Music Reviews

The purpose of this page is to provide added exposure to musicians I respect. The bar is set high. To pass Landschaft quality control, the music must be of a quality that meets or surpasses the standard that would secure them a commercial recording release, and/or that I feel an itch to do a Landschaft mix of. I do not review everything they produce - see the band's own websites for complete chronologies - what I review is what I encounter, when I encounter it.

The Hellset Orchestra

Current status: disbanded

website: defunct

Metadata: The Hellset Orchestra are are a one-off; a six-piece band in the traditional sense - a collective of fluent and competent musicians, at ease and as tight as piano-wire. Sumarising their style is not easy. Take a shake of Viv Stanshall, a rattle of Queen and roll of Zappa and you get a rough but not defining idea of the territory they occupy - mad scientist rock for want of a better description. A truly awesome talent. I was riveted to the spot when I first saw them on 31 March 2007 - catch them now while they are still playing small gigs.

Performance review 31 March 2007; venue The Maze, Nottingham (England): The name of the band and their striking "scream" poster had caught my eye a couple of weeks previously - and so for two weeks I trod water waiting for the gig, deliberately not seeking out the inevitable band website to increase the build-up. The 31st arrived and after a few (alright a lot of.) beers up Mansfield Road on to The Maze, a cosy venue where you can get close enough to count the band members' eyelashes. The HO took the stage. From the range and mix of instrumentation it was either going to be the best night out for ages or an early walk home: Piano, Cello, Violin, Sax, Drums, Bass. The first crashing chords and Michael Wetherburn's insane vocal pyrotechnics produced a wall of sound the like of which I have never experienced before: a wind-tunnel full throttle blast that sent my scalp tingling with the knowledge that I had stumbled across pure genius. The new album, "Spectre at the Feast" was played in it's entirety - along with three encores. Every note was played with absolute precision; operatic builds and Zappa-esque meanderings into seemingly impossible-to-escape-from musical cul-de-sacs only to emerge, through some virtuoso gear changing into the light. Every band member's contribution counted, powering up and down scales of volume and pitch drawing upon a seemingly effortless supply of energy, control and virtuosity. There was no musical padding upon which the band could rest. I was truly gobsmacked. I'm reluctant to make comparisons because HO are truly original, but let's say they have the energy of Muse, the bombastics and musical audacity of Queen and the technical precision of Capt Beefheat or Zappa. Only when I got home did I visit the websites. HO are from Nottingham and there, be praised, lies the promise of loads more gigs!