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viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2016

miRthkon - Vehicle (2009)


Un impresionante R.I.O. muy ecléctico mezcla de Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Frank Zappa y Samla Mammas Manna que viene directamente desde California para destrozarles la mente: "una mezcla inimitable de rock progresivo peculiar, jazz de vanguardia, la abstracción clásica contemporánea, thrash metal, y una accesibilidad de pop misterioso que desafía la categorización" en un proyecto donde tampoco falta el humor o la crítica social. Un tremendo disco pero nada fácil de digerir, si lo que buscás son molodiosas melodías y no te gustan los sonidos que te incomoden, ni pases por aquí, pero si por el contrario lo tuyo es la experimentación, la vanguardia, los desarrollos hacia caminos poco recorridos y el vuelo musical hacia la estratósfera de la imaginación, entonces esto será un festín. ¡Pedazo de disco!!!.
Y mientras digo esto estoy pensando en hacer una saga de este raro R.I.O. metalizado y teatral que es un producto casi propio de EEUU, así que vamos a preparar una saga con Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Fantomas, e Idiot Flesh, los que representan, como dijo Mike Patton, el grano en el culo del rock... ¡Y que grano!


Artista: miRthkon
Álbum: Vehicle
Año: 2009
Género: RIO / Avant-Prog
Duración: 66:09
Nacionalidad: EEUU


Lista de Temas:
1. Congratulations
2. Flashbulb Of Orgasm
3. Banana
4. Automaton
5. Zhagunk
6. Kharms Way
7. Daddylonglegz
8. Coven Of Coyotes
9. Johnny Yen
10. Bappsciliophuaega
11. Trishna
12. Honey Key Jamboree
13. The Black Fruit
14. Camelopardalis

Alineación:
- Wally Scharold / electric and acoustic guitars, singing, speech, keyboards, percussion, miRthkon virtual orchestra, sound design, conceptual and narrative design, art direction
- Rob Pumpelly / electric and acoustic guitars, clapping
- Nat Hawkes / Bass Guitar, Vocals
- Carolyn Walter / piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax
- Jamison Smeltz / alto sax, baritone sax, (tracks 3,4,6,8,10,12-14)
- Matt Guggemos / Drums- tracks 8, 12-14 (and some on track 4)
- Jarred McAdams / conceptual and narrative design, text and literary adaptation, speech, sound design, video
Guests:
Dickie Ogden / Drums (tracks 2-3, most of 4, 5-7, 9-11)
Dave Raminick / Alto sax (tracks 5,7, 9, 11)
Aram Shelton / Alto sax- track 2, Eb Clarinet- track 6
Matt Lebofsky / Piano- track 6, Rhodes- track 10, fearless bass sub!
Nick Peck / Hammond b3 organ- track 14
Danny Shorago / Kleighroi vocals- track 8
Robin Reynolds / Hive mind vocals- track 12






Un disco de locos, la mejor mezcla de free-jazz, algo de atonalidades del R.I.O., mucho rock, algo de metal, a veces ritmos bailables, bronces por doquier, algún solo virtuoso, hummm, tantas cosas tiene! hay que escucharlo con atención porque a cada segundo pasan miles de cosas en este disco, no es posible enumerarlas a todas. Un laburo enorme.
Todo parecería, según lo que vamos contando hasta aquí, algo pareceido a la música de los finlandeses Almaailman Vasarat, esa emocionante mezcla de vanguardia prog, folk, metal y humor, pero aunque parezca eso de primera vista, la verdad es que las dos bandas mencionadas no tienen nada que ver. Tampoco tienen nada que ver con el Avant-garde Metal de Diablo Swing Orchestra y cosas parecidas, esto encara más decididamente hacia el R.I.O.


miRthkon son orignarios de California, EEUU y se autodescriben como "una mezcla inimitable de rock progresivo peculiar, jazz de vanguardia, la abstracción clásica contemporánea, thrash metal, y una accesibilidad de pop misterioso que desafía la categorización". En el 2006 habían lanzado un EP pero su primer álbum de estudio es Vehicle, y me parece la revelación musical más importante e interesante del año en curso, por lo menos en lo que se refiere a nuevas bandas. miRrthkon se nutre del sonido de músicos contemporáneos como Akinetón Retard, Panzerballett, John Zorn y además emplean en algunas ocasiones, riffs potentes de thrash metal y buena interacción con los saxofones. De vez en cuando también se deja ver su lado humorístico, al igual que artistas y bandas como Frank Zappa o French TV. Sumado al componente jazzístico-metalero que está presente en muchas bandas actuales, miRthkon también le inserta inteligentemente sonoridades y composiciones del Avant Prog o RIO, apoyándose en instrumentos como la flauta y el clarinete. Definitivamente no es un disco accesible, tiene muchos cambios, ritmos complejos y sonidos inconsistentes. Por el contrario de las bandas de las que toman sus influencias, miRthkon decide no apoyarse en melodías muy marcadas, ni prestarle mucha atención a virtuosismos o solos (aunque si los hay). En lugar de esto, encontramos una música que apuesta por una fusión de estilos, y composiciones de diversas naturalezas, que aportan una variedad llena de contrastes, pero siempre contemplando un alto grado de experimentación. Aparentemente Vehicle es un disco conceptual con narrativa, pero al no encontrar las líricas, no estoy seguro sobre qué trata exactamente. Pero ya el hecho de girar en torno a un tema central, convierte a éste debút en un álbum aún más interesante y que dará bastante de que hablar, tanto en el rubro temático como musical.
Master Kob Legendario

La banda pareciera que quisiera ocupar un espacio que está entre el metal progresivo y el jazz-prog de vanguardia, dos géneros que no son inmediatamente cerca uno de otro, y que no tienen muchos puntos en común, ni los fans de uno de esos estilos son muy aficionados al otro, y aún así tenemos a una banda tratando sumergirse no sólo en ambos géneros sino que combinando los extremos de los dos estilos.



Quizás el punto más cercano a lo que hacen estos tipos que yo recuerde es el trabajo de Mike Patton en diversas oportunidades (recuerdo algunas cosas muy locas de Fantomas), aunque pensándolo bien también los tenemos a los paisanos de Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (ya dije que tenía que traer esa banda al blog cabezón) que se desenvuelven en esta zona, y ahora que caigo en cuenta esta banda es, más que una gran influencia, es LA influencia en la música de miRthkon. La otra gran influencia se la achacaría a Frank Zappa por su experimentación por la veta jazzistica, y por último los relacionaría con bandas como Samla Mammas Manna por su dinamismo, virtuosismo y sentido del humor.
Aquí se los dejo para que lo conozcan y tal vez disfrutes, pero si lo escuchás y te va al onda loca del R.I.O. desaforado, seguro esto te encantará.
Vamos con los comentarios en inglés, el resto les toca a ustedes.
Discazo...

The first I've heard of miRthkon was through their self-released their EP The Illusion Of Joy in 2006, which was a pleasant surprise. Here we have the band's first full length, Vehicle, released through the Italian label Alt-r0ck, responsible for other wonderful albums by bands such as Yugen and Rational Diet.
Their brand of avant-rock with jazzy and big-band-like interludes, backed by metal-ish sounding guitars and reed instruments of sorts is a delight to listen to, as they go nuts and move progressively forward in an abstract ?like manner. Listen to Flashbulb of Orgasm and its opening charging assault and you'll get the idea of what's to expect in the next 69 minutes. Listening to this brought to my mind, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, Miriodor and Invincible Czars, to give you a rough estimate of what to expect.
The mood is upbeat, cheerful, silly and jolly. They seem to have a great time playing. But that is not to mean this is just a bunch of simplistic songs, not at all. Intricacy and complexity are abundant in their music and composition style. Their mixing of their wacky sense of humour, their lively sounding music and the high level of musicianship and song-writing is remarkable in my opinion.
Humour is prevalent in their music and lyrics. Just go over the lovely booklet with its drawings and weird funny text and read the song titles. The artwork and overall layout are superb and fun to go over as you listen to the album.
The album is quite dense, though rich sounding. But one must be prepared for over an hour-long ride in the miRthkon Vehicle (more like a rollercoaster, in fact). It is in fact an exhausting listen, though a fun one. The sax-lead tracks such as Autmoaton and Zhagunk, are heavy due to the guitars backing up with their crunchy riffs and powerful bass and drums playing. Which is why this can be tiresome at some point. It's the playful nature of tracks like Kharms Way that brings in a deserved relief, though it too is infused with the high level dynamics of the heavy sounding guitars. But the clarinets present a surprising "opposition" to the heavy nature of the music and add a frivolous element to the overall sound, a cheeky yet seriously determined attitude. Daddylonglegz is another example of this lighthearted approach, lead by the reed instruments, with an excellent rhythm section performance (which is true for the rest of the album as well, but here it really shines). The heaviness level here is a little lower, though still very much present and making a strong appearance throughout the track.
Some tracks present a quirky ending, that is mostly unrelated to what happened before and those serve as intermediates between songs, instead of these being separate short tracks the people usually refer to as fillers.
The vocals for some reason remind me of Phish's style in songs where they narrate rather than sing. In the tracks with vocals such as Flashbulb of Orgasm and Coven Of Coyotes, it enhances the open and smooth atmosphere of the music and contraficts the heavy guitar sound.
The mingling of heavy and light elements and instruments here is done efficiently and culminates in an appealing overall sound.
In the end, you feel like you've just mounted off a high-speed and intense rollercoaster and need some time to relax, catch your breath and maybe take a calmer ride now.
One will need several well focused listens to this album to be able to absorb it all and make out all the various tracks which can at times assimilate into one messy insane piece.
I would have added some interludes or arranged the tracks differently as to avoid the dense feeling one can get when listening, for example to the three consecutive tracks like Johnny Yen, Bappsciliophuaega and Trishna. It can get too much at that point. Each track is fun to listen to and is in itself a great piece of music, but together they can succumb an army of barbarians with their sheer intensity levels.
They could have put Honey Key Jamoboree in between them for example, with its groovy and lighter atmosphere and sound and cool guitar solo and even pop-sounding section.
Black Fruit also presents a deviation from the theme that lies in the heart of this album with its lesser intensity and somewhat abstract interlude and noisy guitars. Overall, this shows the variety of miRthkon's output.
It might actually be a good idea to listen to this in parts; divide the album in two and focus on each individually and you'll be able to learn to "operate" this Vehicle quickly.
If you enjoy bands and musicians such as Mr. Bungle, Miriodor, Samla Mammas Manna, Invincible Czars, Calle Debauche, Frank Zappa et al. you should give this a listen.
Assaf Vestin

Music listeners need to feel good about the choices they make with their hard-earned entertainment dollars, dammit! Thankfully, Oakland, CA-based avant-proggers miRthkon realize this, and so begin their first full-length CD with "Congratulations," a spoken word exercise that elucidates (over the swells of inspirational-sounding harp and "the miRthkon virtual orchestra") the wonders of this particular Vehicle, depicted in the cover art as a quite impressive '30s-vintage classic car. The clearly disturbed narrator promises a fantabulous array of features -- up to and including revelation of the secrets of the universe -- with increasing passion that builds to a lunatic frenzy as the "orchestral" accompaniment becomes more dissonant, all over the course of about a minute. Now that miRthkon have your full attention, can they deliver on their extravagant promises over the next hour or so? Well, perhaps Ultimate Truth is buried in the music or the extensive and sometimes cryptic CD booklet, but a wild ride is in store at the very least, ranging from the catchy chicken scratch funk-metal of "Daddylonglegz," one of the most tuneful tracks (and one of four that also appeared in one form or another on miRthkon's debut EP, The Illusion of Joy), to the concluding "Camelopardalis," where the band actually finds a rolling groove and sticks with it, underpinning some outré jazz blowing from altoist Jamison Smeltz.
Vehicle arrives on the Italian AltrOck label, whose Eurocentric, Rock in Opposition-influenced artist roster includes guitarists like Francesco Zago (Yugen), Marco Marzo (Accordo dei Contrari), and Maxim Velvetow (Rational Diet), making an American guitarist named Wally, the leader of miRthkon, seem like a bit of an outlier. But Wally Scharold is a graduate of Oakland's Mills College, where the music department head is Fred Frith -- a former member of Britain's Henry Cow during the 1970s and arguably the preeminent first-wave RIO guitarist -- and it would be hard to imagine Scharold and Frith not crossing paths, or Frith not influencing young Wally. And, in fact, Scharold and company appear to have an RIO sensibility, with the reeds of Smeltz and Carolyn Walter seemingly drawing inspiration from the Italian Picchio dal Pozzo, Belgian Aksak Maboul, and Swiss Débile Menthol, not to mention Henry Cow, of course ("The Black Fruit" is an extended dose of multi-sectioned astringent program music rivaling anything on Western Culture). The rhythm section of bassist Nat Hawkes and drummer Matt Guggemos is tighter than tight, while Scharold and second guitarist/composer Rob Pumpelly's axes are often pure brain-shattering metal, a particularly crunchy contrast to Walter's clarinet, suggesting Tony Iommi and Benny Goodman somehow tossed onto the same stage together. Meanwhile, miRthkon alumni and honorary members on drums, reeds, keys, and vocals match the size of the core lineup, while Jarred McAdams is credited as a full-fledged bandmember, with crucial items like "conceptual and narrative design" under his clearly oddball purview.
And then there is the obvious Zappa influence, heard in melodies, vocal arrangements, and reed instrument harmonies -- not to mention the guitar solo cutting loose during "Honey Key Jamboree." MiRthkon seem to love Frank's attitude as well: the vocals scattered throughout are delivered Zappa (or maybe even Firesign Theatre) style, with spoken voice-overs (from Wally himself) like the opening "Congratulations" and a truly hilarious interlude in "The Black Fruit," suggesting a soothing corporate spokesperson injected with truth serum, as well as harmony singing in the choruses and refrains of funked-up offerings like "Coven of Coyotes" and the aforementioned "Honey Key Jamboree" -- although "Banana"'s vocals coupled with the tune's occasionally prominent near folkish acoustic guitar riffing might bring Gentle Giant to mind. The occasional Zappa-isms ultimately get caught up in heavier, chunkier currents, however, with so many uninterrupted stops and starts on "Zhagunk" that the pummeling music maintains a sort of crazed flow -- perhaps akin to the way someone falling down a flight of stairs would "flow" from the top of the stairs to the bottom. Congratulations everybody!
Dave Lynch

Hailing from Oakland, USA, MIRTHKON is a sextet (plus Jarred McAdams, their conceptual collaborator). Though the idea for a band by this name had been in his mind since the late Nineties, multi-instrumentalist Wally Scharold finally managed to put a real outfit together in 2005, after his meeting with guitarist Rob Pumpelly. “Vehicle” is miRthkon’s debut album, released in May 2009; an EP titled “The Joy of Illusion” (which included four tracks all featured on “Vehicle”) had come out in 2006. Scharold and McAdams (who is a composer, writer and video artist) have also been working on an elaborate mythology on which the whole of miRthkon’s output is based.
The Bay Area of Northern California, though for over forty years a hotbed of activity for rock music in its many incarnations, has never been noted for its wealth of Avant-prog bands. However, miRthkon and their “Vehicle” seem bent on dispelling any such preconceptions regarding the concentration (or lack thereof) of any given musical tendencies. A big-sounding, in-your-face outfit, adopting the familiar format of RIO/Avant ensembles (a core plus a number of guests and collaborators), they have immediately established themselves as a name to watch with one of the most impressive debut albums of the past two decades (and possibly longer). True, the idea of basing a band’s musical output on a mythology of sorts is not new, with Gong and Magma being the most familiar examples. Indeed, “Vehicle” packs a punch comparable at least to the debut album of Christian Vander’s legendary band. Unlike countless releases by more traditional prog outfits, it offers a sharply different twist on that old, tired warhorse of progressive rock, the concept album – one centered around the titular vintage car shown on the cover and introduced in suitably bombastic, circus-like fashion by opener Congratulations. Though the story line is not exactly clear, the quirky titles and weird artwork, as well as the infectious silliness of the strongly Zappa-influenced vocal parts, point to a clearly satirical component underlying the apparent jollity of the whole. miRthkon’s music could be effectively described as a heady cocktail made with very diverse, apparently incompatible ingredients. The usual RIO/Avant elements of experimentation and textural build-up find themselves side by side with crushing heavy metal riffs, big-band bombast, elegant jazzy passages, pneumatic funky rhythms, and even some jam-band-like improvisation – often within the same track. Unlike other bands belonging to the same genre (including some of their AltrOck label mates), there is nothing understated about miRthkon. In time-honored prog tradition, they can be as head-spinningly excessive as the likes of ELP of The Mars Volta, and I mean that as a compliment. The individual musicians push their instruments to the limit, producing thick, dense amounts of sound that can be somewhat hard to take in at one sitting. On account of the above-mentioned characteristics, describing any of the tracks in detail amounts to a next to impossible task. As already hinted, the Zappa influences are strongest in the vocal tracks like Banana and, especially, Honey Key Jamboree whose extended guitar solo could have easily fit in on an album like “Apostrophe”, but also in instrumentals like Daddylonglegz, a cheerful, funky mid-tempo with a nicely meaty bass line and expressive use of sax and clarinet. All these tracks have a higher than average melodic content, the music flowing along in an eminently listener-friendly way. At the other end of the spectrum we find textbook examples of Avant-Prog such as the darkly atmospheric The Black Fruit and the unbridled chaos of the second half of Camelopardalis, where all the instruments seem to be ‘talking’ at the same time, coming and going as they see fit. On the other hand, the metal component of miRthkon’s sound is especially evident in Flashbulb of Orgasms, a sort of statement of intent strategically placed at the beginning of the album, featuring some absolutely insane drumming and hysterical clarinet, and even more so in the grandiose, bombastic Zhagunk, where the sax bursts and the crunching guitar riffs seem to be conducting a dialogue with each other. Knowing my often critical stance towards excessively long albums, my readers will probably be surprised to see me award the top rating to an almost 70-minute disc. In fact, even if the music showcased on “Vehicle” is not always easily digestible, and some sort of weariness can set in at the end of an intensive listening session, its sheer power and undeniable quality are deserving of the highest recognition. miRthkon’s eclecticism, their creative re-elaboration of so many diverse influences, and – last but not least – the strong undercurrent of humor running through the album clearly indicate a band with an authentically progressive mindset who are serious about their music without appearing to take themselves too seriously.
Conclusion. Throwing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into the mix, “Vehicle” is not for the faint-hearted, though it will surely turn out to be an enormously satisfying listen for those willing to brave this 70-minute rollercoaster ride of an album. Needless to say, this is highly recommended to lovers of truly progressive rock, especially those who appreciate a sizable helping of humor alongside with the obligatory technical fireworks: Definitely one of the best releases of 2009.
Raffaella Berry

Some of the most inventive new music is coming from "unknown" bands in the greater San Francisco region. Through my connections with Fractal I have been a fan of Headshear for many years and now MirthKon have released their first full CD, "Vehicle". Fractal and Headshear have played many gigs together, and MirthKon founder Wally Scharold played in Headshear for a while a few years ago.
I have seen MirthKon play a few times, and they are currently on a west coast tour, having recently played SF and Berkeley, they are in Hollywood on June 5th and San Diego on June 6th, then Chico on June 18th, and Eugene and Portland on June 19th and 20th. They have a conceptual video extravaganza to enhance the musical experience at live shows.
So, what do they sound like? Well, lets start by saying that if you like Frank Zappa, and wished he was still putting out new music, then you will be very happy to take this Vehicle for a ride to Joe's Garage. Its impossible to really say what Zappa sounds like, since the mix of styles and influences is so diverse, but MirthKon have some of the same elements, along with their own unique character. There is a strong dose of humor, very complex rhythms and time signatures, some jazzy vocals on a few tracks, but a largely instrumental mix that combines clarinet and saxophone with guitar, bass and drums
They dub it "The first full-length CD from the Bay Area's most hyphenated thrash-jazz-prog-chamber-core ensemble", which probably doesn't help much. I have been happily playing it over and over again in my car for the last week, expand your musical horizons and support local music by getting your own copy....
Adrian Cockcroft




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