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viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone II (2014)


El maravilloso álbum de la cuervita divina, tapa muy atractiva para un disco que muchos califican como inmejorable. Ya hemos presentado a este conjunto de buenos músicos amateurs que se reunieron con músicos de bastante trayectoria (entre ellos el cantante de la banda chilena Aisles) y lanzaron este gran trabajo independiente pero muy profesional de rock progresivo conceptual, con matices folk y un sonido totalmente retro. Gran arte gráfico para un disco que viene con las mejors recomendaciones, y no es para menos. Lo verán después que escuchen sus épicos 80 minutos que pasan volando.

Artista: Corvus Stone
Álbum: Corvus Stone II
Año: 2014
Género: ---
Duración: 79:06
Nacionalidad: Multinacional


Lista de Temas:
1. The Simple Life
2. Early Morning Call
3. Boots for Hire
4. Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa
5. Purple Stone
6. A Stoned Crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Rat
7. Lisa Has a Cigar
8. Mr Cha Cha
9. Dark Tower
10. Scandinavians in Mexico
11. Mystery Man
12. Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla tuonnempana)
13. Uncle Schunkle
14. Eternal Universe
15. Moaning Lisa
16. Campfire (Tulen Luona)

Alineación:
- Colin Tench / guitarras
- Petri Lemmy Lindström / bajo
- Pasi Koivu / teclados
- Robert Wolff / batería y percusión
Músicos invitados:
Phil Naro (Duckfarben, Talas, DDrive, Backhand) / voz en 1 y 14
Sean Filkins (ex Big Big Train, solo) / coros en 2, voz en 10 y 15
Stef Flaming (Murky Red, Transmission Rails) / voz en 3
Blake Carpenter (The Minstrel’s Ghost, Voice of the Ensalved) / primera voz en 5, voz en 9 y 11
Trimo Rautiainen (Trio Niskalaukaus, solo) / voz en 12 y 16
Andrés Guazzelli (solo, CTP) / segunda voz en 5
Germán Vergara (Aisles) / segunda voz en 15
Matti Kervinen (Pax Romana)
Víctor Tassone (Unified Past, Andy John Bradford’s Oceans 5) / percusión





Como sugiere su título, 'II' es el segundo álbum de la banda multinacional Corvus Stone (compuesto por un inglés, un yanky y dos finlandeses). Con su feliz mezcla de varias influencias musicales, generan un explosivo cóctel de colores y sonidos, tan diverso como el origen de los músicos involucrados. Mientras que la música en general está en el campo del rock progresivo, es fácil notar que la banda no se preocupa por las etiquetas, sino que el "rock progresivo" es un medio para sublimar sus influencias y no un fin en sí mismo: en el disco oirás pop, ecos barrocos, tramas pastorales, blues-rock, rock'n'roll y hard rock (hasta con un pequeño guiño a "Highway star" de Deep Purple, influencias orientales y árabes, música folcklórica, destacada por el uso del finlandés en alguna letras, ritmos latinos, interludios neoclásicos, jazz-funk, vals, flamenco... y obviamente, también puro rock progresivo.
Por supuesto, un experto en marketing diría que no se puede construir el éxito de un disco mediante la publicación de álbumes de 80 minutos de música compleja totalmente original en una época de baja atención y entretenimiento zonzo. Es un movimiento y una política arriesgada, pero... ¿qué sería el Rock Progresivo sin riesgo? si es justamente el único elemento que lo puede definir: su temeridad y valentía para asumir riesgos. No sé si el disco habrá tenido éxito en referencias monetarias, pero definitivamente tuvo mucho éxito artístico y el reconocimiento de la comunidad más exquisita y riguroso de todo el rock.
Lo que más aprecio de este disco es su capacidad para absorber tantas influencias sin sonar en absoluto como un derivado. En otras palabras: su música le recordará más de una canción de rock progresivo clásico, sin sonar como cualquiera de ellos.
Eso como introducción, pero lean un poco esta reseña como para adentrarse en el disco...


Calificación: 10/10
Con esto de la globalización hay dos problemas. Por un lado la enorme cantidad de posibilidades para mostrar un producto y la proliferación de plataformas de escucha en tiempo real lo que, en la mayor parte de los casos, está provocando una caída de la calidad musical. Pero, por otro lado, y es el que más me preocupa, es que muchas de esas músicas pasarán inadvertidas y muchas obras maestra dormirán el sueño de los justos. Es aquí donde entra en juego el factor de la promoción, que al no estar respaldada por una gran firma, se hace de forma local, eso sí con mucha ilusión, pero no llega a traspasar las fronteras de este mundo en el que tan pronto como algo sale se queda desfasado. Pero también entra la labor de los periodistas y comunicadores, independientes en su mayor parte, que han de luchar contra viento y marea, para dar a conocer ese producto, que en el mejor de los casos tiene una fecha de caducidad que no llega más allá de un par de meses. Algo totalmente injusto.
Después de esta larga introducción, vayamos a lo que es este caso de este grupo multinacional afincado en Finlandia. Corvus Stone es el ejemplo más claro, de lo que a unos músicos de asombroso talento, pero sin apenas promoción, a excepción de los medios relacionados y especializados, les puede suceder: caer en el olvido. Y no es justo, porque en este segundo esfuerzo de esta excepcional banda lo que se nos presenta es una auténtica Obra Maestra, con mayúsculas, sí, de rock progresivo en su vertiente más clásica, llena de influencias de los géneros maestros (blues, rock, space…) que rodean al progresivo.
Corvus Stone II es un disco muy trabajado, en el que se pueden escuchar influencias de Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Yes, Santana, Mike Oldfield, del rock andaluz incluso, Deep Purple y de un sinfín de esencias musicales que la agrupación no desdeña en ningún momento en aras de un resultado final de enorme calidad. Temas musicalmente construidos desde la complejidad musical, sin llegar a ser pretenciosos, aunque magníficamente elaborados desde un profundo sentimiento, no exento de técnica, que los convierte automáticamente en maravillosos.
Si este disco se me hubiera presentado sin nombre ni edad, yo, inmediatamente, habría pensado que se trataba de un oscuro grupo progresivo de la primera mitad de los setenta que por algún motivo arcano había permanecido oculto. Y es que ese sonido totalmente retro, que su guitarrista Colin Tench me asegura no ser premeditado (el asunto les mana de esta forma natural), hace que uno piense en la década dorada del género y se le haga la boca agua. Pero, no. Afortunadamente es un grupo contemporáneo que puedo, podemos, disfrutar en su esplendor temporal sin tener que recurrir a compras extraordinarias o subastas increíbles para adquirir la joya que supone poseerlo. Una joya engastada en sutilezas rock, folk e, insisto, en retro progresivo que se eleva hasta alturas insospechadas hoy en día.
Complejos arreglos, exquisiteces vocales llenas de armonías, cuasi hippies, guitarras excelentes, planeadoras, emotivas y delicadamente fluidas y llenas de sentimiento, inteligentes recorridos a los teclados, con solos sin exhuberancia pero llenos de hermosura, y una sección rítmica compleja y profesional que pulsa la música de Corvus Stone desde su propio corazón. Todo aderezado con pulcritud, emotividad desorbitada, un gran sentido del humor (impagables esas voces en español) y, por encima de todo, honradez, honestidad que tanta falta hace en el género en la actualidad… En fin, emoción a raudales y calidad desbordante en este trabajo que, sin duda, se convierte en uno de los imprescindibles no ya de este año, ni de este siglo o del pasado, sino de toda la Historia del Rock Progresivo.
Yo no me lo pensaría dos veces. Im-pres-cin-di-ble.
Jose Luis Martínez











Y si bien las influencias aquí son muchas, variadas y en ningún caso tratan de disimularlas, el resultado no es una imitación de ningún tipo, equilibrando muy bien los sonidos familiares con lo novedoso, realmente suenan como nadie, tienen un estilo muy personal en su eclecticismo, y sus canciones no son demasiado predecibles, estando las sorpresas a orden del día en un caleidoscopio fabuloso de sonidos que te lleva a un paseo a través de varios lugares y estados de ánimo, altos o bajos pero nunca aburridos. Con una excelente producción y un equipo de músicos brillantes, prueban que también son compositores y arreglistas excepcionales.


La banda tiene mucha "muñeca" al dar forma a cada canción una forma especial en base a melodías agradables y muchos giros sorprendentes, produciendo un resultado muy singular, al que se añade la utilización de varios idiomas (inglés, finlandés, español y quizás algún otro que no logro reconocer) mientras que las canciones son muy diferentes de una de otra y estre todas cubren muchos estilos musicales. La instrumentación es rica y los numerosos estilos vocales agrega siempre algo nuevo a cada tramo de tan largo disco, con una sorpresa a cada paso.


Para que tengan en cuenta, copio algunos comentarios en inglés, y tomen en cuenta la calificación que toda esta gente le ha dado a este disco, como para darse cuenta de su calidad. Y hay más de estos elogiosos reviews en Progarchives donde cosecharon un puntaje realmente envidiable para cualquier banda profesional.

This is a much more mature and cohesive band effort than CS's debut album--with an entertaining (and often humorous!) concept entwining the collective of 16 songs. These very skilled musicians are showing a greater familiarity with each other and nice collaborative blend in their music than on their previous effort (in which many of the songs seemed contrived to give more flash and shine to individuals and to solos). The brief instrumental interludes between some of the longer songs are nice. My only complaint with this album is that when the occasional all-out rock song ("Purple Stone") or passage rears its head it takes the feel of the album, in my opinion, away from that of progressive rock and instead into a more "classic" "southern" rock zone. Once again I have to single out axeman Colin Tench: the man can play! And he seems to be a master of any style he chooses! Check out "Uncle Schunkle" to get a little taste of what I mean. It's like hearing Alvin Lee, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy all in one! An astounding listening experience.
Album highlights: "Boots for Hire" (8:58) with its excellent keyboard guitar weaves, Krautrock rhythm lines, and excellent raspy vocal (kudos Staf Flaming) (9/10); the upbeat Santana-like "Scandinavians in Mexico" (5:06) (8/10); "Camelus Bactrianus" (8:42) (9/10); the extraordinary "Eternal Universe" (3:52) (10/10); the epic "Moaning Lisa" (14:08) (which feels like a tango in disguise as a waltz and has a delightfully unpredictable uptempo instrumental midsection) (8/10), and; the album's brief intro and outro. Nice variety of male vocalists--ALL quite good! Top notch recording and mixing (much better than on CSI) Kudos, Corvus Stone! You guys are gelling so well! Next album, I expect, will be your masterpiece.
4.5 / 5 stars, rated down for lack of convincing and cohesive stylistic flow within a 'concept' album.
Drew Fisher

I was approached by Colin Tench, asking me to listen to the new album by Corvus Stone and maybe review it on PA. Since I have had the great pleasure of giving Oceans 5, another of Tench's projects, a review I was more than happy to. I was fully aware that Corvus differed from Oceans 5 but I had no knowledge of just how this difference would manifest itself. Since I had no preconceptions to speak of I listened to the album with an open mind, not quite ready for just what lurked beneath the cover of the album.
Since I knew nothing, really, about the music inside I was amazed and impressed from the get go. The opening quartet of songs does not give the album away but is in itself an amazing set of songs. Pastoral, beautiful and gently flowing. 'Boots for hire', a cover apparently, opens up quite bluesy but changes direction quite a few times, going from blues to all out hard rock and ends on a choral, middle eastern note. Really impressive stuff, since it does not get the feeling of being forced. Rather it is very natural. The track 'Sneaky entrance to Lisa' is to me a perfect ending to this suite of music. Maybe I am only imagining it to be four parts of an epic work but I will cling to that notion, anyway.
The ZZ Top-ish 'Purple Stone' with it's Saxon overtones is quite refreshing but does not make my bells chime in the same way as the first four. It is a matter of taste, I suppose. It's good but I have not totally warmed to it. There is however a jamming section with organ and Tench's guitar which is really good. It does possess a certain refreshing quality, as I have stated, and kicks in like that wafer thin mint after a nice meal and that is certainly a good thing.
The pastoral and beauty returns for a spell with 'A stoned crow meets the Rusty Wolff Rat'. The very beautiful intro gives way to an almost avant garde fusion section which is energetic and engaging, before landing in a very spacious feeling. Tench's guitar and the keyboards feel like a cloud of sounds and sights.
There are a couple of really short tracks, like 'Dark tower' for instance, really deserving notice. They are like bridges or passages between the songs, guiding you through this bewildering palace of music. How these harmonize with everything else makes me marvel at the musicianship on display.
'Moaning Lisa'. Ah, now there's a track. Nigh on 15 minutes and built around a sense of renaissance music. It's like Henry Purcell or John Dowland going prog rock and really embraces the seemingly vast oceans of time and musical soundscapes. While one envisions the countryside manor house in the Elizabethan era in all it's glory, one is awakened by a mouth organ playing this furios solo. (In fact it reminds me of the mouth organ in 'The Wizard' by Black Sabbath. That is good, mind you.) It all finishes with a waltz. How do you pull that off? To Corvus Stone it is the most natural of things, it seems.
I will not go through every track, there's an incredible 16 of them, but worth noticing is the variation in styles without ever losing the sense of quality. There are no fillers. Everything from jazz, rock, hardrock, folk, latin (Scandinavians in Mexico), classical, medieval and contemporary share the same plate and it is a glorious plate. The way Corvus Stone approaches music, every song is treated as an entity of it's own, as is stated in the CD, is quite rare. That becomes very obvious when there's lyrics in finnish rather than english. That tom e is a strength and boldness.
The abundance of moods, genres and textures are really something to give them unashamed credit for. It is brave and visionary. Boldness in the shape of a CD. Despite the fact that there are such a mass of different genres I never feel lost or confused. It is a delicately ordered collection of songs moving through all and any territory without being forced or seem abnormal in the context of it all. It simply flows, glides and utilizes everything great about music and manages to capture the essence on top of that. It is an achievement and one that I think will grow into the conscience of others. I am also of the conviction that it will stand the test of time just perfectly.
So, all this praise and now for the final judgement. How to rate this album? I started out feeling that it obviously needed four stars and that would be quite enough but the more I listen, the more I hear and the more I discover I lean more and more towards five. And why shouldn't it get five stars? I cannot really come to any convincing reason as to why not. This is an extremely well written, well perfomed and solid album. On the strength of that notion I will award it five stars. I think they deserve it. 5/5
Christian Tideman

The Corvus Stone travel catalog, issue number 2 is finally out featuring the fearsome foursome of madman brit guitar whiz Colin S. Tench (I added the S, so as to smell better!), the sweet Swede bassman Petri Lindstroem, his neighbour the Suomi keys holder Pasi Koivu (a hockey family dynasty) and newbie/oldie Robert "El Lobo" Wolff, master of drums and investigative drama. The cover art is once again the domain of that illustrious Mozambican diva and prog hottie Sonia Mota, who wastes little time (or paint) in producing a sexually alluring depiction that will surely harden (harden what, Thomas?) the resolve of certain puritanical Internet censors whose mission is to eradicate any hint of naughtiness. As my friend Colin would say in his best Shakespearian tone, "HA!".
The quartet have studiously surrounded themselves (at a fair distance though) with interesting mercenary vocalists such as ex-BBT and solo War & Peace man Sean Filkins, Canada's Druckfarben vocalist Phil Naro, Phoenix prog maestro Blake Carpenter (same profession as Jesus) and adding a little spice with Red Hot Chilean German Vergara (no relation to Sofia, too bad!). Also on board causing some Argie bargy is Andres Guazzelli from lovely Buenos Aires, Lappman Timo Rautiainen (sounds like a rally race car driver, wot?) and finally the fiery former firefighter Stef Flaming , he of Murky Red. New Yorker Vic Tassone 'woo-alks his doo-og' while hitting some cymbals and some odd loose bongo. Did I mention the word travelogue earlier? Yup. Global economy, globalization and now, kids, global prog, a new sub-genre is born! Humor is a factor that is often missing from the wonderfully serious world of prog and we should all be praising the very merits that Corvus Stone bring to our genre, now that Zappa is long gone yet still dishing out releases! Laughter, giggles, smiles and chuckles are the easiest of pleasures and this somewhat insane crew certainly delivers in spades. Corvus Stone is a musical three-ring circus , loaded up with clowns, acrobats, ferocious animals (that's mostly Colin, BTW), magicians, jugglers, but no bearded lady (did I mention that Sonia is very pretty?). It's all entertainment, lest we forget!
So what's on the Corvus Stone airlines menu, you may ask? The usual wide, very eclectic variety of styles that encompass the entire prog panorama. Vegetarian, kosher, vegan and halal, oops, sorry I got carried away by my own silliness. Damn music will drive me into insanity. Which is the avowed purpose of this sophomore album. Focus, Thomas, focus. Okay = Jan Akkerman, Thijs van Leer, etc?.Loud ringing sound as Koivu takes me to the penalty box. Speaking of which, many linear critics had a hard time with Corvus Stone's debut, seemingly there are still those who want an album full of songs that are just a variation of one song. Prog is a banquet of glittering cornucopia with an endless procession of delicious dishes, tasty sauces and euphoric wines, a whirlwind adventure for the hungry prog gourmet. This time, the way more seamless delivery is very much accentuated, as the album flows with a greater sense of purpose and a heightened sense of discovery. Now, shorter tracks are united in prepping up the inevitable epic piece, and this technique is repeated a few times with great success.
The 2 minute "The Simple Life" and three minute "Early Morning Call" prepare the stage for the sensational 9 minute extravaganza "Boots For Hire". There is a fresh and breezy 'good morning'- Beatles-like mood, just to gently enter the fray, a splendid hint of mindset control. This is followed by the somewhat more technical companion, featuring some crisp playing, guitars and bass particularly chatty but still very nice and pretty. This means we are now ready for the corkscrew guitar-led sweaty blues of the streetwalking "Boots for Hire" that has the audacity of evolving into a quasi-Hawkwind vocal (thinking "Magnu"), courtesy of Stef Flaming wearing Bob Calvert's WW1 pilot gear. Good old Colin thinks he's Robin Trower (which is a very lofty compliment) as he screeches, growls, purrs and pirouettes on his abused fret board. Koivu slices off some synthesizer runs that scour the cosmos, where Wolff (get it, werewolf!) pounds like a deranged and brutal madman, while Lindstroem does some dark damage on the bass guitar.
The same cynical Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll process is rebooted for the next segment, whereby the pubescent Spanish guitar lewdness of the 31 second "Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa" (she did taste somewhat tart) is subjected to an outright parody of "Highway Star" on a track defiantly titled "Purple Stone", a three minute+ pile of raucous Machine Head (Lisa, por favor!). This coming out piece only serves to introduce some dual vocals from the Arizona woodworker and the messi Argentine gazelle. Fun! The following epic is another instrumental scorcher "A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff Rat", a platform for the players to really let the genie out of the bottle and wreak havoc musically speaking, sarcastically, infusing little winks and nods throughout (Alice Cooper, Focus, Jethro Tull, and many more). Propelled by some stellar rhythmic performances from both Petri and Robert, this is killer music.
Round three, the sultry harlot returns from powdering her nose (or somewhere else) on "Lisa has a Cigar", another nice 'inter-lewd' to announce another highpoint tune, "Mr Cha-Cha"(sounds like a Yello song title) , a rollicking instrumental that gives Colin the spotlight to fry his crispy guitar like some poor Alabama chicken, fritter and grits not far behind. Koivu sizzles in the background, putting on some finnishing (sic) touches on the whole enchilada cha-cha. For the ultra- mini "Dark Tower", Lindstroem starts doing a number on his bass ( nasty wobble) , getting juiced up for the terrific samba of "Scandinavians in Mexico" which actually does sound like a prog-rock version of Swiss techno band Yello that had rather intimate relations with Carlos Santana's axe. The tremendous Sean Filkins grasps the microphone with breezy tropical gusto and delivers a whopping performance. Phil Manzanera could not have done better (another stratospheric compliment!). The piece de resistance "Mystery Man" is sung by Blake the Carpenter, done in a very traditional Blue Oyster Cult/ Spooky Tooth-like manner, loaded up with riveting organ flurries and extended sharp guitar slashes, incredibly dense and sweltering in its delivery. The lengthy "Camelus Bactrianus" really throws the listener for a loop, as Timo Rautiainen sings in his native Finish, a language that at times could be interpreted by some as an offshoot of zeuhl. Lots of lovely vowels are swirled around within a clearly Nordic prog-folk veneer, icy synths, blustering organ, biting guitar parts and binary bass/drum attack. There is a protracted opportunity to really hammer at a specific mood and keep the pressure on, relentless.
Round four debuts with the eccentric and axe-centric "Uncle Schankle" , a classic jazz-rock fusion number where the guitar and electric piano vie for the spotlight, with Colin tearing off some serious 'Al DiMeola revisits John Goodsall' licks, Wolff doing his Tony Williams imitation as Petri carves the 'basso profundo' with butcher- like precision (Fender?). Ivoryman Koivu is so enamored with the hot Latina Lisa, that he thinks he's Chick Corea! Stop staring googly-eyed at Sonia's artwork, Pasi! Second layer is in the form of "Eternal Universe", a fine prog song extolled by the suave Canadian voice of Druckfarben's Phil Naro. Thrilling accessible tune that one can actually warble to. The set-up now is ready for the 14 minute tribute to that sexual bombshell we all now know and love, "Moaning Lisa", a singularly perfect Sean Filkins English vocal, aided by second vocalist German Vergara in spanish, evoking hints of Al Stewart in its storytelling methodology, Colin's acoustic guitar paving the way in pastoral tones. The mood gets more aggressive, the bass twirling amid the dense waltzing orchestrations, some Tullisms come into passion play, mouth organ as if led by J.Geils Band harmonica player, believe it or not his name was Magic Dick! (That's enough innuendo for today, Thomas!). Sing with me, canta con migo !
This sophomore masterpiece is laid to rest as the band brings out some marshmallows and sticks them into the reverential "Campfire", a fun time was had by all, singing a Suomi-language folk song as the aurora borealis colors the Nordic skies, on some beach near Ivalo overlooking lake Inarijärvi.
What, my review is too long? That's exactly what 'mamacita' Lisa said last night when I finally found her slightly lingerie-clad entrance. I was very very pleasantly offended by this racy recording, and somewhat grizzled by it all. Now where is that cigar, she dropped?
5/5 Sonia Motas
Thomas Szirmay

Thanks to lovely Lisa, my life will never be the same
I thought I had my life in order, that I was leading The Simple Life. Then, one day, I got an Early Morning Call, from Sonia, at the other side of the globe. She wanted to know, whether I was interested in a review copy of the new Corvus Stone album. So, I replied, what makes you think my Boots for Hire? Her reply was very simple, yet artful and musical: she send me a sample of some artwork and music, giving me a Sneaky Entrance into Lisa. So, I agreed and in a short while the CD was in the mail. I embarked in my favourite motorised vessel, the Purple Stone and sped down the highway while playing the music out loud. After a while, I stopped at a bar called A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff, where Rusty is indeed the bar tender. It's a nice, Texan style saloon that let's people be themselves. Even Lisa has a cigar there, every once in a while, in between her dates with Mr. Cha Cha, who lives in the Dark Tower. After a few drinks, some food and a good night sleep, I continued down the road, and across the border. Shortly after that, I picked up a few hitchhiking Swedes and Finns, Scandinavians in Mexico, on their way to a party. When we got there, we were received by a Mystery Man with a hump on his back - apparently suffering from a disease called Camelus Bactrianus. He welcomed us to the party, which was organised by the crazy jazz drummer Unkle Chunkle, the composer of the beautiful, philosophical masterpiece Eternal Universe. He guarded the door while I spent the night, or rather, just over 14 minutes with Moaning Lisa - rest assured, only to hear her life's story. I then accompanied her to the Campfire, where we sang songs in Finnish with all 13 Corvus Stone members until we all fell asleep.. only to be woken up by another Early Morning Call.
That is one of the many fun and musical stories I heard in Corvus Stone's 2nd album. Just like their debut, an album that contains a mix of many different musical styles, all wrapped in a progressive rock packaging - one way or another. The Simple Life for example, or Early Morning Call are material that could fit a modern release of any of the classic prog albums of the late '60s and early '70s - just imagine the two combined featuring as opening track on Days of Future Passed.
With Boots for Hire, Stoned Crow meets Rusty Wolff, Purple Stone and Mr Cha Cha, we find ourselves in guitar rock land once again, but with so many things going on that you hear something new every time you listen (although the Deep Purple sample was obvious from the start, meh). Neither of the four resembles the other, so take a few rides to really enjoy everything, would be my advice.
The drums and bass on the album are magnificent, which is pretty much laid bare in Uncle Chunkle, where the guitars play second string for a change. Master piece of the album, however, is the epic Moaning Lisa, with its two short preludes Sneaky Entrance and Lisa has a Cigar. Richie Blackmore can eat his heart out, because this is how you make Renaissance music into true progressive rock. The beginning takes us back to 17th century music, evolving into a clean 21st century electric guitar piece. Each in its own way, every track has something to add to the album, none of them is unnecessary. And all of them are created by a band that loves music as much as having fun and pulling the occasional joke. The video for Scandinavians in Mexico as well as the track itself make that very clear. A latin piece, but with so many layers of instruments that it depends completely on your mood and position relative to your speakers what you hear (or at least, that is the best way I can explain this track), a track so hot that only Mexican hot peppers still dance to it. The video for this track is a great job by Sonia Mota, who also took care of the art work for the CD and booklet, with as many things to discover as the music - and all images are real paintings, not computer images. I'm still looking for Lisa's cigar though - can't seem to find it in the booklet.
Colin Tench, as the force behind it all, shows what practising guitar since the 1980's can do, on top of the foundation laid by the bass and drums of Petri Lindström and Robert Wolff. What space is left is filled nicely by Paisi Koivu on the keyboards, with a fine list of guest musicians (mainly great singers) taking care of their part where necessary. In relation to the latter, I have to add that I admire the band for creating two consecutive albums without ever having been all in the same place at the same time.
To make this long story short: I'm a fan since the first album, now I only want to hear more.
Angelo

Prepare to take flight with Corvus Stone.
Welcome passengers to "Corvus Stone II" airways. Your cabin crew are here to ensure you have an enjoyable flight this morning. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the cabin crew consisting of Captain Colin Tench on guitars, Pasi Koivu, the whizkid on keyboards, Petri Lemmy Lindstrom, the bass guitar aficionado, and Robert Wolff, the drummer perfectionaire. That babe on the album cover is just there for looks, she's not on board. However later you will hear about lonely Lisa who smokes and moans her head off throughout the flight.
Okay put away that album cover depicting the semi clad nubile femme fatale and pay attention. Yes, I know it features exceptional artwork by Sonia Mota, and is a perfect likeness of a Samba Latino girl, but we have some things we would like to familiarize you with. Yes, some incredible progalicious music. Even if you are a regular air traveller, familiar with Corvus Stone's previous airline, we insist you take note of the following: Before we take off on this musical journey, please ensure that your seatback is in the up- right position, your earphones adjusted, your lyric sheet set up on the tray-table, and your portable electronic devices are switched off, so that you won't be disturbed from hearing some mind blowing music. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy flight. This is not prog as we know it.
The flight will begin with some 60s psychedelic counter culture music; "The Simple Life". Yes, we know it's been done before by Spinal Tap, but it worked then and it works now! Just feast your ears on those harmonies, it's as if The Beatles jumped aboard The Monkees limousine and sold their souls to 13th Floor Elevators. What a bouncy happy way to begin the morning. Guest crewman Phil Naro has a pleasant voice and the saccharine crystalline harmonies will cleanse the froth out of your ears to prepare you for the outstanding prog to come.
You are not allowed to use mobile phones, pagers, radio receivers, transmitters, or MP3's aboard the aircraft. These devices might interfere with your hearing pleasure, and the aircraft navigation instruments. However we will pump out of the speakers some amazing music such as "Early Morning Call". You will note how the instrumental is very optimistic sounding; a happy melody seguing nicely from the previous Morning call. The lead guitar tones are wonderful. The keyboard pads have that Genesis feel; bright and upbeat throughout. There are some beautiful synth sounds and piano tinkling by Koivu.
We have reached cruising altitude at this point in the flight. There are earphones for hire to hear this awesome music and more importantly we have "Boots For Hire" with lashings of lead guitar finesse, a slow tempo reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Nektar perhaps. The dreamy melody is perfect to lull you into a dream state. Then vocals enter by guest passenger Stef Flaming, a hypnotic tune with spacey lyrics "Songbird hanging in his cage, Upside down and locked in space, freeze this moment hold my breath, inside out and oh so wet." I would have preferred he sung "lost in space" but that's my fandom coming through. Suddenly the tempo quickens like a heartbeat racing, crashing drums, relentless organ and an ever present lead guitar melting the fretboards ruthlessly. The feel is broken by Egyptian sounding melodies, back to the main tune, with soaring guitars over weird estranged synths, tripping out of the atmosphere. It ends with a heart monitor beeping then it flatlines, announcing clinically dead. That's what can happen when you fly with us. In any case, this is my most beloved song on the album; an absolute masterpiece of Space Rock Bliss!
You may need to use our facilities mid flight, the bathrooms are to the rear but that does not mean you are permitted a "Sneaky Entrance In To Lisa". In this case the music actually diverts into a Flamenco guitar solo, just to remind us we are flying over Spain.
Your carry-on baggage must be stowed underneath the seat in front of you, or in the overhead bins, especially if you have on board a "Purple Stone". As we hear a V8 roar its engines and screech skidmarks up the road, a heavy rhythm crashes through. The vocals of guests Blake Carpenter and Andres Guazzelli are well executed. It features some homages to Deep Purple, you might recognise certain Purpleish moments, notably Highway Star and Burn. The organ has a familiar Jon Lord sound, so no complaints from me. It is a healthy dose of Classic Rock with some odd moments, and lyrics "everythings going wrong, looks like I don't have long, right there in front of me, running my own grand prix, my future is getting short, maybe I should abort." The lyrics are a rev head's delight, harking back to the good old classic metal Speed King or Wheels of Steel themes.
If the cabin pressure in this aircraft fails, oxygen masks in the cabin and toilets will drop automatically from the ceiling. Please remain in your seat, and listen to this insane music, "A Stoned crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Rat". How did they get on board? This may disturb some with its shimmering Hammond sound, choppy guitar riffs and soulful lead guitar playing, but its all in the name of Prog. The percussion keeps perfect meter along with the bass. The music drifts along an organ motif, returning to it and then is allowed to break free into fast paced jamming. The shades of tension and release are augmented by a unified approach to the music, where the instruments are given a chance to shine. The ending is divine with the synth foundation and spacey lead guitar embellishments.
Please note that this flight is non-smoking. Smoking is not allowed at any time, anywhere in the cabin, by anyone? unless you are having a cigar with Lisa. In this case you will have the pleasure of hearing "Lisa has a Cigar" and she is welcome to it. This excursion into piano and sparkly synths may not lift your skirts up, gentlemen but it certainly is a nice transition from the chaos.
Should the aircraft have to make an emergency landing, a command "Brace for impact, Brace for impact" will be announced then "Heads down, Heads down" shouted by "Mr Cha Cha". This adopts a nice formula of glorious glam seventies Doppler effects and chugging guitar riffs. Another instrumental with some awesome lead playing, reminding me of James Bond melody at one point and then breaking into Steve Hackett like arpeggios. The time signature switches to a steady four to the floor beat. The synths build into jagged shapes, then the rhythm locks into a hand clapping beat. There are some Cha Cha rhythms, and elegant Hammond organ sounds. Then it changes to a half time feel, jazz fusion approach, the lead guitar doesn't stop, pumping out melodious tones as the synths twinkle madly away. This is sensational music by any standards. At this point every track has been diverse and equally delightful.
We are heading into some turbulence as we approach the "Dark Tower" with very light weight guitar and tinkling ivories. The bass is free form jazz, and then Blake Carpenter returns to sing about the tower; "it is ominous, and oh so frightful, it is in its final hour." A dark sound ends the short song and then makes way for the runway; the piece de resistance.
Prepare yourself passengers as we head over Mexico for a fuel stop. While there, we will be entertained by guest artist, Sean Filkins, hot off The Big Big Train, who will perform "Scandinavians in Mexico". The Samba rhythms are a feature, the rototoms resound, there is a Santana like guitar sound, and a hint that the Black Magic Woman is lurking nearby. We hear the harmonised mantra "Aya-huasca, Aya-a-ahhhh huasca", repeated as a chant. The Latino dancers and Mexican chili performers crank it up with this foot tapping oddity; a totally diverse approach.
Should an evacuation be necessary, we ask you remove all high-heeled shoes, leave all your luggage behind, yes even that sensuous album cover, and move as quick as possible to the nearest exit, just follow "Mystery Man". Jump onto the escape slide, and hear some gorgeous acoustic Spanish style guitar and Blake Carpenter will serenade about the mysterious individual "the little man in the shadows, daily there he takes his repose, never once giving a glance, seemingly he is in a trance." The music is again like Deep Purple especially with all the Hammond organ reverberations, over a heavy slow guitar. The instrumental break maintains the steady plodding pace, as sensational lead guitar croons mournfully over the chopped up organ and ascending distorted guitar chord progression.
"Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla Tuonnempana)" is heavy and dramatic with timpani rolls, and a slow march to the gallows. The song is sung by Timo Rautiainen entirely in Finnish. We're deep in foreign territory here with some off kilter, wah wah guitar, a driving beat and swirling synths, as the pace picks up. Due to the non English lyrics, and unusual time changes, this is strange beyond the Knights Who Say Ni, and even odder than the Great Prophet Zarquan. It is such a diversion from previous tracks that it jars the ears. The guitars emit phased grunts howling in the netherverse and a quivering keyboard is heard wavering in the wind.
If you look out your side window you might catch a glimpse of "Uncle Schunkle" on the wing trying to rip out the engine, but we assure you it's all just an illusion. The music really moves into another realm. This instrumental is driven by a tail shaft full of spacey keyboards, and an omnipresent lead guitar trading off beautifully. The percussion is sporadic and it is a genuine pleasure to hear real drumming with passion here. The band really take off into full flight with this instrumental. It is power packed with keyboard and guitar soloing, competing wildly against each other like a duel for dominance. The bass guitar is fabulous moving up and down the scale, but I am really in love with that squelching synth. This is a Tardis full of proud prog, replete with spacey psychedelic grandeur.
Passengers, take note, should a landing on water happen, there is a life jacket stored underneath the seat. Inflate by pulling down the red tag, and yell rather loudly "inflate you stupid sod!", and blow the whistle to alert the "Eternal Universe" players. The dreamy relaxing song will lull you into a calm state of existence. The harmonies are gorgeous, and there is a pleasant vocal performance by Phil Naro. The lyrics are tranquillising "I see the world as a grain of sand, hold it in my hand." It is a nice diversion after the hyper weirdness previous.
Now place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally while securing the elastic band around your head, that is to ensure maximum benefit is gained while hearing Tench on the acoustic guitar. We are now at cruising altitude and about to hear the longest song on offer, "Moaning Lisa". Sean Filkins sings of lost, lonely Lisa "betrayed by fate and love, lost to the sea, now she is free, lonely, lonely Lisa." The song penned by Mota, feels like a sea shanty in places, with lilting flute synth, and acoustic vibrations. The ballad travels along pleasantly with melancholy vocals and acoustics, til the instrumental shakes it up. The time sig changes to a swing leading to an extended coda. The new section is joined by German Vergara, with yet another language to sweeten the sound. That is so catchy; that confounded melody haunted me long after the flight.
We hope you have enjoyed the in-flight entertainment. We are now preparing to land. The bar is closed and we have one last song to titillate your eardrums. "Campfire (Tulen Luona)" takes us to Finland again with the voice of Timo, and some acoustics. It ends the flight with a feeling that the journey is over and things can now return to normal. The Prog Odyssey has ended. Thankyou for flying "Corvus Stone II" airways, we hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as we have. Please ensure you revisit this amazing airlines at the earliest opportunity.
This is an album you can play at anytime for any reason for anyone, and deserves full recommendation in the prog community. It is a genuine surprise package, full of very diverse music and innovation. I have visited it at home relaxing, in the car on a long journey, and after work at home to wind down. It is an album jammed with inventive musical ideas that consistently surprise and soothe the senses. There is space rock, psychedelic 60s, jazz fusion, Heavy Prog, Celtic folk, Symphonic, Samba, Mexican rhythms, and acoustic ballads mixed in this Prog potpourri. One of the albums of the year and an absolute pleasure to listen to; jump aboard "Corvus Stone II".
Scott Tuffnell

5/5. I don't know about the rest of you prog fans out there, but I have learned to look forward to every new album that features Colin Tench (and there are quite a few of them each year). His guitar never ceases to delight me. It's not that he dazzles with speed and technicality, although he does seem to be a master at many styles, it's that he always seems to know the right notes to play to make me want to listen more. And with Corvus Stone, he has found a band of equals in that respect.
Corvus Stone has managed to improve upon their wonderful debut album by just playing what they like. And what they like is sometimes psychedelic, or smoky art-blues, or Santana-ish jams, fusion, or even a prog-folk epic. There is not a bad track to be found here.
Each track intrigues as full-band arrangements, but also remains interesting when, as I often do, one listens to each instrument individually. I particularly enjoy Tench's David-Torn-like string pops and bends, and his and keyboardist Pasi Koivu's work on the track "Mystery Man". Petri Lemmy Lindström and Robert Wolff's intentionally stumbling rhythm on "Uncle Schunkle" gives me eargasms, and the aforementioned prog-folk epic, "Moaning Lisa" should not be missed.
I honestly cannot put into words just how much this album has lifted my spirits (at a time when I really needed it. Many thanks to the band and all the guest artists for this one.
And on a side note, Sonia Mota's ("Kati" here at Progarchives.com) cover is a sexy masterpiece, a perfect adornment for this album.
Scott Evolver

Un disco muy recomendado. Estoy seguro de que muchos podrán disfrutar de este álbum, ya que cubre una gran cantidad de influencias gloriosas del pasado pero embebido en algo nuevo que sólo esta banda puede hacer. Definitivamente una excelente adición a cualquier colección de buena música, y no necesariamente solo de rock progresivo, todos están invitados a esta fiesta de sonidos, sea el estilo que escuchen.




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