Schloss Adler — Tales of Survival Horror
(Cyclops CYCL 099, 2001, CD)
Vulgar Unicorn — Jet Set Radio
(Cyclops CYCL 068, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2002-09-01
A band named “Vulgar Unicorn”? Sounds like it must be some sort of fantasy-driven throwback to the days when songs about wizards could actually crack the Top 100. But not so. I don’t know why they call themselves Vulgar Unicorn, but they are a prog band incorporating modern pop styles into their sound, like IZZ (also reviewed this issue). The band is a duo consisting of guitarist Bruce Soord and keyboardist Neil Randall, along with various guests. The first track, the 11 minute “Where It All Began,” goes from a start reminiscent of Porcupine Tree to a long section with “ba-ba-ba” vocals that remind me of soft-psych from the 60s like “Windy,” but the guitar parts break that image fairly quickly. “It Didn’t Used to Be This Way” works into little bit of a Genesis (circa Lamb) sound, with strumming guitars and synthesizer melody. My favorite track is probably “Tierce de Picardie,” the heaviest of the lot, with some fun screeching guitar. All in all, I’d say Vulgar Unicorn is what Porcupine Tree might have sounded like if they had embraced the high tech of Signify rather than shying away from it.
“Schloss Adler” is the name Neil Randall uses for his solo work, which has some similarities with the band, but a distinct style, obviously more reliant on keyboards than guitar. The melodies and tonalities are sometimes similar, though Horror has more quiet (sometimes almost ambient) moments. The samples from movies and TV shows are used to an even greater degree. In some ways, I prefer the Adler release, though both are worthy efforts.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
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