Kopecky - Orion

Year of Release: 2001
Label: M.A.C.E Music, Inc.
Catalog Number: 7-75047
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:34:00

Though the album's cover is graced by astronomical imagery, the Orion in the title of Kopecky's live CD refers also to the studio at which it was recorded, that being the Orion Sound Studios in Baltimore, MD, home to the Progressive Rock Series of concerts. Recorded nearly two years ago and released last year, this recording features 7 tracks from their two studio albums to date, Kopecky (1999) and Serpentine Kaleidoscope (2000), plus one track that will appear on the band's next studio album. It is this new track that opens the set. "Temptation's Screaming-Ground" is a heavy affair full of the dark menace that is a large component of much of Kopecky's music. Over this heaviness of bass (William) and drums (Paul) is shimmering, layered guitar work from Joe, who plays both with a feathery touch and, later, as if he's using a razor blade for a pick. Things are kicked into overdrive through to the end, not quite reaching speed metal fury, but no less heavy for not being so.

That which becomes immediately apparent is how tight this trio is -- you could bounce a coin off their interplay. "Smoke Of Her Burning" is a little more angular here than in its studio setting, but still making me think of Djam Karet. Williams's bass still retains some of its sultriness, but this time it's dressed to the nines and dressed to kill. "Scorpion" is punchy and aggressive, as confrontational as its namesake is. "Heaven's Black Amnesia" sees the bass and guitar play over, with and under each other, a complex helix of sound, a contrast between a dark and light. Though there are passages of chaotic churning - that bit of evil doing that "heaven" conveniently can't recall.

There's a sinister playfulness in the first couple of minutes of "Autumn Swirl," but this gives way to happy-go-lucky guitar, though the bass and drums keep everything grounded. Swirling is truly an element here as bass and guitar dance about each other...and then collide together, the swirling becoming wrestling. Each comes out of the conflict unscathed, and each triumphantly declaring themselves the winner. Sometimes one can be too wrapped up the metaphor or simile to tell the reader what they're really hearing - throbbing bass; bursts of distorted guitar, crashing drums. This swirl is no small dustdevil; no this is a twister, sucking up all things in its path.

The tendrils of "Sky-Blue Hair" are one part tango and one part mosh pit. In between we get to hear Williams bass sing a happy tune while Joe's guitar muses in both melancholic and thoughtful phrases. Here, as on the studio version, the bass makes me think of Tony Levin and of "Rhapsody In Blue" as heard in the long-ago American Airlines commercial. Speaking of flying, the next live track is "Bartholomew's Kite," a quick paced tune that has a few western overtones, a certain twang to guitar. But, once the kite's aloft, its Pink Floyd that comes to mind, as the sound just opens wide and soars, the kite carried along by thermals. Suddenly, the mood shifts, as William's keys and Joe's guitar playing suggest that this kite has ventured into dangerous territory... a dark adventure, out of which the kite emerges nearly unscathed... well, lets just presume that dear Bartholomew is still attached to his kite. So, we should say he emerges nearly unscathed by wiser from the experience. We're still high aloft, but Barth's view of the world has become much wider. "Crimson Crime" is a monster of a track, angular and round at the same time. The sound explodes into being with each drum crash, each strum of the guitar, each throb of the bass... this is an effects laden track, at one point sounding like a World War II dogfight, the sound we hear like the droning of engines. The instruments are flabby, creating large wobbles of sound that quiver and jiggle with each note, though Paul's drums seem a bit trim here. Still, for all that, the playing is quite tight.

As a live recording, there's a lot of dynamics to their sound; but the applause of the audience, you might no realize that this is, right off, a live recording. There is a brightness to the recording that makes all the colours standout, though admittedly the band's colours are mostly black, grey, dark brown with a bit of silver thrown in. The sound is very meaty, giving you a lot to latch onto, whether your particular instrument of interest is drums, guitar or bass -- keyboards are present but don't really take a lead role.

Because I already liked the studio albums these cuts were taken from, I knew going in I was going to like this release. I wasn't disappointed. This is the type of stuff I like, big and bold, certain of itself, no timidity whatsoever.

Tempation's Screaming-Ground (9:23) / Smoke Of Her Burning (3:58) / Scorpion (5:31) / Heaven's Black Amnesia (10:00) / Autumn Swirl (6:15) / Sky-Blue Hair (5:25) / Bartholomew's Kite (8:12) / Crimson Crime 2-1-3 (4:40)

Paul Kopecky - drums and percussion
Joe Kopecky - guitar
William Kopecky - bass and keyboards

Kopecky (1999)
Serpentine Kaleidoscope (2000)
Orion - A Live Performance (2001)
Sunset Gun (2003)
Blood (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 24th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.kopecky.8m.com
Hits: 921
Language: english


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