Little is known of the life of Paschal de L'Estocart, the French composer of the late Renaissance who was roughly a contemporary of Claude Le Jeune (1528 -1600). He seems to have been sympathetic to the Protestant Reformers – he spent considerable time in Germany and his music was published in Geneva – but later in life he applied unsuccessfully to the French King for a position at an abbey. His collection of psalms and motets, Sacrae Cantiones, 16 of which are recorded here, are mostly in French, along with several in Latin, and was dedicated to Calvinist Count Palatine Johann Casimir in 1582. This collection also includes his Ode in 12 parts, set to religious texts in French. L'Estocart's music is typical of late Renaissance polyphony, eclectic in its use of a cantus firmus, imitative counterpoint, and homophonic writing, with an unusually free use of dissonance. The French mixed a cappella ensemble Ludus Modalis, led by Bruno Boterf, specializes in music of this era and sings with passion and authority. Intonation is immaculate and tone quality is pure and unforced. The recorded sound is clean, but spacious and warm.
Kahimi Karie (カヒミ・カリィ) is an Japanese experimental pop musician. She made her debut in 1992 with the cheeky "Mike Alway's Diary" and when on to become a well known Shibuya-kei singer. During this time she was dating FLIPPERS GUITAR's Oyamada Keigo, and the two become the It couple of Shibuya. In the mid 1990s she released a string of successful EPs and singles produced by Oyamada (also making appearances in his work such as 69/96) and French musician Momus.
Fond of Tigers is a Canadian seven-piece post-rock instrumental band from Vancouver. An article in Exclaim! describes the band's sound: "with cacophonous explosions of percussion and guitar underlying wild strains of trumpet and violin, only to drop out for unexpected, ambient glimmers of a once-roaring piece." The group began in 2000 as a solo project of guitarist Stephen Lyons. After Lyons' pop group Beauventure disbanded, Lyons performed solo, and soon began playing along with tape loops and recorded sounds. In 2003 the project expanded to become a full band. Band members include Stephen Lyons on guitar, JP Carter on trumpet, Morgan McDonald on piano, Jesse Zubot on violin, Shanto Bhattacharya on bass, and Skye Brooks and Dan Gaucher on drums. Their second album, Release the Saviours, was released on November 27, 2007.
Russian born composer and keyboardist Andrew Roussak serves up a nice production with this creation. Symphonic rock is the name of the game here, explored in several variations. Classical compositions, psalms and hard-rock tinged flavours of this style are all explored with skill and ease; virtuosic instrumentals and regular songs with a typical verse and chorus structure are both explored; and all variations of styles and sounds fits right in too. Skilled mix and production highlighting the moods and melodies helps create a distinct album feel to this creation, and although a skilled keyboard player it's the overall performance that is the focal point rather than Roussak's individual performance. Perhaps somewhat lacking in the brilliant tunes department, this is still an enjoyable release; that should cater for the tastes of many people into symphonic rock music.
A blues album by prog rocker and classically trained guitarist Steve Hackett? It may seem a bit of a surprise, but as Hackett himself explains, his first musical affinity was for the blues, and his first instrument of choice was the harmonica, not the guitar. So he returns to his roots on this release, unknown as they are to most of his audience. Most of the songs are original compositions, and the tunes are well written. Hackett plays a mean harmonica throughout, and shines in particular on a couple of instrumental numbers, "A Blue Part of Town" and "Footloose" (mercifully not the Kenny Loggins song). Hackett sings lead vocals on the other songs, and unfortunately his voice just doesn't lend much conviction to blues material, even though it's treated to sound much deeper and grittier…