Moraine’s Manifest Density out on Moon June Records

From Moon June Records:

You could describe the output of this towering electric string quartet-plus-drums as “heavy chamber music.” With its several writers and full complement of ace instrumentalists, arrayed in striking combination, Moraine achieves a coherent sound while drawing on forms ranging from math-rock to fractured bebop to Chinese folk music to unleashed, plugged-in power jazz, and more. You have to love a band that lists its influences as Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie, Oregon, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, Dr. Nerve, traditional East Asian music, and hurdy-gurdy music. Particularly one that adds plenty of its own to that diverting mix. At the center of the sound are Dennis Rea’s stellar guitar inventions. The much-praised veteran has deployed fierce, elusive imagination to build on decades of engagement with countless musical styles of multiple regions of the globe. He creates a dynamic, lyrical, enigmatic blend of modern jazz, boundary-pushing rock, experimental music, and world musical traditions. In other contexts – stay tuned for his next MoonJune Records’ release, Views from Chicheng Precipice – his output reflects the three years he spent in the two Chinas, where he was among the first wave of Western creative musicians to venture behind the tattered curtain of the devastating Cultural Revolution. (He is the author, in addition, of the fascinating Live at the Forbidden City: Musical Encounters in China.) On the band’s debut CD Manifest Density, Rea enjoys ideal support from all quarters in what is truly a collaborative endeavor of composition and performance: Ruth Davidson’s cello and Alicia Allen’s violin slash and singe with uncanny unity of purpose and design. Bassist Kevin Millard and drummer Jay Jaskot boast drive and thrust ideally suited to the task. All that begins to explain why Moraine has been embraced by audiences ranging from jazz aficionados to metalheads. The band squalls, sears, soars, and lilts over a novel musical terrain.

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AMN Podcast: Univers Zero – Relaps

L’etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz

Founding members of the Rock In Opposition movement, Univers Zero have continued to change and grow and develop over their entire career, while still keeping a ensemble sound and spirit that is easily recognizable. Relaps presents something that Univers Zero’s fans have been hoping for for decades; a peek into the recorded archives of one of the greatest avant-rock ensembles since mid 1970s! This CD documents the final 1980s line-ups of Univers Zéro before the band’s long sabbatical from recording and touring. The live sound is excellent throughout and the CD features a 16 page booklet with a informative history of the band during this time period as well as rare, never-seen photos. The line-ups featured on Relaps are the quintet who recorded UZED and the septet who recorded Heatwave. The material is drawn from those two albums, with the live setting providing some different arrangements and even greater fire to the pieces; I found the pieces taken from Heatwave to be particularly inspiring and outrageous. There is also a short, otherwise unheard composition included here. While UZ continue to play truely awesome gigs and develop the material that will be found on their next studio album, Relaps provides a chance for the listener to catch up with some never-released and exciting recordings from a truly classic band!

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