Ever since Shai introduced me to Pain of Salvation back in 2004 I became a great admirer of Gildenlöw's work. I think he’s a brilliant composer and always stays very true to his messages and thoughts. His presentation is oftentimes very dramatic, but he manages to pull it through while rarely being too much over the top. (Said exception: That part in The Big Machine from One Hour by the Concrete Lake where he roars "I AM JUST A WHEEL!" always makes me crack up).
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Pain of Salvation live in Greece, and other than attending the concert itself, I had the opportunity of striking up a small conversation with Daniel Gildenlöw, and meeting the rest of the gang. But let me start at the beginning -
This small escapade started when my friend Leah asked me whether I want to see a PoS concert the week after. I was in the middle of my semester, completely swamped up in schoolwork with hardly any time for breathe, let alone go out. So naturally I said "yes" and ordered a plane ticket to Greece.
The day of the show I've decided that if I flew all the way to Greece from Israel, I might as well pop in to say hello, so there we found ourselves strolling in high noon through the very shady parts of Athens on our way to Fuzz club. In my mind I had already devised several nefarious plans to counterfeit any and all of the barricades that will stand in my way. I was not disappointed. Shortly after I've encountered my first barrier: a completely open door to the club.
Soon it was overcome, and in a while I found myself talking with the tour manager. Not long after, I had already made several new friends: Nikos from the power metal band The Silent Rage, Mina from the gothic metal group The Rain I Bleed and Chris Entee, sound engineer and guitar player from a band whose name I don't remember, but will soon check and correct. We also ran into the support act Scar Symmetry, which led to us spending the day after with them. That must have been an odd scene - Two Israelis, two Greeks and five Swedes sitting in an Irish pub in Athens sipping beer under the sun.
Mr. Gildenlöw was very down to earth, but even more surprising –much taller than me, which is no easy feat in general, but I suppose much easier for those of the Nordic folk. We stayed in for the soundcheck, and then for the show which was in one word: Brilliant. First of all, thanks to our aforementioned friend Nikos we managed to get the best seats in the house, on our very own comfy couch, right next to the sound engineer. The concert sound itself was dead on – every instrument was clearly heard and no note was ever murky or muddy. The set opened with what I gathered to be some sort of children's nursery song in Swedish, followed by the much more dramatic opening of Remedy Lane.
At first I was afraid that most of this show's setlist will be taken from their latest album Road Salt One, but I was happy to find out that it included many songs from The Perfect Element, Be, Entropia and even the stuff from Road Salt and Scarsick worked out pretty well live. In the encore proceeded to perform a mix of strange covers with Daniel playing the drums: The Beatles' Come Together and Stevie Wonder's Superstition with Joahn on vocals, as well as two Dio Covers – Don't Talk To Strangers with Léo Margarit on vocals, and a jazzy version of Holy Diver.
I was surprised to find out that both Léo and Johan are excellent singers. Daniel is very charismatic as a frontman, seamlessly switching from the very dark topics of his songs to harmless band-crowd banter and back again. Not unlike Solstice Coil, at times.
The entire experience was exhilarating and reminded me why I love music so much. During the show there was a sense of connection in the air, and not in an odd hippy way, but in a deeper, more spiritual manner. It reminded me why I love music so much, and how sometimes all it takes is the right notes to reach out and touch someone from a distance.
I did end up giving Daniel a copy of our upcoming album Natural Causes. So is there a chance you'll get t to see a Solstice Coil and Pain of Salvation cooperation in the future? Time will tell.
I'd like to point out that a while back I did have the pleasure of playing with Key of the Moment, albeit sans Mr. Zukerkorn. They are a very capable bunch of musicians, which tackle challenging compositions with much grace and elegance. While it did not work out for me and them, I'm glad to see the then-still shirtless and talented Eden managed to keep up with an impressive and much worthy line up to this very day. (And the question that has been on everyone's mind - after Right on Time and Key of the Moment, what progressive pun should we expect next, Eden? )
You should definitely check out their song The Switch on their MyWhatever, which had been stuck in my head for about a year and a half now.
And as for PieQ, while I do hold my appreciation for both them and No Doubt (seriously. seriously?) , I can hardly hear the musical resemblance Shir mentioned. However I do agree with everything else and they do indeed calcitrate some serious buttocks, so 1up on the recommendation. Check them out.
Band - Birds of Tokyo
Kinda sounds like - That great song you've been humming to yourself forever, but just couldn't place what it was
Album to listen to - Universes
Songs to start with - Silhoutteic, Wild Eyed Boy
In the last time I introduced to you a band I know and you don't, you've met Karnivool. This time, we're not straying too far geographically, but rather leaping sideways genre-wise.
As the saying that I just made up goes - "Why have one band when you can have two?". Birds of Tokyo is comprised of Karnivool's frontman Ian Kenny, as well as three other guys. Together, this merry group has some a sort of a pop\rock thing going on there.
Universes, their second album feels like a pure distilled essence of Kenny, letting him lay out words and melodies that are all him. Kenny continues doing what he does best - singing in a way that reaches out and touches, but unlike in Karnivool, with its raging guitar lines and intricate rythems, this time the entire focus is him. As a matter of fact, I dare you to find 15 seconds on Universes where Kenny doesn't sing. That is not to say that that's a bad thing - as the melodies are so catchy and addictive you'll eventually get them stuck in your head with no way foreseeable way to remove them. This is clearly demonstrated with “Head in my hands”, where Kenny sings “I hate my melodies, they're all the same. One by one they're driving me insane” - while I don't think the melodies are repetetive, this is probably the same feeling you're going to get after giving Universes a couple of listens. In a good way.
This is a band that even your sister will like, because the songs just work. It's one of those albums which manage to strike that perfect balance between being fun to sing with and at the same time contain those hidden inner layers, that begin to unravel themselves if you do choose to take the time and commit to the music.
You won't find face melting solos or long and elaborate compositions with Birds Of Tokyo, but what you will find is excellent vocal-driven pieces with precise rock arrangements and incredibly good song writing. Plus you could make your sister happy, and isn't that always a good thing?
I just got one of the best mails I've received of late and I wanted to share it with you: So while whacking my brains out trying to invent a Hebrew letter (*sigh*... Bezalel homework assignments in Typography) I got this nice email from Will at Pongid. Apparently we've been selected as Artist of the Month for December 2010. Cool, eh? Other than that, we'll be played in the featured artist shows from now on and will remain in 24/7 play for a while! Yeah! We will also get own page on the site after December is over in our featured artist section... What more could we ask for?
But wait, while that is definitely cool, that is not what makes this correspondence so great, for you see, attached the the mail itself in all its simian glory was this picture:
They frakking sent us a picture of a monkey! You simply cannot be unhappy when you get a picture of monkey in your email. Seriously.
I tried to convey my joy to the rest of my bandmates:
ok. what.they sent us a picture of a monkey.
i'm so going to post this on the blog.
On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:04 AM, Shir Deutch <email@example.com> wrote:
That's their logo, it seems.
and Shai, always with a party to poop on:
On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 09:25, Shai Yallin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
"pongid", from "pongo", the latin name for orangutans
pffft... fine. I'll keep the monkey to myself.
(Check us out and our monkey over at pongid!)