Get this crazy baby off my head!


Avant Garden


Avant Garden - Maelstrom - 2001 - Blackfish Recordings

Powerful jazz-fusion with strident arpeggios by guitarist Brian Gould, over a busy rhythm section. Steve Roach guests on didgeridoo, spirit catcher, loops and percussion. The sax work by Flamp Sorvari is first class, and Miles Gilster lays down some brilliant bass lines. . If you like Jethro Tull, Jade Warrior, King Crimson, Gong, Steve Hillage, Kraan or Canterbury rock in general, you may like this album which is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Has this band released any other albums?


1 Dragon Feed - Brian Gould (10:03)
2 Archemedes Tub - Brian Gould, Flamp Sorvari (9:14)
3 Oceania - Mike McLatchey (12:32)
4 Into The Maelstrom - Brian Gould (7:57)
5 Path Of The Farwind - Brian Gould (18:25)


Brian Gould - acoustic and electric guitars, e-bow, glissando
Miles Gilster - bass
Jason Kenney - drums and percussion
Steve Roach - didgeridoo, spirit catcher, loops and percussion (3, 5) [Guest]
J D Gardemeyer - percussion (3) [Guest]
Jesse Winn - percussion (3) [Guest]
Chris Dugan - percussion (3) [Guest]
Flamp Sorvari - alto sax and flute


There is no casual entré into the confines of Avant Garden, you are plucked off your feet and deposited in the midst of their Maelstrom right with the first track "Dragon Feed." And only once you are fully ensconced does it throttle back and start to entertain at a more leisurely pace. Make no mistake though, this leisurely pace is still swirling about you with a metal ferocity - and in fact, if Rush were an avant-garde instrumental unit, this is probably what they would sound like. Like a jazzier "XYZ," to be a bit more precise...which was instrumental I know, but was it avant-garde? No. However, at just a little over 10-minutes, the track does seem overlong. There are many points along it's path where you think to yourself, ah it's about to end, and then it picks up again. Not like the false stops, mind you, where you think it is over, or a fade out/fade it, just that the it seems like they come to the end of the statement. Only to start over again... great playing, of course,... and it does eventually shift gears for a short passage, but I would have shortened the trip there by a couple of minutes, because it takes a while to get to a searing guitar solo from Brian Gould. On the way there, though we get to hear some hot horn blowing from saxophonist/flautist Flamp Sorvari, taut and punchy drumming from Jason Kenney, and basswork that is all over the map but grounded from Miles Gilster. "Archemedes" is at first dark, as with King Crimson, brings in a bit of Jethro Tull with Sorvari's flute colourings, and at times sounds like a fusion version of the Yardbird's "I'm A Man" was used as launching point. Now this is a facinating piece that has much more movement and variation over it's 9-minute plus length, that the minutes go buy unnoticed (and but for the first track, I probably wouldn't even had made mentioned of times). This track plays things very tight, grinding around, harsh and acidic, with an edge the likes of which many a metal band would envy. Throw into this Sorvari's light an airy flute lines, and you have some interesting textures at work. Respite is garnered from the mellow strains of "Oceania" -- say the word, see the gentle undulating sea, a near cloudless sky as a gentle breeze flaps your hair as you sail. There is an old world feel, a folky, Celtic feel. While the rhythm churns, the overriding sense is from the flute. Acoustic guitars enter at one point, playing against the flute. Here's the interesting thought - I kept thinking of the flute phrase that Anderson played for his guest stint on Honeymoon Suite's "All Along You Knew" (The Big Prize, 1985). Now, I'm not assigning any correlation, other than perhaps Sorvari is an admirer of Anderson and Anderson certainly gives his own flute playing a distinctive quality. Unfortunately, yes, it looks like another flute = Anderson reference, but I wouldn't make if I didn't think it. I say mellow, but these seas do get stormy at about 9 minutes in (this track is 12+ minutes, yet doesn't seem that long at all). The storm goes from wicked flurries to something sinisterly calm -- like being in the eye of a hurricane. Steve Roach guests on this track, playing didgeridoo, while it also features 3 guest percussionists, Jesse Winn, Chris Dugan and JD Gardemeyer, the latter of whom, the liner notes, has joined the band as bassist. The album was recorded in 1998 and 1999, but released only in 2001. "Into The Maelstrom" is aptly titled, as this is where the band really lets their hair down -- well, perhaps no more so than on the title track, but certainly as much so. Each player getting into their own groove that somehows seems to mesh well together and leds them to the same place. A cool point (on of many) comes at the end, when Sorvari and Gould play double lead - sax and guitar. Terrific stuff. The album concludes with "Path Of The Farwinds." As did "Oceania," this begins in a very mellow, laidback manner. This is the kind of material one finds on a Narada or Miramar release - warm, textured, contemporary instrumental. But again, you know, with an album titled Maelstrom, and band name called Avant Garden, we aren't going to get just easy, gentle pieces. There's a darker undertone to even this piece, not necessarily sinister or anything, as elsewhere, but Gilster's deep, throaty basslines keep everything anchored, along with Kenney's taut and tense drumming, while guitars and sax take to the air. While they trade lead spots, it's not a competition, just each making a statement that compliments the other. By the time the track is almost over you have been fully possessed, dancing about like a deliriously happy whirling dervish, totally forgetting that there is a world outside, there, beyond those trees. You feel heady, drunk on life, drunk on the clear air the maelstrom has brought in by its passing through, sucking up the bad, the negative. You have been brought to an oasis...an avant garden of eden... I heartily recommend you get caught up in the Maelstrom and find yourself landing in the verdant lawns of the Avant Garden. **** 1/2 Stephanie Sollow August 25th 2002 © 1997 - 2010 ProgressiveWorld.net and respective authors http://www.progressiveworld.net/html/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=3810

Holy shit. What more can I say about an album that grabs you by the balls and won't let go for the first ten minutes? And if this wasn't enough, the grip is loosened for only the occasionally brief respite, leaving the listener in the wake of the pummeling aural assault for the remainder. Make no mistake, these guys are out to kick your ass. Don't take it personally though - they only have the best intentions in unleashing this hybrid of psychedelia and jazz-rock. "Dragon Feed" starts the proceedings with massive guitar riffage and sax honking, leading into a steady groove before again exploding. Steady interplay between guitar and sax advances the piece along, aided and abetted by the deft rhythm section. The overall sound here is fairly reminiscent of the intense moments of Trilogy-era Gong, or Hillage's Fish Rising, taking the best of the fiery instrumental passages. Certain parts are not unlike Ozric Tentacles minus the sequencers. While the instrumental flair is instantly captivating, there is no lack of well crafted writing underneath. The songs stay perfectly focused and dynamic, while still allowing for the loose feel necessary for the searing passages that threaten to burn a hole in the speakers. The beautiful intro to "Oceania" shows the band knows when to shift gears, with lucid flute and acoustic guitar strumming. The later part of the song features ethnic flair courtesy of Steve Roach on didgeridoo and assorted hand percussion, adding another distinctive element to the sound. "Into The Maelstrom" is the most successful in striking a balance between the dichotomy of frenetic and tranquil, with Sorvari providing the impetus for the chosen direction, echoing the spine tingling sax tones of "Master Builder" during the chaos, and switching to flute to ease off the climactic highs. A breath of fresh air breathed into a retro sound, Avant Garden are waiting to give you a sonic beating. Embrace it. © Mike Prete 19-July-2002 © progweed.net © http://gnosis2000.net/reviews/avantgarden.htm

Don't be put off by the name. This is a high-energy album of fiery playing. An all-instrumental effort is what we have here from this California quartet's debut release. Five lengthy tracks, served up with some blistering guitar, sax and flute solos. While they "jam", they are in no way a "jam" band. There is a strong sense of melody present amongst all of the ripping. I'm hard pressed to say they sound like this or that, but if one were to make comparisons, one might say that they operate in the same area as Spaced Out sans the keyboards, although there is less of the fusion slant apparent. Maybe a less quirky version of Boud Deun, with sax and flute replacing the violin, would be a better starting point. I'm also reminded a little bit of later Kraan. They kick the album off with a couple of stellar numbers, "Dragon Feed" and "Archemedes Tub". Both of these songs kick it into high gear right away showing that band has chops. The playing is tight and energetic all the way through both of these tracks. They do take a breather here and there, like at the beginning of the third track "Oceania". Some nice rolling guitar and flute give way to a subtle intensity that builds up to a melodic guitar solo. The song finally breaks forth into mayhem and a nice guitar solo interspersed with sax flurries only to wind down into a nice percussive outro, featuring none other than Mr. Ambient himself, Steve Roach. They close out the album with an 18-minute tune, "Path Of The Farwinds". This is another track that starts off with some nice guitar and flute interplay. Shades of Gong creep in with the addition of some glissando guitar work, though it soon breaks into the speedy breakneck pace that drives a lot of the album. All in all, there is some great, tight playing, with enough variety to keep you interested for the duration of the disc's 60 or so minutes. I like it. © Joe Fischer 19-July-2002 © http://gnosis2000.net/reviews/avantgarden.htm

Out of nowhere comes this startlingly smokin set of instrumental brilliance from California four-piece Avant Garden. Combining the complexity of progressive rock, ripping hard rock guitar, and sax playing that recalls the heyday of fusion, this band lays down an assault on your eardrums that levels you to the ground but brings you back to your feet wanting more. Many bands have a hard time finding a satisfying balance between raucous riffing and soloing, and quieter, more introspective moments. Not Avant Garden. On the opening track, "Dragon Feed", guitarist Brian Gould and sax player Flamp Sorvari trade vicious solos that make the main melody line, as complex as it is, seem like a cakewalk. Tucked in the middle of all the mayhem is the slippery bass grooves of Miles Gilster, who despite having amazing technical prowess, shows great restraint and dexterity, even during his brief and tender solo spot that is sandwiched between the onslaught from Gould and Sorvani. "Archemedes Tub" kicks off in almost metal fashion, before giving way to some Jethro Tull inspired flute rave-ups. The contrast between the crunchy guitar, driving rhythm, and lilting flute is astounding. Guitarist Gould has a great tone, thick and menacing, as well as great dexterity. His style is somewhat reminiscent of Martin Barre, Steve Hillage, or Warren Haynes. Flamp Sorvani has that Michael Brecker fire in his sax playing, and his jazzy leads are the perfect compliment to the frenzied wailings of Gould. All the tracks here exceed eight minutes, and are like mini mystical journeys, but the real kicker is saved for last, the eighteen-minute "Path of the Farwinds." While the band segues in at an almost Jade Warrior-like entrance featuring lush flutes and acoustic guitars, before long things shift to intense space rock territory with wailing sax and interstellar guitar overdrive. What a way to end a terrific hours worth of complex instrumental rock from a highly talented bunch of musicians. © Clear Spot http://www.clear-spot.nl/item/235242/avant_garden_maelstrom.html


AVANT GARDEN is a Sacramento quartet whose music is an eclectic blend of fusion with rock and psychedelia. Consisting of Brian Gould (acoustic and electric guitars, e-bow and glissando), Jason Kenney (drums and percussion), Flamp Sorvari (alto sax and flute) and Miles Gilster (bass), the band plays with abandon and combines the complexity of progressive rock, ripping hard-rock guitar and sax, recalling the heydays of fusion. Their only album to date, "Maelstrom", is a smoking set of instrumental brilliance. Consisting of five rather lengthy tracks, it features fiery instrumental sections, tight rhythm support, laid-back jam grooves and a liberal amount of dissonance and metric shifts. Yet, there is a strong sense of melody present among all this ripping euphoria. Whether it's the exquisite flute, the blistering sax/guitar duels, the adrenaline-packed percussion or the hyper-active bass, the music of AVANT GARDEN is a veritable sonic trip of controlled mayhem. It also displays a rare balance between raucous soloing and quieter, more introspective moments. There is not one dull moment on the entire album. If you enjoy a good sonic beating, AVANT GARDEN can't wait to give it to you. © Lise (HIBOU), CANADA © Prog Archives, All rights reserved http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1221


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


p/w aoofc

ratso said...

Another interesting post, Mr Fingal, which I am keen to listen to once I have served my penance with Rapidshare. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa......

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

Cheers,Mr.Ratso! It's a good 'un! A.O.O.F.C vobiscum