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JEFF JOHNSON-BRIAN DUNNING/Eirlandia: Inspired by an Irish fantasy series, the music is reminiscent of when Windham Hill started moving away from straight ahead new age and began making music with bands that kept it gentle without making it twee. With a pair of skilled aces at the wheel, these are composed pieces that never lapse into noodling. Very much a solid set for contemporary instrumental music fans looking for something with some real meat on the bones.

DUENDE LIBRE/Drift: The great thing about impressionistic and conceptual pieces is you can attribute any meaning you want to them. Here we find this Seattle instrumental crew doffing the cap to Pangaea, but the real thing going on here is how everything is all connected. Mostly sounding like forward thinking cocktail jazz from a piano bar where the pianist is encouraged to do more than play "Misty" every night, this trio often takes you to places you've only heard in dreams. Very much a solidly conceived recital of a date, it may burn on low heat but it burns nonetheless. Well done.

ANDREA BRACHFELD/If Not Now, When?: This set makes a cogent argument for smoking yourself into cancer since it was funded by a grant from the Doris Duke foundation. Of course, you can't make a flute sing like Brachfeld does if you're fighting COPD---so what's the answer? You can find the answer listening to this driving jazz outing where she surrounds herself with solid hitters that know the drill but still know how to leave room for the unexpected. Wonderful killer stuff by some jazzbos on a tear that refuse to take no for an answer. Real stuff for real jazzbos throughout.

TANGERINE DREAM/Quantum Gate-Quantum Key: Hey Chicago readers, did you know Saul from Triad has started a Go Fund Me campaign to bring the old shows and radio guides back into existence? Too bad Edgar Froese couldn't stick around to see that and see if it happens. Ah, electronics and minimalism---how do you know when you've got the real deal? Alas, you just know. We get this twofer because Froese entrusted his wifeager to finish the project and respect his vision. How do you know the good stuff? You just do. This is a double barreled shot of the good stuff. The Dreamers need no introduction and the true believers will be there to see it through. Take that EDM! Another dose of mind opening stuff that goes well with mind opening, uh, ingredients. Y'dig. This is how genres are born and survive.

MITRA SUMARA/Tahdig: Hey, The Halal Guys started out with a push cart and now they have some of the most prime real estate in Manhattan as their home base. Why should it be so strange that this is the first Iranian funk band in the big apple? And behind it's leader are a bunch of indie rockers? And the sound is really a multi culti mash up that works in it's own strange mysterious way? Wildly crazy stuff that flies out of the opium dens and souks directly to your next deck party where falafel is served and does it with ease. This is just what the doctor ordered for armchair traveling millenials that want some new kicks that speak right to them.

EAMONN KARRAN/I'll be With You: More interested in quality over quantity, Karran took his time making this nu Celtica set and it's real, first class roamin thru the gloamin music as you can feel the fairies, sprites and trolls romping through the mist. A solid journey of old and new, this is a fine trip through the Ireland of your mind that may exist--or not. Well done and a first class audio getaway.

SPEEDBUGGY USA/Kick Out the Twang: The neat thing about cowpunk is that it exists in a time zone all it's own and it's one of those indomitable genres that's doomed to be consistently bubbling under--but it'll always be there. This crew doesn't let brain aneurisms and house fires slow them down because the groove is what it's all about and what keeps them going. Like modern honky tonk, this is bad ass stuff that ignites the party and gets you yelling ‘yeeehaaaa'. Fun stuff throughout.

SIHASIN/Fight Like a Woman: If you played this for your grandma she'd immediately tell you they sound like a bunch of wild Indians. We'll, they are Native Americas that dislike Trump and have been trumpeted by Ramones for years so give her a pass for speaking in line with her dotage. You certainly aren't going to confuse this with Joanne Shenandoah records. High octane wild protest music that turns everything on it's head for a new generation, you can bet the kids are going to dig this---it has all the elements they adore. And it's Jackson Browne approved?

VALERIA MATZNER/Anima: A South American that's been around more than a few blocks to wind up where she is now crafts a wildly, outside the lines set for her long overdue debut. Easy samba with an industrial beat lurking behind it gives you a heads up this is like nothing you've ever heard before. Taking a few cues from Jobim, from the other side of the continent, and swirling it with grunge and what has flown in it's after math, add up to her being an important award winner in the lead up to this set. Just because it's soft doesn't mean it's weak. Check it out, especially if you miss Sade.

SHANNARA CHRONICLES season two: One of TV's best fantasy series brings season two home in which we find the heroes off in search of the one cat that can save them, Allanon (are the writers trying to tell us something?). Loaded with the kind of stuff that keeps fantasy fans on their edge of their chairs biting their nails, this is a ten episode lesson in how to get it done. Will Magic win in the end? Stay tuned. And bluray really makes it pop.

Volume 41/Number 188
May 7, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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