Review – Alizarin – Cast Zenith – by Progradar

“Instrumental, unconventional rock music that leans on the progressive side, whatever that means…

Consider if King Crimson and Opeth had a baby but were forced to raise it outside the city, due to an overabundance of djentrification.”

Now there’s an introduction to a new band that makes you sit up and take notice! Alizarin is an instrumental instrumental progressive rock trio from Los Angeles consisting of guitarist Josh Kay, drummer Jon Damon and bass player Stephen Ostaszewski, three musicians who want to take the unconventional route and they released their debut album ‘Cast Zenith’ on July 20th.

It’s a collection of seven tracks that takes you on a whistle-stop tour of musical styles and tends to defy the usual conventions. Opening song Faint Home sees Josh’s compelling guitar deliver a serious overtone, quite a melodramatic piece of music that lingers in the mind long after. There’s precision, skill and style to these excellent musicians and that is delivered in spades on the explosive and captivating Anomaly, a track that wears it’s Satriani/Vai influences proudly on its multi-coloured and flared sleeves.

The Vast Enigma opens as almost a soundtrack to an 8-bit computer games from the 80’s before blossoming into a powerful and funky song that has a mysterious undertone to it. The contrast in style to the laid back and jazzy The Window Afar is very pronounced, lost in the lazy, hazy days of a hot summer without a care in the world, this elegant piece of music takes the relaxed route to your musical sensibilities.

The drama returns with title track Cast Zenith, dark and overtly dramatic in its delivery and with a nod to the intricacies of King Crimson as Josh, Jon and Stephen show us their musical chops. A headrushing eight minute musical adventure that never lets up and leaves you laughing at the sheer madness of it all. Like ying and yang, the calmness returns with the delicate and supremely elegant Gethsemane, an ode to Josh’s classical guitar skills.

Every good thing must come to an end and this entertaining debut album closes with the near ten minute splendour of Luminous ApparitionOpening with sombre, reverent and hushed tones that draw the listener in to what feels like a musical take on a dystopian tale.

‘Cast Zenith’ is music that has intelligence and depth, music that takes the listener on an involving journey. This is a great start from this impressive trio and one which promises much for the future, Alizarin are a band that we definitely need to keep an eye on.

Released 20th July 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here


Alizarin Announces Debut Album and Track Listing

LOS ANGELES, CA – June, 2018 – Progressive rock trio Alizarin, featuring Josh Kay on guitar, Jon Damon on drums, and Steve Ostaszewski on bass, have announced their debut album ‘Cast Zenith’ and revealed the cover art, along with the track listing. The album is set to be released June 27th, 2018 in both CD and digital formats.

‘Cast Zenith’ was tracked both at Big Scary Tree Studios in Sunland, CA and at the Alizarin home studio in May, 2018. The seven tracks cover a wide spectrum of instrumental sonic landscapes and emphasize the melodic journey over intense technique (though the album does offer plenty of head-imploding technical jargon for the speed fiends). Consider if King Crimson and Opeth had a baby but were forced to raise it outside the city, due to an overabundance of djentrification. This may be a place to start but Alizarin is a group that strives to create compelling music that defies rock conventions.

The track listing for Cast Zenith is as follows:

  1. Faint Home
  2. Anomaly
  3. The Vast Enigma
  4.  The Window Afar
  5. Cast Zenith
  6. Gethsemane
  7. Luminous Apparition

    Instagram: @alizarinband 

    Band picture by April Jones.

Review – Josh Kay – Absence of Time – by Progradar

As most of you will know, I am a love of instrumental music. Be it jazz, progressive, alt-rock, ambient, math-rock or just plain old rock, I am eager to search it out and bring it to the attention of the masses.

The only problem with this is that there is SO much new music out there that it is sometimes like swimming against the tide and I am sure some great releases must pass me agonisingly by. Which is why I am glad that US instrumental artist Josh Kay actually approached me to review his third instrumental offering ‘Absence of Time’.

Before we get onto the music let me introduce Josh to you;

“Josh is an instrumental rock artists currently living in Los Angelese, CA. He has independently released three solo albums and collaborated with many groups over the last fifteen years. ‘Absence of Time’ represents a melding of his enthusiasm for progressive rock and guitar-centric instrumental music, with an emphasis on melody over calculable technique. To further his endeavors, Josh is currently attending Musician’s Institute in Hollywood.”

Beyond The Astral Reflection opens the album on a reflective note. A complex and emotionally intense listening experience with driving guitars layered over powerful drumming as Josh’s dynamically inventive guitar delivers a musically impassioned performance. The music switches between the dynamism and a smoother laid back style and has me intrigued to hear more. Ravine takes a more jazz biased, world music introduction and builds on it to deliver a stand out instrumental track with multi-layered guitars at the centre of this forcefully profound track. Josh holds your attention with his intricate guitar work but never lets this smother the musicality of the song. I’m reminded more of Neal Schon than the likes of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani on this contemplative piece.

Title track Absence Of Time is a darkly complex track with soul and emotion bleeding from every note. The guitar seems even higher in the mix, taking centre stage and demanding your attention. There’s a feel of a proper hard rock song at the core with dense, rocking riffs and a thunderous rhythm section giving it free reign to knock your socks off. Despite this it is still an immersive listen, the technicality adding impressive layers to the melodies within. The wonderfully restrained acoustic guitar and Josh’s wistful guitar playing bring to mind Neal Schon’s solo release ‘Beyond The Thunder’ as the delightful Solace In Sleep gets into its stride. Some elegantly persuasive guitar flourishes provide a great counterpoint on what is becoming my stand out track on the album. There’s music for the soul and music for the mind blended on this refined and stylish track and it emphasises Josh’s desire to showcase the musical harmony over his not inconsiderable technique.

Sometimes a gifted musician just needs to show off and the blistering guitar riffs, runs and motifs that define The Legato Gestapo show a musician at the top of his game with incredible technique and style. Intensely fast-paced and yet chock full of style and finesse, it is a grin inducing guitar-fest where Josh basically lets his hair down and lets rip! Nostalgic, wistful and winsome the uber chilled and laid back Ocean Reveries is the dynamic antithesis of the previous track. A sepia tinged and thoughtful piece of music, style and sophistication ooze from every jazz-tinged note falling from Josh’s cultured guitar. The final piece of this musical puzzle is The Sixth Extinction and this is the most progressive influenced track on the album. Josh explores different musical themes throughout its intriguing seven plus minutes length, the mood swings from the quiet and introspective to the ebullient and irrepressible making it a thoroughly engaging listen. Josh plays at his brilliant, complex and intricate best and it closes out ‘Absense Of Time’ perfectly.

For anyone who likes guitar-centric instrumental music ‘Absence Of Time’ should be on their must-buy list. Never formulaic, it delivers inventive and technically gifted guitar playing with thought provoking melodies to great effect. Josh Kay is a musician who has flown under the radar for too long, when his music is this good, it deserves to be given wider recognition.

Released 30th August 2016

Buy ‘Absence Of Time’ from bandcamp