As Phil Freeman is my witness, I swear that I had every intention of blogging in great deal on the subject of the punishing-in-a-good-way death-metal extravaganza on Monday night at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. The short version: Necrophagist really can play those insanely intricate heavy-metal bebop tunes live. The noises emitted from the throat of Travis Ryan, vocalist for Californian grindcore vegans Cattle Decapitation, literally defy description, but if you can imagine the sound of a 300-pound sow with one hoof jammed into an electric pencil sharpener, you begin to come close.
Arsis makes the best melodic-death records in the world right now, but doesn't quite bring that same level of charisma to the stage as yet. Montreal's Neuraxis, on the other hand, utterly owned this show, storming on like headliners, engaging the audience and, oh yeah, playing technically complex blasts with complete confidence. Australia's Alarum struck me onstage much the same as it does on record: two incredibly fluent guitarists playing aqueous, even lovely solos, with a handful of vocals tossed off as afterthoughts. (The link supplied for each of those bands leads to a record review I wrote for Decibel magazine; all three groups record for the Willowtip label, which is release-for-release probably the single most dependable extreme-metal imprint currently active.) The opener, Vicious Circle, pretty much got screwed; the posted door time for the show was 6:30pm, but this band's set time was 6:15pm...
The reason I wasn't able to write this up with my usual verbosity -- and a primary reason for my silence of late -- is that I've been manically working ahead in preparation for a major trip...my first substantial vacation in nearly six years, in fact. This evening, Dr. LP and I are boarding a plane bound for Morocco, where we and a number of other journalists -- including Anastasia Tsioulcas of Café Aman fame, as well as her MMFCC -- there to attend the Fès Festival of World Sacred Music. As Anastasia points out, this is a righteous mix of wonderful artists, including William Christie and Les Art Florissants, Jordi Savall, Salif Keita and Yungchen Lhamo. Guest speakers on a series of panel discussions will include Jacques Attali, Wim Wenders and the ubiquitous Bono.
More than that, however, it's a chance to break away from the regular grind, see some amazing sights and spend some quality time communing with the significant others. I have no idea whether I'll be connected to the Internet at any point during my travels, so in all likelihood, this is the last post until some time after June 11. Naturally, there will be plenty to talk about once I'm back. Until then...
Grateful Dead - Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA, March 16, 1968 (Grateful Dead authorized download series)
Antonio Vivaldi - In furore, Laudate pueri e Concerti sacri - Sandrine Piau, Stefano Montanari, Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone (Naïve)
Joseph Haydn - The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross - Sandrine Piau, Ruth Sandhoff, Robert Getchell, Harry van der Kamp, Accentus, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Laurence Equilbey (Naïve)
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 8 - Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä (Bis)
Augusta Read Thomas - Gathering Paradise*; Jacob Druckman - Summer Lightning; Stephen Hartke - Symphony No. 3** - Heidi Grant Murphy*, the Hilliard Ensemble**, New York Philharmonic / Lorin Maazel (New World)
Richard Wagner - Die Walküre - Astrid Varnay, Gré Brouwenstijn, Ramón Vinay, Josef Greindl, Hans Hotter, Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele / Joseph Keilberth (Testament)
Claudio Monteverdi - Vespers 1610 - The King's Consort / Robert King (Hyperion)
Frédéric Chopin - Valses - Alexandre Tharaud (Harmonia Mundi)
Grateful Dead - Palladium, New York, NY, April 30, 1977 (Grateful Dead authorized download series)