Wednesday 30 September 2015

Now The House-Band is Up To Date to 1983

Perhaps a bit more disappointing than the previous installment, if such can be imagined.
Information here.

Monday 28 September 2015

Off We Go with The House-Band from 1982

A very library-like offering from this instrumental band that did  few albums back in the day.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Rafael Escote in 1989's starry Aldebaran

Moving further into the eighties always can occasion regret.  Of course, after the epic Catalonia, we could not expect perfection here, or even quality.  There is much less advanced progressive composition than earlier-- after all, this is more than a decade after the second Gotic record.  A general idea of the music can be had by the acoustic piano and bass solo track called Balada D'en Lluís:

Of interest is that the second part of side b comprises a 15-minute long composition called Baixos Per A Un Ballet (Suite), with of course several parts.  This was somewhat disappointing to me on account of the overrepresentation (admittedly, not a surprise) of the bass.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Gotic Keyboardist's Coses in 1977: Ara Es Dema

Spare information from rym:

Catalan folk rock based on piano/organ, acoustic/electric guitar and sometimes string arrangements, melodious songs, good vocals & harmonies, they were part of the political movement to get the Catalan people more rights, they sang also in Catalan.

From Discogs:

Spanish trio from the late 70's, they played quiet, serious folk-rock largely based on piano (or organ) and acoustic guitar with soft string arrangements.  
- Jordi Vilaprinyó - keyboards, vocals
- Jordi Fábrega - acoustic & classical guitar, vocals
- Arthur Bernstein - acoustic & electric guitar, vocals
- Via Fora! (1976)
- Ara es Demá (1977)
- Perquè no s'apagui l'aire (1978)

Of course for our purposes what is notable is that Vilaprinyo was the keyboardist and presumably mastermind behind Gotic as we can see here:

Spanish progressive rock band of the 1970s. Their history goes back to the schooldays of Jordi Vilaprinyó and Jordi Martí who started as the organ and drums duo "Jordis" initially inspired by the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. After the group expanded, adding influences from Genesis, Yes, and "Zeleste’s layetana music" they arrived at a multicultural cross-polination of styles, and eventually Gotic was born in 1976. The band only released the one album during their lifetime, a delicate instrumental progressive rock outing featuring flute, keyboards/synthesizers and folk inspired elements. They also recorded a second album, of which tape copies exist, but the band split in 1978 before it was finished.

(That second album can be found all over the place online, and is STRONGLY recommended.)

Returning to this offering, we have exactly what was described above, with less progressive than the masterful Gotic, but nonetheless quite enjoyable folk-rock.  Listen to this stunningly beautiful track, Una Mica da Mort:

There are a few notable and original features to attend to here.  First of all notice the diminished chord arpeggios that intro on electric piano, passing into flute and fake strings backed by acoustic guitar-- creating tension and then quite abruptly releasing it.  Subsequently in the stanza, note how the traditional lyrics start with a normal melody, but as it progresses more vocalists join in until we have a complete triad moving up to the last chord, which, surprisingly, in the falsetto region, moves still higher, before resolving back down onto the tonic.  Quite an astonishing perhaps never before heard melody, and the plaintiveness of the subject clearly shines through.  But the song's surprises don't end there, after this chorus section and following the pleasantly gentle electric guitar soloing, the electric piano of Vilaprinyo proceeds to create a gorgeous little instrumental passage with small scale figures atop minor seventh chords.  How I'd love to understand the lyrics, as I don't doubt they are beautiful too.  Clearly this it the most Goticlike track: pay attention to the flute solo in the very middle of the song.  
Btw the record that followed, in 1979, was to me disappointing, as was the more simplistic previous effort, Via Fora.

Really, music this beautiful as I've said before, is like magic.

The great Gotic:

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Negasphere's Disadvantage from 1985

How about some classic Japanese (neo-) prog for a change?  I know there are few in the group who don't love this style, as we've seen before...

From 1985, not a cheap record.  Note there is a bonus track, from side c, on this rip, for which I thank my generous friend, one of the many who are contributing to our communal riches in this way.

Remember I posted their 1984 album, about a year ago here.  In comparison this later work is more streamlined and neoesque as befits the later, tunnelling into the eighties year.  As I mentioned there their 1981 live album, despite a poor sound, is by far the most advanced progressive music they did.  How often that is the case, that youthful talent, creativity and energy make early music the most interesting.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Fish Co.'s 1978 Beneath the Laughter, a wonderful pop-prog album

I've been listening nonstop to some of the songs from this record since my friend sent me a copy.  I see that it's quite well known already online and there is a lot of information to be found regarding the creators.  It should be mentioned straight off (but sometimes isn't) that the lyrics are christian based.  Here's a good review, from 2011, parchment music:

"...Now a full download has become available on the web at Electric Psalms. I think the download is legitimate - in that there's no effort under way to market CDs or paid downloads from Fish Co, so far as I can tell. And the tribute site,, links to downloads of later incarnations of this band, such as Writz and Famous Names.  

At the time I commented that Grapevine picked up a band that was undergoing rapid evolution. Having heard the full album now, I can report that the combination of Fish Co, Steve Fairnie and John Pac indeed produced something utterly remarkable.  The album morphs from acid folk to something that only be described as punk folk. The title track, Beneath the Laughter and much of the album have a lush electric folk sound, reminiscent of Shamblejam. But Fish Co were heading in a different direction to Parchment, who returned to a more acoustic, rootsy sound in Rehearsal for a Reunion, while Steve Fairnie and his bandmate Steve Rowles stayed close to the rapidly changing tastes of the late 70s and early 80s.  With the exception of John Pac's production there was no cross over in performers - and in fact the album features Pete Banks, of After the Fire on keyboards. So by the end, the band is experimenting with funk and then, in the song Super Heroes, with the new sound of punk - yet still overlaid with the lush female backing vocals of Bev Sage (Mrs Fairnie)."

I believe this is the artists' own site here promoting the record.  Note that this blog presented the album this past summer without review but mediafire download again.

Anyways, here is the song that threw me off my chair when I heard it, it's called Across the Table, and it should have been-- it must have been-- it had to have been-- a seventies AM radio hit, even more than other songs like Defrates' Saturated, it so deserved it:

You've been talking out for years without an answer
but your problems keep on growing like a cancer:
I can see it in your face-- 
you need a miracle of grace--
then you can begin 
to start again, to start again...

Isn't it beautiful?  That hook is simply unforgettable.  Everything is perfect: the lyrics, the backing gospel style vocals, the upgoing chord structure, etc.

Discogs information.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

The sublime progressive fusion of the Kokoschka Hightown Orchestra in Biwasee from Ohrwurm 1983

It's virtually remarkable to me what kind of exciting and intricate fusion Europeans were able to create in the late seventies-early eighties period and equally remarkable how brief this excursion was.  Here's another German entry with some wonderful compositions that go all over the place.

Notice the wonderful melody played by fifth intervals in the (of course) 5th track, Quintolla:

Monday 14 September 2015

The Amazing MO's First Album from 1976 -- highly recommended!

This astonishing album is the creation of  a relatively unknown genius named Moe Whittemore, who also founded the studio 700 West in New Palestine Indiana.  Notice they released the 1976 Sailor album I featured recently this summer, plus other famous unknown progressive gems.  That Maelstrom Paradigm album from them, for those who have heard it (I don't actually recommend it) is absolute atonal progressive noncommerciality, showing the artistic dedication of this particular studio head.

But back to his first album.  As a whole this record features creativity at such a high level of unique progressiveness that I wouldn't hesitate to say it's the best music I've heard in the last year in this department,  exceeding Tom's Metaphysical Animation discovery in advanced compositional skills --  at least with regards to side a, beta being quite a bit more uneven.  (Note the title of the former: sic sum, or thus I am.  Whereas the second is sic simulare sum -- thus I pretend to be?)

Moreover, the whole thing was made available for mp3 download by the artist on this page.  In 2014 it was released as a vinyl reissue of about 200 copies as you can see on discogs.   The original album from 39 years ago, probably present in this world only in a few remnant copies, would probably fetch quite a high price...  Here's the excellent review from discogs, edited:

"Moe Whittemore's first and only album on his own 700 West label is one of Indiana's oddest left-field rarity. Ostensibly a selection of publishers demos, the album was rumored to have been printed in a very small run of only 300 copies. The style runs the gamut from beat-heavy progressive rock on "Nowhere To Go" and "Slammer" to futuristic space noodlings on "K2- 3rd Movement" [Actually a chamber music composition clearly, but played on synths].  The final track on side A -- Muscle Pumpkin is a thinly veiled ode to Captain Beefheart sounding like a Trout Mask Replica attack complete with choral background singers and Ornette Coleman oboe (courtesy Mo) [that oboe actually appears on Congratulations, not that song].  The flip is dominated by more "normal" songs, including drum-heavy "Make a Little Wine" which saw some local airplay as a 45 rpm release back in 1976.  Two country songs follow.  Anthony Black of Lamp Records fame (Tony Black and the Revolution) provides vocals on the sweet soul masterpiece of Indianapolis -- "Check Me Out." All in all, the album is something between a demo to promote his recording studio and a library record of styles. Absolutely recommended to beat heads, library collectors and psych fans."

Oh yes, it's absolutely recommended, all right!  As he intimated there are a couple of throwaway tracks (to me) including the song about making wine (a side occupation of Mo's apparently, probably within the studio).   For me the song "Congratulations" just takes it over the top with Zappaesque humour and satirical lyrics, far exceeding the tongue in cheek of Brustna's similarly themed song (Stupid Record Company) about commercial success (or Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine from 1978's Wish you Were Here).  Pay attention to the spoken voice saying near the end:  "That's probably one of the best songs out there right now!" and the silly deejay voices: "REO Speedwagon!!"  But all the lyrics are well worth discerning here.

That high pitched instrument that sounds like a bagpipe, I take it, is the oboe mentioned by the reviewer.

Or try to follow the sheer bizarreness of the melody of track 10, "A little While:"

Now that's the kind of song I wish I could hear on the radio or at work!!  When you consider that this is ostensibly a sentimental love song, imagine how appealing it would have been for the poor receiving female to hear, especially when it transforms half way through into an uptempo jazz improvisation.  Utterly demented.

This is what I love, these wacky, out there, utterly creative artists, like Karlos Steinblast or Sandoz, who are saying f--- you to the art establishment that attempts at all times to dictate, control or throttle into conventional shapes what is art and what is not-- when it is the human heart that is the sole and absolute arbiter on that subject...

In the near future I'm going to post another very rare, very expensive item, that absolutely blew me away when I heard it, both because it's unknown even among collectors, and because of the utter beauty of the complex compositions...
stay tuned for that one...

no the search will never end...

Saturday 12 September 2015

Tayfun Erdem's Composition of Ararat "The Border Crossing" of 1986

Biography of Tayfun (in its inimitable google translation):

Having grown up in Istanbul. Between 1974-80 lessons in piano, harmony and composition with Cemal Reschid Rey (1904-85), the founder of `zeitgenössischen` music in Turkey and student of Gabriel Fauré and Marguerite Long ... After visiting the University of Indiana, Bloomington , USA (1980-82) and composition lessons with the Chilean composer Juan Orrego-Salas and counterpoint lessons with Bernhard Heiden, a companion of Hindemith.

Since `82 in Berlin ... appearances as pianist and singer with his own works ... premiere of his musical` Dramas` "Ararat Legend" after the novel by Y. Kemal for narrator and orchestra in Berlin (1985). Performances in Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Bremen, Utrecht, including cities and mission of "Ararat Legend" in the WDR, NDR, ORF ... RIAS and release of his first solo album "Ararat The Border Crossing" (1986, LP) .. . music reviews in the TAZ (1984-87) and articles in "Die Zeit", "Geo", including magazines, lectures and radio broadcasts on music and culture policy issues ... premiere of his `Music Literature image Dramas`" What does Niyazi in Naunynstraße? "(1987) for narrator, orchestra and 2 slide projectors after the poem trilogy of A.Ören and images of Kandinsky, Klee, Bosch, among others in the Academy of Arts on the occasion of 750th birthday in Berlin ... Composition the music for the film "awakenings" (1987) [Not the movie with Robin Williams, which came out in 1990]...

More database information can be found at discogs.  I was expecting soundtrack style orchestral composed music but was surprised to hear it was more interesting in general, having moments that are both jazzy and at times progressive.  There is  clear rock/fusion influence, though of course there are folk or ethnic tracks as well.  The LP was actually only part of the entire work, as you can see here:

The album presents "Highlights" from the three-hour "musical story" "Ararat Legend" a novel by Yaschar Kemal before. The work, a poetic love story, is a'neuartige' text-music synthesis for narrator and chamber orchestra. The album contains the overture and six longer pieces ... Musicians: Besides Tayfun (Composition, Libretto, Piano, Vocal &) and others Lennart Aberg from Sweden (soprano sax), Süleyman Erguner (Ney-Flute), Okay Temiz (drums, percussion ), Hans Hartmann (double bass)...

It's unfortunate that no complete version was released, though I might be wrong, as usual.  Track b4 gives you a good idea of what to expect here:

Thursday 10 September 2015

German Touch

Let's forget about that grotesque cover, presumably hinting at an interesting theatrical show associated with this band and work.  The music itself is very enjoyable Genesis-style inventive and well-written with picturesque Gabrielian singing.  By far the best track is the closer, the Dawn of Fantasy:

For those interested in more information, I'll simply redirect you to the October 2013 assessment by Tom Hayes (where he generously gave it a 3):

"Strange little "supergroup" led by H.J. Putz (from the first Mythos album) and Zeus B. Held, and also featuring guys who had played with Pell Mell and Guru Guru. Blatant Genesis cloning. A bit poppy at times, but not bad. Hilariously awful cover art." 

Germany certainly had no shortage of bands influenced by Gabriel era Genesis in the late 70s and early 80s including Neuschwanstein, Ivory, Sirius, and a host of others. The populous nation had a head start on the burgeoning NWOBPR scene that was about to take hold in England. Unfortunately there was little market for progressive music in Germany at the time, and all the bands faded rather quickly. Touch features a violinist, and his fine playing recalls Hoelderlin's own Genesis phase ("Clowns and Clouds" specifically). The vocals do resemble the theatrical elements of Mr. Gabriel quite well. The instrumental work throughout is above standard, and I'm impressed with the overall production. The use of Moog sequencing is refreshing in this context. There is, as noted by The AC, a fair amount of commercial pandering - yet another harbinger of the ill-conceived "neo prog" aspect of the once promising NWOBPR movement. The compositions are diverse, and well thought out. Fans of early 80s Genesis inspired progressive music will love this one.

The instrumental work sells this one for me. So I give this a priority: 3.

Well said, indeed, and thanks Tom.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Catalonia from Spain, 1981

I was puzzled as to why this album was in such high demand until I realized on reading the band information bassist, Rafael Escote was in my favourite Spanish group, Gotic.  For those like myself who have pretty much memorized their brilliant masterpiece "Escenes," Rafael wrote the compositions "La Revolucio" and the last track, the story of the drop of water.  On the other hand, keyboardist Jordi Vilaprinyo was in the band Coses throughout the seventies, and was responsible for my favourite tracks...

Back to this release, which is rounded out by the following musicians in addition to Escote: Angel Pereira on percussion, Lluis Vidal on piano and Antonio Peral on saxes; there are hints of the old Gotic magic but here we are delving deeply into slightly Hispanic-inflected complicated and composed fusion, winding beautifully into remote and reflected chambers of acoustics, flashes of gorgeous scenes and memories of beautiful emotions, cascading like a technicolor dreamscape after an unsettled night... or imagine the fresh insomniac feeling of falling in love (so long long ago for me) and being filled with the ups and downs fighting for your soul and that feeling of high-focused attention making you look at the world like a crystal, a geode full of light...

Check out the ultra-chromatic lush romanticism of the Sueco in America, with hints of Debussy or Ravel in the rich red and lingering vintage:

These composers really knew their stuff!  Whilst the most Goticlike track is the Lorelai: with its diatonic majesty of stepping stones in whole tone chords:

Apologies for the poor quality of the rip, btw.

Finally, notice that Escote later teamed up with Max Sunyer for the fusion superband Pegasus, which put out quite a few records.  Those are of course a little more disappointing in general, at least to me, being with both feet in the slick decade of the 80s.

But this stands out as a true fusion masterpiece with the passionate and hot spirit of the country from which it came.  Aren't we spoiled with treasures already?

Sunday 6 September 2015

1980's Austria Drei and Roidinger's Computer and Jazz Project I from 1984

This is again clearly and cleanly in the ECM tradition of emotional and intellectual jazz.  But it's very good.  Here is the information, as usual.  I think on this record everything came together beautifully for these talented musicians and with this entry we will depart from gorgeous alpine Austria for other countries to explore....

Finally mention should be made of the fantastic album Roidinger made later with electronics and his bass:

Friday 4 September 2015

Austria fünf: Pirchner - Pepl - Von Alten - Darling - Zadlo in The Loss from 1981

Information here.

Werner Pirchner was an Austrian vibraphonist who was quite productive in this period.  He made at least one very pleasant ECM album with Jack de Johnette and Harry Pepl (in 1983) which I highly recommend, his most progressive and insane work was the 1973 half double album (which mutant sounds once posted, & I can reup if need be).  I think his best record though is Austria Drei, which will be coming up shortly, but this one is very good too, it's highly ECM-like with its legato Weber-like bass and smooth and complex Towner-like guitarwork (from Pepl).  Each guy is responsible for one song.

Pirchner passed away in 2001. Listening to this, we can contemplate The Loss.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Adelhard Roidinger's Schattseite from 1981

Information here.  This is relatively acoustic, ECM styled mental and emotional jazz with that typical meandering thoughtfulness that is their modus operandi.

With regards to this bassist, I want to pre-mention a wonderfully progressive and brilliantly composed record that will be coming here shortly called Austria Drei in which he participated, coming out in the year 1980 which was so fecund for the European jazz and progressive scene.  I'll post that one in a bit, after also presenting Pirchner and Pepl (guitar and vibes players on the Austria Drei record) in another highly intellectual album they did called, beautifully, "The Loss.
Stay Tuned!