Monday 31 August 2015

Luna Sea, USA 1976, by request

I remember long ago (almost five years ago!) reading about this record on the cd reissue wishlist.  At that time Tom certainly didn't make it sound appealing and worth fighting for.  But in time a friend sent me a copy so I could ascertain that he was (or perhaps rather the AC), indeed, spot on in his assessment:

"This is another rarity sent in from The Alaskan Connection. I thought he did a magnificent job at describing the album, so take it away AC: ' It's the lone private press LP by an almost totally unknown US band named Luna Sea. They were from Blair, Nebraska of all places, but the album was recorded in Iowa. The first side is going to really test your willpower, as it's just straight radio-rock a la the Eagles, so you'll just have to "man-up" and slog through it. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, though, because side 2 is totally different. Suddenly the synths appear, and things start getting a lot more interesting. It starts out in a still fairly accessible style, but things get proggier literally by the minute, until the last track "Rousing The Ghost", which is a fantastic piece of instrumental symphonic prog with great guitar, keys, and even a little flute. Oh, and be sure to stay tuned for the unlisted (and totally stupid) outro! A completely schizophrenic album, but even the band seemed to know this as they named the first side the "Light Side" and the second side the "Dark Side"! Hard to tell what they were really trying to accomplish here. But, such is the nature of the US underground. One part confusion and one part inspiration. I guess that's kind of the charm! In any case, this thing is seriously rare. It only first emerged onto the collector scene within the last year or two, and since it was first discovered only like two or three copies have popped up." Thanks AC!  So true on the question "what are they trying to do here?". It was very typical for bands in the 1970's to try for a radio hit while mixing in their progressive rock ambitions. That strategy never did work.'

The last track ('Rousing the Ghost,'  mentioned above) is clearly killer, there will be no political debates on this issue, not at all, not ever:

Information from database here.

Please note that in Tom's comments section, the following appear:

I can't believe this record exists in even a blog. My old roommate in Hot Springs Arkansas, Collin Thompson, was the drummer in this band, and also did a lot of the vocals. They toured with the band Firefall in the late 70's, and when Firefall came out with an album titled "Luna Sea", this upset band members enough to file a lawsuit. From the stories I have heard, Luna Sea members sold equipment and paid legal bills. Well you all know what happened: Firefall went on and Luna Sea disappeared. Unfortunate too because I rate this album better than any Firefall! I love the song "Everybody You Ever Met" and "Almost Profound Melancholia". Only a couple hundred of these records were made and mine is autographed. Thanks for remembering this!

Anonymous Joshua Gear said...

Another one to join in with a tie to this: 

My old guitar teacher, Craig Nance, was the guitar player for this album. He now lives in Harlan, Iowa where he performs with jazz groups though the area and teaches lessons (I learned from him from age 5 though high school).

He gave me a copy of this album, played onto a CD. I would KILL to get a copy of this record, but I recall him saying that there are probably very LPs left around. 

He is an amazing, fantastic guitar player, and it's a shame these guys never took off. 

Thanks so much for this write up, it was really surprising finding this review online!

And thanks indeed to the guys in the band, for crafting this beautiful record!

Friday 28 August 2015

Impuls' Naima i and II from Czech by request, 1988 and 1990

This is typical Eastern European fusion-- of the kind we all know and love so much.  For example, from the first album, Monika 3:

And from the second, My Old Friend:

And of course, I dedicate this to my old multilingual friend, generous and dedicated and eternally impelled by the love of beauty, who ripped this record for the benefit of all of us: may you one day finish your search and return to us again...  we all miss you so much...

But in the meantime you have left us with your music and, as the great Greek poem said:

"Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take."

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Swedish Änglaspel's1988 Live

Appeared on Jazz i Sverige 1982  This is their third album.  Evidently a live, recorded at Jazzclub Nefertiti, the 17th and 18th of January 1988 in Goteborg, Sweden, "at the 10th Anniversary of the Group".  I will admit that it tends to drag a little bit, and in this instance the length of the record which approaches the 50 minute mark is a negative not a positive but there is a great deal of Mingus influence here, which can be a welcome thing, sometimes unwelcome if poorly done, in this small group of four brass and sax plus three supporting players.

Monday 24 August 2015

Мурад Кажлаев - Вечерний Арбат [Murad Kazhlaev - Evening Arbat: Jazz, Dance and Music] from ?1977

Big band music from Russia with this bandleader who was quite prolific.  In cyrillic, the data.
Some other albums from the slightly unprepossessing gentleman.  His classical musical composition, as always with these people, shines through the dark slavic forest full of, of course, dancing bears and those terrifying Putin tigers with their bare chests.  And those rebels armed with AK-47s, the greatest invention industry has ever fashioned...  For example, track A3 (translated by google as Old Saxophonist) shows off some vividly splendid fuguing:

Notice that the first 5 tracks of side b form a suite (Dagestan Suite, as translated by The Great Google) which luckily I was able to separate easily (unlike the case with that troublesome Trouble lp).   This composition is slightly more interesting as a whole though again not at the level of Nazaruk's Forest Suite.

Unfortunately an immoral but major majority of tracks veers into the easy listening direction of oncoming traffic for a horrific head-on crash leading to high casualties and expletives.  I'll spare you mention of the musical quotation of that godawful wedding march that is so utterly tiresome to hear, not just on a record, but in person at a ceremony, at least for those of us who have decades of such a state of affairs on our personal resumes already, or rather, have a look at The Great Google's tracklist in English and you'll see what I mean:

Evening Arbat. Jazz, Dance Music.
A1 Evening Arbat
A2 Kaleidoscope
A3 Old Saxophonist
A4 The stadium
A5 Minuet
A6 Wedding March

Dagestan Suite.
B1 Exotic Dance
B2 Morning Song
B3 Gorsky Dance
B4 In the Old Aule
B5 Oriental Patterns

B6 Paraphrase

That last Paraphrase is beautifully composed, soundtrack-like music which should have been-- could have been-- probably was-- used in one of those luscious euro-coproductions of the seventies wherein big-bosomed Ursula Andress runs through the Alps pursued by old professors usually played by M. Mastroianni with mid-life crises and a yapping wife perhaps played by Annie Girardot herself pursued by an Italian comic with a huge afro and a fat sidekick who keeps munching on chocolates and who later runs off with a large Labrador, played by Gerard Depardieu...  how I miss those stupid old Euro late night movies I grew up with, the music was always so beautiful, usually composed by of course, Morricone, and there was always at least one scene with nudity for my tender young eyes...

Saturday 22 August 2015

VA (Transjazz, Naima, Jan Buchar Quartet, Jakub Venzel) in Jazz Magma from Czech, 1986

This record features the four fusion groups Naima (whose albums I strongly recommend everyone seek out), Jakub Venzel, Jan Buchar Quartet, and Transjazz.

From Naima a wonderful composition called The Call that opens side 2 and that happily does not reappear on their I and II albums from 1988 and 1990:

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Dieter Salbert's Klangszenen from 1984 [+ reup 1976]

This 1984 follow up to Musica Phantastica is at least as good.  Of course I was reminded it when a reader asked for a reup of the older album, from October 2013, almost two years ago.
The same crazy or rather I should say phantasmagorical female voice is present in both records, it belongs to Alrun Zahoransky.
Dieter has a website here.

So here are both records.

Monday 17 August 2015

Trouble's 1970 After the War

Here's a fantastic horn rock opus from the earliest days of progressive rock music, or perhaps the waning days of progressive jazz music, shockingly without the strut or support of vocals so the program music has to stand on its own two feet.  And boy does it ever stand tall, at least in moments.  This one-off group created a uniquely representative jazz-rock sound, a bit more blues-centred or BST-centred than legendary contemporaneous masters Nucleus or Isotope, but with still that striking originality that makes us jaded listeners perk up, take notice, and for sure replay it and subsequently bore our close friends and family members with.

On closer examination notice that this German production featured N-H O. Pedersen, the famous Danish jazz bassist (who wrote one of the tracks as well), and who went on to incredible fame in the serious jazz world.  Music is by Botschinsky and American Ray Pitts, who moved to Denmark and played there.  For me, Pitts' last track is the highlight, showing true modern compositional skills with chromatic and quasi-atonal figures similar to the long track on famed French progmeisters Vortex's work, Les Cycles de Thanatos, although admittedly one must must first have to endure the bouncy introductory passage:

This track is called Three / Deep Six.  Isn't it a beauty?

It's an album or perhaps rip wherein one must be cautious with application of the fast forward button: the Pitts track called Circus connected to its next is remarkable, the next not so, while the Ballad following a pedestrian Lonely People is equally beautiful.  A surprisingly unknown find from my friend.

Saturday 15 August 2015

More Library from Brull: Beat Bach CBW 649 and G. Homburg's CBW 650

As the title indicates, very light Bach-influenced program music played by quasi-rock group.  Not at all at the level of Chris Hinze's Bach record, obviously.  A title like Round Again by Rauch can be quite listenable:

Many thanks to my library collector friend again for his generosity, in permitting us to hear this!

Thursday 13 August 2015

1978: Jamie Defrates is eminently magnificent as the Son of Dust

And another songwriting masterpiece, as one may amply surmise upon an initial glance at the gorgeous cover, which recalls the Spirits I posted long ago.  Will the gems ever end??  Here is the info, first up.

The first track, the magic carpet ride, sounds like a perfect imitation of Comus' first album, with the soprano backup singing accentuating his very emotional and thrilling ride:

(With regards to those lyrics, I do find the gratuitous drug references irritating, but as we all know they were really the zeitgeist in those bad old 60s / 70s days.)

Whereas the title track shows off his progressive credentials with chamber instrumentation adding colour to some very crafty songwriting in, again, a very emotional outpouring:

Then, a song called Saturated, setting aside the somewhat contorted Joe Cocker-like singing, is absolute pop bliss:

On a simple bed of C major chords: F to E minor to D minor, he constructs a mini-masterpiece of the jaded rocker's life.  It took me a few listens to make out the lyrics, but they are really charming:

"Woke up, but I knocked it down.  
Hoarse, like an old bullfrog.
Worryin' like an aging clown.  
As I laughed, about it all.
I'm a certain kind of breed, 
yeah, don't care much for booze;
don't know 'bout LA, 
or those New York City dues.
I'm Saturated--  and I think most people are--
just want to get some kind of relief, 
and that's why we all take it so far--
some want to be famous, 
and some want to be so small;
some want to be left alone, 
and others just want to break your heart...
Saturated, saturated-- 
And I think most people are...."

A paean or rather an apology for alcoholism, or any other excess...  I don't know what you all think.  But I am firmly of the opinion this song SHOULD HAVE BEEN a hit on FM radio back in those late seventies instead of dying a slow death on an obscure LP even collectors are not aware of following almost 40 years in a comatose state.  It don't make no sense to me... 
Oh, and by the way, when it comes to music, Mr. Defrates, I'm not saturated at all...

And before leaving the subject of saturated, am I the only one who wishes the 'media' would just ignore the Donald Trump issue, as it once again proves to most people modern democracies are not just stupefying but stupidified, almost crafty illusions, like reality tv: Donald is going to make George W. sound like Ben Franklin soon, and he already has made Ronnie Reagan seem like Abe Lincoln.  Then pollsters tell us most of the population refuses to vote.  I wonder why?
What is going to happen to our modern democracies?  Is there really chance for better anymore?  But let us remember even the Athenian golden age was only a few hundred years or even less depending on how it's counted before the state was conquered by Donald...  sorry, I meant, Alexander... the Great...

Back to business: Jamie, I love this record and I love your songwriting-- I pray everyone who loves classic rock could hear what an astounding work you made here.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Konstantin Petrosian's magnificent 1986 Concerto for Voice and Orchestra

Wonderful orchestral fusion from Russia.  I heard this before from one of the soviet music blogs and decided years ago I had to purchase a near mint copy, a rarity in Russia of course, as I said before, and rerip this.  So here it is, straight off the black market.  Don't ask what I had to trade to get it but at least the timing was right as the rubble oops I mean the ruble is not doing too well over there.

It is more adventurous, not as smooth as my old favourite Igor Nazaruk, but the composition is so compelling, with its mix of classical education, jazz, and the female voice (of course-- who would want a concerto with a male voice?) that peeks in and out like an incredibly beautiful woman you've always had a crush on appearing and reappearing in your life to taunt you with her desirability...

Here's all your needed database information including the cyrillic spelling and, on the bottom, a really sweet and dope review:

A really sweet soviet jazz album for hip hop samples and dope funky jazz music. Features real drama horn samples and killer jazz funk fusion with awesome De Do Da vocals.

Konstantin Petrossian (Armenian: Կոնստանտին Պետրոսյան; Russian: Константин Петросян; born 12 August 1946 in Yerevan, Armenia) is a composer, pianist and conductor.

Oddly enough, he did not make more records, so far as they say here.

So enjoy it!

Sunday 9 August 2015

Brustna Illusioner, a Swedish treasure from 1974 [no download, review only]

Now how about a really uninspired cover for a change?

But don't judge a prog album by its cover--because the inner soul of this record shines with a beautiful and long-shadowed light into the inner halls of the mind and, at least for me, will be remembered for a long time in those dark and cloistered passageways...

I will first thank the collector who shared this (as usual) expensive rarity and offer a song, the first and very representative:

I think I've mentioned before how often Scandinavian music features a melancholy substrate.   Altogether you will be reminded of the Greek Pete and Royce albums, with the oddish, languid and downtempo piano chords and the progressive angles here and there judiciously placed through the songwriting.  They truly get it over the top with the track called "Happy New Year:"

"There is no constellation and I feel sad-- oh--
everybody's gone, the last year has left for a new,
and I think it's bound to be bad..."

Notice how in the middle of the song, the drumset picks up and starts banging out a totally different song starting with a bass and fuzz guitar with this manic kind of duet chanting seemingly homeless-inspired, like a bum on a corner shouting out his clinical depression plus axis III (DSM-V) alcoholism, before we return to the same E minor we started with for an exhausted, spent recapitulation.  Does it get any better than this?  Brilliance.  Please-- everyone, let's all sing this song instead of the godawful Auld Lang Syne every new years eve from now on!

This is art at its finest: beauty and craziness, creative inspiration, the hollow echoey sound of the solo piano with the slightly off-kilter singing voice, plus a touch of tongue-in-cheek humour all rolled in one big fat luscious cabbage roll of a song... wow!  (In a song called "Duke of War" the lyrics start with "I hate the King of Norway...")

Notice there is a mix of swedish and English as was common from this country and Germany.  There are actually many Beatles influences (including their infamous backwards guitar solo that is, recorded to tape and tape played backwards) and some pop a la Pepe & Paradise. 

The last track is called "Stupid Record Company" and, again, I want to throw it out as a homage to the most slimy and disgusting, far-from-art form of art there is in this world altogether today, I speak of course of the music business:

Notice the great G minor intro chord with reverb and vibrato on the electric piano, with an initial melody that reminds me, suspiciously, probably unintentionally, of John Lennon's upgoing verse for Bungalow Bill.  But the lyrics are fabulous-- beyond brilliant.

"I've been writings songs for day and night, and I'm sending my work to the stupid record companies. 
Stupid record companies, why don't you like my music?
They say, 'no no no'...
I've been writing songs of life and death, and I've sent my work to the stupid record companies.
Stupid record companies, why don't you like my music?"

Why Indeed?  A question every unrecognized artist has asked themselves, but perhaps not with the same humour and skill as this songwriter.  Some database information here.  Notice there are copies for sale, and it generally sells from 100 to 300 USD, providing some measure of an explanation for why there is no download to follow in the nearest future.  But meanwhile can we provide some artistic justice and celebrate this magnificent set of songs for what it's truly worth, as a musical work of art?  Beg, steal or borrow, preferably the latter, to find this record, buy it if you have to, borrow it or trade something to get it, but believe me when I say it is worth hearing in its entirety...

Friday 7 August 2015

The first of Kevin Fisher, another lost US progressive opus from 1975

This time, lazily, I'm going to pass it over to a user on rateyourmusic for a fairly accurate review:

" For some reason, judging by the homemade cover, I thought this baby was going to be an outing in progressive excesses ...  The leadoff instrumental 'Overture' didn't exactly change my impressions, but so much for first impressions ... 

So what do we know about namesake Kevin Fisher and 1977's 'The First of Fisher'?  Next to nothing.  It's clearly a home grown vanity project and what few references we can find indicate that only 75 copies were pressed.  As far as we know, this hasn't seen a CD reissue.  Technically the album has a fairly primitive sound, but in musical terms it's all over the spectrum.  The acoustic ballad 'Lullabye' has a heavy classical feel (Pentangle came to mind the first time we heard it), while 'Flying' sports a 1950s' vocal group feel and the horn-propelled "Pirate's Song" recalls a post-David Clayton Thomas Blood, Sweat and Tears.  Of course first impressions are seldom entirely wrong and in this case the second side sports some mundane progressive moves in the form of 'Indian Dance' and 'In Search'  Again it's fairly raw, but not without it's low-keyed charms, including the pretty ballad 'A House for Wendy'. "

He wasn't impressed perhaps, but I was really charmed by the aforementioned raw, DIY aspects.  Check out the first and to me quite stunning track, "Overture:"

While the final track, "The search" (for El Dorado) starts relatively  unpromisingly with an A minor riff featuring the descending chromatic blues scale, which we've heard before many times, but abruptly a smashing open or sustained guitar chord brings it to a halt and the insane singing starts up again, recalling to me my old favourite Karlos Steinblast:

So although a bit uneven, I think we as prog fans will not be overly disappointing at adding this album to our ever-expanding (and furthermore acceleratingly expanding) like the universe collections.  If only we were coterminous with said universe too!  Sadly there was no second of Fisher, though I wish there had been.

Notice how little comes up in a basic google search for this work.  So how come Tom missed this work on the cd reissue wishlist?  Well it seems he is lagging behind us a bit these days...

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Tom's Metaphysical Animation from 1973, finally available!

Well, as the saying goes, we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a huge surprise... someone out there, god bless the kind soul, ripped and shared this record freely with everyone, on youtube.  From my close sources, I believe they found a copy in a bin somewhere, contacted Tom, and just ran with it from then on...   For your benefit I will post a completed mp3 in the comments.  First of all let's review Tom's remarks from, almost two years ago now:

Part 1: The band Metaphysical Animation was first formed in 1968 in Gainesville, Florida, and later ended up in the Miami area. Their sound and lineup evolved gradually over this time, eventually coalescing around the core of guitarist Alberto de Almar and keyboardist Bill Sabella. They gigged around the small clubs of the area regularly, and by 1972 were ready to record an album. By then the lineup consisted of de Almar and Sabella, along with drummer Robbie Hanson and bassist Steve Margolis (another bassist, Larry Jessup, also played with them around this time). The album was recorded that same year at a professional studio in the area, over the course of one or two sessions. They had a test pressing made of it, but were never able to secure a record deal and soon disbanded. The musicians went their own separate ways, with Alberto de Almar ending up in another local band named Faustus, who opened up for some of the larger rock acts that toured the area. By 1976 they too had called it quits, and I believe de Almar then left Florida to pursue more advanced musical education elsewhere...

Less than 50 copies were pressed, housed in a plain white demo sleeve with the band name hand-written in pen on the cover. Now here's where we get to the most amazing part: It's a double LP set, clocking in at nearly 65 minutes in total! I'm not sure if I know of any other instance where an unreleased test press of an underground band like this was done as a double LP. Anyway it seems that they had a sort of uncompromising attitude and never really did try to market it too hard. After failing to be signed, they sold most of the few remaining copies at local gigs, which might account for why no other examples seem to have survived. A few comments on this album's actual discovery: The seller who ended up with this apparently dug it up in a warehouse find that may have been associated with the particular (long defunct) pressing plant where these LPs were actually made, which would explain how it managed to survive these 40 years at all. This lone copy was buried amongst a bunch of other test presses, all the rest of which were just various 45s of local radio jingles and other such ephemera...   
[please read the remainder]
On gnosis, of course, Tom notably gave it a 14/15 score.  Hard to believe.

Now quickly for my own review.  The album starts in a promising manner with some instrumental fusion/hard prog on Two Songs in Space and some unique chord changes, with the melody even featuring recurrent diminished chord breakdowns, but thereafter the track slacks off a bit with an E to D passage featuring electric guitar soloing that goes on a little too long.  Then to my utter shock, I heard him quote Norwegian Wood in the middle of said solo (about the three-minute mark).  So to me this was a bit of a negative omen:

But notice the interesting guitar effects, a la Jimi Hendrix in his late, post-Electric Ladyland manner (which appear throughout the album in fact).

The next track is a straight-out commercial ballad with Beatlesian chord changes, again a disappointment.  A few following tracks are interesting for myriad reasons, again, but interspersed in the progressive moments there are deeply disappointing ones too, as the blues song attests.  I can't possibly consider this a great record at all after listening to it some 3-4 times since last night, it's not as good as the wonderful Genre - Commercial Success, nor can it compare to recent Tom discoveries Ginga Rale Band and Rob Thomsett, it doesn't have the bite and originality of a true progressive masterpiece, like Swiss Island, or any ELP record, for that matter.  In general I feel the length is actually a bit of a drawback as it results in some self-indulgent noodling on the part of guitarist and organist, like the low protein to carbs ratio one finds in many cheap Chinese restaurants... Generally speaking it reminds me A LOT of the Flight album I posted a year ago with the quality being overtly comparable.

But I'm now going to shut up-- because you can, yourselves, be the judges.

Monday 3 August 2015

Counterpoint from the US, 1982

This is a half-fusion half commercial rock enterprise from the early eighties to bide some time before my new computer arrives and I am able to restart ripping vinyl.  Of course this being the dog days of summer, the sense of urgency is completely absent and indeed it's as brown and desiccated as my front lawn...

...reviewed once by Tom on the cd reissue of course...

Saturday 1 August 2015

Lothlorien's Two LPs, ST (1980), and Spaces (1983)

It's a popular name for a band, for obvious reasons (though I must confess I am one of those few people on planet Earth who, as a child, never read the books, and as an adult, never saw one of the movies-- nor even expressed the desire to do so).

It might be obvious by now that this is my favourite subgenre of progressive music: European classical chamber music combined with the modern excitement and energy of jazz and rock.  The former seems almost sterile and dry, like traditional French cuisine with its lack of spices, while the latter forms alone seem to me like junk food, without any finesse or thought.  So the combined effect of the best progressive music is both intellectual and emotional in what it brings to our level of enjoyment, think for example of the best thought-out, best-laid plans of Genesis tracks like The Firth of Fifth.  All of which is to say that I love these two records, similar perhaps to the Marcia Meyer instrumental folk compositions I so briefly posted once.

Both albums are very similar and there is no deterioration such as one often finds in compositional level from the first to the second.  They feature some relatively unique instruments as is obvious from the back scan.  The great flute performance on Namaste from the first:

Title track of the second record:

Notice that Jim Palmer is responsible for most of the composition.  Imagine humanity creating the most perfect music for the emotional and intellectual education of the brain-- this would be it for me.