Jukator

Live review from Bud Rocks 2012 Hong Kong Final:

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1. 密室

2. Phantom’s Clutch

Gives a special performance tonight at the Live House in Mong Kok as guest band for the BUD ROCKS 2012 Hong Kong FINALS, the competition they had won in 2011.
Founded in April 2010, their name is taken from a Romanian word meaning “player”. With that, the best way to describe their musical style is progressive, flavored with gothic and classical fusion, with a heavy emphasis on musicianship.
They played a short but powerful 20 minute, two song set. Their music is quite complex in nature, combining interesting musical and vocal arrangements with non-standard time signatures and neoclassical and diminished minor scale patterns. The end result is an intelligent mixture of gothic neoclassical fusion, with lots of Hong Kong signature musical drama and flavor added in.
This band is a group of pure musician that are quite well schooled, with musicianship levels far above the average Hong Kong band. It is quite apparent that they have put lots of hard work and practice practice practice into honing their individual musical talents. Their overall sound has a foundation built on heavy use of keyboards stemming from the early fusion rock bands like YES and ELP, to some of the more recent acts like Dragonforce and Dream Theater.
From a musical standpoint, JUKATOR puts everything out there for us to enjoy, from the complicated keyboard performance by WongWai, to the solid rhythm section work of Jacky Man on bass and Joseph Ho on drums. Then as icing on the cake, we were treated to some quite accomplish guitar shredding by Siam Chan, and the super powerful vocal skills and talents of OK Lo.
With JUKATOR’s style unique to Hong Kong, they have a bright future and chance to have a positive impact on the overall Hong Kong music scene.

– Gregory J Tancer

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Live review from Underground 102:

Setlist:

1. Davidia
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Beatles cover]
3. [New Song, Untitled]
4. Phantom’s Clutch

Before anything else is said, I must make clear that I’ve been waiting for Jukator to play at the Underground for quite a while now. Their brand of Dream Theatre-like grandiose and complex rock and roll is a standout within the music scene. Complex rhythms, compositions with tempo changes that actually mean something (as opposed to merely a standard tendency of the metal genre) and long songs where the musicians actually have something to say rather than guitar-wanking… Add to that a singer with a voice that sounds a bit like Elvis singing operatic metal – they’re pretty awesome.

So I was more than a little disappointed at their performance this night, if only because it was underwhelming and featured some not-too-inspiring song selection. For some reason they chose the songs that do not truly stand out, except in light of their more distinctive songs; on their own, these songs sounded like they were good compositions coming out of a highly competent band with a decent singer. But nothing more; and yet I have heard them be so much more. Now, I may have been hoisted by my own petard of expectation here, in which case I apologise. But the drama and tension that their songs need to create to work was absent this night, and ended up sounding more like the weird breed of metal in the 80s that took the lesser parts of glam metal (the big, all-enveloping sound) and prog rock (egregious length and lots of fiddling) and turned it into cheese. Musically speaking of course. A small whisper of “post-karaoke” went around, which while admittedly a bit snide, was unfortunately accurate in this instance.

Still, that part of their oeuvre that was interesting was still pretty good. Davidia moved from a slow, brooding grainy sound to soaring heights of Elgar-like pomp, with lots of near-virtuoso guitars that, happily, reminded me of the similar tendencies of Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden). Their Beatles cover was a passable one, although more theatrical than I’m used to hearing. Their new song, unfortunately, epitomised their sound that night – the slight Arabic tones and well-timed keyboards could not save it from sounding camp rather than majestic. Phantom’s Clutch was a definite improvement, with a thrashy pace and drums reminiscent of those in Van Halen’s Eruption. Like some Elvis Costello songs, it moved from big bad opera to creepy paranoia quickly and efficiently. The long and intense crashdown at the end was enjoyable, but not ultimately redeeming of a set that could’ve (dammit, should’ve!) been a lot better. Sorry, guys.

– Shashwati Kala

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