Friday 16 October 2015

East River Consort's gorgeous Laurasia world, from New York City 1978

This record is very much analogous to the Quartet Music or Nels Cline I posted in the past.  Laurasia of course was the northern part of Pangaea, the wonderfully inspiring supercontinent of 200 million years ago, whose Southern part was called Gondwana.  (The original N. America was called Laurentia, referring partly to those mountains, the remainder of the porte-manteau word of course being Eurasia.)  So in this band title we presume both Asians (Persian I think) and Americans are represented, as you can see from the database information.  First have a listen to the title track, by Houshmand:

Peering more closely into said info, compositions are by John Houshmand, the brooding bearded artist on top right of course (also responsible for the cover), and Patrick Noonan, bottom left (who also produced).

Notice that years earlier, three artists from this group made another record called "East River" (the river next to Manhattan), which is described as very folksy and down-home countryish by none other than ashratom.   Luckily, despite that review, I asked my friend to procure a copy and found he was a little off-base, permit me to say, with the majority of tracks in the same world-acoustic folk vein, as you can discern for yourselves from my favourite track, the eponymous one:

Then, in the late eighties, they created another album, this time called Undiscovered Country which bears a lot of resemblance to the earlier work-- but is, inevitably, not quite as tight in composition or progressive in bearing.  The blurb follows:

The reunion of the founding trio of Laurasia, these guitar, violin and synthesizer instrumentals blend the meditative and upbeat, the lush and sparse - a reflection of exposure to the "downtown scene" of New York City during the mid-80's. Undisco mixes acoustic and electric sounds in a showcase of John Houshmand's offbeat compositions and the band's quirky arrangements and solos. Witty, jazzy, seductive, Eastern and experimental, the re-release of this rare recording has been remixed, remastered and expanded with live cuts and studio sketches.

Band Members: John Houshmand, guitars
Patrick Noonan, guitars & synths
Jonathan Levi, violin
Scott Lee, bass
Billy Drewes, percussion

At the same time they changed their name to Laurasia, though I really love the name East River Consort.  (Since the first album was called East River, from which they took their name, to complete the circle they now must change their band name to "Undiscovered Country" for a future release called "Houshmand Noonan etc.," of course... ) This 1988 album is not quite as good as their seventies work-- though it comes close-- but I would say that, being immersed so totally in that decade like a little fish accustomed to his own tiny pond and repulsed by the water in another environment.

But back to the 1978 album, wherein a great deal of medieval sounds appear, to add some variety to the acoustics.  Listen to the track called Sarah Vail (vocalist, Galen Brandt):

Thanks to my friend for this discovery, and please enjoy this lost work of art from these consummate musicians.