Brass Construction continued to avoid the scrap heap, turning out another better-than-expected album. There were two more good singles in "Walkin' the Line" and "We Can Work It Out," and the production, arrangements, instrumental support, and vocals were all more inspired than they had been in the past.
Shirley Collins' collaboration with the Albion Country Band for No Roses is considered a major event in the history of British folk and British folk-rock. For it was the first time that Collins, roundly acknowledged as one of the best British traditional folk singers, sang with electric accompaniment, and indeed one of the first times that a British traditional folk musician had "gone electric" in the wake of Dave Swarbrick joining Fairport Convention and Martin Carthy joining Steeleye Span. The album itself doesn't sound too radical, however. At times it sounds something like Fairport Convention with Shirley Collins on lead vocals, which is unsurprising given the presence of Ashley Hutchings on all cuts but one, and Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol on most of the selections (Dave Mattacks plays drums on a few tracks for good measure). The nine songs are almost wholly traditional tunes with Collins' arrangements, with perhaps a jauntier and folkier mood than that heard in early-'70s Fairport, though not much. It's more impressive for Collins' always tasteful smoky vocals than for the imagination of the material, which consolidates the sound of the more traditional wing of early-'70s British folk-rock.
Clara started to discover the power of voice in the eighties, when she was singing alongside some tunes by Madonna. At a certain point it was clear to her that she wanted to join and front a band. Aged seventeen, she founded the acid jazz combo Superjuice, together with her friend Funès. In the early nineties, at the height of acid jazz, the band toured through Berlin clubs, gathering a high-profile reputation.
Jennifer Higdon is a masterful colorist whose music is immediately appealing, full of energy and dash, but also with lyrical movements that grab you and hold your interest with their variety and melodic freshness. She can be brassy and bold like William Schuman and lushly Romantic like Samuel Barber, to mention just two American predecessors her music calls to mind. She also has a strong profile of her own, as we hear in City Scapes, a musical portrait of Atlanta that captures the bustle of a metropolis on the move. It's centerpiece, "river sings a song to trees," is wonderfully paced and engrossing. Concerto for Orchestra is a grand workout for a virtuoso band, teeming with solo turns that can tax all but the best musicians, and passages that spotlight sections of the orchestra with opportunities to strut their stuff. It's a brilliant piece brilliantly played by the Atlantans. Add Telarc's usual terrific sound and this disc becomes a must for fans of accessible modern music.
Spastic Ink originally consisted of ex-Watchtower member Ron Jarzombek (guitars, programming, composition, lyrics & production), Pete Perez on bass and brother Bobby Jarzombek on drums (both coming from Heavy Metal band RIOT). With this line-up they released their first all instrumental album Ink Complete. For their second album Ink Compatible which took them more than four years for its making singer Jason McMaster (ex-Watchtower) plus a bunch of well known guest musicians like Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain Of Salvation, Marty Friedman (Megadeth) or Jens Johansson (Malmsteen) have been added up. The music on both of their albums which are masterpieces in Technical Metal is very intricate combining influences from multiple music genres…