Friday, 28 February 2014

1974 and The New One from Tequila-- the Danish band, that is.

from rateyourmusic:

"Danish band Tequila (not to be confused with various other ensembles with the same name) arose on the ashes of the excellent quirky Danish jazz-rock band Dr. Dopo Jam. Featuring nobody other than DDJ's mastermind Kristian Pommer, Tequila played in a more streamlined funky fusion style, with even a slight latin touch, not that uncommon for mid-1970s Denmark (think Buki Yamaz and the likes). Still, Pommer's trademark eccentricity did shine through, so be prepared for some creepy voiceovers, sudden tempo shifts and unexpected zany interludes in the purest Zappa tradition. While not on the same level as DDJ's first two records (really, what else can even come close to that?), this is a fine album that sadly remains pretty much unknown."

I hope I'm not the only one who finds it downright odd that the Danish would have a predilection for mexican music and influences, as you can see from track 8: "Walther Jensen's Jalisco Chicken" in which they discuss Mexican chili and various recipe ingredients of the aforementioned unfortunate avian.  When I first heard this I swore it must be a US band, except for the accents or rather lack thereof on the part of the singers, but when I looked at the back scan my friend sent I realized these chicks are no American girls-- no-- instantly one detects that special European femaleness from the photograph that we know and love.  And, as with my comments about the North Illinois Jazz Ensemble and their female singer, one would expect-- nay, require-- that the female vocalists had sex with every male member of the band (except the unfortunate loser in the tuxedo shirt maybe), well probably each other too, and then all of them simultaneously, would be another strong bet I would be willing to make-- I mean, this was the early seventies, guys, c'mon...  Does anybody remember the old Euro-film, "I am curious (yellow)?"  Notorious as one of the first movies in which the starlet spent almost the whole movie naked in her now-shockingly hairy glory, it was banned as pornography in the US but released in several different colors in Europa, hence the odd title ...

I feature this album because I think it's really good and hugely enjoyable, as the above quote said, if you're not expecting too much complexity-- it has here and there Zappa influences, Cos-like female playfulness, and some really strong fusion tracks (esp. track 12, Mocca Java).  They did another record before this one that is distinctly inferior, being ordinary folk-country-rock.

But Track 8, Jalisco Chicken is an immortal song.  Check it out:

"Now he's a heavy man,
playing in a jazzy band--
The man is a born jazz trooper
Jalisco chicken tastes super--
Make it as strong as you like --
it keeps you up shitting all night--
and with Tequila it's a really good fix
makes it like a gastronomical bliss
and remember what the fella tells ya
you gotta have some soul to help ya!"

After which time the synthesizer-- amazingly-- attempts to make the sound of ... you know what ...

For something a little bit less spicy if the former gave you indigestion consider track 11, This Bossa Nova, Another Day - Another Tune:

One last remark, regarding Dr. Dopojam.  For me and I know for many others, this band is hugely overrated, despite what the above reviewer seems to indicate, their first 2 albums are difficult for me to enjoy as a diehard progressive rock fan, having too much silliness and ordinary music in them. But they did make a progressive masterpiece finally-- in 1981.  The album "Midnight Cruisin'" really has it all-- impressive progressive moves, symphonic tracks, hard-ass fusion, etc.  The track "Mists Sits" for me has always been an absolute exemplar of ne plus ultra progressiveness, strange chords, instruments, original composition, etc. etc.  Real masterpiece there and strongly recommended.

Now please enjoy one order of Jalisco chicken!!!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Various Artists from Helvetia ‎– Nationales Finale 1979 Open Air Römisches Theater Augst Rock & Pop Vol. 2

Oh that wonderful progressive rock sound: the crashing minor second dissonances, the angular tritones, the abrupt tempo changes, the unexpected modulations that provide such intense variety, the changes in direction in one song from ballad to uptempo, the miraculously original amalgams of instruments like flutes with electric guitars, synths with acoutis guitars, mellotrons with anything... the borrowings from baroque music or from Bartok and Stravinsky, the ingenuity applied to creating novel chord progressions, the overall energy and youthful creative spirit applied to rock composition… the lush mellotrons, the choppy superfast electric guitar scales, the twelve-string guitars and lutes, the plaintive oboes, bowed cellos, otherwordly amplified reverbed violins, awe-inspiring unison virtuoso playing...

Suffice it to say this album, a fantastic find from my friend (the other one, the one with deep and seemingly inexhaustible piggybanks), has this all in enough quantities to really satisfy the most demanding fan.  Almost all bands here are one-off as far as I know except Irrwisch who put out quite a few records well-known to the prog fan (their track is an adorable almost typical late-seventies pop song), the band called "Aladdin" provided a superb song to the "Second Chance"  LP about Der Zauberer (the magician).  Sadly these guys were not able to record a whole LP, though they were one hundred percent on the right track on the stairway to progressive heaven.

Consider the first track, by a band called Ephesus: "SiebenSchlafer" just about has it all, starting with fugue-like interplaying between organ and electric guitar in a composition reminiscent of Debussy, or certain parts of the Night on Bald Mountain, we get some very ingenious, classical-derived passages only to hear 5/9ths of the way through the famous G minor chord on synthesized strings of Wish You Were Here's Shine etc. Part 1 with which we are all so familiar, as different instruments pay homage by playing figures atop, then it switches direction again to a very composed passage as the electric guitarist goes nuts shredding the ELP organ in his harpsichord-like staccato absolutely to bits on soloing.  Simply fabulous.

But equally remarkable is the band generically called "Fusion" (notice it's the thirtieth such identically named band in this database!) who play a "Haunted Swing Illusion" that is really a Bach-like fugue played by flute above electric guitar.  In its insistently varied and creative composition I feel at times I'm listening to mega-superstars of Swiss prog Circus, one of the bands that convinced me long ago that progressive rock is the music for me.  In particular the virtuosity of all the musicians will have you fall off the chair, guaranteed, if not the fact the momentum never lets up.  How very sad these guys didn't record a full LP!  Be sure to pay attention to this track, the fourth.

Track A1, Siebenschläfer:


Track B3, Augst, a wonderful derivative of Soft Machine, or perhaps Supersister's imitation form of Soft Machine:

A monumental find.  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Oktagon's Orientation in 1982

In the case of this album I wanted to mention the artist, who is Herbert Nauderer.  I've always loved this kind of science fiction art since childhood, fantasy art as it's called.  It is very much inspired by the old surrealists like Max Ernst but the cold and stark symbolism inspired by modern machines is so much more poetically beautiful and sophisticated.

This is a relatively smooth fusion band with a great deal of inventive, progressive composition, that of course did two albums.  Their first ST album is very good.  They later evolved into the band Zara-thustra.  Maybe you could compare it with Dauner's United Jazz and Rock Ensemble with the slight big band tendencies, or the prognotfrog discovery Noctett, or perhaps Senora and Looser's Game in smoothness.

Please observe that on this rip tracks 5 and 6 could not be separated.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Carita Holmström's Second album which translates as Toinen Levy (1974)

I am not sure to what degree the previous installment from this artist was enjoyed as there were relatively few comments in proportion to downloads-- in a ratio of perhaps one to a hundred-- which I understand is the norm for blogs from reading other laments elsewhere, but I thought it worthwhile to post her second which is instead sung in Finnish thereby concealing the meanings from myself personally, but it's equally remarkable and deeply beautiful.  There are quite a few 'missing' albums in her discography, that is, not appearing in such databases as discogs or rateyourmusic, and now the search is on to find some more of those possibly lost sunken treasures…

I will post as sample the track which stood out the most to me, which is A5.  My friend ripped his personal record for us all and for the community at large, if not for posterity, thereby making it available for everyone free and I thank him most profusely.  (A different collector here is involved than the previous post's Thomas Clausen connection though equally valuable and beloved).

A5 Katseita On Täynnä Avaruus:

Space full of glances--
strange innocence shines from them
--expressions of wondering
--frightened faces
How did it happen?

Eyes large, consider the heavens--
hopes, believes of new wonders
--lost, looking for
for itself.

When the fear is guarding the world--
not spells, people will be able to help.
The powers of heaven are silent
now our world is alone with its
--it's our fault.

Pure poetry this time.  It's unfortunate she reverted to her mother tongue but I understand the beauty of the lyrics was correspondingly enhanced vis-a-vis the English lyrics employed on the first album.

Friday, 21 February 2014

RIP Francesco Di Giacomo

It is with great sadness to announce that Francesco Di Giacomo (the beloved tenor singer of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso) passed away today from the result of a car accident. Details are sketchy about what caused the accident but it may be health related. Here is the posting on the internet and the English translation:

"È morto il 21 febbraio 2014 a Zagarolo, in provincia di Roma, per un incidente stradale avvenuto in via Valle del Formale. Nel tardo pomeriggio Di Giacomo era alla guida della sua auto di cui pare abbia perso il controllo schiantandosi, poi, contro un'altra autovettura che proveniva in senso contrario. Di Giacomo è deceduto durante il trasporto all’ospedale di Palestrina. La sera stessa è stato annunciato l'accadimento e ricordato da Fabio Fazio durante la diretta televisiva del Festival di Sanremo seguito dal cordoglio del pubblico."

"Francesco Di Giacomo died today February 21, 2014 in Zagarolo, a province of Rome, from a road traffic accident in Valle del Formale. In the late afternoon Di Giacomo was driving his car which seems to have lost control and crashed into oncoming traffic. Di Giacomo died during transport to Palestrina hospital. He was 66 years old. This evening, the news was announced by Fabio Fazio during the live broadcast of the Sanremo Festival followed by public mourning."

A few personal comments amd memories regarding Francesco...

As most of you know, Francesco was the closest thing that prog had to Pavarotti. He fronted the greatest Italian 70's prog band and his amazing voice and stage presence was second to none. I still remember as a youngster (circa 1981 when I was 15 and just learning about progressive music) walking through the record aisles of an L.A. K-Mart trying to find a third album in the 3 for .99 cents record deal they were having (ah, those were the days!) when I came across the self-titled 1975 compilation release. Looking at it and chuckling over the cover of a fat guy throwing up a shoe and then turning it over to see the same fat guy on a scale I thought, well...I might as well buy it (as a joke). I then noticed the instrumentation and thought, holy crap, this thing might actually be good. I still remember taking it home and being blown away over the music, vocals and level of musicianship. I owned every Banco record soon after.

In 2000 we invited Banco to our Progfest 2000 festival. We didn't know that we were supposed to pay for their food while they were here (they never mentioned it in advance) and I remember the sweat dripping down my forehead as I begrudgingly handed over my credit card to Francesco. Spock's Beard was performing that evening at the Troubadour in Hollywood and I drove the band out there to see them. About halfway through they decided to go nearby to get something to eat. About an hour later I went to check up on them and found them next door at an Italian restaurant (of all places!). The band and crew was sitting around a 12 foot table amid piles of salad, pasta, bottles of wine and everything else they could possibly order. I'm almost in tears at the site and I think I'm still paying off that darn meal to this day.

They had a great performance and we had an after-festival party at my house the next evening. I have a picture somewhere of Francesco asleep on my couch.  It was kind of a surreal moment as here it was 20 years later and Francesco's in my living room. Back in the early days, these guys might as well of lived on the moon as you figured you would never see them in concert and certainly never meet them. Of course those were the days before the invention of the internet (thanks Al Gore!) and the prog music festivals which changed everything (for the meager prog community). The next day I drove him to the airport and we talked about music and art the entire way.

I was fortunate enough to see Banco perform at NEARfest in 2001. To this day, it stands out as my all-time favorite concert. It was one of those magical concerts you rarely see. Those of you who were there know what I mean.

R.I.P. Francesco!

Greg Walker

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Thomas Clausen's Mirror album and an emergency

Yet another beautiful Euro-fusion album, more in the ECM dreamy-laidback style.  I am really surprised as should you be that there are so many stunning albums still out there for us to find and bring to light and the fresh soon-to-be-spring air.  This is not my discovery but rather that of my collector friend's whom I thank profusely.  

I apologize, this week I had to temporarily discontinue the ripping and recording due to an untimely visit to our local emergency room with my wife.  For a few days she had been complaining of a sore throat which I conveniently disregarded until it progressed to where she could barely swallow and couldn't speak.  My satisfaction at this turn of events (that I would not hear her nagging for some time), was quickly effaced when it sunk in that she had become gravely ill in the course of my neglect.  So off we went early in the morning to the local hospital.  As expected there were hordes of ill and not ill individuals sitting about in anxious expectation and profound boredom.  There were lineups to be waited in everywhere.  I was surprised there was a lineup for triage whose purpose is, as I understand, to assess how urgently each person needs to be seen.  Unfortunately the wait for said assessment was over a half an hour, and, as you'd expect, several ill people didn't quite make it.  A number of them even arrived by ambulance or wheelchair and I encountered them patiently waiting to be triaged by the many nurses, some barely even bipedal. You can easily imagine how enjoyable the staff's day must have been as they gaily socialized and at one point, went for several large carton trays full of 'venti' starbucks coffees.  Needless to say once in a while a large paramedic acting as if he was the capt. of the football team in high school would saunter by in his bulky uniform, flirting with the younger nurses in an inappropriately inept manner.  After the triage session-- interrupted many times by several senior nurses minutely describing to each other how busy the day had been up until then-- I asked if I would be out to pick up my kids from school (in 7 hours), and her hugely infectious laughter answered that question... I recalled being in comedy clubs where when one individual laughed, it precipitated uproarious delight in everyone in attendance...  
So we waited in the large waiting room where, as expected, there were several poor oldsters in wheelchairs, at least one reclining back in his seat appearing to sleep or perhaps unconscious, and at least one small child periodically vomiting into a plastic bag, spreading norovirus all over the room within a ten-foot radius.  As you'd imagine there were several small-set and feeble-looking security guards eating muffins while socializing and at least one foul individual whose role was purely to ensure people stayed in the correct lineups.  Thus if you strayed from the triage lineup you were instantly remanded back into the proper line, or if you wandered too close to the approach to the next section you were quickly apprehended, sometimes with undue force, and removed back to the first waiting room.  This was problematic for the very sick who could barely stand for any length of time, for which his answer was to pull a dirty old coloured plastic chair such as you see in old school auditoriums for them to rest in.  A few actually stumbled: I was surprised that, when one fell, an ambulance or stretcher was not called, as this seemed to be the most common form of transport here in the hallway.  At any rate it was wonderful to see the number of nurses on duty, it seemed there were more nurses than patients, yet there was no movement whatsoever for those waiting.  Very slowly I observed people being called to another section that was closed off by a locked door posted with angry warning signs, and many hours later, when I was almost asleep in a needed nap, we were called to register.  I did not quite understand the arcane need of being registered again after the triaging, for I had not seen this type of bureaucracy since a visit years ago to Cambodia where customs involved registering at different booths multiple times in different lines, but I was relieved that we were being moved--  this of course, was a short-lived emotion, as I saw we were simply placed into the large locked inner waiting room, which was smaller, but still entirely filled with sick humans, and there we waited more hours.  At that time I noticed a "VIP Seating" waiting room beside us which was completely empty and had a fridge full of juices, couches, and a TV.  It was locked of course but I spent many hours examining the different corporate logos advertising themselves on the glass door.  As you'd expect there was at least one older, perhaps Italian woman, accompanied by her entire extended family, two suitcases packed, in her nightclothes: her dressing gown and a slip.  At one point it seemed someone had ordered a jumbo pepperoni pizza for the whole family and the smell was torture for me.  To her credit she did look quite sick, and didn't eat a single slice, but this evidently did not occasion any interest whatsoever among the plentiful nursing staff, who persisted in playing with their stethoscopes with tiny teddybears attached, or simply helped each other fix office supplies like staplers or check people's temperatures very rapidly, so much so that I wondered if it was even possible to get any accuracy in such haste.  Nonetheless, they succeeded in discovering that my wife's temperature had gone up, which created a mild sense of urgency among them that very very quickly abated, thankfully, so they could return to their personal affairs.  I wondered at one time if perhaps the problem was there were no doctors-- only nurses there-- for such a thick flock of them appeared at times it reminded me of the old stories of billions of passenger pigeons in precolumbian North America, such as after lunch when they had what was evidently some kind of 'grand rounds' involving discussing each other's plans for the weekend (which was still three days away, but obviously eagerly anticipated).  There was at least one man who was clearly a drug addict as you can imagine based on his restlessness, his tics, and his facial caricatures of severe pain, not to mention the black t-shirt he wore advertising a heavy metal rock festival.  When the nurse called out, "is Mrs. Chan still here?," we had a slight moment of amusement as several widely separated groups of chinese people stood up though it did surprise me that having experienced this before she didn't specify more fully who she meant to call.  It occurred to me that possible explanations for this were laziness or the secret desire to provide us all with light entertainment.  And for this I was grateful to her.  As expected it was many hours before we moved out of this inner waiting room.  I was so excited to get the process started I thereby forgot my gloves on the seat and couldn't backtrack to get them as we were not permitted to move backwards in this rigidly followed logistic sequence.  "You WILL lose your chance to accompany your wife!" the guard barked at me as I tried to go back-- so I quickly gave up.
There in the next waiting room a nurse quickly reviewed her chart, registered her again, and told us to sit in another waiting area.  It seemed interminable...  My wife as well began complaining again of the severe pain she was enduring, making the mistake of addressing this to a staff member, and the nurse nodded sympathetically before continuing her conversation with her colleague.  Slowly the crowd thinned out, only for more ill individuals to settle in from the previous place...  It was yet many hours before this nurse came to us at last, telling us she was now leaving to go home and cook dinner for her family, and invited us to progress to the final waiting room.  My heart sank a bit at the morbid terminology and seeing my reaction, she laughed. 
"Sorry, we call it the final waiting room...." 
"Oh allright, that sounds positive-- It's the last one before we get seen by the doctor?"
"Not really" the nurse answered. "It's just the final one in the green section of the hospital.  After that you enter yellow."
"You mean, another waiting room?"
"Oh yes, of course.  You're only going to be in yellow!  You still have to wait in red and blue.  There are still quite a  few more waiting rooms to go buddy, so get ready!" she said cheerfully and walked away with her coat and several plastic grocery bags.
And so there we sit still, in the green section waiting room, waiting to move on to the next waiting room… always wondering if the next one, will be the last one.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Various Artists perform in the German Rock Offers 1, first of a series of three albums of that name, in 1976

As a progster you are sure to start 'salivating like a pavlov dog' to use Mick Jagger's immortal words when you see the artist lineup on this compilation from 1976 Germany:  Tritonus, Pancake, Octopus (of "Boat of thoughts" fame, of course, not the "Thaerie Wiighen" Norwegian one), Cannock ("Waiting for the night"), Michael Bundt...  but the best tracks for me are really the no-name bands, like Mass and Live.

It's a real mixed bag, with the Tritonus entry being derived from their suite about the day-- I forgot which one of their albums that was.  But I'm sure everyone will enjoy hearing something new!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

And now Concept's first: Avis de Passage, from 1981

A stooped man with a suitcase wanders along the sands in the centre of the Sahara desert or by the lumbering ocean... is he lost in Algeria, and why is he still wearing his suit or overcoat and long hair in the heat?

This album is altogether tighter, more progressive, more instrumental, more serious as it were than the subsequent commercially oriented and eighties-leaning poppier album that came a few years later, recalling in some instances the great French guitarist Claude Barthélémy, all of whose works from "Jaune et Encore" on, are recommended.

A good representative track is the first called "Shipwreck:"

Notice the track called "Green March" starts relatively prosaically with the typical simplistic tonic-minor second chord change (that I hate so much) but half way through it transforms completely into a dreamy acoustic piano improvisation in the key of B minor, which 'explains' the preceding chords of F sharp and G that is, showing the true tonic to be B minor:

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Timber - A New Song, from Belgium 1983

This band did two albums, so far as I know, with the first called No-Ki in my opinion not as good as this one.  The cover again is a really gorgeous painting, like Francis Bacon perhaps.  The artist's name is Eric Kengen.  Obviously in this case he is a relatively famous artist (-- ?)

Here's a gorgeous little piece, called "Los Tres Hemanos:"

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Matthias Frey 's Art Profiles, Sonoton 304 from 1988 (?) -- a really remarkable library album

This is a completely unknown little record that is really quite well-written.  I was reminded of it when reading the review articles of Matthias Frey's earliest oeuvre over on prognotfrog -- which I sincerely hope are still available for the consumption of those still curious and unenlightened.  Of course when it comes to Frey, anonymous oblivion is all the rage, he really should be lauded as an equal to the great Chick Corea if there were an honest appraisal of serious music in our society: there was a period in the late seventies starting with Psi to the late eighties (up till this record) when he just about hit genius level every time, a virtuoso in both performance and composition, each one 'out of the ball park' as the expression goes.  Yet it wouldn't surprise me if he further endured the humiliating pummeling of a double oblivion, forgotten after being so briefly resuscitated online, because today the test of time for music -- to be preserved for posterity -- is at the kindergarten level really...  and I don't think any of his early works have been rereleased to CD...

In genre this is a typical library record with all kinds of dramatic sounds and ideas, and the back even gives you the requisite generic descriptors, but the compositional skills are what make this exceptional.  You'll note that it sure starts off slowly with no rush to become interesting for the progressive fan, but midway through the first side I'm sure you will start to perk up and listen hard as his trademark staccato-style (Papillon) and some stravinskyesque polytonalities (Lost in Dreams) force you to take notice, particularly when the highly expressive cello starts up, very reminiscent of the earlier albums he did with his buddy Tiepold  (who, I can confirm, is the performer here-- of course!).  Thus, A6's "Pianocello:"

Note at the start he plays the bass C on the grand piano by damping the string with his finger, reaching inside the instrument, rather than using the intrinsic dampers in the piano.  Very cool effect.

On track A8 about the pencil (Le crayon) the electric piano evokes quite admirably the imagined scene of an artist sketching some fascinating visual, a caricature possibly according to the back, who reappears as a 'crazy pencil' on side b psychologically and nomenclaturally perhaps different but musically not so much.  On the next track with digital organ sounds called the Harlequin, a jumpy series of chords reminds me of Egberto Gismonti's wonderful fantasia-like pieces for keyboards, perhaps inspired a little by Ravel.

On side B, the track called "Guernica" oddly is melancholy rather than battle-like or cubist / angular, the presumed inspiration.  I still remember when I first saw that painting at the MOMA in NYC as a young univ. student, along with the other masterpieces of the early 20th century housed there, today (to my eternal shame) I am more interested in their michelin-level restaurant  (called The Modern) than their art, on a recent visit I was utterly shocked by the quality of the food and apparently it's quite popular among New Yorkers as well, make sure to reserve far in advance though if you are curious to try it...  such is the inevitable progress of western civilization... let no one dare stand in its way...

The last track, called appropriately "Der Abschied" (farewell) is simply a gorgeously mournful meditative elegy, with a really successful combination of synths and that oh-so plaintive cello:

So far as I know, this was the last of the really brilliant progressive albums he did, after this, he moved more into the new age territory which -- obviously -- we have no appreciation for whatsoever here.  In all honesty, both Ypsilon (1988) and Liquid Crystal (1994) did have its moments, but it was really a ride down the steep downslope of a bell curve that at one time with its maxima truly was able to touch heaven.

Great cover on this album too, right?  (Credit: Manuel Neuhaus.) Although derived from Magritte's conception the colour palette and landscape are totally unlike him.  Not the sort of thing you see too often now, in the CD era.  And certainly worthy of the Museum of Modern Art in any city...

Monday, 10 February 2014

mixed media including small plastic blocks (lego trademarked)

Anvil's Mr. Music Man from 1979 Germany was a huge hit...

"Not,"  as we used to say all the time in the 80s...

"Disappearing without even the memory of its existence," would be a more appropriate description, like so many species of frogs, butterflies, salamanders, fish,  all over the world today.  However I think that cover photograph is just awesome, one of the best pure insanity covers I have ever seen.  Mr. Music Man is a long-haired homeless guy (not a band member as far as I can tell), carrying a guitar case in an overgrown park with an oddly-placed bench, in a mildly blurred black and white photo.  How cool can an album cover get?  

I will let you decide whether it deserves reconsideration in the present tense era, simply, it's a mildly funky hard rock and straightforward rock album with perhaps a touch of progressiveness about it, from 1979.  It's a welcome break perhaps from the fusion and jazz that has been overdone of late and will be even more overdone (but not done) soon.

"He lit it so that I could really smell the stuff
and told me if you like it you can get enough
this dynamite will give you a really heavy kick
but I let him stand I was sure it was a dirty trick
"If you really want to get high, 
taste and try it, before you buy"

However, later on, in Chinatown, "black man gave me cigarette, was the best thing I ever had..."

"If you really want to get high, 
taste and try it, before you buy"
Good advice? or way past its expiry date loco?  You can be the judge now and hereafter.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Fuchs-Goos-Band's Chameleon 2 from 1981 and Chameleon 1979, by request

A really beautiful Euro-fusion album, which is unfairly ignored and forgotten.

This band comprises the following highly talented German jazz musicians: Christoph Spendel (keyboards), Joachim Fuchs-Charrier (percussion), Knut Rössler on saxes and flute, Werner Goos of course on guitar, and Paul Muller on bass, and this is apparently their only output.  Between this one and the earlier Chameleon from 1979 the only man in common was Knut.  So I can't say for sure the title implies a follow-up installment to the earlier record, which was more energetic and synthesized, understandably, since as we've seen before, the eighties brought in a trend towards more acoustic music.  Notice that Knut was also in the amazing ethnic-fusion band Orexis, virtually all their albums, so you get an idea of how much a part of the progressive fusion scene he was.  The album "Three Chairs" he did with Goos and Spendel later (in 1982 I think) is also highly recommended but was far more acoustic than even this one.

On to the music, which as usual with these great Euro-fusion records is well written, interesting, never boring, and with chamber music importations.  Consider the marvellous track "Song for a Lady" which recalls multiple previous flute/guitar tender tracks like Gong's Mireille for ex.  Here the playing of Knut is utterly out of this world:

As is his soprano sax playing on top of phasing electric guitar arpeggio series on the drawn-out but never tedious "Zyklus One": 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Aspects of Paragonne, from 1987 (Tony Hymas, Stan Sulzmann, John Taylor, Frank Ricotti, and Chris Lawrence...)

I featured some Tony Hymas - Stan Sulzmann material before, this album also has John Taylor on piano on some tracks and the legendary Frank Ricotti on percussion and vibes.  Despite the late date this is very much a part of the seventies spirit of fusion and progressive jazz.  It is without a doubt superior to the preceding "Insight" library album, although it appeared the next year, it might be that this combination of artists just felt like hitting gold again or were nostalgic for the classic sound of old, as indeed am I.

I wonder if "Monica and the Pirate" is a homage to Soft Machine's gorgeous "Chloe and the Pirates:"

And the "Aggression and Regression" track provides stunning chords (essentially, G sus, but with added G sharp, etc.) on top of a screwed-up scale of D - E - Fsharp - Gsharp - A - B - return to C.  Quite a shocking scale and chord to complement it.  Not in the Greek classification of scales, I believe.

The last track, "Before and After Zara" with the beautiful flute of Sulzmann really sounds like it came from a late seventies record, there's nothing to indicate the year of 1987 here, not at all:

There's the kind of nostalgia I like, the kind that delves 30-40 years into the past...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Concept from France, 1986

This is their second album, the first was called "Avis de Passage" and will be up shortly or rather mediumly.  Overall it reminds me a lot of Phileas Fogg.  Or, in some instances, the post-Edition Speciale Lorenzini-Ballester work Orchestra II.

I love this crazy, slightly zeuhl-inflected style of early eighties french fusion full of dynamism and oddities.  Progressive fusion lasted quite a bit into the eighties in France and of course Eastern Europe.  I didn't feel the above low rating (admittedly, only by a couple of listeners) was fair so I thought I would let others hear.

Two shorter but more representative progressively-written tracks:

3. Park Slope:

5. Intro Finale: