Tuesday 29 April 2014

Sandy Owen's Euphonia from 1984 [Iliad-related]

Out of respect for the artist I will only present this for a short time.
Like the work he did with Iliad, the same melancholy, gentle, reflective sounds, oftentimes minor chords or lavish sevenths and ninths on major chords with diatonic melodies, his training in jazz is evident in a boogie number.  There are a couple of tracks on his post-Iliad works that recycle some of the Iliad pieces, for ex. (on this album) "Canterbury" appeared on "Sapphire House," Iliad's "Distances Theme" reappears on the "Montage" album, and our beautiful sampled "Beyond the North Wind" reappears on the "Themes" album, etc.
I think you can purchase the CD versions of these solo works here (which is why I don't want to keep a link long here):

After listening many times to this record, I couldn't help but notice this tiny little gem he placed at the very end called "Once in a Time" which puzzled me for the longest time, one can tell there is something distinctly odd about the time signature.  It's not till I tried to sit down and replicate it on the piano that I realized the polyrhythm here is due partly to the fact the 4/4 first bar is played by 3/4 chords, first of all, but then the second bar is 3/4, that is, the last beat is missing, or the total should be 7/8 or 7/4.  This gives it a kind of stuttering quality at the end of each two-bar passage, or perhaps an unfinished, things left incomplete feeling.  Really a beautiful, stunningly delicate little piece.  What a shame we couldn't have heard it with the oboe, cellos, etc. that were employed to such good effect on the Iliad records.

Friday 25 April 2014

Sandy Owen's Iliad with Sapphire House, USA 1978 [upgraded]

Iliad was the creation of a brilliant pianist-composer called Sandy Owen, the man on the left on the back of the record.  His first record called "Distances" displayed already the thoughtful, intelligent and melancholy style that he took through all his creations.

In the case of these two records a poor rip was circulating in mono which I felt didn't do the music justice at all.  The better album is this one, it's full of interesting ideas and gorgeous playing.

His interest in Greek mythology must strike present-day listeners as so very oddly anachronistic, who mostly would know these stories from hilariously done Hollywood remakes and cartoon-like renditions.  It's hard to believe those bronze age myths survived so many thousands of years but not our very own plastic age.

In the eighties he made several records which are in the same basic mold as the Iliads.

On this record Sandy on keyboards is assisted by his brother Ted Owen on acoustic guitar as well as percussion, Larry Andrews on basses (acoustic and fender), some wordless vocals by Nancy Eastman appear on the Waterfall track (B2), Bruce Teal plays oboe and french horn and Barbara Poulson on flute.  These woodwinds appear on the beautifully melancholy Beyond the North Wind (B2) as well as the masterpiece Aegean track (B4).

Here is that oboe-toned B2 for you:

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Gilles-Luc Laurent & Jean-Patrick Voindrot - Jazz-Rock (Library, 1986) [lossless limited time only offer]

Here as promised some more from this keyboard duo who collaborated on all the tracks, rather than alternating one side each as was usual for library records.  Luckily we have mint condition media to enjoy here. The style is very French, that is, light and a bit breezy, but synthesizer-based, not minimalist at all, occasionally well composed and progressive.

Most tracks are followed by a shorter, half-minute version, that I left on at the ends of the longer versions.

The first, self-titled, track:

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Canelle from France 1979

Here's an album that was reviewed quite some time ago by Tom Hayes.  I usually am 89 % in agreement with his assessments-- which is encouraging, showing that there is a true bona fide prog style we seem to have the same judgements upon-- but in this case I thought it was just a tad more disappointing than suggested by the following, in particular, I thought there wasn't enough progressiveness to sustain interest through to the bitter end:

When listening to this album, I had every intention of listing it as a group from Canada. It has that particular sound that reminds me of a 1970s Quebecois release, as found on the Disques Le Tamanoir label for example. Groups such as L'Engoulevent and Breche come to mind here. As well, I hear traces of Harmonium's debut and even some Connivence. Overall I'd categorize it mainly as French folk music with a pop rock edge. So not exactly the usual CDRWL fare, but the primary reason for inclusion is the keyboard work - plenty of Moog solos that are a wonderful contrast to the otherwise serene pop music. I suppose you could also call out Yes here, when they're in their most simplistic happy sappy mood. Also, I quite liked the melodies. While not a priority release (there are a couple of trips to the barn you'll have to endure), I still think many of you would probably like to track this one down for a few listens.

Thanks again goes to Midwest Mike for this one.

Priority: none (borderline 3)

For me this is more in the French pop chansonnier style, with some excursions into more complicated melodies, but the attempt there is usually quite feeble.

A sample track, Hannover:

Sunday 20 April 2014

Rudy Perrone - Oceans of Art [Cathedral-related] (USA, 1981)

     Again I apologize on a holiday weekend for being a little bit slow to post.  As usual we can attribute this to the very perplexities involved in these quasi-religious holidays in which apparently we are to worship rabbits, some magic animistic bunnies, and the eggs of chickens, as well, douse ourselves in plenty of chocolate.  Perhaps someday an anthropologist from another planet, one that Kepler may have discovered recently in the habitable zone of some small red dwarf, could explain fully the odd ritual in which small children color eggs with bright colors and search for hidden entities made of excessively sugary substances that they engulf in a kind of primitive berzerk rage of overconsumption as the adults, primarily the female ones, decorate their houses in oddly bright pastel colors such as lime-green, pink, mauve, and baby blue, according to the religious strictures of the glossy magazines they read with beautiful females posing on their covers.  Subsequently they will be surprised to discover that the actual days are to commemorate the death of a celebrated religious figure and they will be even more puzzled and flummoxed.  And then as well they could try to explain the odd concatenation of culture that created a day called Hallowe'en in which pumpkins, witches, graves, chocolates, candies and costumes are placed in close proximity for children to fully absorb.  After that, the aliens will probably decide to kill us all to take over our planet, or at least, what's left of its biosphere, which may not be enough.  Perhaps they can also decide to enslave all the Westerners, as the Europeans did to the natives of the Caribbean islands, to farm the land and provide a huge harvest of food to them, that would surely be ironic payback, wouldn't it?  Then when the Spaniards for example complained, they could say, hey, you did this to the natives of Hispaniola for your sugar plantations, remember that?

      Returning to the show here, we have a really beautiful cover image from an artist who sounds very much like he was the mastermind of the US band Cathedral, which is my personal favourite Genesis-like band from that country.  So in fact this record is very much both Genesisish and Cathedralish, but less intense than the latter.  You will note that Rudy plays all the instruments here pretty much.  I have a rip from a friend, this is not my work here, that includes some live Cathedral bonus tracks, presumably from a bootleg.  If someone could enlighten us about this I would really appreciate it as I wasn't able to find any info on that particular issue.  I know there are many out there who know much more than me and I welcome any insights others can provide.  Still a relatively rare record, I've been trying to find a copy myself for some time, I love it so much.  Mellotron lovers in particular will drool over this one.

Meantime here is the most Cathedralish song on this album, called "Violent Silence," Track 10:

And here are some of the live bonus Cathedral tracks which I don't have any info on (of course these do not appear on the original vinyl of Oceans of Art):

Trust me, when I say you will be blown away by those bonus tracks here.  Not at all like the usual throwaway bonus tracks tagged on after a CD, not at all.

And who doesn't love that old Genesis sound?  The ne plus ultra of progressive rock, as I've said before.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

NOA - Tri-logic from Japan, 1987

Quite a stunning rescue from oblivion here, with a Crimsonesque fusion outing from 1987.  Compositions are by the percussionist, one Ichiro Takesako.  First of all note that as you wade through the numerous bands of the same name (including the well-known French progressive band) on rateyourmusic the great Mauro Moroni (of mellow records fame) has given this LP a rating of 4/5, to me, spot-on, and you can't argue with a master listener like him.  Mostly similar to the fusionary explorations of the British band "Red" for those that know them, or Germans Moira in their Reise period (1984), you get those dissonances, the percussive attack, the endless electric guitar noodling odd and angular riffs, the bizarre spoken passages, experimental percussion passages, the floating 'spaceship synths' as I called them before, in short, everything the prog fan could ask for in a quasi-instrumental record.

But so unknown!  For those who don't know this, let me tell you, there are hundreds such unknown Japanese progressive records out there the rest of the world is not even aware of...  Uhhh-- wait a sec, when you're talking progressive music, that refers to just about every record, not just the Japanese ones... sorry about that chief...

The track called Dr MacCoy I have to presume is a misspelling of the Star Trek character, based on the overall space theme of side two...

I sampled the wonderfully titled "Jupiter and Lucifer" song:

Notice how starting from a relatively unpromising beginning sounding almost Bacharachesque in G, the electric guitar's phrase, on hitting the bass note Eflat, suddenly deconstructs the melody into a kind of whole tone reference, just brilliantly insane, before mounting back up to a kind of Eflat key sound, then going off to repeat the previous G tune.  Gotta love the originality in that song.  I don't expect to hear it soon on geriatric radio.

Sunday 13 April 2014

TransAtlantique - How Many Chances? from 1980, United States

You will find very little information about this record.  The group came from Florida and the vinyl that I have is defaced somewhat with band signatures some of which are humorous.

The principal songwriters are Michael Gaworecki who played keyboards, guitars, and did vocals presumably on his own tracks-- his are the ones that sound like the Beatles circa. 1963, so a little out of date already by the time of the release of this record.  On the other hand, Klaatu achieved a monumental success with their own throwback style so perhaps it's just the quality of the writing that makes all the difference.  The other writer is Neil Kubik who was stuck playing bass, but also does guitars and vocals, just like Paul McCartney he got the short end of the stick I guess...  The remainder of the group comprises Alex Moore on guitars and vocals, Bob Little on guitars (did they need a fourth guitarist?), and Larry Miller and Greg Googins on percussion. 

Take a good look at the faces of these guys on the back cover for a little bit of Sunday morning amusement.
The progressive track, which appears to be about flying saucers, God and Genesis, is called "Fierce Attack".  That track really to me recalls Klaatu's big hit "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" which I recall hearing incessantly when a child, at least the version that Karen Carpenter sang shortly before she died.  However in the middle passage it reverts to a kind of Genesis "Giant Hogweed" vibe so is a little interesting for the prog fan.

I sampled the first track on the second (better) side: "Blue Eyes" which is quite approachable.  And you can really admire the skill of the bassist Kubik in his songwriting here, not just the slightly hoarse and curtained voice he uses to sing with, but using the unpromising chord sequence of F and E flat I think he builds up a really nice and quite original melody here with the addition of the D flat chord.

Inside, I found a kleenex with more band signatures on it, it would be wonderful if someone could explain to us the story behind this particular record... perhaps the recipient was the one for whom "Blue Eyes" was written?

Incidentally the band spelled their name in one word on the back, as you can see, which is why I did it thus at the top.

Well, after listening to that one song all morning, I gotta say that one wannabe hit makes the cost of this vinyl more than worth it... Thanks, Neil Kubik... who loves rickenbackers...

Saturday 12 April 2014

Gilles-Luc Laurent, Jean-Patrick Voindrot ‎– Vision, A Library Record from 1985

Here's a requested library album from the composers Gilles-Luc Laurent and Jean-Patrick Voindrot.  It's pretty typical library stuff augmented by some touches of more progressive composition, as you can tell if you have a listen to the song called "Steeple Chase:"

The track called "Starship" also features a wonderful sustained tritone which, admittedly, becomes a little bit boring after the first couple of minutes in my opinion.  Amazing how spacey a simple interval can sound, at least when played on a synthesizer.  And those lovely tritonal goodies reappear near the end of the second side on the track "No Man's Land".

And then of course, when I hear a song called "Burlesque" on a library record, I always run for cover, or perhaps to the nearest soundproof vault.

This pair made quite a few records back in the day:
I will try to bring out their collaboration called "Jazz-Rock" a bit later.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Clareon from California,1980... Yet Another Progressive Fusion masterpiece...

A little puzzled about the spelling here, a Clarion is of course an instrument, but why the replacement 'e'?  No sign of an answer when reading the back cover.  The composer here is Ron Madden, middle row right, with a contribution from another only on one track, "Baby Song."  In the incomplete release information on discogs, he doesn't appear, and a database search doesn't offer much.  Turning our attention to rateyourmusic instead, even less, other than to note Moroni the famous collector already owns a copy, not unexpectedly... At 156 years old, he has definitely accumulated a lot of experience in music...

All of which serves to introduce the statement that this is really a stunning oeuvre, from beginning to end.  It covers all the expected bases of fusion, funky dynamics, chamber music (including a clarinet duo with piano, I refer to "La Belle Jardiniere"), and intricate explorations to a space of musical composition where no man has ever gone before.  This might be compared to the German band Exil's Fusionen but sans the folky pirouettes and ethnic fiddle-faddle, purely a kind of experimental fusion album based on the smooth American style of Landress-Hart for ex., clearly created by a man who studied composition probably at Berklee in Boston as they all seem to have done... (On a recent road trip there when purely by happenstance I drove by the building on Newbury St. I was tempted to run in to absorb some of that gorgeously advanced music the folks in there were probably playing in (pianokey) ivory tower bliss, of course it could not have been, because my insane young kids were with me, and because a security guard would surely have thrown me in jail-- this was not long after the Boston Marathon bombing.)

Let's consider just the first track, which is quite progressively entitled "Neo-Cisum" (presumably a nonce word):

It starts with a languid sax figure but quickly jumps into the progressive aspects, modulating from E minor into G minor and then jumping from one key to the next-- notice how the sax now states a whole-tone scale based on C7.  Each passage is different as the song moves forward-- one of the hallmarks of progressive songwriting.  Beautifully though it kind of wraps itself up by restating the introduction like a Kekule benzene ring.

The third track called "Divisadero" has hints of french progressive fusion (think Transit Express) despite the funky beginning which only lasts a minute or so, and is almost like a symphony in its many changes, moods, and tempos-- trust me when I say don't give up on this track, listen to it all the way through; while the last track "Visitation" I have to wonder whether it is a homage to the great Pekka Pohjola.

At any rate the whole album is full of interesting surprises and invention, it's sure to sustain the attention of the most jaded progressive fan for quite a while... A remarkable discovery.  For which I can't take credit: this find was made as usual by my friend the Grand Nebula... all my thanks again...
And please try to secure a copy of the record while it's still cheap, as I did, unlike the over-hyped Landress-Hart's Dancing Moments.

Wonderfully, there is a small humorous poem inside the record written by Craig Lawrence (the saxophonist) and Ron Madden (how odd the two collaborated on a poem), the drawing is from Craig:

Two packs
of barking pigeons
fought the desperate Dean Turkey
They then began to move
in the groove
of the phoney dog bone
"In the latter days
the sons of disobedience
will melt waxed army man warship"
cried the pigeons as they flew over flaming gasoline clarinets.

a gigantic embryo of belt loop
scratched upon a dry bug of hitchhiking debris.

Blue watermelon light
shown brightly in the night
as the pigeons were in flight
raspberry jam!!
Summer time wintertime anytime delight!

A green plastic barbarian cactus
loomed over the sweat of Dean Turkey's vacation,
casting shadows of rubber roadrunners
on pine tree ventilation.

Shipping over
embroidered oceanic principles
the gray barking watermelon pigeons
discovered a resume of handlotion thermostat,

Diving deep
into fathomless entryways
they came upon gelatin clothes hampers
empty with dry icebergs.

Swallowing their cement block journey
they then proceeded to resolve their tupperware disputes.

Fantastic, I love it!

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Reissue of William S. Fischer - Akelarre Sorta Hiru (Originally, 1972) [No Download Available!]

First of all notice how bizarrely atrocious the original cover was:

And it seems this album was reissued in 1973 with a much improved and groovy cover:

And this is the 2005 reissue from Spain, shockingly, perhaps the best cover art of the three:

Returning to the reviewing portion of the show for a moment, I wanted to rave a bit about this astonishing little pearl discovered by my friend the Grand Nebula.  First of all read what this seller from discogs has to say about it.

"Weird and obscure as they come. In 1972 arranger William S.Fischer lands in the basque country and produces some funky reinterpretations of popular basque folklore songs and dances, all around the theme of witchery and covens (Akelarre). As crazy and weird as it may sound, this Lp is virtually unheard of in collector’s circles. How the musical director for Atlantic Records and arranger for Wilson Pickett, Roberta Flack, Les McCann, Eugene McDaniels, Herbie Mann and countless others got involved with this project is up to everyone’s guess.

However what he comes up with is really astounding, a funky as hell workout which will get you screaming for more. Killer go-go psych soul which defies categorisation: tight rhythm section, open drum breaks,funky as Hell guitar leads, groovy flute, weird electronic sound effects and moog bits (most likely courtesy
of Walter E.Sear, who gets a mention in the original liners) alternate with more stylish moments; think Terry Callier or Blaxpotation Soundtracks of the era like Marvin Gaye's Troubleman and even some fusion styled groovers. Fans of his funky jazz rock cum electronics masterpiece "Circles" (released by the Embryo’s
label in 1970 and feaured on Mojo’s "50 Most Out There Albums of All Time" list won’t be deceived, for he shows here the same masterful sense of groove and orchestration but in a more danceable, not so avant-garde context. An unknown record that deserves to be brought back to life in this limited, hand-numbered reissue of 500 copies."

What you may not trust in this description like me because of the salesmanship is that this is a formidably enjoyable record, not only for the progressive / library fan, but also for those out there and I know they are legion who love the funky breaks and groovy beats and so on.  And for those who are familiar with (and love!) the masterpiece avant-fusion album "Circles" from 1970 (and released to CD in 2003) this is indeed the same composer involved here, as I found out much to my shock.  I say this because the style is so utterly different.  If anyone knows about his 1973 album called "Omen" described as avant-garde, experimental, please mention in comments below.

Notice the alternative release info on discogs from 1973, incidentally.  It seems on examining the tracklists they left out 2 songs off the reissue.  (Which is what I have available to me.)  Anyone know about those two missing tracks????

You can hear a few samples on youtube, thanks to the uploader (s):
The first track which is very representative: Bat Bi Hiru Lau
Guera De  (ignore this link if you hate ads on youtube like I do)

Please note that this would not at all be qualified as an expensive vinyl thanks to the reissue.  Fantastic album anyhow, strongly recommended.

In attempting to find William S. Fischer's picture (which does grace the cover of Circles), how tragic is it to see that wiki doesn't have him...

Monday 7 April 2014

Dreamworld's Gates to Eternity are opening up

I didn't have very much to post for this Monday morning or even this week, so I thought it would be a good idea to finally share a rip of this gem, given the apparently high demand for it.  Despite that I still have the vinyl in my basement sitting and waiting like a guest that just won't move out and never pays me rent... damn that guy...
Seems like such a long time ago when I first posted it, and it is, a half year ago...

PS A quick note for those impressed with the recent "Spaces" fusion masterpiece-- believe it or not, another quite stunning utterly unknown American fusion from about the same time will be posted here this week-- stay tuned for that one.  Not even Tom knows about this one ;-)

This album has been requested frequently in the past, presumably due to the popularity of the preceding "On Flight to the Light" which is relatively easily available already (so much so that I put it down below).  In terms of musical quality this is slightly more commercially oriented and more in the "standard eighties" style.  What is interesting to me is that, as you can presume from the title, the whole record seems to be a positive story about not fearing death, I guess thanks to the power of religion, though the artists don't quite come out and state it.  And this was long before Deepak Chopra and Oprah!  Notwithstanding this, I felt compelled to buy the record to investigate its possibilities and am therefore now awaiting a buyer to take it off my hands.

It seems to me very lucky for anyone to have so much faith in an afterlife that they can laugh off the very idea of death, which instead within my mind causes apoplexies of anxiety and a paralyzing kind of mental catatonia, so much so that I can really do nothing but force the idea out of thinking.  But very very late in the night, at 'the witching hour,' perhaps at 3 o'clock in the morning, I often wake up sweating and thinking about the certainty of annihilation at some point in the future, and it becomes so impossible to sleep or think I remain awake for hours. Then a few beers are sometimes employed for their therapeutic value.  In the morning I invariably say to my wife, 'no matter when you die it will always be too soon' to which she invariably rolls her eyes.  Yet when she discovered a lump in her breast last year she also was awake many nights in cold sweats, I would then occasionally callously say, so you really are as afraid of death as I am... and this time the answer was, of course!   So often it appears to me that those claiming they are impervious to this terror are merely suffering from a failure of the imagination-- because there are very few individuals who would not be terrified when faced with the imminent and real face of death made actual in front of them-- e.g. in a serious car crash.

To me, that sums up the entire issue: those who claim not to be afraid are either truly religious or suffering from a defect in meta-imagination. But it's hard to imagine the universe without one's own existence, perhaps even impossible, and this really compounds the problem greatly.  In quantum physics a failure of imagination in dealing with such paradoxes as the wave/particle duality is often helped by the use of analogy, actually in most advanced mathematics this is the case, and I think the same thing should be done when faced with the idea of the world without oneself.  As a parent of course the minute I imagine my young boys' reaction to my death it's enough to terrorize me into eating vegetables all day and exercising at the gym.

I sampled the first track for you, "Lady Sunrise," it's relatively representative:

Friday 4 April 2014

Jean-Claude Camors - Strates (France, 1987?)

It reminds me a lot of the last album of Noco Music, which is why I assigned the year 1987 to it, for there is no such temporal assignment on the actual record.  Camors of course was the C in LBC Trio and it was noted at that time his propensity for odd singing was a little annoying.  Equally so will this installment be for those who didn't appreciate it in the past, like myself.  It's because the "Baobab" album was so good that I thought I should seek this out, one of the last from this trio of musicians I hadn't heard yet.

Sample track, one of the few actually listenable, called "Un Siphon:"

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Spaces - Border Station from 1981, United States

     Is it possible there could be so many masterpieces out there still, after all the many years we have spent collecting records?  Yes, it for sure is possible, and even certain, as Tom Hayes has observed on his cdrwl.  If you were not familiar with this heretofore, you shall be convinced of the truth of the above position after familiarizing yourself with it...

     A very inexpensive record but as we know, cost is apparently tightly correlated with quality when it comes to old vinyl-- in an absolutely inverse relationship: the priciest unknown albums being the most disappointing for the most part.  These guys sound very much influenced by Canadians FM but stripped of vocals (and violin of course) and any song-like structures.  From beginning to end we get a really powerful blast of warm, synthesizer-stuffed, electric fusion that smashes through the stratosphere like a Saturn rocket.  (Wait-- make that "Long March Rocket" as really it's now the Chinese who are preeminent in space exploration-- I love that photo of the homecomers with pink bouquets and plastic garden chairs.)

     Notice right from the start that mysterious first chord, which I believe is a minor with added 9th and major 7th (i.e., E minor with a B major chord on top), subsequently the song becomes quite deliriously major, I hate to use the cliche 'rollicking'-- a word which when applied to music quite drives me nuts.  (But it's a short drive anyways.)  The titles display a touch of twisted humor: "Sperm race" and "Airplane Glue"...

Strongly recommended!