Sound the Bell! — Sound the Bell!
(Eclipse Music , 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-01-06
Tampere is Finland’s third largest city, with well over 200,000 people, and among those residents, four have put together a band called Sound the Bell! — complete with exclamation point. They’ve developed a style that edges 70s hard rock towards progressive rock without hitting on metal as so many current bands do. Among (relatively) well known American or English bands, the closest comparison might be Captain Beyond. When they rock, they rock hard, but their sense of dynamics gives rise to varying sections and keep things interesting. Lead vocalist Panu Ukkonen, who also handles bass, has a strong voice that is worthy of the prominent position it gets in the mix. All the lyrics are in English, and Ukkonen’s accent never gets in the way of enjoying the music. Equally worthy of focus is Antero Mentu’s guitar, which ranges from nice arpeggiation to insanely distorted solos, though as I said, the tone isn’t like a metal guitarist would use. It’s more akin to the kind of overdrive favored by Raoul Björkenheim and Dušan Jevtović. At other times, he’ll pull out the slide, with a particularly effective solo on “Garden of Love,” which is the album’s longest piece at 12:42. The climax of the piece features a kick-ass rolling triple beat (think Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”) with Simo Laihonen’s drums and the bass going full-bore while the slide guitar freaks out. The album features just the trio, and the sound is filled out by lots of overdubbed guitar parts, with some extra vocals as well. (The band has been known to work with a keyboardist, though not on this recording.) I particularly like the way Laihonen handles the odd meters — he is well beyond simply coming up with a pattern that fits the time signature, but plays across bars and providing accents exactly where they’re needed, just as a jazz-inspired drummer does in 4/4. Sound the Bell! is a band well worth attention, and provides a rocking antidote to all the bands infusing their sound with modern electronics and fancy production techniques. They just write great tunes and attack them with gusto and a twinkle in their eyes.
Related artist(s): Sound the Bell!
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more