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martes, 13 de octubre de 2015

Brand X - Masques (1978)


Artista: Brand X
Álbum: Masques
Año: 1978
Género: Jazz rock / Fusión
Duración: 49:04
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. The Poke
2. Masques

3. Black Moon
4. Deadly Nighshade
5. Earth Dance
6. Access to Data
7. The Ghost of Mayfield Lodge

Alineación:
- Percy Jones / Bajo
- John Goodsall / Guitarra

- Morris Pert / Percusión (piano Fender en Black Moon)
- Peter Robinson / Keyboards
- Chuck Bürgi / Batería

Damos la bienvenida a Kike que nos envía su comentario a este gran disco. En algún post anterior, Kike hizo un comentario con sapiencia cabezona y le propusimos que participara en esta aventura de construcción colectiva de conocimiento, así que aquí va su primera colaboración. ¡Gracias Kike!

Brand X en Knebworth, 1978

El presente álbum es el tercero de la banda editado por Charisma Records y el primero con ausencia de Phil Collins.
 

Muchos coinciden que Masques es un buen punto de comienzo para conocer la banda, y algo de eso hay aquí. El registro editado en 1978 tiene siete cortes, todos muy distintos del anterior en cuanto a estructura rítmica, cuyo eje conductor es durante todo el disco, el bajista Percy Jones y el tecladista J. Peter Robinson.
 

Sin duda que el uso del fretless (bajo eléctrico sin trastes o liso) con figuras y mucho armónico, hace de esta producción un trabajo especial, así como el uso del pitch de los teclados que nos recuerda en muchos pasajes a Return to Forever en sus mejores días.

Al comenzar la placa nos encontramos con el tema "The Poke", cuyo riff es bastante ondero y pegadizo. Me recordó a "School Days" de Stanley Clark y quiebres al estilo de "El Eterno Retorno" de Chic Corea a comienzos de la década del setenta.
 

Luego el tema homónimo del álbum, "Masques". Aquí en un estado de ánimo más reflexivo podemos disfrutar del bajo y una serie de posibilidades de tocarlo. El solo de bajo es sorprendente. Una hermosa y breve pieza de estudio para los aficionados a las cuatro cuerdas.

El tercer corte, titulado "Black Moon", nos da un preámbulo del carácter medio latino del resto del álbum. Un tema suave, atmosférico.


El cuarto tema se titula "Deadly Nightshade"; para mí es el corte de este álbum. Luego de una entrada bien hackettiana, los músicos nos proponen una zapada donde cada miembro de la banda pondrá su destreza al servicio de la composición. Sin duda, es el corte más demandante de una oída atenta de parte del oyente. Refleja ciertamente el objetivo de estos magníficos músicos quienes resumían así la música compleja llamada también "progresiva" con composiciones largas, quiebres rítmicos, solos instrumentales que se seguían unos a otros contando una historia sonora, en contraposición al emergente y rabioso punk rock de la época en la Isla.
 

El quinto corte, "Earth Dance" nos invita a despertar del anterior, a mover el pie, como habría dicho Blakey y sus Mensajeros del Jazz.

El sexto corte, "Acces to Data", tiene mucho de Chick Corea, a mi parecer. Es decir, estos músicos estaban atentos a lo que las audiencias educadas escuchaban al otro lado del charco. El teclado y la guitarra lo denotan bastante. ¿Escuchó usted Casino de Al Di Meola? Curiosamente tienen ¡el mismo año de edición!


El séptimo y último corte, llamado "The Ghost of Mayfield Lodge", nos propone un cierre progresivo. El guitarrista John Goodsall nos deslumbra con un bello solo en su primera parte. Luego de un quiebre, la sección rítmica nos adentrará a atmósferas sonoras a través de implementos metálicos de percusión y xilófono y uso de armónico en el bajo, una transición perfecta sincopada, para concluir en un fade out suave y casi imperceptible.
 

En suma, este es un excelente ejemplo de un álbum de fusión, con rítmicas y sonoridades latinas mezcladas magistralmente con complejos arreglos donde la línea melódica es dada por el sintetizador, adornado a ratos por solos de guitarra y donde predomina el dibujo armónico del bajo. Cabe destacar sonoridades como el xilófono y un entreverado uso rítmico.
 

Es importante mencionar que para muchos críticos, la ausencia de Collins no fue tan influyente en el sonido de la banda. Si bien su reemplazante Chuck Bürgi llena bastante bien sus zapatos, Collins siempre ha tenido un sonido personal, cuestión que todo músico busca; una sonoridad o estilo que sea reconocible por su audiencia. Al menos este reseñador lo extrañó. Por otro lado quiero destacar al bajista Percy Jones quien da cátedra en este álbum del uso extendido del bajo sin trastes. Inglaterra ha dado interesantísimos bajistas, cada uno con su sello propio. Ejemplos de ello son: Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), Chris Squire (Yes), John Wetton (King Crimson, UK), y recientemente Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson).
 

Masques de Brand X es un disco altamente recomendable para quienes disfrutan del jazz fusión y la buena música. 

"Masques" en vivo (Tokio 1997):



Percy Jones soleando:




Otras opiniones sobre el disco:
 Masques is the 1978 album by the British jazz fusion group Brand X. This was the band's first studio recording without drummer Phil Collins. The rear of the album cover has a photo of the crowd from the Knebworth Festival, 1978 — a bill that included both Brand X and Genesis, Collins' other band.
Wikipedia

Without the drumming of Phil Collins, who does appear on some of Brand X's albums, Masques still maintains a snug, jazzy-prog milieu and comes off clean and tight. Each song has a different beat, speed, and tempo with a satisfying assortment of keyboards and percussion instruments to keep the entire album afloat. Resounding xylophone and chimes outline the music on the seven tracks, with "Earth Dance" and "The Poke" coming up a little bit stronger than the rest. Most notably is the superb musical interplay of all the instruments used, and the way in which they enhance and benefit one another. The progressive rock sound does evolve by way of lengthy guitar passages from John Goodsall and accelerated keyboard fingering from Morris Pert, adding spice and vivaciousness while popping up when least expected. Masques is a firm studio album, and will keep listeners fascinated with the band.  
Mike DeGagne en Allmusic
 

I've never met a Brand X album that I didn't like, and Masques is definitely one of the strongest of a stellar company!
For this one, Chuck Bergi takes over the skins from Phil Collins (who'll return to the fold for PRODUCT), and does a very stalwart and capable job. Founding band members John Goodsall (guitar) and Percy Jones (one of the all-time MASTERS of the fretless bass) remain, and percussionist Morris Pert is back to hit various and sundry instruments, objects and parts of Britain.
All of the songs on this disc are great, but I especially enjoy those by Pert: the powerful "Deadly Nightshade," the ebullient "Earth Dance," and the surprisingly pretty and delicate "Black Moon." (Goodsall's "Access to Data" is also awesome!) As always, the band leads the listener down many winding, weird and wondrous paths, with complex rhythms and time signatures. Throughout it all, their sense of timing is impeccable -- these are strictly top-shelf musicians!
But be warned: Brand X is typically not what I would classify as progressive rock. (There are, however, some genuine "prog" moments on the much more commercial -- and hence aptly named -- PRODUCT.) It's much more in the "jazz-fusion" vein: (generally) instrumental, electric, and often frantic. Thus, their music can be challenging and "difficult" for the uninitiated. (When I first heard them as a teen, I didn't much care for them, and dismissed their sound as "organized jamming." With age and more exposure to other forms of music, however, I finally "got" the band, and learned to love them!)
That said, if you have an open musical mind, and room for diversity in your collection, you'll likely grow to really appreciate this fabulously-talented band's unique, eclectic "brand" of music, and MASQUES would be a fine way to commence (or augment) your Brand X collection! Far out!
Peter - Progarchives

By the their fourth album, the inspiration was starting to fail or at least to wane and the first line-up changes arrive, but the new guys were bringing not many new ideas either. Gone are Collins (apparently not a permanent thing) and Lumley although aptly replaced respectively by Bergi (ex-Al DiMeola and Hall & Oates) and Robinson (ex-Quartemass), even if it obvious the former doesn't match Phil. Another exotic (shall we say Saharian) artwork graces the album's cover, but it's not indicative of the music's direction.
Apart from Collins' temporary absence, (thus handing over the group's direction to Goodsall and Jones), the Corea/RTF influence (courtesy of the departed Lumley) are also gone, We're still in the line of the usual BX compositions, but one gets the feeling that the band meanders in between ideas (ranging from ECM Jazz albums to Weather Report), afraid (or unable) to expand on them other than by excessive virtuosity/dexterity/showmanship (select two out of three and scrap the remaining one) at the expense of the musical interest. Morris pert gets the lion's share of the composition credits. The first side I find particularly boring, if not irritatingly boring, Pertt not being able to hide Bergi's neutral drumming (the latter will go on to rainbow, BOC and Meatloaf). The flipside does fare better as Goodsall's closing track Mayfield Lodge is the better one along with the to-die-for Access To Data.
What I mean by this is that I really must be concentrate on listening to this album (to stop my mind from wandering around), something that did not happen with the previous three albums but this will occur more often with each successive albums. While Masques is still considered a good classic album?. I personally can't wait for the next album and the "return to normal".
Sean Trane - ProgArchives

"Masques" is the band's most accessible album yet, favoring upbeat fusion music that recalls the work of "Return to Forever" in more than a few spots. The change in sound can be traced to the changes in the lineup: keyboardist Peter Robinson (who had played with RTF's Stanley Clarke and Lenny White as well as with Pert in the short-lived Suntreader) is similar in style to Chick Corea, incorporating Latin and funk with an ear toward the spacier side of progressive rock; new drummer Chuck Burgi lays down solid riffs that favor the rock side of the jazz/rock split; and Morris Pert increases his role in the band as a songwriter and increases his percussive arsenal to include melodic instruments. Original member Robin Lumley assumes production duties, and his effect combined with Jones and Goodsall does bring "Masques" back to the sound of their first album, "Unorthodox Behaviour".
Although Jones has softened his string attack, "The Poke", "Black Moon", "Access to Data" and "The Ghost of Mayfield Lodge" move with the fluid grace of their debut's most memorable moments. John Goodsall contributes only one track, "Access to Data", highlighted by some terse and tart guitar leads, while Pert (heretofore a non-contributor) provides three, including the epic and triumphant "Deadly Nightshade" and their deepest foray into Latin fusion, "Earth Dance". As for the title track, it retains the atmospheric and Eastern feel of their last two records while providing Jones and Pert with some room to experiment.
"Masques" may well be the band's best fusion album, at least in terms of memorable melodies. Purists might argue that the absence of COLLINS and (audibly, at least) Lumley diminishes the band's achievement, but the subsequent shift in strategy (however small) does produce a fusion record as meritorious as any they've recorded.
daveconn - ProgArchives

Brand X's fourth album is an uneven affair. Where Moroccan Roll and Livestock had a highly individual take on fusion, this album saw them starting to settle into slick, laid back but rather anonymous jazz rock grooves. There are some flashes of inspiration, but a good half of the album is rather forgettable.
The better moments are largely down to Morris Pert, who contributes 3 compositions which account for about half of the album's playing time. Black Moon is a rather generic piece, but the lengthy Deadly Nightshade takes some interesting twists and turns and has some of the urgency of earlier recordings. John Goodsall turns in some terriffic lead guitar and Morris Pert gets busy with some highly imaginative tuned percussion. The use of marimba recalls Pierre Moerlen's Gong circa Gazeuse, and Pert and Burgi form an interesting partnership. Earthdance is full of dense, complex rhythms and at times recalls Return to Forever or post Caravanserai Santana. The title track was co-written by Percy Jones and new boy Peter Robinson, and is another interesting piece which recalls some of the quieter moments on Eno's Before and After Science (which Jones also played on). The remainder of the album is always well played and beautifully produced, and fans of Percy Jones' bass work will find much to enjoy, but there's a lot of soporific noodling padding it out.
There's enough good material (just) to make this album worth owning, but it marked the beginning of the end for Brand X. If you're new to them, try Livestock or Moroccan Roll first.
Syzygy - ProgArchives

BRAND X's third album came with some changes as we get a new drummer (Bergi) and keyboardisit (Robinson) as Collins and Lumley have left the fold. I did find this album a step down from the first two but it's really the three long tracks that save this record for me. I find the four shorter tracks to be a little too light-weight for my tastes.
"The Poke" is uptempo and intricate. Impressive stuff really. I like when it settles some before 2 minutes. It kicks back in before 3 1/2 minutes and the drumming here is great. "Masques" is pastoral with piano early. Then different sounds start coming and going but it's still minimalistic.
"Black Moon" is a catchy mid-paced tune. "Deadly Nightshade" is a top three. I like when it changes 1 1/2 minutes in with deep bass and drums leading the way.Guitar too then the tempo picks up before 2 1/2 minutes.The guitar and drums lead 5 minutes in then Goodsall starts to shred after 6 minutes. It settles back late but it's still powerful.
"Earth Dance" turns intricate with percussion a minute in. It fades out to end it. "Access To Data" is a top three. Much better than the last tune, much more dynamic. A nice bass / drum section 2 minutes in.The guitar joins in sounding great.This continues to the end.Killer stuff.
"The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge" is my final top three.The sound builds. Piano before 2 1/2 minutes with crisp drumming.The guitar leads before 3 1/2 minutes, nice bass too.Then drums come to the fore. A calm follows with intricate sounds. It starts to pick up after 5 1/2 minutes then turns powerful before 6 1/2 minutes.It's lighter again a minute later then a calm ends it.
A low 4 stars but impressive enough to recommend.
Mellotron Storm - Progarchives
  

3 comentarios:

  1. Download (flac + cue + logs + scans):
    http://pastebin.com/uUUU25rc

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  2. Gracias Kike por tu reseña! Ya estamos esperando la siguiente :)

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  3. Bonus Track!!!!!!
    Cortesía de Kike, que nos manda una pista lossless de un concierto de Brand X del 79 con Phil Collins en los tambores
    http://pastebin.com/Mx1ctU6z

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