The results are rarely less than spectacular
author: Sid Smith- Classic Rock presents PROG magazine
Collective improvisation is a tricky affair at the best of times. A delicate, mercurial thing, it’s especially sensitive to even the most minute changes in musical temperature. In an instant it can bloom into something wondrous or wither on the vine; victory or defeat are only ever a beat or note away. The good news is that in the case of this New Jersey combo the results are rarely less than spectacular. Skilfully edited down from a single session, and with minimal overdubs, the results are, as the title accurately suggests, a triumph for a band that’s been taking risks since its formation in the mid-90s. It’s an inventive approach yielding impressive results. The stylistic compass points in several directions with moods ranging from explosive freak-outs, moments of ethereal ambient quietude, spiky avant-pop interventions, soaring passages of Kosmische-like laser-beam guitars, and bursts of Zappa-esque extrapolation. Remarkably, it all hangs together. Alongside punchy instrumentals, some decent songs are also scooped from the air. Dear Me offers a cautionary observation on the pitfalls of telling the truth, whilst Spirit or Matter becomes a lugubrious existential ballad that David Sylvian might’ve tinkered with in his darker moments.
Powerful and challenging
author: Erik Holmblad – www.artrock.se
This is overall just a very good album. It stands up very well and would only grow after numerous listenings primarily through its musical breadth, quality sound and playing skills of the musicians. The songs are powerful and challenging, complex, some may require some time before taking them to themselves but once the barrier is bridged so remain just musical enjoyment at a high level. My best track on the album is track two, “Spririt or Matter”, a certain sadness combined with a sense of medieval, like Dead Can Dance. Track 8 “Gargantua!”, King Crimsonskt with heavy funky bass and shimmering guitar cascades and “Fading in my memories”, which is the penultimate song, with its exquisite vocal.
A rewarding experience
author: Olav M Bjornsen – www.progressor.net
The stylistic expressions covered range from the avant-garde, hardcore-tinged Sand Palm pieces that open and end this CD on one hand to the jazz and blues mix of Bugbear Blues on the other, but most commonly these pieces reside within the psychedelic and space rock realm, where the exploits range from harder hitting, energetic features to laidback, lazy and dream-inspired journeys, the latter brilliantly exemplified by Rise of the Septopi. Subtle dissonant effects and the odd disharmonic element are features cleverly utilized throughout to enhance the brief cosmic forays, and close inspection does reveal that in most cases there’s much more going on here than you’ll be able to pick up on your first few visits to this universe. If the thought of encountering fairly advanced material of an improvisational nature with a firm basis in the parts of the art rock universe where psychedelic and space rock have their place, “The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs” should be a rewarding experience. A few details shy of perfection for my own musical tastes, but often touching upon the brilliant on their cosmic-laced journeys. Space cadets solely longing for the next elongated epic journey to the nearest black hole might find this material to be too compressed, but other than that this is a fine specimen within this category of progressive rock.
author: Rivertree – www.progarchives.com
A funny branding this New Jersey based collective is obsessed with – band name and album titles are pointing to their jamming approach without recall. Every album is a tough collection of excerpts from diverse improv sessions – each consisting of 16 songs on top of it … by pure chance you bet. Stylistically this is hard to categorize, I hear influences from Djam Karet, King Crimson, but also references to space and avant prog are obvious. ‘The Triumph Of The 16 Deadly Improvs’ is atmospheric and rather dark mooded overall where the overdubbed vocals have a large share. The melancholic Spirit Or Matter is a good example here, provided with a considerable gliding spacey touch. Torpedo lives up to its name with a funky groove then and some spooky gimmicks. And the space jam Invincible Pole Fighters even brings them close to the Oresund Space Collective. They constantly change the instruments by the way – which is another trademark. Wonderful empathic guitars on Rise Of The Septopi are alternating with a curious trance behaviour on Gargantua! – and decorated with metal riffs both Sand Palm episodes are avant prog pure. A wondrous song collection which takes time to unveil the secrets by all means. Even a proper blues song is in supply, the zappaesque rock jam You’d Make A Lot Of Money … or the sweet The Burrowers Beneath which gives me the feeling like drifting relaxed on orbit. Overall the attractive electric guitar work is often psych/space styled which catches my attention especially. Expect the unexpected … maybe this is their triumph, as the album title implies with some sense of humour … at least very entertaining if you ask me.
author: John O’Boyle –www.dprp.net
The 16 Deadly Improvs cleverly present these tracks which range from the ridiculous to the sublime. T16DI have incorporated metal, fusion, blues, jazz, avant-garde and prog symbiotically, making it all a very interesting and intriguing listening experience, offering ethereal, spacey, trippy and sometimes assertive soundscapes and sculptures, which need to be heard, as this really is a fascinating stuff. Interestingly these tracks at times seem to segue into each other, but uniquely no two compositions sound generically the same, no repeating themes, which makes this even more intriguing, but this also displays just how good the mastering is and the level of musicianship on display. The band has handled everything themselves, leaving nothing to chance. We are talking Red era King Crimson as a good point of reference or Zappa-esque extrapolations, which he was renowned for doing, allowing him to create greater pieces. One thing is for sure though, the ethos the band has chosen has served them well, no clashing of egos, each following or leading, creating perfection, but this is probably due more to the editing process; but one thing for sure is that all sixteen pieces presented here, have been created with love, conviction and confidence. What more could one ask for? Whether we are listening to the short opener Sand Palm IV, the melancholic sounding lyric infested Spirit Or Matter or bass driven, experimental Gargantua!, your attention will be held from beginning to end, as is the case with all the tracks on offer here. The Burrowers Beneath is the piece de resistance of the album clocking in at just over nine minutes. This is the sound of the band that has hit their stride during the session, offering some beautiful and ethereal soundscapes, mesmerizing and haunting. To keep the listener on their toes and offering more than just instrumentation T16DI have injected lyrics or spoken word into some of the pieces, which works best on Fading Of My Memories. This is a band that definitely needs to be checked out a.s.a.p.
Had a great time listening to it
author: Terry Jackson- www.prognaut.com
This is a very interesting project. Take two and a half hours of jamming, cull through and find the best bits, edit it to make individual songs, add vocals on a few cuts, and voila! A CD! It’s ethereal at times and interesting for sure. These are soundscapes in the style of some of Eno or Fripp’s solo works. The Triumph of the Deadly Improvs begins with a cacophony of sounds on “Sand Palm IV.” Some cuts are powerful, some are bluesy, all are intriguing and listenable. I especially enjoyed “Torpedo,” with its cool instrumental and jangly guitar throughout. It has a driving beat, then moves into a King Crimson dissonance, finally ending with a kind of progged out jam. Some songs have a feel of e-bow or Frippertronics effect on the guitars that adds colors and depth to the songs. The vocals (when they are introduced) are a bit uneven, but I wouldn’t stop this aspect of their sound. It definitely breaks the mood and gives a distinct quality to the music. This CD would be much lesser without all the different contributions to the whole. The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs should be attractive to those who take pleasure in early Porcupine Tree, Robert Fripp or Brian Eno’s solo works, or some of the more “out there” styles of progressive rock. I certainly had a great time listening to it, and am pleased to have it in my collection.
A disc that intrigues and fascinates
There are various suggestions and references that are followed in the course of listening: an array prog-psychedelic, remembering the lesson of the ‘greats’ (thought initially to King Crimson more relaxed), but that does not lose an eye’ s News: Fripp and returning members, but in the forms ‘dilated’ of recent times, a sidereal side pull some may remember that in some ways the Porcupine Tree. In between, many more and varied inspirations: from sudden stinging blues brace limits to sluggishness of metal, liquids dub territories that border on the ‘good old’, the song form (albeit transfigured by a graduated filter). The sextet makes extensive use of keyboards and effects ‘overdub’ applied to guitars, piano, voices, show its ‘openness to the times’ through the use of film samples, but then assigns all his verve to the solid texture of the guitars, and the morrow of the rhythm section. The result is a disc that intrigues and fascinates, confirming that even today, the year of grace 2010, a certain ‘genre’ manages to be more timely than ever.
An Interesting Experience
Often times sounding like a jam band, these guys exacerbate every instrument and mesh them all together to form a creative perspective of bliss progressive rock with transgressions of ambient, jazz, psychedelic and atmospheric surroundings not easily defined. Varied qualities pop up on “Torpedo” a nice jam that has prog rock influences written all over it. The fusion bluesy guitar following in “Bugbear Blues” jives along nicely leaving a chill effect behind it’s root. The space tripping fluidity of “Rise of the Septopi” leads way to the groovy bass quencher of “Gargantua!” which continues it’s trippy head games featuring an unusual base thumping approach, and some synth keys to tie the ambient sound. The shallow drumming of “Sand Palm V” is a pretty cool number with a scifi twist from it’s keyboard driven special effects. I can surprisingly say this is an interesting experience which pays homage to classic progressive pioneers like King Crimson.
….this is not an Album that immediately grabs one. Only at the deeper immersion reveal the slow moments of tension, is clear that this album mainly works because of its Atmospheric depth work.
The triumph OF the 16 Deadly Improvs” an eerie, a fascinating disk, became an obligation purchase for friends of the unusual one.
Look, listen and buy
Of course, the clue’s in the name… what were you expecting? The Triumph Of The 16 Deadly Improvs is just that, 16 tracks of improvised avant-punk, proggy jazz and jazzy prog. Those who are intimate with the works of The Cravats / Very Things, This Heat, even Devo, will find much here to cosy up with. Those with less developed tastes will run screaming to the hills. Look, listen and buy – then file between 11 Acorn Lane and 23 Skidoo (that’s right… we must have some sort of order). Highlights are difficult to explain, indeed just switch your mind to ‘open’ and lose yourself within the concept.
The overall feel of the album is one of scary sounds coming at you when you least expect coupled with some crazy arrangements and even crazier musicianship. Most of the album is instrumental but the vocals do really work on “Spirit or Matter” a particularly haunting song and “Into Another Time” which personally speaking it had the right combination of craziness and song structure. Personal favorite was “Bugbear Blues”. Very jazzy and very strange. More of an early hours of the morning album than a Sunday afternoon easy listening.
Go find and prepare to be amazed.
Oh, what’s in a name? In some occurrences, nearly everything you would need to know about a band, which is the case with The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs. This disc, sub-titled a “5th installment in an ongoing series’ is a whirlwind of progressive, convoluted, labyrinthine, jazzy, freak-outs that will leave you speechless. The record, and yes, it does have sixteen tracks, was culled from a marathon, two and half hour session recorded in June of 2008. Gene and Nick Bohensky, accented by Jeff Bridi, Dave Wilson, Mark Nowak, and Vin Villanueva, constructed pieces that can be quiet, jarring mesmerizing, troubling, warm, and chilling all within one effort. The songs are overwhelmingly instrumental, but there are a few spoken word nuances that add an eerie flavor to the overall record. “Invincible Pole Fighters” and “Sand Palm V” include carefully placed snippets from a 2009 documentary called “Shall We Protest”, but my favorite was “Rise of the Septopi” which includes a sample from “Killers From Space”, a 1954 space effort that would make the guys from man or Astroman? jealous. The complexity of the songs cannot be challenged, and these players have an amazing sense of timing and camaraderie, for no one steps on each other. This is the kind of album that needs to be heard in one sitting to be fully appreciated, as it is an intriguing compilation of genius. The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs is complicated, challenging, and much cooler than whatever your band is doing right now. Go find and prepare to be amazed.
The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs
“The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs” constitutes a valid musical experiment that will be welcomed by those who are interested in music made by improvisational techniques, and also by fans of “King Crimson”, “Brian Eno”, “Pink Floyd”, “David Sylvian & Rain Tree Crow”, “Radiohead”, “The Legendary Pink Dots”, “Holger Czukay”, “Harold Budd”, “Sigur Ros”, “No Man”, and their likes.
The 16 Deadly Improvs are the next King Crimson
author: Zachary Nathanson
With the kind of Arranging and Composition’s that we should take one of the new Progressive Rock bands to come out of New Jersey, The 16 Deadly Improvs are one of the most exquisite bands to come out of the states. Whether you love it or not, it’s extremely an understatement to take note that The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs is not just one of their breathtaking albums of this year, but that everyone in the Prog scene should really take notice of, as one of the new bands to come out of the woodwork of the band’s talent, part fusion, and alternative rock like you’ve never heard it before. This is a beautiful, terrifying, and an unbelievable album as it is a masterpiece. The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs is an explosive album with Prog, Metal, Post Rock and forward to bring the Avant-Garde Rock sound into a magnetic dreamland sound. No Bullshit here, believe me, The 16 Deadly Improvs are the next King Crimson.
A band that deserves your immediate attention
Avant-garde/prog/fusion/metal act The 16 Deadly Improvs once again unleash their fury on their fifth release, titled The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs. Again resulting in 16 tracks, The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs sees the band taking their cue from the avant-garde jazz scene, as well as Red era King Crimson, and blasting forth with a wide array of styles and sounds that never gets repetitive or boring. The line-up, comprised of musicians from New Brunswick, NJ, includes Gene Bohensky (drums/keyboards), Nick Bohensky (guitar/keyboards/percussion/vocals), Jeff Bridi (bass/keyboards/vocals), Dave Wilson (drums/keyboards), Mark Nowak (keyboards/vocals), and Vin Vilanueva (guitar). They have put together some dark and ominous pieces here, all filled with both tight arrangements as well as looser moments of improvisation, yet the grip of tension is always apparent. Though much of what you will hear is instrumental, there are a few vocal pieces that really work quite well, such as the post rock-meets-prog of “Into Another Time” and the poppy “Dear Me”. However, the band really grabs the listener by the balls with their metallic, King Crimson influenced bombast, which you can hear to full effect on “Gargantua!”, the various “Sand Palm ” tracks, ‘Death to Disco”, and “Torpedo”. The way the band creates the tension by using creepy keyboard sounds, percussion, and then rampaging guitar riffs and slicing, angular lead lines, really works on all fronts. Toss in a bunch of atmospheric prog tunes, as well as some tracks with an almost funk edge, and you have a very enjoyable collection of ‘improvs’ that ultimately come across as well thought out rather that straight ahead jams. Bottom line: a unique and adventurous album from a band that deserves your immediate attention.
The website for Classic, Metal and Progessive Rock
Review by Pete Feenstra
‘The Triumph of the 16 Deadly Improvs’ is an adventurous yet frustrating album full of quirky twists and turns that draw you into the moments of real inspiration and then turn you away again with some contrasting dirgy musical dead ends. And therein is the Achilles heel of an improv album like this. If you enter a studio without pre planning, structured songs, let alone charts, then there are always going to be some rough edges and seat of the pants moments when the ensemble either glides or hits a brick wall. Of course such is the musical prowess of this band that the latter rarely happens, only occasionally manifesting itself in one vocal line or keyboard drone too many
And yes, there’s an organic feel that anchors the project that the liner notes tell us is ‘The 5th instalment in an ongoing series’. And as the band lock into the dirgy feel of ‘Into Another Time’, the piece develops from a spoken verse and an almost lounge feel to make its way towards a hymnal ending coached in guitar reverb.
It’s tempting to say that everything is routed in Dave Wilson’s drumming, but that would be to ignore the fact that band members frequently swap instruments. In this case the drumming is shared by Gene Bohensky who also plays keyboards on six tracks. Overall the album nudges itself in the direction of fractured rock, ambient music, heavy prog rock, layered keyboards, the use of judicious samples and an ever present rhythmic pulse. By the time of the impressive but not altogether original ‘Death To Disco’ the band almost sail into Space Rock with a trademark dirt sounding Zappa guitar solo to boot.
Curiously while on the subject of disco hating dudes, no sooner do they hit the heights on ‘Death to Disco’ when they add a 1959 sample to a basic dance track, the very thing they apparently decried on the preceding track.
But it’s a minor inconsistency in an ocean of complex musical tensions that push a groove, a riff, a motif and even a disguised dance beat to the limit before the band cleverly twists the basic idea into something else. And that is their oeuvre, nothing is quite what it seems on a journey that opens with a cacophonous bombastic rumble and explores a heavily disguised linear movement that is coloured by prog rock progressions on the Floydian ‘Spirit or Matter’. There’s also a real ambient feel on both ‘Torpedo’ and the sonorous ‘Rise of the Septopi’ as well as the Eno/Fripp influenced ‘The Burrowers Beneath’. The latter is a slow moving amoeba that relies wholly on an atmospheric tension that stands at odds with everything that has gone before, but works so well simply because of the startling contrast.
In between the shifting musical styles there a few near misses, notably on the Crimson influenced but ultimately underwhelming ‘Invincible Pole Fighters, and the closest they get to thematic development on the choral feel of ‘Gargantua’
Surprisingly perhaps the best stuff comes in the final quarter of the album, almost as if having explored the myriad possibilities of improvisation they’ve settled on a workable equilibrium. That said, ‘Sand Palm V’ opens with a heavy staccato drum led crescendo as part of an almost impenetrable slice of heavy spontaneity. There’s also a looped 2009 voice collage sample and a metal riff freak out on a number that genuinely feels like the band have taken their combined musical elements to the edge. It is left to the following spiralling guitars and wah wah of ‘You’d Make A Lot of Money’ to demonstrate what happens when it all comes together and the band can breathe as one.
The final hard driving buzz guitar on ‘Sand PalmVI’ sounds like a chain saw cutting through a tree to usher in a dramatic tension building finale. Even improv it seems recognises a chequered flag when it sees one.
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan
More reviews will be added as they come in!