Far Corner — Risk
(Cuneiform Rune 449, 2018, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-12-23
Hard to believe, but Far Corner is back after an almost ten year absence, and their new music is more powerful than ever, 13 compact tracks of angular and difficult twists and dark, dangerous melodic switchbacks. Every cut seems akin to a musical high-speed freight train about to jump the tracks at every turn — the listener needs to hang on for dear life, this is one wild ride! At the center of all this is keyboardist and composer Dan Maske, who wrote every track but one, and scored the arrangements for all. We hear piano, organ, synths, Mellotron (or a believable facsimile of one), and numerous other keys that underscore the seemingly limitless array of arrangements. Cellist Angela Schmidt gives the overall edgy style a definite connection to contemporary chamber music (as well as guest violinist Jerry Loughney who plays on three of the tracks), while bassist William Kopecky and drummer Craig Walkner connect the sound with the rock and jazz idioms. No vocals here anywhere. Maske’s compositions and arrangements are the work of a genius, with some evidence of the influence of Frank Zappa, as well as the classical-rock vision of ELP, but twisted into difficult and menacing forms, like crushing pillars and angles of steel and concrete, not a lot of soft pretty stuff here, but that’s okay, I wouldn’t want it any other way! One might also detect influences of Present, Magma, and Univers Zero in the fabric of their sound as well, just to name a few, but more of the Far Corner sound seems to be calling on the same 20th century classical ideas that many of the aforementioned have, just presenting them in a more powerful and imposing way. Kopecky’s use of fretless bass and Walkner’s aggressive propulsion give an additional kick and life to the overall complexity of what’s going down here. If you’re looking for symphonic proggy-prog, steer clear, but for the rest of us, Risk will not disappoint.
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more