Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dark Suites Music Reviews

SoundQuest Fest 2010 Tucson, AZ.
October 23, 2010

review written by Nickolas Cook

I'm a huge ambient music fan, and one of the things that Arizona has going for it is the fact that the godfather of ambient music lives right here in my local area. Steve Roach has been composing some of the most complex and darkly beautiful ambient music for going on 40 years. Some of his albums truly are classics of the genre, spawning as many New Age and Ambient musicians as Tangerine Dream has in the past.
SoundQuest Fest 2010 is sort of the equivelant of Woodstock or Lollapalozza for ambient music fans. It's amazing to see how many talented people Steve Roach, a key member of the organizers for this music festival, was able to bring together, an event several years in the making. Some of the musicians that came together for this festival are legends in their own right:
Steve Roach (USA), Electronic-Ambient Pioneer
Erik Wøllo (Norway), Cinematic Guitar Soundscapes
Byron Metcalf (USA), Shamanic Trance Percussion
Mark Seelig (Germany), East Indian Devotional Music
Loren Nerell (USA), Indonesian Soundscapes
and Dashmesh Khalsa & Brian Parnham, didgeridoo artists and craftsmen.

With so many musicians, it lasted over 9 hours, which may seem a lot of time to invest in music meant to relax, and in some ways, to place you into a sort of trance-like state (and if you don't know what I mean, then you should probably check out the above musicians and their collective works), but there were moments that made time feel as if it were being stretched and pulled like a rubber band, snapped back into reality, so that the fans could catch up with time once again.

Almost as important as the music to the overall experience which this festival was meant to convey to its fans was the visual ambience created by Beate Maria, Stefin Gordon
Lynn Augstein and Cobalt Sun, with soundscaping created by Roger King. If you've seen a live TOOL concert in recent years, then you understand how important the visual aspects have become to live performances, as well as the sound experience. And these folks understood how to use the given space of intimate auditorium to create a visualscape that made the world expand around the audience.
All in all, this was a hell of an experience, and I hope the next SoundQuest Fest doesn't take so long to come about.

Check out these live videos of Steve Roach's finale live performance from SoundQuest Fest 2010 in Tucson, AZ. for what I mean. More can be found on YouTube for those interested...

--Nickolas Cook

Five Finger Death Punch Concert Review
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

Being my second time seeing FFDP I was more interested in seeing them do songs from their new album “War is the Answer.” Specifically I really wanted to see them perform songs such as 'No One Gets Left Behind' and 'Hard to See'. Needless to say I was not let down. I have always told others that the first time I saw FFDP it was one of my best experiences at a metal concert and this was no exception.

In my opinion they eclipsed their previous performance by a good margin. The first time I saw them they were still fairly new and had just released their first album, “The Way of the Fist.” I remember the Rialto Theater here in Southern Arizona was only half full (or half empty depending on your views). Boy has their following changed. This time around the Rialto Theater was jam packed with FFDP fans. Needless to say the venue was filled with smelly sweating people eager to hear lead singer Ivan Moody and the boys tear apart the place.

They started the night with 'Burn It Down', which really set the tone for the night. A fairly large pit started in the middle of the crowd which consisted of your usual metal heads pushing and shoving to the double bass of the drummer. Their set list really did not have a dull moment. Their cover of Bad Company's hit classic rock song 'Bad Company' received a large roar mostly from the casual fans who may have heard this song being played by their local alternative radio station. Before playing 'White Knuckles' they went into a couple of cover songs but never ended up playing the full song. They started the songs 'Walk' (Pantera), 'Rock You Like A Hurricane' (The Scorpions) and 'Smoke on the Water' (Deep Purple). Of course each song received approval from the crowd.

During their set the drummer was on a platform that rose up about 10 feet. While I have previously seen drummers raised up or playing upside down a la Slipknot, I have never seen one hoisted 10 feet up in the air and continue to play there for the remainder of the set. Pretty cool sight, indeed. To no one’s surprised they ended the night by playing 'The Bleeding'. Before starting the song lead singer Ivan Moody had the men in the crowd hoist up any female next to them on their shoulders so he could dedicate a song about heartbreak to them.

A very good show, which I recommend to see if they play in your area. FFDP really puts all their energies into their concerts, and give off so much energy to the crowd which in turn, which makes for a wild ride.

Tucson Set List:
1. Burn it down
2. Salvation
3. The Way of the Fist
4. Hard to See
5. No One Gets Left Behind
6. Bad Company
7. Bulletproof
8. White Knuckles
9. Never Enough
10. Dying Breed
11. Meet the Monster
12. The Bleeding

--Steven M Duarte

John Coltrane- The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (2003)
review written by Nickolas Cook

Okay, so I usually stay away from reviewing boxsets, especially when you have one like this, which runs around $125.00, even used. But this is the end all/be all of one of the legends of music, let alone jazz music. The incredible virtuosity of musicianship displayed on this 7-disc boxset is enough to take your breath away. Hell, you don't even need to be a hardcore jazz-o-phile like myself to enjoy this one. Although, with such a hefty pricetag, it would probably make sense that you were. If you cannot find your sense of peace and soul in these gorgeous jazz gems from one of the greatest instrumentalists and composers to ever live, then something might be wrong with your pulse. Even the outtakes and unused versions of some of his most famous recordings will make you want to testify. It's all here, the classics, such as Cousin Mary, Blues To You, Giant Steps, and so many others, along with their various outtakes, that it will take you weeks to enjoy them all. For you will listen to them over and over again. And you will come to see why this man is considered one of the primary influences on prog-rock and the whole psychedlic music movement of the 60s and 70s. Literally, no one was composing and phrasing music like this man when he was alive.

For brevity's sake, please see for full track listings.

--Nickolas Cook

Fields of the Nephilim- Revelations: Best of (1997)
review written by Nickolas Cook

And I'm breaking another of music rules by reviewing a Best of or restrospective CD. But with Fields of Nephilim, I'm willing to make an exception, especially since this has to be one of the best 'best of's I've ever heard. If you're not familiar with Fields of Nephilim and their darkly overwrought dramatic music, then this is the perfect starting place for new fans. This double CD contains all of their most well known hits, lots of live and B-sides, along with a few surprises, such as re-mixes. But the beauty of this is that it's like a Fields of Nephilim 101, since they only recorded officially for about seven years. But in that seven years they managed to create some of the most majestic Goth rock ever recorded, even outdoing The Cure for darker-than-dark moments in their music. These guys knew how to create a stage presence, incorporating their own future vision of Sergio Leone meets Goth culture, with their perpetually dusty hats and sweat stained dusters. They had some really big hits with 'Preacher Man', 'Moonchild' and 'Psychonaut' and others, but unfortunately, they couldn't hold it together to keep their career on track and are no more (at least not in the original incarnation, so beware of bands whom call themselves Fields-this-or-that, because they are not the original lineup).
So if you want to go back in time and dig into some of the best ever Goth rock, this is the double CD retrospective for you.

1. Moonchild
2. Chord of Souls
3. Last Exit For the Lost
4. Preacher Man
5. Love Under Will
6. Power
7. Psychonaut Lib 111
8. For Her Light
9. Blue Water
10. Vet For the Insane
11. Watchman
12. Dawnrazor

1. Submission Two - (the dub posture)
2. Preacher Man - (contaminated mix)
3. Celebrate (Second Seal)
4. Shiva
5. Psychonaut Lib 1
6. In Every Dream Home a Heartache
7. Moonchild - (unsealed)

--Nickolas Cook