[Review] Rascal Reporters – Redux Vol. 2 Rascals Revenge and the Great Reset

Rascal Reporters are a duo born from the ashes of the Raw Meat band, whose period of activity was between the 60s and the early 70s, in which Steve Gore and David Johnson played. After an alternation in the lineup that sees the departure of Johnson and the entry of Steve Kretzmer, the project kicks off in 1974, while the first album was released in 1980. Since then 9 full-length have been released, the last of which “Redux Vol. 2 Rascals Revenge and the Great Reset” dated March 5, 2021. Containing 5 tracks and 2 bonuses from 4 minutes to over 16:30 available on CD and Digital, continuing the ever-evolving musical path that has characterized his entire career of RR. It is difficult to define their sound with a single genre, which is certainly rooted in the late 70s Progressive made in the UK, but with a wider sound range and with influences at times even very distant from each other of Pop, Electronics, Avant-garde and Experimentations of all sorts. Curious is the coincidence that both artists play both the drum and the keyboards naturally, while as regards the guests who sometimes complete the lineup, the choice is always very difficult and prudent. Given the complexity of the RR sound, finding artists who add something to their sounds is not always easy, making the choice fall on excellent performers who interpret the scores composed by the duo. With this Redux Vol. 2 the band wanted to present completed versions of some Steve Kretzmer recordings, dating back to the college period in the 70s. In addition we find the two shorter tracks, also by Kretzmer, while the longest track of over 16 minutes is a set of compositions by Steve Gore, specially revisited and mixed for the occasion. A collection of songs that collects the essence and history of the band, which since 2009, after the death of Steve Gore is directed by only Steve Kretzmer, accompanied by James Strain. The album begins with one of the two shorter tracks “The Unfettered Way” which nevertheless does not fail to show the elaborate character of the RR sound. Sudden changes of tempo and intricate sound weaves where the duo’s virtuosic technique immediately shows off, obviously with the keyboards that are the great protagonists. A mixture of Steve Gore’s compositions gave life to “Cashew Medley” which is also the longest track on the record, recalling from the very beginning the sounds of the Canterbury Scene. The atmospheres are initially dark and the plots as always very intricate with sound interweaving of complex keyboards and an articulated and constantly changing rhythmic session. Full of tempo changes that sometimes completely distort the sound, passing from Experimental moments to other Jazzy, spoken inserts and Progressive plots. The long duration allows to develop all the musical concepts to the best and the phrasing between the instruments reach high leveled Avant-Garde moments, showing all the techniques of the artists involved. Complex and refined, this long piece at every listen reveals passages and always new ideas, resulting engaging and always full of surprises, certainly a backbone of the album. “Fallen Mind” is the other shorter song, also around 4 minutes, with dreamy melodies and a harmonious voice. Softer and less frenetic than the previous one, the atmospheres created are a mix of dark sounds and more harmonious features, giving life to something original. “Moments” is characterized by a more Jazzy theme, decided with sophisticated sound weaves but still accessible to the great audience. The continuous tempo changes are certainly one of the keys to the song, and an added value for a track with a strong reference to the 70s Jazz Rock Music. Bands like National Health come to mind immediately, and the RR‘s technical preparation is of a high level, expressing themselves to the maximum in the virtuous plots that make up the piece. Closes the album “Egg Soup” which exceeds 10 minutes in duration and continues the musical discourse of the previous song, with a similar approach, but with different developments. The first part of the track is one of the most intricate and sophisticated moments on the record, with rapid acceleration and forays into almost extreme Jazz. The stylistic solutions proposed by the duo are always of exquisite workmanship, always managing to surprise the listener with particular and original solutions. After a softer central part, the second part of the piece returns to more difficult and intricate terrain, closing the album with the most elaborate and complex track, performed to perfection. “Hubert Greenery Peck (new mix)” is a new mix of the track already contained in the previous album “Redux, Vol. 1” and proposed here as a bonus track together with the other bonus “Deep Dish Beaver Pies for Breakfast.” A very interesting album, where the compositional and executive technique of the two Steve is acquitted as the protagonist. A work that is very reminiscent of the records of the Canterbury Scene with veins of both Avant-garde and Progressive Rock, all proposed with its own personal sound. Another beautiful proposal for the Rascal Reporters whose long career is full of excellent record releases, this is added and confirms the good things heard in these over 40 years of music. A listening recommended to all lovers of the more Jazzy sounds of Prog, where there is no lack of virtuous ideas and intricate plots, and where the technique of the musicians involved is enhanced to the maximum.

Tracklist

 01.The Unfettered Way04:07
02.Cashew Medley 16:34
03.Fallen Mind 04:03
04.Moments 09:13
05.Egg Soup 10:19
06.Hubert Greenery Peck (new mix) [bonus track] 14:07
07.Deep Dish Beaver Pies for Breakfast [bonus track]09:46

Lineup

Steve Kretzmer Keyboards, Acoustic Piano, Organ, Vocals
Steve GoreKeyboards, Synths, Vocals, Organ, Guitar, Percussion & Programming (2), Drums (7)
James StrainBass, Drums, Keyboards, Organ, Synths, Guitars, Arrangement, Production, Mixing
Dario D’AlessandroAdditional Synths (5), Cover Artwork
Rick BarenholtzBass (7)
Bob DrakeMastering

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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