WE ARE WELCOMED INTO LORD RUSS’ COURT! A REGAL, ROYAL, RENAGADE REALITY THAT WE HOPE WILL BRIGHTEN OUR LIVES AFTER MAJOR DISILLUSIONMENT…

Perhaps too late for the "Ra" era of Utopia, Lord Russ progs his way onto the Psychedelic scene.

Perhaps too late for the “Ra” era of Utopia, Lord Russ progs his way onto the Psychedelic scene.

I’ve never been much for the Ren Faire style.  My least favorite era of King Crimson?  Madrigal.  The only madrigal I could truly stomach was Genesis.  Other than that, just not my thing.

Then there is another connotation for the word “Lord”, it is resident within the BDSM community.  BDSM stands for Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism, or in layman’s terms, ‘… but whips and chains excite me’.  Oft times male dominants will title themselves ‘Lord such-and-such’ by which the submissive can only address this person.

So there’s that…

After my cursory listens, I think I would do better to identify with a traveling minstrel than a landed master…  But the minstrel keeps finding psychedelics during his journey…

This disc is titled Heir Of Mystery and has an interesting cover, from an Egyptian curiosity vantage point.

It begins with “Moroccan Desert Air” and we are immediately met with a tremoloed sitar and keyboard combo over organ.  Very exotic until the slide guitar or pedal steel  kicks in the full instrumentation.  Russ uses midi instruments, and he uses them well.  The healthy intro returns to our opening riff, but overall, the song has an almost ‘at the beach’ sound.

But get that outta your brain as we get way 60’s/70’s punk with “Cadaques Cabaret”.  Fuzz tones galore, but after the verse, we take a quickie breather with a half-time break, which will turn into a chorus the second time it comes around.  I hear early Roxy Music (I might be a bit biased as I just saw the Story Of Roxy Music DVD) so if Russ were to add some Enoesque blurbs, beeps and bloops to it, and toss in some sax, it would be dead-on Roxy Music.

The staccato chorus interjected with ‘Hey’ gives in to a break down with percussion and choir-like vocals and synths.

Russ doesn’t seem concerned about shaking off the dancers by changing parts, tempos, beats.

A quickie guitar solo yields to Russ announcing that he is our star.  At this point, his voice takes on a very Greg Lake quality.  Let’s hope Russ doesn’t take on the pounds that Lake did!

That one was for you, Simon Romero…

After more grunge guitar, the riff takes a different form and mutates into a Queen/Brian May style solo.  The last verse features very strong vocals, saying that the end of the show is the beginning.

Things needn’t make linear sense in a psychedelic trip…

But in the last chorus, Russ does his best Bryan Ferry impression with accentuated tremolo in his vocal chords.

Stevie Nicks ruined that effect for everyone…

The tune ends with a Cap’t Crunch guitar doing the bridge riff to a dead stop.

With this review, I’ve got my work cut out for me.  Russ is challenging me at every turn.

Animal noises and pensive guitar open “Death And The Lover” as Russ whips out his Greg Lake timbre again.  This is a slow, bluesy prog, love lost entry.  During a bridge, a plucked string sound adds a delicate touch to intro a Mellotron-like string sound.

The animals return to end this track.

“Do You Like Me Better Now That I’m Rich” is a jaunty, 40’s style big band jazz tune that gives way to tympanis and is over far too soon!

“Love Song Trilogy” opens with thundering drums and guitars.  Text book power pop stuff.  Russ is oblivious to genre restrictions.  It’s good thing.

The second verse brings up a ringing acoustic guitar, which further proves my point about power pop.  The total change in structure for the solo proves my point about Russ being an inventive arranger.  That solo is firey, the perfect intro for the verse following the electronic percussion, then another solo with a hurried rhythm track propelling the entire cut.  It is brought to an end via some speedy synth notes and a long decayed/flanged cymbal.

But it was titled as a trilogy, I want more.

Church-style organ opens “The Persistence Of Memory”.  A bass slide note and harp sounds chime in intermittently.  Named after the Salvador Dali painting Persistence Of Memory, a print of which hangs over my fireplace.  Russ has good taste.

Once Russ begins the vocal, the full arrangement joins as well.  But the dynamic is quelled after a while, and this allows the bass to get a little heavy in the mix.  This erodes away leaving a drip-drop synth to linger on.

Lots of little ditties on the disc.  You have to keep your eye on the track counted to know when one track ends and another begins as Russ is also following the grand prog tradition of not putting spaces between the tracks.

“Some Velvet Morning” by Lee Hazlewood is not only covered but features the delightful vocals of Perry Carter, to augment Russ’s chameleon vocals.  It picks up on those drip-drop synths by steamrolling over them with swelling sounds and synths.  Russ has a gated multi-delay on his vocals.  The third verse develops a gallop in the rhythm.  Very funky with tight, distorted guitar.  But it all falls away before the tremolo slide reintroduced Carter’s chorus.

The gallops returns for a couple of measures and alternates with Carter’s part, back and forth.

The end is neat, a tremendous sound undulating and mutating in EQ, yet bouncing around my 7.1 system.  An indie artist mixing and mastering for higher echelon sound systems.

For an unsolicited (on my part) artist to come to my attention and be this interesting, I am grateful to Russ for seeking me out.  I would have missed out on the fun.  At least so far.

After that last little testimonial bit, I hope I am wrong with this statement, but the intro to this sounds disturbingly similar to the intro to King Crimson’s “Vroom” from their Thrak album.  Same patch, similar chords.  I don’t know if Russ is a Crimson fan, but this IS a little too close for comfort.  Russ puts noises over top of it until a nightclub jazz sounding chord sequence (as in, you expect Cha-Cha-Cha ay second) is brought to a close with the sounds of a cash register ringing.

WTF?!?!?!?!?

OK, this guy is pretty fucked up right here.  Does it get any better?  Let’s hope so!

“Can’t Go Slow” is a total change up from what I have heard of the disc so far for Russ.  Guitar riffs all over the place, and more come out of the woodwork.  Russ proclaims ‘love is all he can do for [us]’.  I think he can brew up some techno-prog, but what do I know?  I’m just the guy who broke the story about King Crimson ending.

The lyric about driving too fast and getting a ticket, priceless!!!  I watch the UK Top Gear…

He breaks it down to some muted string strums but not for long.  He goes full out.  But as quickly, the backing track degenerates to bare bones noises with the bass tenuously clinging to the melody of the song. But this, as well, doesn’t last too long.  He returns to the driving metaphor break as a clever rock ‘n’ roll way to intro a solo.

As tasty, yet under-mixed as the solo was, it gives to a synth descend break with some acoustic notes and wah notes thrown into this prog stew.

A vocal and drum break with pushed vocals set up a nice section where Russ sings the word ‘lover’ over and adds harmonies to it as he goes.  That is a nice, attention getter.

It ushers back a full band arrangement until he breaks it down on the words ‘oh no’ and inserts some accents on the track to punch it up.

Russ is not want for lack of ideas.  Cowbell type sounds bring a new sense to the tempo.  After tambourines come in, one of the oddest triplets I’ve heard in a while is inserted (yet it works) to bring us to an oscillating Leslie-style organ ending.  With the slowed down vocal on ‘go, go slow’, he sneaks that in after a brief silence.

Tricky.

Apparently, Russ listens to David Bowie as well.  If “Hungry Ghosts” isn’t influenced by Bowie, nothing is, including Bowie.  But this track is better then most of what I heard on Bowie’s The Next Day.

Big bass, light drums, tasty guitar chords, slap-back delays Mellotron sounds, and best yet, the chorus vocal repeating ‘just give us money, sex and drugs’.  Far better than The Next Day.

Albeit so far, the arrangement is Russ’s most commercial yet.

It is again confusing as he revisits the previous song’s lyrics by inserting ‘Can’t go slow’ into the line.  Gotta watch that counter.

After the second Frippesque solo, the chorus line is turned into a power chant until the Beatle influence swells in the form of a chord and instrumentation until this yields in some sequenced arpegiation to the crescendo end.

Some dime-store samba makes it way out of “Crivelli”.  But it transforms into something that sounds precariously like “Interlude With Ludes” from Them Crooked Vultures.

I need to take a look at Russ’s record/CD collection…

Flanged notes lurk behind flute/melodica blend keys.  It breaks for banjo and high piano plinks brought to an end.  No rhyme or reason, I like it!

We return to ‘order’ with piano, which is joined by a calliope key, and as the backing vocals fill in, the rest of the circus-style track fills in.  This is so reminiscent of Eno’s early stuff, but it still has the skeleton of Rundgren’s “Night The Carosel Burnt Down” from the gawd-awful Something/Anything album.  The lyrics come across like an ode to Summer’s end, yet Russ alludes to turntables spinning him around, generating a cool breeze.

Of course, more carosel references.

Then another solo that sounds like it was tonally modeled after something from Eno’s Another Green World or Before And After Science.  A shrill synth brings our carosel to an end.

There, now I can tell everyone I went to the circus when the only circus I give a rat’s ass about it Monty Python’s Flying.

Acoustic guitar opens into strings until the booming bass and finally percussion join in.  Russ sends in his best Bowie to light up “A Point In Every Direction”.  The snare back-beat is a nice touch says the Bill Bruford fan in me.

It breaks back down to a Berlin-era Bowie synth stand alone portion.  Four measures later, it becomes club Bowie when the drums punch their way in to create “Warzawa” on steroids.

“Places” opens with what sounds like off-key a cappella until the acoustic guitar affirms the direction of the vocal melody as Russ pushes the key up for the line ‘could it be me’.  He throws away the key on the second line ‘could it be you’ but to proper effect.

A lead guitar is joined by flute, both joining the fray at once.  The second verse brings in more instruments.  The bridge builds more sounds into the mix.  The structure for the third verse (a change perhaps?) is different, but by now, we expect Russ to be different.

The fourth verse has what sounds like a distorted baritone guitar.  By the time the bridge comes around the dynamic is through the roof despite the easy-going parts played.

Just before the end, there is a lovely guitar line, that royally ushers in the end.  I could compare this to any number of artists, but I’d rather think of it as Russ finding his own sound.

“Imagining Paris” abruptly starts with a deep, bright piano.  But builds into more Beatles homage to “Oh Blah Dee”, at least in terms of rhythm style.  But before you get too nostalgic, Russ wraps up his homage du Beatles.  In spite of the peppy/happy rhythm track, I gotta say, the lyrics are, without further explanation, kinda creepy.  It sounds as if Russ is in love with himself.  If I am allowed to hypothesize, I might hazard a guess that Russ is singing about someone who appears to be much like himself.

Or at least I hope…

There is an ad-lib break, with the muted wah string strums which are so cliché, they’re cool!

Lord Russ, the indie music honey badger, he don’t care.

The chorus returns.  By they way, if there isn’t a twinkling sequencer filling out the tune, there are all kinds of superfluous noises throughout the track.  An anti-sense break leads into a bridge/chorus before a Steve Hackett sounding solo.  Anti-sense, what do I mean?  ‘I want you to want me even though I don’t want you’.  You figure it out.

Then all of the sudden, we go Devo-techno for a change up.

Harp, water and faint voices dribble out the end.

Another of those quickie ditties I have been referring to, “At The Theatre” starts with string sounds with a faint oboe, or some sort of woodwind leads us into some intermittent harp ascends which make way for audience noises, only to build to a final, quick triplet, followed by one last harp up-strum, and audience half-hearted applause.

Lord Eno makes his way onto the scene for “Mon Fleur Fugitif”, and after some beeping synths and pulsating bass, he proclaims his rightful place among the strange midnight.  The verses are split, the first half unhurried, the second half builds into a major boost in dynamic for the choruses to uphold.

But this monarchy is incomplete as Russ performs a solemn tirade about being a King with no Queen.  This is met with a diabolical laugh of humiliation.

A tasteful string and vocal ad-lib break only blows up to the now equally unhurried chorus.  During that chorus, we get a taste of guitar solo as the bass gets all Angelo Badalamente/Twin Peaks on our ass.

White noise synth covers the sparsity of the track.  But the slap-back tick-tock drums rise as the track falls and is over taken by the twinkle-synth.

That, alas, is the end.  I was quite surprised by Russ.  What I thought was going to be a madrigal nightmare instead ended up being a very accessible hunk of psychedelic prog-pop.

I like to think of myself as being reasonably accessible.  Send me a message through this site and I will get a notification on my business email, I will then respond unless you are a total tosser!  In which case I will verbally put you in your place and you won’t want to respond again as I will become increasing vicious in my replies the more you antagonize me.  But this ‘open door’ policy can lead to any number of things behind that inbox indicator.  The Lord Russ Heir Of Mystery disc is perhaps the most pleasant surprise the comments section of this site has so far yielded.

You can get your own Lord Russ music at these sites:

Soundcloud.com/lordruss

iTunes.com

I suggest you do so soon!  If he comes out with anything new, I’ll be on it!

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7 Responses to “WE ARE WELCOMED INTO LORD RUSS’ COURT! A REGAL, ROYAL, RENAGADE REALITY THAT WE HOPE WILL BRIGHTEN OUR LIVES AFTER MAJOR DISILLUSIONMENT…”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    Lord Russ is supersonic! Great review.

    Like

  2. Stephanie Says:

    Yes, Lord Russ rocks! I was able to condense your review into those words–even though they are mine. I think his music is awesome & I have been a lifelong fan. He deserves hundreds of great reviews
    to match all his loyal fans.

    Like

    • BouleBlog Says:

      Hello, and thank you for the kind words!

      But I must contradict you! Russ does more than rock, he takes a mental landscape and transposes it to intense, evolving and surprising music.

      IMHO, he is the future of (or perhaps the founding father of?) techno-pop-prog!

      But on the flip side of the coin, I will concede there were sections that were as heavy as the best of them.

      So perhaps we are both right! We DO agree, he needs more attention.

      I intend to give him mine…

      Thanks again for your comment, every good wish!

      Like

  3. ksbrooks Says:

    Wow, intense review. I definitely agree with the Bowie comment. That was one of the first things I noticed. I really enjoy Lord Russ’s knack for pairing up the most unexpected instruments and making it WORK. Thanks for your analysis. It was really interesting.

    Like

    • BouleBlog Says:

      Thank you for your kind words!

      I get a lot of acts put in front of me from promoters and labels and even the artists themselves. Russ is a total breath of fresh air in this era of self-produced, simpleton-composed, ProTools “compositions” (think Kanye, think Timberlake, think Bieber, think the music, not the theatrics of acts like Spears, Gaga, Katy Perry). This needs disc needs attention.

      This is my aim.

      Rest assured you can trust that if Russ comes out with a product, I WILL give it the attention it deserves.

      Every good wish!

      Like

  4. WE ARE WELCOMED INTO LORD RUSS’ COURT! A REGAL, ROYAL, RENAGADE REALITY THAT WE HOPE WILL BRIGHTEN OUR LIVES AFTER MAJOR DISILLUSIONMENT… | KSBrooks's Blog Says:

    […] WE ARE WELCOMED INTO LORD RUSS’ COURT! A REGAL, ROYAL, RENAGADE REALITY THAT WE HOPE WILL BRIGHTEN…. […]

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