Independent Performing Scorecards


Album Review: Corvus Stone – “Unscrewed”

Posted July 10, 2015 by Peter Burns in Rock







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Our Review

The new Corvus Stone “Unscrewed” is irresistible, as their previous albums were saturated with innovation and glorious progressive music to the Maxx. This latest adventure in excess is flooded with more inventiveness and dwells fairly in the realm of atmospheric diversity. Many of the tracks are remixes or revamps of earlier tracks but now with […]

by Peter Burns
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The new Corvus Stone “Unscrewed” is irresistible, as their previous albums were saturated with innovation and glorious progressive music to the Maxx. This latest adventure in excess is flooded with more inventiveness and dwells fairly in the realm of atmospheric diversity. Many of the tracks are remixes or revamps of earlier tracks but now with added dynamism or new instrumental sections. The album cover as usual is wonderful. Sonia Mota has created a kaleidoscope of neon lights heralding a new theatrical production. The theatre lobby cards are past artistic pieces from Sonia’s hand, bringing this artwork to a new level. The black bird flying by reminds us of past albums and in the booth we have none other than the sultry seductress with the bird mask from the past Corvus Stone album. When laid side by side all the Corvus Stone albums take on a type of continuity of themes and design. Sonia has outdone herself on this album; the striking colors and overall style is enchanting, no wonder really when she actually is able to hear colors in the music. The music is indeed colourful, opening with “Brand New Day” that throbs with Petri Lindstrom’s pulsating bass line. Pasi Koivu’s synths are symphonic and the lead guitar work of Colin Tench is well executed. It has a happier vibe than a lot of other Corvus Stone tracks of the past. It is also short at just under 4 minutes but doesn’t overstay its welcome as a result.

“Early Morning Calls” is lifted from “Corvus Stone II” and transformed from instrumental to a vocal piece by Sean Filkins and Phil Naro. Their multi tracked harmonies are dynamic and it is representative of the work of Jon Anderson’s solo material.

“Joukahainen Without Chips” is an instrumental dominated by soaring guitars over a synth wash and some acoustic vibrations. Joukahainen is a character from an Epic Finnish poem by the way. For its short length it definitely has a lot of epic atmosphere and mood changes. I really love Colin’s guitar sound; crystal clear and bold throughout. It is majestic and uplifting with lashings of bass.

“Horizon” is a short sharp shock of prog, with delirious keyboards and tight bass and drums as guitar hovers overhead. It is great to hear the band in full flight even if it’s not three minutes in length.

“Landfill” has a wah-wah guitar and then a beautiful melody on Pasi’s synth. The tune will grab you immediately and has hints of the baroque or Elizabethan nuances. Colin’s duel guitars pluck and there are some cannon fire drum blasts. This piece is a real thing of beauty, powerful in its simplicity and anthemic in its approach. Again it is under 4 minutes but the repeated tune works in this compacted length. It has a really nice bass outro by Petri and guest drums by Paul Marshall.

“After Solstice” is a remix of an older track, with new drum parts by Robert Wolff and an overhaul of sound. It is a very relaxing waterfall of instrumentation, then it builds suddenly into a hyper synth workout and jagged guitar rhythms. This is the way I like my prog served up; on a plate of shredded time signatures and creative musicianship, breaking down all known existing barriers with dare and flair.

“JussiPussi” is a quirky jazz explosion; a paroxysm of horns and manic percussion as though Bill Bruford walked into the studio and took over. There are speed bursts of machine gun guitar and machete strikes of keyboard. Wolff’s drums are totally insane, the synths buzzsaw effect is retro and it somehow hangs together with a fractured time sig and odd vocal intonations by Stef Flaming; is he saying “Shazam”? It is delightfully oddball and a real standout on the album; King Crimson meets The Residents.

The album is suddenly a bizarre music feast. “Scary Movie Too” is a lengthy prog workout, and my favorite track of the album. It is embellished with a creepy synth as guitars scream relentlessly. Then there are jazzy horn attacks; a sinister vocal and distorted guitar riffs take over for a while. Swooshing synths and sporadic percussion splash over a doomy bass and keyboard motifs. I love the growling aggressive guitar and the way it snarls over sensuous synths. The lengthy outro of steady percussion and a chugging axe is downright hypnotic. This sends chills down my spine, the Rock In Opposition feel is startling after the opening tracks. It is a credit to the band that they can move from rock standards to such complex pieces as this; highly recommended for the adventurous progger.

“Petrified in the Cinema Basement” draws on the cover theme of the album. The music is like a carnival, upbeat and jarringly so after the darkness of the previous two tracks. The Spanish nuances are nothing new to Corvus Stone; they like to delve into the cultures of Flamenco guitar or Salsa rhythms. This is a sheer delight with some genuine surprises thrown in. The bassline is complex and after the opening it moves into vocal synths and acoustic finesse.

“Lost and Found Revisited” is twice the length of the original as vocalist Blake Carpenter intended from the outset. His voice is soft and multi tracked harmonies add flavor to the mix. The percussion is like a march into battle, and a new lead break enhances the glory and majesty.

“Cinema Finale” is replete with swirling synths and acoustics. The beauty of the track is augmented by a powerhouse twin lead break. This is an extremely melancholy instrumental, and it feels like things are drawing to a close. Indeed they are with only two numbers left.

“Pack up your Truffles” is virtually unplugged and is the most laid back track of the lot. The jazz influences abound, with melodic guitar and piano tinkling. The music is stripped back with only a synth pad to balance out the isolated guitar. It is over in a flash and the last track explodes.

“Moustaches in Massachusetts” is a fast paced instrumental with a ton of lead guitar and some Hammond sound keys. There is a spacey feel in the atmospherics and it moves into some strange time sig breaks. The Spanish texture is ever present and it even merges into a slower time sig with saxophone echoing and Santana like lead breaks. It ends the album with fabulous flair.

Overall this album is brimming over with lashings of creative musicianship. Each track brings the listener into a different mood and takes them on an adventure. It is not conceptual but somehow each track seems to belong here. The moments of brilliance are when the band allow the cork to pop and the genie to escape. When the musical barriers are removed we get master works such as “Scary Movie Too” and “JussiPussi”. At other times the band are content to lull us in to the sultry Spanish rhythms of “Petrified in the Cinema Basement” or “Moustaches in Massachusetts”. Primarily an instrumental album there are moments where we can lay back and allow the vocals to caress our ears such as on “Lost and Found”. Yet with such diversity on one album and varying styles, will the album come across to some listeners as a bit jumbled up, a band trying to be too many things rather than staying on one style? I think not personally, because the musicianship is so accomplished and it is a delight to hear such diversity.

The problem with a lot of bands is that every song sounds like a carbon copy of the others, and it becomes tiresome and too predictable. The unpredictable nature of Corvus Stone is the very marrow of what keeps the bones together. They inject each track with a loving dose of inventive rhythms and endearing melodies. To return to past tracks is intended to enhance the original listening experience, not replace it, and each track on offer is an enhancement, in many cases better than the original. The songs are not over long so we do not get an overkill of one specific melody or style. This album is not as bonkers or inventive as past albums for my tastes but still delivers enough to satiate the prog palate. In essence the band is a feast for the ears. When one performs with this much enthusiasm and passion it is impossible not to be impressed. Corvus Stone continue to impress with “Unscrewed”.  –  (Scott Tuffnell)

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