article by Courtney Devores from The Charlotte Observer – June 3, 2015
article by Courtney Devores from The Charlotte Observer – October 29, 2013
Reviews of Strange Universe
Spirits of Kraftwerk and Hawkwind imbue the ethos of multi-instrumentalist Mike Brown, a/k/a The Man From RavCon. Strange Universe, Brown‘s eighth full—length release, is an alluring musical time capsule fueled by analog synth timbres, psychedelic prog motifs and spacey rockin’/ambient hues that entrance, charm and certainly keep you guessing what might come next.
Brown is no derivative copycat or mere nostalgia buff: nuanced pacing and muniﬁcent melodies
drive this spaceship. Throbbing bass-and-drum foundations beneath inventive vintage synth,
harpsichord, mellotron, and organ leads will sound familiar to anyone versed in vintage ‘7OS-era electronic artistry. But Brown puts a personal spin on things by crafting spacious, unhurried arrangements that support surprisingly warm melodic ideas.
“Quasar” and “Poseidon,” for instance, begin with mechanized rhythms and sizzling synth lines but
quickly give way to heavier slabs of guitar-driven progressive rock that are as fresh and original as anything his forebears dreamed up back in the day. “Ancient” is a shimmering showcase of Brown’s many compositional/performance skills, as he takes turns playing piano forte, synths, and guitar runs over driving rhythms.
Quality production and clever studio effects make Strange Universe particularly suited for headphones.
Nick Tate, Progression Magazine
…a cross between Jean-Michel Jarre , Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd… unquestionable technical mastery covered with clouds of keyboards, for the soundtrack of an imaginary spacio-temporal film.
a seriously Pink Floyd-esque soundscape that’ll chill you right out and take you to weird places… a really strong album of spacey, attention grabbing instrumental music.
Ian Jane, RockShockPop.com
Melodic, tasteful and polished… Music of this type is often described as being for an unmade movie, but Strange Universe goes deeper than that, and stands up well on its own.
Alan Taylor, Pipeline Instrumental Review
Strange Universe is an intense, well-made & motivating instrumental music album that will please all those who fancy beautiful soundscapes full of fine melodies & atmospheric passages…
Thanos Aggelakis, Grande Rock
Multi-instrumentalist Mike Brown is the main man of the North Carolina based music project The Man From RavCon. Brown plays a range of instruments on the 2016 CD release by The Man From Ravcon called Strange Universe. Brown’s fascination with movie soundtracks and all things horror, sci-fi and even spaghetti westerns aside, Strange Universe is just a great album filled with imaginative, spiraling instrumental music. Brown’s background is a love of the early progressive rock pioneers like The Moody Blues and YES and while they weren’t instrumental bands, they were among the first rock bands to extensively feature keyboards like the mellotron in a substantial way. Brown’s first band was The Ravelers so it’s interesting that for his post Ravelers music he would pick the name RavCon, yet that only adds to the fun of his music. Even more keyboard dominated than the 2014 CD release of Skyscaper, the 2016 CD release of Strange Universe is very much a product of a mind that is fully steeped in soundtrack music and in the ethos of progressive instrumental rock. As can be heard on Strange Universe, The Man From RavCon once again fills in the missing links between sci-fi soundtrack music, guitar instrumental music and keyboard dominated progressive music.
Robert Silverstein, mwe3.com
Reviews of The Puzzle Master
Orchestration clearly is the name of the game for The Man From RavCon… his feel for color and sense of subtle melodic drama will lock you in. – ★★★★
…an excellent CD with strong melodies and excellent musicianship. Recommended. – ★★★★
Very well written, intelligent and quite enjoyable. If Alan Parsons and Goblin were to jam out and do something unique, they might sound a bit like what Mike Brown has done here.
What is striking about his latest record, “The Puzzle Master” is how it differs from 2013’s “Skyscraper.” He isn’t simply rehashing the same ideas. Brown’s records provide fine soundtracks for daydreaming your own mini movies and while “The Puzzle Master” draws on some of the same nostalgia as “Skyscraper” the images it triggers are different.
The Puzzle Master is a sumptuous CinemaScope mix of deep Euro prog (Italy, Scandinavia) and more-familiar British prog. “The Cosmic Creeper” and “Metropolis” conjure images of Italian bands PFM and Goblin and could fit nicely on a new Dario Argento film soundtrack. The synth riff of “Erebus” invokes Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd, and the mellotron drones throughout will make any Mike Pinder fan shed tears of golden delight.
When you need the magic of instrumental music to take you into the wonderful land of sonic intrigue, call on The Man From RavCon.
Music to lose yourself in – a cerebral catalyst.
There are a lot of really beautiful melodies underneath the strange assemblies of guitars and synths used to create this music and it’s the type of thing you want to lie down and listen to alone in the dark, just to really take it all in properly.
Reviews of Skyscraper
From Balloon’s reassuring Mellotron and hummably melodic guitar lines it’s a straight-up, classy affair bringing to mind some heavyweight artists, from Mike Oldfield to Vangelis, even Hank Marvin. Brown has the knack of hearing precisely when a line needs to come in or – more importantly maybe – stop, or when a song needs to change direction entirely. Solid.
Skyscraper employs the architect metaphor overtly, as the Man from RavCon erects the most intricate compositions of his career… It sounds so natural when the music box waltz of “Secret Passage” dovetails into ghostly Mellotron, a six-string madrigal and the jazz-fusion legato runs of Alan Holdsworth gone full-metal Morricone. It makes perfect sense that the ’60s jet-set romance of “The Spring of Our Content” seals the deal with arid High Plains Drifter guitar. The combination of moody Midnight Cowboy harmonica, ’70s Genesis synth chorus and circular John Barry fretwork in “Friend” seems, in retrospect, a no-brainer. You wonder why more tunes don’t end with the coruscating spaghetti blues guitar of “Higher,” or the funky Caesar-crossing-the-Rubicon cantor of “Veni, Vidi, Vici”… As funky ‘n cool as his earlier work, but the spiraling and soaring tracks transcend the groove-tastic plateau and become uplifting.
Guitar buffs and instrumental prog-rock fans should give a good listen to The Man From RavCon’s Skyscraper.
The Man From RavCon has built a reputation for his tuneful, well-arranged compositions and Skyscraper provides further confirmation of his skills. This is certainly an album to be enjoyed in its entirety with its symphonic blend of many keyboards and guitars that recall the exciting days of early progressive rock. Lie back and drift away, it’s a safe, satisfying and smooth trip.
Frankly, the music that’s been churned out by The Man From Ravcon is the best soundtrack you’ll ever hear to a bunch of movies that never existed in the first place. You don’t have to be a fan of vintage Eurocult soundtracks to dig this, but it probably helps. You don’t have to be a fan of prog rock to dig this (it’s generally not my thing, but I can appreciate it when it’s done well) either, but it probably helps. What you do have to appreciate is intricate musicianship, an appreciation for technical ability and the layering of sound to create mood, atmosphere and sometimes even tension, because that’s where this album really and truly excels and sets itself apart. The guitar playing is excellent, the percussion strong without ever burying the guitars in the mix, and everything else just sort of blends together in a surreal, sometimes hazy, delicious soup of sound.
Sometime through my second time playing it, I started to think of Skyscraper as a journey through time and space, to real and imaginary places the music created in my mind’s eye. Skyscraper is a journey of the imagination to wherever yours will lead you. I highly recommend you take the flight.
Each one uniquely ravishing, you can’t help but listen to every song again and again.
Melodic, creative and full of interesting sounds – an enjoyable, interesting work from start to finish.
Charlotte composer, The Man from RavCon, knows how to tell a story with nary a word. He recently released the album, “Skyscraper,” which takes its listener on a retro adventure in their mind.
Reviews of The Traveler
The Traveler is an excursion well worth signing on for. And isn’t it comforting to know there are still surfing prog-spies out there keeping us safe?
Structured as a retro jet-setting trip, The Traveler continues Brown’s smoothly integrated genre-jumping. “Speakeasy” is smoky noir from a David Lynch roadhouse. “The Station” is ectoplasmic Lee Hazlewood country that conjures heat rising from a desert road. And “Escape” is pristine, road-ready ’60s pop with a dissonant hint of jazz-rock. Think a vintage Glen Campbell backing track crossed with Lizard-era King Crimson. The Traveler is no mere mash-up of surfing’ spaghetti spies. Instead, Brown has subsumed and transformed his influences, managing to be both nostalgic and completely contemporary. It is his most organic and integrated release to date.
The Man From RavCon broke my heart, fixed it, reinvented it and then made it sing with his extraordinary CD, The Traveler.
The Traveler captures the sights and sound of the 60’s and 70’s, while delivering the feel of flying through the clouds. The eleven songs represent some of his best work to date.
The Traveler, is one of the most inventive and well rounded instrumental guitar albums of 2012”
The Man From RavCon certainly has a way with melodies and paints these scenes with skillful use of electric, acoustic and bass guitars as well as organ, Mellotron, piano and synthesizers.
Reviews of The Man From RavCon Rides Again
The Man From RavCon delivers spaghetti westerns with some fine arranging and production. Professional writing and orchestral arranging give the music a film score appeal. Just close your eyes to witness the desert drama unfolding in your mind’s eye.
Phil Dirt, Reverb Central (May 12, 2012)
Reviews of Everything Is Golden
The Man From RavCon has excelled at conjuring up a number of instrumental surf-rock influences—from Italian film composer Ennio Morricone, to funk / soundtrack wizard Isaac Hayes to a better known sound evoking more well established instrumental rock legends like Duane Eddy, The Shadows, John Barry and more recently Finnish surf rockers Laika & The Cosmonauts.
I’m in a wonderful mood in a wonderful place. Nothing can be better than right here, right now, and I want to stay here forever… Everything IS golden.
Everything Is Golden is a very solid release. This is surf and instrumental rock that you can truly listen to and let your mind wander. All-in-all an entertaining disc that should appeal to a wide audience.