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Mahogany Frog


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Mahogany Frog - Do5 - 2008 - Moonjune Records

This 2008 effort marks the Canadian quartet’s fifth release and inaugural album for this estimable New York City-based progressive-rock and jazz record label. And after being afforded a chance to check out the band’s pre-release demo, I quickly realized that this prog-rock ensemble places great emphasis on composition. In addition, the analog engineering and strategic mic placement adds a broad sound stage to complement a hybrid, retro-modernist type muse. Thankfully, the band doesn’t place more importance on technical gymnastics yet the musicians are no slouches by any stretch. With streaming crunch chords and knotty time signatures, the ensemble looms as a moveable wall-of-sound. But the key ingredient is centered within it’s shrewd arrangements and memorably melodic hooks. In effect, the album spawns a great deal of interest amid the instrumentalists’ occasional jaunts into jazz-rock territory, to coincide with a few interstellar meltdowns. They also communicate a tender side where guitarists/keyboardists Graham Epp and Jessie Warkentin employ their old time, but still loveable moogs and Farfisa organ to induce quaint melodies that shade the perimeter of several works. The songs often project similarities to a rock-opera, where various movements interweave and spawn variable motifs that convey an interconnecting vibe. As they occasionally summon up notions of early ‘70s hard rock via distortion and feedback techniques while treating certain passages with majestic synth-horns choruses. Moreover, they touch upon the psychedelic element, partly due to church organ progressions and phased guitar passages as the latter, reminds me of the old days when guitarists would plug-in to a Hammond B3 organ Leslie speaker. One of the many highlights pertains to the piece titled “Lady XOC & Shield Jaguar,” where the band generates an endearing hook atop a carefree but forward-moving vibe. Here, the group instills a sense of endearment, nicely contrasted by the guitarists’ diminutive phrasings and wah-wah EFX. Sure enough, this album signifies a wonderful entry into the modern day progressive-rock arena. Unlike many of its peers, this outfit truly makes a difference. Again, the compositions stick! And the overall program beckons repeated listens as I’ll go out on a short limb, asserting that many advocates of this genre will not be disappointed. © Glenn Astarita © 2008 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved. http://www.jazzreview.com/cd/print-19929.html

Mahogany Frog is a raucous jazz-rock fusion ensemble that holds several influences from the fertile '70s when that music was enthusiastically new. Electric guitars and keyboards dominate their sound, as does a 4/4 beat occasionally dipping into different time signatures. Recorded in Winnipeg and mixed in Montreal, this assumedly Canadian outfit take cues from icons of the bygone era, attempt to re-fuse this music into a contemporary mold, and are not far off from the original precept. While their name bears resemblance to Canadian Jimi Hendrix devotee electric guitarist Frank Marino and his group Mahogany Rush, the parallel inference is coincidental. The front cover art, with keyboards springing like golden browned bread from a souped-up, plugged-in, vacuum tubed toaster might give some idea of where the band's old but new heart lies. Hard rock heavy metal prelude "G.M.F.T.P.O." is only an opening salvo of guts and glory, for the following track, "T-Tigers & Toasters," is an extended, complex, and evolving treatise on low level voices, space sounds, prog and underground rock, synths and pretty piano, Farfisa organ, stomp out rhythms, and Soft Machine overtones all in a row. The combo tunes "You're Meshugah!" and "I Am Not Your Sugar!" have a garage rock feel with long tones, a drum workout and lockstep, deliberate, guitar oriented flash. "Last Standing at Fisher Farm" is dense, thrashy, and regal à la Emerson, Lake & Palmer, while a minimalist line not unlike something Terry Riley would conjure identifies "Demon Jigging Spoon," accented by jungle drums and a Frank Zappa-type angularity. The most definitive fusion piece "Lady X O.C. & Shield Jaguar" is the most melodic, unison leaning, playful, and multi-instrumental track, a delightful mix of impish qualities stemming from the '70s Canterbury sound, American jazz, and ethnic sources. The album concludes with a more introspective harbor/lighthouse motif on "Loveset," with buzzsaw underpinnings, bird sounds, repeat keyboard lines, and clarion trumpet. Hopefully the many comparative descriptors and similarities are not off-putting for a listener who might be interested in Mahogany Frog. As ungainly, unwieldy, and chameleonic as their name, they also aspire to a much higher level of art rock than many current contemporary ensembles. © Michael G. Nastos © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fifexzykld6e

An All About Jazz review made a great observation saying that "DO5 demonstrates what might happen if Radiohead and Sigur Rós were put into a blender with Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis, then dropping the vocals" This is really original progressive rock/jazz/fusion and a breath of fresh air in the progressive rock scene. If you like King Crimson, Soft Machine, and Canterbury Rock in general, you may like this album. Try and hear the band's "On Blue" album

TRACKS

1. G.M.F.T.P.O.
2. T-Tigers & Toasters
3. Last Stand At Fisher Farm
4. You're Meshugah!
5. I Am Not Your Sugar
6. Demon Jigging Spoon
7. Medicine Missile
8. Lady Xoc & Shield Jaguar
9. Loveset

All songs composed by Mahogany Frog except "Loveset" by Andy Rudolph

MUSICIANS

Jesse Warkentin - Guitars, Piano, Piano (Electric), Mini Moog, Farfisa Organ
Graham Epp - Guitars, Organ, Piano, Trumpet, Piano (Electric), Mini Moog
Scott Ellenberger - Bass (Electric), Bass (Acoustic), Organ, Percussion, Trumpet
J.P. Perron - Drums, Electronics, Conch Shell

SHORT BIO

Canadian act MAHOGANY FROG was founded in 1998, when self-described high school noise-makers Graham Epp and Jesse Warkentin met flamboyant bass-player Nathan Loewen. A joint interest in loud, psychedelic and experimental music lead them together, and with various drummers participating they became a busy live act. In 1999 they managed to land a regular drummer as well, in the shape of Jean-Paul Perron. In addition to his skills with his main instrument, his expertise in the use of samplers and loops added an additional electronic edge to the music the band was playing. At this time the band also started collaborating with other artists, and put on shows where ethnic food, visual art and performance art became integrated with the music in a total setting; and these event proved to be highly popular. In short, the band started growing a regular fan base. Mahogany Frog started appearing with more and more notable Canadian acts at this time, even doing the odd stints as headliners, and in between their various live performances they found the time to create an albnum as well, Mahogany Frog Plays the Blues, which was issued in 2001. At this time the made some line-up changes as well. Come 2002 and Shaun Mason (bass), Jordan Perry (keyboards, synths) and Mike Spindloe (sax) was added to the line-up, while forming member Loewen left. This expanded line-up recorded one album, The Living Sounds, eventually issued in 2003. In 2003 Mahogany Frog also deciuded to change locations, moving from Saskatoon to Winnipeg. Bassist Mason stayed behind though, and was shortly after replaced by Scott Ellenberger (bass, trumpet). This revamped line-up hit the studio in the summer of 2003, and created their most complex excursion so far, VS Mabus, issued in early 2004. On this album the band really started expanding their use of keyboards and synths; and to some extent reinvented their sound with this production. The band's fourth production, the 2005 disc On Blue, continued evolving this reinvented musical expression; now in shorter, more compact musical excursions. By the time the band release their fifth album Do5 in 2008, their complex and eclectic approach to music reaches new heights; widely regarded as the most eclectic production in a discography already consisting of material largely impossible to pin down in any given genre of music. Mohagony Frog is still a highly popular live act as well; touring with more or less regular intervals and still attracting a crowd attention many prog acts might envy them.

4 comments:

daniel said...

Agradesco esta descarga y mando una calurosa felizitacion.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate all your comments

WOZZ said...

Sadly, the link is dead.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,WOZ. Try

http://uploaded.net/file/ktgi3v09

Thanks