Review: Jason Rubenstein, NEW METAL FROM OLD BOXES (Tone Cluster, 2014).
So. You’ve been a progger since the 1970s, you’re musically trained, and and you’ve enjoyed a solid if now former career as a software engineer with several major companies. What do you do? You write a brilliant, stunning, majestic soundtrack to your life, especially if you live in glorious San Francisco.
I exaggerate a bit, but not much. This, essentially, is the background to music maestro Jason Rubenstein. He has just released a rather stunning album, New Metal from Old Boxes (Tone Cluster, 2014; mixed by Niko Bolas and mastered by Ron McMaster). While many Americans and other citizens of western civilization might simply desire new wine from old bottles, those of us who live in the republic of progarchy can rejoice heartily. We can have our wine and our Rubenstein!
From the first listen, I was hooked. This is…
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[This is a re-posting of a comment in response to this blog Post by Tom Morris, for whom I was once a teaching assistant, and from whom I learned some important things about teaching.]
Somewhere in my young adulthood, I caught myself assuming (and having assumed for a long time) that repetition is always an enemy of sincerity or authenticity. It’s true that repetition can become empty, but it’s not inevitable. As a teacher I’ve found that I keep repeating some of the same things year after year. The revelation comes in how it is possible to mean them, and to say them like I mean them, more deeply each time. If you think that “ritual” always has to be a bad word, then perhaps you’ve never known someone who lives by ritual as if it is their way of breathing, and who knows that without such breath they could not live.
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to announce that at 8.04pm this evening Salander gave birth to a new album. Everyone is doing fine. We have called it STENDEC. It weighs in at 65 minutes and we hope it will have a bright future. Anyone wishing to view our new arrival can do so via the Salander bandcamp page.
Something new, yet something familiar…
It’s a given that many progressive rock fans grew up on a diet of the beautiful, quirky songs of Kate Bush through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, many of whom will have probably paid out massively to see her on her upcoming tour in the UK, such is the lasting love for her unique, beautiful sound.
If you are a fan of that sound or indeed that of other singers such as Tori Amos then there is a strong likelihood you will find something exciting and new, yet familiar and classic about ‘Little Sparrow‘.
Hailing from London originally and now Manchester, UK, Little Sparrow, aka Katie Ware, has been slowing but surely burning a slow course to stardom with her own delicate, acoustic style which reflects some influence and character from the likes of Bush and Amos but also some of the…
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[The first of at least two reviews of Fire Garden, Sound of Majestic Colors (Fire Garden Music, Chicago, IL, 2014). Official Website for the band and label: . Kevin Williams will also be reviewing the album. Frankly, I’m not qualified enough re: prog metal to review this. But, my love of the album kind of forced my hand.–BjB]
With no intention of being jingoistic, I’m very happy to see a nice resurgence of progressive rock in America. The English and the Scandinavians currently provide the touchstone, but I would hate to see the Americans not compete at all!
Of course, when it comes to North America, we’ve had some great prog bands and individuals in for the long haul: Rush, Glass Hammer, IZZ, Dream Theater, John Galgano, Kevin McCormick, 3RDegree, Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard, and a…
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Cosmograf’s CAPACITOR is everything a rock album should be. And, I do mean EVERYTHING. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. It is wholesome, fractured, creepy, uplifting, contemplative, mythic, existentialist, moving, intense, wired, dramatic, contemplative, Stoic, mystifying, weird, satisfying, honed, nuanced, dark, and light.
The Meaning of It All
If I could capture the album in one sentence, comparing it to other forms of art, I would and will put it this way: CAPACITOR is an Edwardian journey into the Hades of the Ancient Greeks but emerging in BIOSHOCK.
Then, think about the artists involved. Andy Tillison plays keyboards on it. Matt Stevens plays guitar on it. Nick Beggs and Colin Edwin play bass on it. NVD plays all of the drums. Our modern master of sound, Rob Aubrey, the Phill Brown of our day, engineered it.
Then, of course, there’s…
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One of the ways in which Immanuel Kant formulated his Categorical Imperative is this: Always treat other people as ends, never only as means. In other words, never treat others as “merely instrumental.” For Kant, this was THE moral imperative. Failing to follow it is failing to be a reasonable person in practical matters, which is the same as failing to be morally good. Another way to state the principle: Never treat other people as “merely instrumental.”
Yeah, I know it may be a little over the top, but I will go there.
If there’s a message that emerges from my little trilogy on “instrumental prog” (was Birzer being incurably trinitarian giving me THREE discs to reflect upon?), it is that one should never treat music as “merely instrumental.” The Aesthetic Imperative. Sure, if you want to add “especially prog,” I won’t complain. As long as you’re buying this round.
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I’m sorry it’s been a bit since I’ve uploaded any issues of the University Bookman. Here is the Winter 1974 edition. Vol. 14, No. 2.
As always, a huge thank you to Annette Kirk for encouraging me to scan and make available. And, of course, to the current editor of the University Bookman, Gerald Russello the magnificent!
I don’t know how many people can actually point to a single moment that changed their lives forever and for the better. Yes, many would point to traditional milestones such as a graduation, wedding day, the birth of their children, etc. All valid events and experiences, to be sure.
I’m talking about something different. Something that might be best termed, to quote Robert Fripp, a “point of seeing.” A singular experience that truly alters your life’s course, where you can look back on that point, that one moment in your life where “your earth” seemingly moved under you. Everything in your world, everything you know, the very lens in which you viewed the world forever changed because of that moment.
Many might cite a religious experience as fitting the bill described above. For me, it was a musical experience.
First, a little backstory…
As a pre-teen kid from around 1978 to 1980, my musical…
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