Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cool Rock Opera

I am a fan of rock operas.  They are progressive by nature, and often tell a pretty decent story.  Two that you should definitely check out are Solo Scriptura and The Protomen.

Solo Scriptura is a concept album by Neal Morse.  He played in Spocks Beard, a prog rock band and Transatlantic.  Both are very great bands (for some), and feature 20+ minute long songs.  Sola Scriptura is a retelling of the Martin Luther story.  It has an amazing all star lineup of musicians.  On drums, Mike Portnoy just tears it up, as does Paul Gilbert on guitar (Obviously, I mean he is inhuman).  Randy George is no slouch on the bass guitar, either.  If you like this kind of music, you have to listen to it.

The Protomen's self titled album is an absolutely compelling retelling of the Megaman Franchise of games.  Yes, I said that correctly.  Originally I was very sceptical, but it is a just amazing album, from beginning to end.  They cover a lot of ground, musically.  There are new wave elements, along with industrial, hardcore, and even Ennio Morricone moments.  Seriously.  It was one of the most enjoyable ~35 minutes I have ever partook in.  They released a follow up, but I haven't listened to it through yet.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Three Heavy Jazzy Bands You Have Never Heard Of.

Okay guys, I know it has been a while since my last post.  Sorry, Sorry, My Bad.  I have been busy with work and schoolwork, I haven't really had the time.   To make it up, I am giving you guys a treat.
I am choosing three of my favorite heavy, jazzy bands, that you probably have never heard of.  A lot of the reason that I never got into jazz before was because it lacked the visceral energy that I crave.   These bands are technical, harmonically rich, AND HEAVY!

1.  Exivious
Exivious is a self-proclaimed fusion-metal band.  It consists of members of Cynic and Textures.  They combine heavy riffs, jazzy solos and are very progressive.  The Music of Exivious is filled with many dynamic and meter and tempo shift, not to mention constantly modulating.

2. Triphasic
Triphasic is a trio, featuring Gary Willis (Jazz and Fusion virtuoso) on bass, Llbert Fortuny on Saxophone and David Gomez on drums.  They are based in Spain.  Like Exivous, they are a one time project, but killer nontheless.  If you like very weird and dissonant music, like hemophiliac, these guys bring it.

2.Gordian Knot
Gordian Knot is not too jazzy, but awesome still.  It too features members of cynic, with Sean Malone as the driving creative force.  John Myung of Dream theater guests, as does Ron Jarzonbek and Jim Matheos.  They recorded some of the best instrumental prog ever.

I hope you all enjoy this selection of some of my favorite music.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ron Jarzombek Update

After the release of 2007's Blotted Science, a mix of the 12 tone cycle and pure brutality, Ron Jarzombek has not done much.  He play briefly on Obscura's Cosmogenesis album in 2009 and just gives lessons around his hometown, San Antonio TX.

He is one of my favorite guitarists.  His music is some of the most technical, absurd, and just generally awesome around.  If you haven't heard of spastic ink, you need to check out Ink Compatible.  Watchtower, his second band, was heavily influential of modern metal.  Bands, Metallica to Dream Theater to Atheist, took note of the awesome technical and heavy style that Jarzombek created. He even played 2nd guitar for Marty Friedman in 2007. It is a shame that he is not more popular, given his influence.

His upcoming projects are a new Blotted Science EP, and the long awaited 3 part instructional DVD series.
Blotted Science, as I have previously mentioned, is an instrumental metal 3 piece band.  The other players, Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) and Hannes Grossman (Necrophagist/Obsura).   Charlie Zeleny (Behold... The Arctopus),  recorded the drums for the self titled.  They write in using the 12 tone method, which I think brings a new level of dissonant brutality.  I can't wait for another solid release.

Ron Jarzombek is guitar teacher, by profession, so it is obvious that he would release a instructional DVD.
What sold me was that it was in 3 parts, one DVD dealing with rhythm, one for harmony, and one of the 12 tone cycle.  I really would like to watch him explain harmony and rhythm from his unique context.   I am no too interested in the 12 tone one, but might still pick it up.

Hopefully, in time, he could get with guys like Gordian Knot and release another solid fusion/metal recording or something like that.  You can only hope...

In the mean time, enjoy the upcoming Blotted Science EP, The Animation of Entomology.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MIDI control without a keyboard interface

A lot of users really liked the green guitar that I posted on my last update.  The thing is, that wasn't really a guitar, it was a Synthaxe, a guitar midi controller.  That is how come he could get all of those outrageous synth sounds from the "guitar".
I decided to inform all of you on how to achieve the same idea, using  a guitar to control virtually any instrument via MIDI.


The Synthaxe is an instrument designed in the 80's by Bill Aitken.  It has superior tracking and versatility,  as it divided the fretboard sensors into 6 individual sectors  The instrument is equipped with two pads for your left hand, one that is similar to a keyboard (for sustaining chords etc) and one that is similar to a guitar that may be plucked.  This instrument is also equipped with a breath controller for superior dynamic control and shaping.  The only drawback of this guitar is it's availability and price.  Because they are not manufactured anymore, they are extremely hard to find.  If you somehow find one, they will cost upwards of 5,000 dollars.  The probably worst issue is that nobody left is qualified to repair them, so they will eventually break down.

Roland MIDI Pickups

My guitar teacher had one of these, they have 6 slots on the pickup; One for each string.  You can get a bunch of really good sounds out of it.  However I heard that because it is "translating" audio waves into midi signal, that the lower the pitch of sound, the slower it responds.  So, on the high strings, it's sounds flawless; But on low e there is a couple of milliseconds of lag.  These connect initially to a Roland GR-20 or GR-55, so you can't just get the pickup and connect directly to midi.  But after, the Roland box, you can direct it to you DAW and use just about any VST you can think of.  These are available everywhere, but remember that you still have to buy the Roland Box for it to work.  These cost around 800 dollars bundled together.   Parker makes the Parker Fly MIDI, that comes with the pickup pre-installed.  As does Carvin guitars, on practically any model.

Sonuus G2M

Sonnus G2M or boxes similar, directly turn audio input from your guitar into MIDI signal.  These can be plugged directly into your DAW to control any vst.  These are about 100 dollars everywhere. They are slow and purely monophonic, I guess they would be used for melodic playing.

Akai EWI

The EWI is a breath controller that that mimic wind instruments like the Saxophone, Clarinet and Trumpet in playability.  You again connect via usb to your DAW to utilize any sound you have on a VST.  They are fast and expressive.  If I was better at wind instruments I would definitely get one of these.  They cost either 300 dollars for the bare bones model, or 700 dollars for the superior version that you can connect directly to your mixer.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Allan Holdsworth Carvin Fatboy

Allan Holdsworth is fantastic guitarist with almost inhuman legato technique.  His melody, soloing, chord voicing, well everything sounds like it has some alien origin.  In the 70's and 80's he used Steinberger guitars exclusively. Although I am a fan of his sound, I really don't prefer the look and feel of headstock-less guitar.

Later, he began using Bill DeLap guitars.  To me, the look is almost exactly the same.

Eventually he contacted Carvin Guitars to create the Carvin HF2 and the HF2 Fatboy models.   To me,  the style is miles ahead of the steinbergers.  They come equipped with a MIDI pickup for piezo and synth sounds, and the HF2 is simply hollow and HF2 is completely hollow.

The benefits of hollow bodies are really nice, you get more warmth and sustain.  Also, because of the guitar is hollow inside there is less feedback with distortion and gain.   These guitars really versatile, and sound great. If they made a 7 string version, I would pick one up in a heartbeat.


And they have a headstock.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Future Dream Theater Drummer?

The departure of Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater shocked the progressive metal community, well some of us.  Many people speculated that perhaps Portnoy would be reinstated, only to be proven wrong.  


I personally think the claims that perhaps Joey Jordison, Terry Bozzio, Neal Peart, or other drummers with a successful musical career joining Dream Theater as a creative force is just silly.  They are great drummers, but have their own style that fits what they play now.   None of those guys really have any incentive to join.

Marco Minnemann of Necrophagist and Kreator was speculated by many to be the lucky drummer in the studio now with the band, but Blabbermouth reports that that is false.


So who do I think it is gonna be?

John Macaluso is an absolutely brilliant drummer that already has connections with James LaBrie.  I think is style would work perfectly in the context of Dream Theater.  He is also not currently working on anything right now, despite his already prolific career.


John Macaluso and James Labrie performing together

The Man tearing it up!

So if it is his skins on the new record, you heard it here first.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Scale the Summit Album!

Scale the Summit are in the studio working and a new album, The Collective.  Their last album, Carving Desert Canyons, is a wonder barrage of heavy guitar riffs, tasty shred licks, and clean tapped passages.  You can immediately tell the Dream Theater influence; I also detect Don Caballero influence in their tapping segues.
Though sometimes corny and obviously really major/mixolydian sounding at times, these guys are really talented and I have not been disappointed. When dealing with instrumental music, there is a fine line to walk between being listen-able and interesting.  I think Scale the Summit mixes a pretty good blend.
The new album ships march 1.