized" Dave Matthews band, or to put it in a less complicated form, like the "Fortunate Observer" era. Right before the 6'30 mark, the alternating guitar and piano solos develop a deeper jazzy ambience until the guitar alone gets pretty psychedelic, which makes the whole mood turn a bit denser (just a bit). The last sung section completes the song's concept in full circle, and then the closing acoustic guitar chords segue into the next track, 'Move Over, I'm Driving'. Here we witness yet another exercise in Zappa-meets-Happy The Man, the kind of exercise that we have found in previous album and that the FC handled with their usual mastery and never ending sensibility. This track incarnates the very essences of elegance and vivacity: the captivating beauty of the horn arrangements help the listener to forget the transit of the track's 8 minute span. 'Pasta Fazeuhl' shifts toward grayish tension while preserving the current doses of energy and musicality intact. Despite the allusion to the zeuhl genre in the title, it is mostly chamber-rock that champions this piece's direction: there is so much Univers Zero influence in the passage that goes from 5'00' to 8'30"? so much, really? but since FC is an American band (yeah, like Grand Funk Railroad), one can notice a more playful approach to RIO as instigated by older bands from the USA like Pocket Orchestra or Cartoon. So far, here we have 34 minutes of progressive grandiosity, and there is still more for the listener to enjoy avidly and bravely. The three sections of 'Under Wuhu Son' are a real treat. The first section, 'In the Bright Light', bears a melancholic aura developed consistently by a varied set of arrangements that comprises bucolic acoustic moods and constrained string and horn arrangements inundated with delicate elegance. 'Left For Dead', the second section, elaborates yet another example of chamber-rock, only this time it is more muscular and vibrant, almost Present-like at times: weirdly beautiful, beautifully weird, great one way or another. Section # 3 is 'Brace Against The Fall', which tones down the chamber-rock element quite noticeably and aims for a more straightforward approach to jazz-rock. I can't avoid the feeling that a rebirth of the "Creatures" days is emerging whenever I listen to this one ? and hats off to Camiola for his spectacular guitar solo!! 'From The Fence' is the most accessible piece in the album, but since it lasts 12 minutes it is hardly your condescending pop song full of radio interplaying and massive consumption potential. This track's basis is a sort of jazzy ballad on ¾, kind and gentle, somewhat romantic, bearing good vibes with an extroverted accent. It is from these extroverted undertones that the instrumental journey delivered by the FC guys delivers a typically progressive emphasis. The album's last 10 ½ minutes are occupied by 'Belgian Boogie Board', a full-frontal RIO piece whose colorful dynamics and challenging set of tricks and twists create a genuine adventure for the unafraid listener. Anyway, the playful overtones (no doubt a Zappa thing) provide a joyful element that remains relevant and defining all through the bizarreness that operates from beginning to end. This is such a terrific closure for such a bateless musical work: Frogg Café manages to gain yet another artistic triumph in their résumé. It is hard to imagine to have someone listening to this album twice in a road, but indeed, listening to it once has got to be one of the most exciting aesthetical experiences in 2010. One of mine, for sure, and I gladly put this one in my personal Prog Top 3 without having to wait until next January.
Review by J-Man
4 stars Pasta Fazeuhl

Ever since I initially heard the first two minutes of Bateless Edge, I knew I was in for a real treat. From the Indian-influenced opening and the Zappa-esque arrangements to the haunting melodies and superb musicianship, I knew that Frogg Café's latest album was going to be a real treat. And I was proven correct. This is a highly-original and enjoyable album that amazed me at first listen. The frenzied jazz rock mixed with beautiful melodies and progressive rock sections captured me immediately, and they don't intend on letting go anytime soon. Frogg Café has really crafted a superb album here: Bateless Edge is definitely something they should be proud of.

The music on this album is pretty unique. The most prominent genres are jazz fusion and progressive rock, although there are other influences as well. A song like Pasta Fazeuhl is almost purely avant-garde. The extensive use of xylophone, marimba, and various other percussion instruments give Frogg Café a distinct Zappa-esque sound. After all, they began as a Frank Zappa cover group. All of the songs on Bateless Edge are terrific, although the moody ballad From the Fence has always been my favorite. The vocals on that song are simply breathtaking. The opening track, Terra Sancta, is another favorite of mine. One of the best things about Frogg Café, however, is how talented the group is. As I've mentioned, the vocals throughout the album are terrific, but the instrumental portion really takes the cake. Picking one musician out of the pack is difficult, but as a single unit, these guys are remarkable. One thing that stood out to me was James Guarnieri's drumming. He can go from an intricate prog rhythm to jazz rock frenzies at the flip of a coin, and I love that about his style.

The production on Bateless Edge is great. This is a really clean and professional sounding album.


Bateless Edge is a really noteworthy album by this American band. If you like crazy jazz rock mixed with prog and avant garde, there's no reason not to check out Frogg Café. This is an exceptional band, and I can't wait to hear more from them in the near future. When an album is as unique, enjoyable, and professional as this one is, it'd be a crime to give out less than 4 stars. Although there is occasionally a section that's too drawn-out or slightly inconsistent, it's more than made up for in the end.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act FROGG CAFE was formed in New York back in 1998, and in the twelve years that have passed since they have been a rather productive band both as a recording unit and as live performers. "Bateless Edge" is their sixth studio effort to date, and was issued in the summer of 2010, three years after their previous production "The Safenzee Diaries".

"Bateless Edge" is a capital P progressive album made by a band that have a strong desire to make challenging and adventurous music of an eclectic nature and with a certain undefinable nature. If you have a soft spot for advanced fusion and chamber rock, and fancy elaborate brass rock oriented escapades and sophisticated symphonic progressive rock excursions as well, you'll most likely find this disc to be one pretty much tailor made to suit your needs.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Skeptical as I may be towards it, the 2010 PA top album list remains a source for new discoveries. With every new release being claimed as a masterpiece by fans, it's often a struggle through many disappointments to uncover the few albums that can live up to the hype. Such an album is Bateless Edge by Frogg Café.

The band has a history as a Zappa cover band but there are few remaining traces of that. There's the highly skilled musicianship of course and to a certain extent the capricious nature of the compositions where a given theme can be suddenly interrupted by avant-garde excursions, dazzling xylophone solos or dissonant influences from modern classical. Pasta Fazeuhl is an excellent example for that.

The spacey jazz-rock of the opening Terra Sancta is a real winner for me and it stands a bit apart from the more avant-garde based jazz rock of the remainder of the album. The wonderful production of the album brings out the deep bass tones and the dynamic drum playing. It's worth following just those instruments alone. Move Over I'm Dreaming, a track that sounds like a virtuoso interpretation of Samla Mammas Manna, might give a good idea of what this band is about.

Near the end of the record the vocals become more prominent. The gentle and sunny In the Bright Light pleases me a lot, the chorus of Brace Against The Fall a bit less, but it's just a matter of personal preference. Both are deserving songs with a fine hint of King Crimson in the stew. From the Fence isn't entirely my cup of tea though, reminds me of Joe Jackson whom I don't like unfortunately.

Bateless Edge has been a great discovery and comes recommended for anyone with an interest in jazz, RIO or avant. 3.5 stars, in the hope the vocals will further grow on me.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Eclectic Progg Feast from Zappaholics

Frogg Café began as a Zappa cover band, but have been putting out their own work since 2001. Their 2010 release BATELESS EDGE is the first I'd heard of this talented band, and what a discovery it was. Though they are categorized as Jazz-rock here on PA, the Froggers dish up a diverse blend of sounds. Some of their songs sit firmly within the realm of current modern prog, while others reach into a Univers Zero style chamber rock. Of course, there are plenty of allusions to Uncle Frank, and probably the most consistent feature is the love of a complex composition. That element is right up my alley, and I've enjoyed this album very much. The highlight songs are the opener "Terra Sancta" and the epic "Pasta Fazeuhl." The former is a pleasant stomp that reminds me of Beardfish, Umphrey's McGee, or perhaps IZZ. The latter is the most complex and dissonant of the tracks, and evokes RIO pioneers UZ much more than Magma despite the name of the song. The composition is very ambitious, often dark, but never ventures into true avant territory. It's one of my favorite songs in recent memory in the chamber rock style.

The three part "Under Wuhu Son" is a bit more meandering and soft-handed, but still quite solid. Though vocals are certainly not the Frogg Café strong point, they are competently delivered and there are even some nice harmony sections during part 1. Part 2 is much heavier and returns to the UZ feel. We get some Zappa-ish humor for relief here and there, reaching a climax in Part 3. "From the Fence" is a gentle ballad where the vocals become more emotive and compelling. The album ends with "Belgian Boogie Board," another well composed instrumental that traverses a wide territory of sound.

While this album has been criticized for being too eclectic, its clear connection to other established prog sounds make it a great transition from the eclectic camp into the final frontier ? RIO / AVANT. Unlike Univers Zero, Frogg Café never get so overpoweringly dark that the listener needs a break (or to hide.) It's just a bit more major in tonality, a bit brighter in rhythm, while retaining all the elaborate composing of their forefathers.

I've been tempted to cave and give this a 5/5 rating, and I may switch my opinion after the album sees a little test of time. But it is certainly excellent, and highly recommended.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars I encountered Frogg Cafe for the first time earlier this year when their first three albums were made available as selections at the now-defunct Prog Rock Records club. I obtained a copy of Creatures and found it to be a very enjoyable album. So when all the rave reviews of Frogg Cafe's latest started coming in, I knew I would have to give it a try.

What we have here is an album by a band who truly understand their music inside and out. This is one of the cases where the music is full of so much contrast, so many different styles, and such complexity that it's almost inconceivable that the band doesn't trip over their own feet. And yet, whether it be from their experience as a Zappa cover band before they started writing their own material, or simply because they've gotten really good at what they do, Frogg Cafe makes this album sound amazing.

On top of the brass and string instruments that accompany the normal rock ensemble, this album has a slew of guest musicians, featuring everything from flute to xylophone, so we really get some great variety in sound here. Although the instruments are often off doing their own thing, as a whole they work really well together.

The vocals aren't particularly amazing technically but I really enjoy them, they fit really well with the music and get the point across. In a sense, they help balance against the more wild instrumental elements.

So, talented musicians with a veritable army of guest musicians with years of practise recording complex music yields - what? One of the better albums I have heard from 2010 so far, featuring two songs in particular that I really dig, Terra Sancta and Under Wuhu Sun, and that flows smoothly from beginning to end alternating between tracks with vocals and instrumental pieces.

The only downside to this album, to my ears, is the second track (Move Over I'm Driving) which seems to wander a bit more than anything else on the disc.

Regardless, a highly recommended listen!

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was my first experience with this American group. Bateless Edge was one of those albums from 2010 I read a lot about and just had to check it out myself. The core of the band is made up of six individuals who play many different instruments. In addition, there are many guest musicians who play many more different instruments. I don't know what their earlier albums sound like, but the music here is a combination of Zappaesque orchestral rock, Canterbury, Avant-Prog, with some fusion and country-rock influences as well. The vocals are very American sounding; you would never mistake these guys for someone from Europe or Oz/NZ. The singing is at times similar to Phish, country-rock and even at one point, the Barenaked Ladies(!).

"Terra Sancta" starts with Indian instruments. Some phased wah-guitar leads to the full band coming in playing some Zappa-like orchestral jazz-rock. Later it becomes a vocal oriented song. More Indian instruments come in with some piano and a Zappa style guitar solo. The guitar playing starts to get more Canterbury / Fripp / McLaughlin sounding. Goes back to the vocals and then ends with some acoustic guitar. "Move Over I'm Driving" you can listen to on PA. It begins sounding like a cross between Canterbury and Zappa. Great interplay between the musicians. At one point the music stops, and just violin before other instruments come in and the music changes to different sections. Later a trumpet solo. I like the part where you hear "1,2,3,4,5" spoken across the stereo spectrum. A nice guitar solo near the end.

"Pasta Fazeuhl" is the longest song and a highlight. I wonder if the 'zeuhl' in the title was intentional. This song has a good bass sound. At first the music changes often. About 4 1/2 minutes in the music stops and there is just guitar before some electric piano, bass and military drumming. A violin then solos. Almost Canterbury sounds at this point. Then gets more avant-prog as it moves along. Maybe this song does have some Zeuhl influence. Later the track changes to some kind of Zappa/Southern rock hybrid. Then changes to a cross between Genesis and Univers Zero. it ends with a mix of Zappa and Henry Cow. Terrific song!

"Under Wuhu Son" is a 3-part suite. The first part, "In The Bright Light", opens with a lovely section, especially the violin, vibes and flute parts. Then the song goes Zappaesque. After some vocals and acoustic guitar. The 'chorus' part is very accessible modern country-rock. The second part, "Left For Dead", is more interesting. Starts off sounding like Art Zoyd or Univers Zero. Then goes into some funky prog-metal. Later on a nice mellower section with different instruments. Gets more Zappa sounding. Ends with storm sounds. Part three, "Brace Against The Fall", begins as jazzy rock. Then vocals with some snare rim hitting. Country-rock type chorus. Music stops halfway then a trumpet solo. Later a guitar solo. Nice marimba near the end.

"From The Fence" opens almost symphonic. Then a country-rock type song comes in. Some female vocals. Goes back to a more symphonic section. Changes to a section that sounds like a mix of Phish and country-rock. Later some mariachi type trumpets. "Belgium Boogie Board" begins with spacey effects before violin and brass come in. Then marimba and rhythm section. The music changes a lot. Lots of variations in style. The drumming is interesting after 4 minutes. Later the music stops and there is just cello which gets joined by brass and then a violin. Then a banjo. You hear a gong and then a gothic symphonic part with military snare rolls. After a nice section with trumpet, harpsichord and marimba. The band comes back to finish it.

A great album. I want to hear what their earlier stuff sounds like. Although this is classified as 'Jazz-Rock/Fusion', the music here is much more diverse and varied than just that label. One of the better albums I have heard from the past few years. Maybe this will be a masterpiece one day, but for now I give it a strong 4 stars.

Review by m2thek
4 stars Bateless Edge is the fifth release from New York based Frogg Café, and was one of last year's most highly praised albums. While not perfect, Bateless Edge contains a lot of great music, and will likely have something to please just about any prog fan.

The musical styles found on Bateless Edge are pretty varied, and differ greatly song to song. There are some Indian influences, some harder metal moments, a completely symphonic song, and surprisingly, one that is straight up Zeuhl. The biggest jazz influence is in the brass instruments, though they're rarely used in a traditionally jazzy way, instead leading a lot of powerful and melodic passages. Besides the brass, there is a lot of guitar, and interestingly, a lot of glockenspiels that really make the harmonies fun and different. The changeup of styles help to keep the album interesting, especially in the first 3 songs, which all present very different music.

Regardless of what style Frogg Café is using at the time, the best moments found on Bateless Edge are those that are dense and loud. The best example of this is in Left for Dead, during an incredibly dark and intense section led by loud brass and swirling guitar, backed by the glockenspiels and bass. Nothing really competes for your attention, and the polyphony that's created is a joy to listen to and pick apart. Although this is the strongest moment, there are tons more that are just as dense, and every song has its fair share of these. It's also notable to mention that these dense sections usually don't culminate in big singular peaks, but are rather long passages of consistently good music.

Unfortunately, the moments in between the most layered are not nearly as captivating or fun to listen to. The thinner, softer moments are usually not strong enough to warrant their length, and wind up being much more aimless than the denser sections. The band does prove that they are able to do them well with the acoustic introduction of In the Bright Light, but it makes you wish that the rest of the softer moments were able to hold their own weight as well. There are also not nearly as many of these passages, but they come up enough times that make them worth mentioning.

The vocals, however, while fairly sparse, are usually pretty good, and provide nice contrasts to the harder moments. They can be a little corny at times, such as the soft flower-filled chorus of From the Fence, but they can also be very dynamic and emotional, like those found on In the Bright Light, which is definitely the vocal highlight of the album. Half of the songs are instrumental, but of the half that are not, only From the Fence puts an emphasis on the singing.

While the vocals and lyrics are at worst corny, they are not my least favorite part of Bateless Edge. That is, it doesn't really benefit from a full play through, and at just a few minutes shy of 80, it certainly could have. Apart from the 20 minute suite, Under Wuhu Son, all of the tracks stand in isolation, and there's really no rise or fall between any of them. The album's closing tracks, From the Fence and Belgian Boogie Board, are especially odd; the former being a completely symphonic song, and the latter sounding like another foray into Zeuhl (after the first, Pasta Fazeuhl). While both of these are interesting at best, neither of them are terribly strong, and the album disappointingly ends up sputtering out after the strong and varied hour that came before.

Fortunately, that first hour is very strong, and in the end, solidifies this as an album worthy of purchase. While some of the passages might bore you for a minute or two, it's worth waiting to get to the exciting parts. If you like loud and dense prog, and don't mind a long album or skipping a track or two, give Bateless Edge a try.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Bateless Edge' - Frogg Cafe (9/10)

'Eclectic' would be one word to describe this vast album from the American fusion quintet Frogg Cafe. Closing in on being nearly eighty minutes in length, 'Bateless Edge' is certainly a long and ambitious effort, coming from a band who started off as little more than a Frank Zappa tribute group. Well suffice to say. Frogg Cafe has moved far beyond a tribute to any other artist here; over the course of their career, they have fostered a fresh sound for jazz fusion that often drags in other sounds to keep things fresh and exciting. 'Bateless Edge' may be my first experience with the music of Frogg Cafe, but already I am greatly impressed by the band, and although I can agree somewhat with the opinions of detractors saying that the album is a little too drawn out, the sheer quality of the ideas that are here make the album a masterpiece for me. Although it is no small bite to chew for the sake of musical digestion, the album's depth is worth returning to many times.

Although Frogg Cafe have since moved on to much greater things, their roots as a tribute to Frank Zappa can still be heard, particularly in the playful way they use the marimba and xylophone. Besides that, Frogg Cafe really incorporates a surprising amount of different sounds and surprises into the jazz fusion foundation they lay out, including Indian raga music (as can be heard in the opening minutes of the record), or even avant-garde neoclassical music, as is heard in the Magma-influenced 'Pasta Fazeuhl'.One thing that stays constant throughout this musical journey however is that the music is performed with great class and charm, even when Frogg Cafe are expanding outside their typical boundaries. Warm vocals are also sometimes used, although for the most part, 'Bateless Edge' is an instrumental effort. The songs are generally quite long, and while I usually find that instrumental music can get boring, the music here is always filled with new ideas, sometimes greatly melodic and beautiful.

After the first few listens, 'Bateless Edge' did seem like a little too much at once; a record with such variety paired with length can make for a challenging listen at first, but especially with the vocal moments that pop up every now and then, Frogg Cafe gives the listener enough hooks to grab a hold of, and from that, it becomes easier to dig into the less inviting aspects of the material. Even so, the only time when the music here becomes particularly challenging or 'out there' is in 'Pasta Fazeuhl', where the band drops their quirky jazz fusion for a brooding brand of classical music, led onward by a somewhat unsettling violin and background groove that gets more eerie upon repetition. Having an uncharacteristically sombre piece of music followed by a track that sounds undeniably playful with its dark atmosphere followed by warm ballads and charming jam sections is possibly what can hurt the album the most. Although every song here is incredible with the music, I do get the feeling that 'Bateless Edge' lacks a bit of binding identity, although the variety does tend to keep things fresh. Especially with so long a record to deal with, it does seem preferable to have many different things to experience here rather than overall cohesion, so 'Bateless Edge' can still be considered a masterpiece in my eyes, although its inherent scattered feeling can make for an underwhelming experience at first.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Well, in 2010, few albums came to match Bateless Edge, which I am a bit ashamed was my first contact with the band, although I ordered the double live Safenzee Diaries at the same time, because it was a recap of everything they'd done previously (or at least I thought it was). I had in mind that FC sounded like a few eclectic US bands like French TV, Echolyn and others, and to be honest, I didn't expect that much jazz influences (well mainly the wind instruments), although there is no way you would find FC's works in the jazz- section of record store. So the fifth album from this MYC combo appears to be the one were they crack the major leagues, up from their (sometimes still-audible) Zappaesque origins, which might have looked like some regional reserve and future talent farm team.

Unfortunately, as with most younger generation band, FC cannot help but to serve the coffee filled to the brim and this bugger last almost 80 mins, which is simply too much, despite the wide spectrum of musical ideas splashed on. Despite a very brilliant execution, I find that the band's will to rake as wide as possible can get them in trouble. Not that they're musically in over their head, but the album's systematic picking all over the spectrum makes a dent in their credibility and kind of damages the album's cohesiveness. Yes, the band goes from a slightly Indian soundscape (the tamboura of the opening Terra Sancta) to catchy sung music (the same Terra Sancta) to the typically clown-esque Zappa delirium (the marimbas in Mover Over) to an approximate Kansas-Phish style (the vocals for the former & the semi-country rock for the latter) for the album-weakspot of From The Fence. They also rape the Klezmer/Manouche world when grinding it with an RIO grater with the BBB track and later (or earlier I should say) also create a simili-symphonic classical music evolving into an unconvincing Zeuhl inferno (the FaZeuhl Pastiche) and end up in a GG meets Magma meets Samla Manna soundscape. This all flawlessly played, but it's the pure collage of these ideas that's a bit too apparent.

Elsewhere, the three-movement Wuhu Son suite isn't starting strong, with the opening Bright Light, which sounds like the typical (boring) neo-prog (ala Echolyn meets Arena) with semi-whining vocals, then evolving into semi-metallic guitar passage in the second Left For Dead movement - here, you could think of those crazy Finns of Alamaailman Vasarat or a goofy second-rate Univers Zero. The third Against The Fall movement is a bizarre mix of everything you've heard in the rest of the album (including these ludicrous marimbas), and while it has charms, you're glad when it stops. Indeed it sounds like they're trying too hard, and it is not the only place of BE it happens.

Don't get me wrong, my words might seem a little harsh, but overall BE deserves the accolade it got and that raised in most prog sites and publications' top 5 of 2010. One of the best advices I could give to the band is to come up with another strong albums as this one, but lose the marimbas and the neo-prog vocals, and they will shoot up the big league ranking to the contender status, rather than an also-ran label. Although the album will probably suffer the test of time, it still remains an early 10's most-noteworthy oeuvre, one that most everyone should at least have heard a few times.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars The lates from Frogg Cafe from 2010 named Batleless edge is a step down from previous works, at least for me. This is more avant jazz with lots of pointless noodlings, even is not bad is no intrest for me to listen in over an hour this type of music. After couple of spins, and I must tell the truth that was hard for me to get into the atmosphere of the album, was not the case with Creatures who was instantly catchy in arrangem,ents, on this release the band tried to musch to experiment and to my ears is no cohesiveness in many parts. Contrary with other listners who considered this a masterpiece, to me is far from that, is ok and nothing more. Again between quirky and unusual Zappa jazzy passages the flute, clarinet, cello, etc make a big contribution to over all sound. Not a piece is in front, all are almost same to my ears. Well I didn't expext to this album to sound so avant even the progressive elements are all over. So, I will give 3 stars but is less intresting then previous work Fortunate Observer of Time and far from greatness and magic moments from Creatures. Hardly 3 stars.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It really grew on me...!

This album has been with me for quite a long time and I did not get a chance to really have a look the album in details as so many good and excellent prog albums released nowadays - so I kept delaying this one unless the first track that blew me away at first listen. The rest track was quite tough for me to understand and then i did not really get into it in detail. And now, having listened to this album for more than 6 times in its entirely I then got a final wrap up session to form my final view about this one as you have known it from the stars I put for this album. Yes, it's definitely a masterpiece album of progressive music and I have many rationales why I say it so! Just bear with me for a second ....

As we all know that Frogg Café embryo was born in 1998 as a Frank Zappa cover band called Lumpy Gravy performing Zappa's difficult music on Long Island and New York City. In 2000, the band was in transition and found a new beginning with the addition of percussionist James Guarnieri to the band. At this point, the band changed its name to Frogg Café and started to perform original music with a host of discernable influences in their sound such as Zappa, Yes, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Focus, Genesis, and even the more avant-garde styles. The members of this unique group are Nick Lieto (vocals, keyboards, trumpet), Steven Uh (guitars), Bill Ayasse (violin, mandolin), Andrew Sussman (bass), and James Guarnieri (drums). All of the members of Frogg Café are university trained in music.

However, it does not necessarily means that I make my final view on this album because of the members are academia rather this view is really based on my more than 38 years plus dealing with what so called progressive music as listener and big fan of the music and not as a player as I know to play prog music is really tough. This also means that I make a reasonable comparison with other albums of prog not limited on the type of music Frogg Cafe is playing - you know that kind of Zappa or even Canterbury Scene. You know why? Because Frogg Cafe music is somewhat covering many subgenres of music with probably jazz and canterbury as one of their roots. Actually, I do not really mind how you categorize Frogg Cafe's music.

Terra Sancta (12:25) is really a mind blower as the music is really unexpectedly great from start to end! This is true as I really enjoy from the opening part which at first listen sound weird to my ears but as the music moves couple of minutes I suddenly feel like flown through with music. I might cal it something like jazz even though it's not really because I cannot relate with any kind of music that I have ever heard it before. It's probably Zappa is the closest comparison even though this one pushed to the next level. I really love when the music enters interlude part where it has stunning long guitar solo combined with wonderful piano work. It's really great. I sometime forget that this is Frogg Cafe when I am in the interlude part because the guitar solo is really rocking despite unusual rhythm section using drums and solid basslines as well as piano work. It's definitely a masterpiece track.

Unlike the opening track, this Move Over I'm Driving (7:58) is basically an instrumental track which at first listen did not impress me at all. The chief reason was that this one is lacking on melody - or maybe there is melody but somewhat it has been successfully hidden by the band. It's really hard to capture where the music is leaning to. But when I got rid off my struggle to find the corresponding melody of this confusing arrangement - I finally enjoyed the music of this second track entirely. I enjoy ever single segment of how the brass section, piano and bass make their ways to the music - the louder I play the music the more I like it.

Pasta Fazeuhl (14:02) Now with this third track I am totally confused with the direction of this music as this one is totally different with the first two tracks. I would say this third track is somewhat an exploration of King Crimson's Lark's Tounge in Aspec but the band pushes the envelope harder and make it much more avant garde in nature. Oh man ... I really enjoy this confusing third track even though there are repeated chords or segments but that what make this track really wonderful. I am writing this review enthusiastically as I am playing the music loud with a decent stereo set - so I'm really "into" the music of Frogg Cafe. BTW, I forgot to mention that the production quality of this album is really superb! That's why I recommend you to play this one LOUD and you will be amazed with the subtleties of the music as it moves with your emotion.

Under Wuhu Son: In the Bright Light (8:22) starts nicely with a combined guitar (acoustic), violin, basslines for relatively long period before it enters to a very interesting part when drums enters the scene. The use of brass section makes the music is really accentuated beautifully. The vocal then enters nicely in a style that typically used by Simon and Garfunkel in 'Scarborough Fair'. But again this band is really brilliant because the vocal line does not represent certain melody line that you can emulate until it enters the coda part which the melody is really nice. There are nice breaks with violin and guitar work. Oh really WONDERFUL!!!!

It then continue seamlessly to the second part of the epic Under Wuhu Son: Left for Dead (5:36) where you can hear a bit like progressive metal tune in its heavy riffs. This suffices to say that the music of Frogg Cafe is explorative in nature as it blends many types of musical subgenres. The use of brass section in this track is nice and it is combined with some breaks with violin worn as well as acoustic guitar. The music suddenly breaks with temporary stop of brass work and let drums and bass guitar to work in couple of seconds followed then with solo trumpet and vibraphone work - it's really nice!

The final part of the epic Under Wuhu Son: Brace Against the Fall (6:15) starts with an ambient guitar work followed again with music with solid basslines and brass section that brings the vocal to enter. It's an unexpected entrance of vocal, actually, but it's really nice especially when it's accompanied by powerful and solid bass lines. Oh man ...definitely you have to have this album and I'm keen to know how you feel about it. To me this album is so greaaaaatttt ...!!!

I leave it up to you to comment the remaining two long tracks "From the Fence" (12:05) and "Belgian Boogie Board" (10:31) once you get the album with you.

Overall, I really admire this band as the music is much more mature now having been releasing previous excellent albums and all of them I really enjoy them. The composition is quite unique as I think they really don't care about creating memorable melody - indeen most of their tracks are not memorable melody-wise. Well, I think they do this by design and be it - why concerns much on melody as this is prog music man! The structure is really unique as it changes as the song moves its way from start to end with many changes of tempo. The excellent part is that even though the music is like in parts with no guiding memorable melody, the album is cohesive as whole and it has a solid structural integrity. I cannot give less than five stars for this masterpiece one! Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Latest members reviews

5 stars This one is very easy to review. The reason for this is quite obvious: it is so original, that You really have a lot to write about. I would really like to describe all the details, but since I don't have a whole night I will focus on just one aspect - why is Bateless Edge so annoying. And boy it is ... (read more)

Report this review (#417611) | Posted by Mush | Thursday, March 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is both a courageous and adventurous album because it embraces jazz, eastern influences, avant guard rock, pop melodies, progressive rock and experimentation acrobatics. Maybe this is too much for a pair of ears to absorve but -as the ratings prove- the progressive (and not only) music lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#306730) | Posted by Astryos | Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Album of 2010? No. Not even as good as Haken. My first encounter with Frogg Cafe- and let me assure that despite their origins as a Frank Zappa tribute band, they don't sound anything like Zappa but that's OK because they don't claim to- and probably my last. It's not that Bateless Edge is te ... (read more)

Report this review (#305628) | Posted by Textbook | Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is my first encounter with Frog Cafe too. Frogg Café consists of Bill Ayasse (violin, mandolin, vocals, hand percussion), James Guarnieri (drums, glockenspiel, orchestral percussion), Andrew Sussman (bass, cello, acoustic guitar), Nick Lieto (lead vocals, keyboards, trumpet, flugelhorn), John ... (read more)

Report this review (#304569) | Posted by idlero | Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Terra Sancta 9/10 Move Over I'm Driving 10/10 Pasta Fazeuhl 8/10 Under Wuhu Son: In the Bright Light 10/10 Under Wuhu Son: Left for Dead 9/10 Under Wuhu Son: Brace Against the Fall 10/10 From the Fence 9/10 Belgian Boogie Board 8/10 This album is maybe not as essential as some al ... (read more)

Report this review (#297170) | Posted by Uros Krunic | Thursday, September 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To say the very least, Bateless Edge is an interesting album. The music contained on it ranges from Eclectic prog to Jazz fusion, from crossover prog to RIO/Avant type music - which, indeed, makes it seems slightly unfocused. But this is not much of a problem, since, in a Zappaesque (not in that t ... (read more)

Report this review (#294888) | Posted by Nathaniel607 | Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From the state of New York come the marvellously diverse Frogg Cafe. Formerly a Zappa cover band, they released their eponymous debut in 2002. Bateless Edge released last month is their 4th studio album proper, and easily their most ambitious effort to date. The album consists of eight tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#289073) | Posted by Starless | Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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