GIA G – Cosmic Wave EP

Following a string of self-released singles, the ‘Cosmic Wave’ EP is guitarist Gia G’s first outing for Sliptrick Records, sometime home for groove metallers Bless The Dead and Canadian prog metal titans Red Cain. Perhaps more importantly, her move to the European metal label places her alongside fellow fretboard melters Dr. Schafausen and Age of Fire, giving her a step up.

The three tracks that make up ‘Cosmic Wave’ often value melody over showboating, as you’d expect from someone whose chief influences include the legendary Jeff Beck. With Eddie Van Halen squarely in the frame as her other major love, her material still offers plenty for listeners who love a busier approach. With each of the EP’s tunes taking on a very distinctly different identity, it creates a very effective musical CV, despite being rather short.

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TOUNDRA – Hex

After spending years honing their hugely atmospheric post rock sound, Spanish prog/rock band Toundra hit something of a career high with their 2018 album ‘Vortex’. With its huge soundscapes of clean, shimmering guitar and crushing, yet melodic riffs, it came close to post rock perfection; more accessible than the likes of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and more focused than The Bloody Mallard. Obviously, the instrumental stance meant those listening rewards weren’t always immediate, but the best riffs eventually crawled into the subconscious in a really cool way. The follow up, a recording inspired by Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, showed a more adventurous approach via its longer pieces, but continued the band’s natural musical ascent.

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ESKINA – We Are The Moon

Following on from 2019’s ‘Everything Is Coloured’, ‘We Were The Moon’ is another fine, mellow yet complex work from Dutch instrumental act Eskina. Its ten ambient oriented pieces have very strong roots of chamber music, with a dominant cello and viola used effectively throughout, and by twisting through arrangements with slight overtones of prog and plenty of massive soundtrack-like moods, the musicians create something that’s both rich and rewarding.

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JAMES BASDANIS – Diddycoy EP

A rattle; a cranking sound that suggests revving; muted guitar sounds set against an ominous quiet… At the outset of this EP from fusion musician James Basdanis, things start so disjointedly they give no obvious clue as to where the music will go. After a little more gearing up, Basdanis turns out a few jazzy guitar notes in a melody that strongly suggests a Mediterranean slant, but this isn’t obviously something a world music buff might gravitate towards. Nor is it especially “jazz” in the most traditional sense, but certainly takes in elements of both. Hearing it for the first time, the slow, unfolding melody suggests something from the Frank Gambale back-cat mangled with glee by a Les Claypool project.

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