Tuesday 30 May 2023

By Request, Guildenstern (Germany, recorded 1978-1979)


Not much in the database.  Obviously, a concept album based on the story of Hamlet.

On the other hand, lots of material on rym

A review from apps with the history of the band, note that everyone gives this release about 3 out of 5 stars, which I think is accurate.

This band from Hessen was formed by ex-Broomstick members Michael Lippert (vocals, bass, guitar) and Claus Lange (drums) in May 1976 along with Reinhard Olschanski (guitar) and Gerd Schmelzer (keyboards), beginning with the writing of a Rock Opera, which they performed live in 1977 without gaining a recording contract.In the meantime another local group, King of Twilight, disbanded in 1976 because of military obligations of members Bernd Scholl (keyboards) and Reiner Muller (drums).When these were fullfilled, Scholl returned to the scene, performing for about a year with Ice, then joining Guildenstern, who were searching for new members, next to singer Gerd Holfelder and Michael Kuplien (guitar, violin).The band played numerous lives with the line-up, but the only saved recordings were released only in 2011 by Garden of Delights as ''Guildenstern''.Most of them were an unusual Symphonic Rock with heavy references to Electronic Music, as Scholl apparently became a leading figure for the band, performing endless synth layers and acoustic piano lines next to a solid rhythm section and a guitarist with a mellow style, which adds a slight psychedelic touch in the softer parts.Nice keyboard-based Prog with spacious overtones and some quite furious and cosmic bombastic sections.The psychedelic tone of the electric guitar links the sound to the other style of the Guildenstern's repertoire, the one close to Kraut Rock, respresented by minor tracks with acoustic guitars, raw electric themes, atmospheric keyboards and acid vocals.Guildenstern called it quits in 1980 with Scholl becoming a composer of Electronic Music and Lippert-Lange playing for the next four years with a group named Masque.

A lot depends on if you have a taste for this symphonic bombastic German style (I don't) with long drawn out keyboard chords, so similar to others before them or rather from the same time period, eg Neuschwanstein (although remember I was quite pleased with their Fine Art album here, I don't think this one in any way compares to them).  I think there's quite a bit too many boring instrumentals with a couple of chords played on the digital strings that eventually go nowhere.

A vocals track caller After the Inquisition:

Monday 29 May 2023

Sarah Kernochan's 2 LP, plus other requests

I think you could say that in these two albums she reveals a little too much of herself.  At least half the songs, and she seems to be very keen on writing lyrics that are like little stories from a female perspective, are about girls who sleep with the wrong men, or at different places with different men, and so on. Musically, it's all singer songwriter about half on acoustic guitar, half on grand piano. There's some music hall or tin pan alley type compositions, Joni Mitchell-styled stuff as you'd expect. The title track from House of Pain:

Home Away from Home:

Obviously a very attractive girl, pay attention to the song called "Can I get on top this time" that depicts a masochist who 'likes it rough' and ends with a high-pitched note that I guess is simulating an orgasm. This kind of stuff must have been so welcome back in the seventies when women were still so repressed--what a difference a half century makes when female singers today get on stage in thongs and talk endlessly about orgasms in different positions, etc.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Back with Sisyphos and Raw Fish, 1990


I mentioned this one as interesting on the basis it straddles the border between their earlier hard rock style and their later prog rock style featured in Moments. And indeed it's kind of half half.

A lovely prog instrumental called Dinosaur:

It's disappointing that they close the album with two improvisations rather than original compositions or songs, as if they ran out of material.  But it's OK, there's enough interesting stuff here and there despite.

Interestingly, there is a new rip of the famed Rhea Sad Sorceress now with a great sound, which doesn't necessarily in my opinion help the music much, compared to the old rip I posted back in 2017. 

The new rip is in comments here.

Friday 26 May 2023

Some more from keyboardist Peter Robinson: Ablution, Sun Treader, Umberto Balsamo, Medusa


I'm guessing everyone has already heard the wonderful Swedish one-off band Ablution (a continuation of former band Baltik) as well as instrumental fusioneers Sun Treader. I was surprised to see they found some lost tapes that were recently released titled The Voyage. As you might and should expect, this is not as good, being looser, more improvised, and with a relative paucity of ideas in comparison to Zin-Zin which I think is a masterpiece of the progressive fusion genre.  The one-off release 1978Medusa from the late 70s is basic rock and commercial pop but features a lovely instrumental solo by Robinson on the arp in the last track, worth hearing.  As well he played keys on the some of the releases from chanson or pop singer Umberto Balsamo.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Recent prog recommendations: Gadi Caplan, Mathematicians, Six North


Mostly electric guitar-based instrumental fusion here, with some nice passages here and there, all recently released.

The Japanese group Six North sounds at times like my old favourite Mr. Sirius, consider Enneagram from their 2003 release Prayer, after the first minute and the female vocals start up:

Does anyone have this last one mentioned, Episcopio Vistarama? Review here.

Monday 22 May 2023

Poetica in Silentio in 3 releases, by request

The discogs page does not sound promising, describing each of the 3 albums with the genres hip hop, jazz, rock. It's as if someone thought it would be a funny joke, but of course it's not since it misdirects folks who might otherwise have become fans, like myself.  To describe it accurately, the music is actually a mixture of advanced (guitar-based) prog rock and alternative, emo-rock type styles in the modern style. From the first album, which switches from the straightforward alt rock to prog, though mostly the former, the sample Heaven's Closed:

The second album sounds quite a bit like Het Pandorra Ensemble's III album from the 70s being mostly instrumentals weaving electric guitar patterns in quite beautifully intricate patterns. Another good point of comparison is the great 'new renaissance of prog' band, Accordo dei Contrari, featured here before. At times it sounds like the recently posted Kubist Tier, which is highly positive.  There is even the addition of harp, flute, and violin, as I can hear. Not clear to me if these are synthesized instruments or the 'real thing' ie acoustically analog played.  Consider the opener, ironically called The Last One, note the second electric guitar riff and its tritonal pattern:

In track two there is even a mellotron in the background!! These guys / the composer were serious prog fans, without a doubt.

The third album for some reason reverted back to the old alternative rock sound perhaps for commercial reasons, and is disappointing to me by comparison (apologies to the artists), though excellently played and very professional, quite undeservedly unknown.  However, there are some quite interesting tracks, consider Paper Ships:

 But "Who Rolls the Dice" from the pre-millenial year 1999 is definitely a little gem.

Who are the artists? Would love to know, and if there is more coming... quite a minimal amount of information in the database.

Saturday 20 May 2023

The Chitinous Ensemble by Paul Buckmaster, 1971

This is a bona fide masterpiece and definitely the kind of LP that just belongs on this blog, with its incredibly creative mixture of modern classical music, jazz, and fusion, passing through some quite experimental ideas, but never meandering.  It's the composition of Paul Buckmaster, who was also in the Sphincter Ensemble and the Third Ear Band (their magnificent soundtrack for the 1972 Roman Polanski MacBeth movie, if anybody remembers that one, was incredible).  Peter Robinson plays electric keyboards on this work, and Ian Carr on trumpet.

I find it absolutely stunning that artists were so imaginative and creative in this time period and were willing to fuse together everything wonderful invented by previous composers into one harmonious whole with everything it, electric instruments as much as conventional acoustic classical instr. like the string section. What happened to that wonderful spirit? I mean, when I overhear some pop today, because I definitely try to avoid it as best I can, I just want to cry, there is not even any evidence people know of the presence of minor chords, or added sevenths even.

The track called De Blonck, imho, melds together the instruments beautifully:

My favourite one though is the Aldebaranian Song (refers to the star I'm pretty sure):

The fusion of classical and electric, traditional and modern, old and new, is perfect here.

PS from an amazon review, as pointed out by commenter below:

"I was curious to hear this disc as the material was written and directed by Paul Buckmaster. While rock fans know Buckmaster for his work Elton John (the string arrangements on Madman Across the Water for starters) and the Stones (Sticky Fingers), he was also heavily involved in the creation of Miles Davis's On The Corner. Miles first met Buckmaster in 1969 in England and they hit it off (Buckmaster gave Miles some Stockhausen records which in turn influence Miles's 1970s work). This album was recorded in early 1970 but not released (in a very small pressing) until 1971. You can definitely hear how it presaged On The Corner and why Miles brought in Buckmaster to collaborate on the album. I played this disc for Dave Liebman a few years back (and gave him a copy - he hadn't heard it before)) and he said flat-out that this record had definitely influenced Miles in a big way. So there you have it - from someone who was there (and played on the records). The music requires some open ears but if you're a fan of Miles's work from Bitches Brew through Get Up With It, this is must listening."

Friday 19 May 2023

Sphincter Ensemble's Harrodian Event #1 from 1972 (previously unreleased)

A band name I'm definitely not enamoured of, for sure.  I was led to this when I was poking around in the discography of Peter Robinson, who appeared in multiple prog bands of the 70s.  This outfit only made the one album which wasn't released at the time.

Going back to keyboardist Peter, note he was in Ablution the great one-off Swedish band, the well known Brand X with the incomparable Bill Bruford, Sun Treader with their fusion instrumental Zin-Zin, famed progsters Quatermass, the magnificently creative and progressive Chitinous Ensemble (which I thought I featured here before, but turns out I didn't).

Anyways this is not his best work, it's meandering and experimental, improvised stuff.  For ex., Event #7 subtitled Country Knees:

Finally, note the bio for Peter R.:

Composer - arranger - keyboardist. Not to be confused with Pete Robinson (2)!
Born on 16 September 1945, Buckinghamshire, U.K. He studied piano and composition at the Royal Academy of Music and enjoyed a successful career as a session keyboardist throughout the 1970s, working with artists such as Quatermass (3)Brand X (3)Phil CollinsMike RutherfordShawn Phillips (2)Stanley ClarkeCarly SimonBryan FerryStealers WheelAndrew Lloyd Webber and others. He made his film music debut as a solo composer in 1985, scoring a number of successful films including CocktailBlind FuryCadillac ManEncino ManWayne's WorldWes Craven's New NightmareHighlander III: The SorcererVampire in BrooklynRumble in the Bronx, and The World’s Fastest Indian. Also contributed music to a number of acclaimed TV series, including The Wonder YearsTales from the CryptEerie IndianaCharmed and The Handler. As a successful pop arranger, he has collaborated with Eric ClaptonManhattan TransferAl Jarreau and Melissa Etheridge.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

British Folk Guitarist John James, requested

Obviously we have some really gorgeous artwork, and quite varied too.
The music is very basic acoustic folk, incl. ragtime, blues, etc., occasionally with some interesting compositions:

Monday 15 May 2023

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson - The Education of Sonny Carson, OST 1974

I was listening to David Sandborn's Smile track, which is from this 1976 release from him (was also released as a single) and was surprised to see the song, which is quite beautiful, was written by a gentleman called Coleridge-Taylor:

Born New York City on June 14, 1932.

Died of cancer on March 9, 2004.

African American composer, pianist and conductor. Named for the 19th century Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

He made this one extraordinary soul OST, actually I don't know if he made more worth hearing, but it's just filled with great compositions. Here's the theme:

The lovely instrumental Daydreams:

Some nice funky tracks too.

As you might perhaps expect the plot is about a young black dude caught up in drug dealing, gang life, and prison education, etc. etc. Supposedly based on a true story though.

A young African-American teenager and three of his friends are in the process of breaking into a local market to steal food and money. Sonny is subdued by police and soon finds himself, at the age of thirteen, serving a sentence of three months. While incarcerated, Sonny meets Willie, the leader of a local gang called the Lords and is initiated into the gang.

Years later an older Sonny, who is now heavily involved in gang activities is part of the rivalry between The Lords and a fellow gang, the Tomahawks, also known as the Hawks. Sonny is deeply entrenched in the lifestyle of a Lord, which includes frequent brawls with the Hawks. During one of these fights, one of Sonny's friends, a Lord named Li'l Boy, is fatally wounded by a stiletto. Sonny and the rest of the gang arrive at Li'l Boy's wake. As they are leaving, the other gang members notice Sonny who is attempting to purchase a bouquet of flowers from a nearby shop. However, he is unable to afford it.

Sonny then robs a white man, who is carrying a telegram with change of $100 in it. With the money Sonny purchases the flowers and places them on Li'l Boy's casket. For his crime Sonny is arrested and later brutalized by police during interrogation. He is sentenced to between one and three years in prison. While incarcerated Sonny unexpectedly reunites with Willie, who teaches Sonny about the harsh realities of prison life. Sonny's father visits him in prison, letting Sonny know that he is still being supported by his family.

The brutality of the guards and the harshness of prison life quickly become evident to Sonny. In one instance Willie is beaten nearly to death by the guards as Sonny watches. Willie tells Sonny that he can no longer endure such treatment. That night, Willie is forcibly dragged from his cell by the guards. They toss him over the railing, causing him to fall to his death. Sonny, who is deeply affected by his time in prison, serves out the remainder of his time and returns to his family.

While trying to reestablish connections with his former gang members, Sonny learns that the drug trade has claimed the lives of many of his former friends. With a renewed purpose in life, Sonny fights the drug trade under a new alias, Mwlina Lmiri Abubadika. The film ends in the 1970s, long before Abubadika's controversial involvement in New York City politics.

Friday 12 May 2023

"Sisyphos" in 7 Pines - Exit from 2011, Masterpiece Alert


This album is a bona fide progressive rock masterpiece--from beginning to end. It's not often we encounter this kind of gemlike genius these days, we are not back in the days of napster when people were rediscovering the brilliant Italian one-offs from the past, like Blocco Mentale, or Alphataurus.

It's important to note this is the band of Peter Scheidegger, as you can see here, from Sisyphos. Interestingly, he did do other work which I am curious to know more about. Perhaps to purchase for later. I notice he also did some classical music.

What goes into the mix for prog? By now we all know, the unusual rhythms and chords, the dissonances incl. minor seconds, tritones, the different instrumentations (mellotron is feat. throughout here) but always on that essential rock basis with electric guitars, keys, hopefully mellotrons! etc. all mixed together into something that has to be original and creative-- this is where in my opinion a band like Marillion or Anglagard fails (apologies to their fans), because there is not a lot of original thought. And obviously when all has been said & done in the past, how can you come up with original chord changes never before considered?  Well it's hard but not it's impossible, I mean this record is proof of that, and I believe there is an infinity of those changes possible just as there's an infinity of melodies possible, and I think this can be proven mathematically given the number of combinatorials we're dealing with here, when you combine chords, melodies, and rhythms, three different independent dimensions to explore and multiply.

It's amazing because I just randomly post any of the tracks from this and you'd be impressed by the ideas, the creativity, the wonderful hard-dissonant sounds. I just wish there was more music made like this. The opening instrumental called Fab 7 pulls out the old mellotron and for sure, serves at the perfect introduction to this work:

Even more insane is the 'melody' of the 'song' called The Ones: here and there on this blog we've heard melodies as demented as this one but it's a pretty rare occurrence, this is really just out there, completely bizarre but amazingly it works:

I mean, think of the usual radio station you are forced to listen to at work. Now imagine the 'powers that be' on that station decide just for once to play that song between "Let It Be" and "Everybody Dance Now".

Probably they'd all get fired like Tucker was.

Wednesday 10 May 2023

Sisyphos and Retromania in 2009

Oh my god! (omg if you're younger than 40) can that be a mellotron I hear???  God bless...

Peace Again:

Of course given the retromania of which we are not quite innocent here on these pages, a mellotron makes perfect sense...

Monday 8 May 2023

Sisyphos and Paraphernalia in 2004

As we get ever closer to the present time, though still two decades distant almost, what do we get?
Well I found this one to be a little disappointing in comparison to both some of the earlier and later.

There is much more of a basic rock feel, perhaps not so surprising given they had lived through the alternative revolution of the 1990s (and made such great music in that decade too).  

Consider the acoustic piano song called Nothing Else to Say, which although augmented by a nice raw string quartet arrangement, and some (Freddie Mercury-like) harmony vocals later, leaves a little to be desired:

A nice electric guitar track called Singer Without Audience builds up nicely throughout its 10 minutes:

Saturday 6 May 2023

Back to Sisyphos with 1999 Moments Live


It's like they had a huge burst of progressive energy just after Moments, as you saw in the previous post, consider the pretty much textbook dissonances, with complex fuguing between organ and guitars featured on Parents:

For how much longer can they keep it up?
You will find out.

Thursday 4 May 2023

Back to the Sisyphos disco. with the remarkable 1996 Moments


I'm skipping over Raw Fish for now, this album which is fully a decade after the last post here, suddenly demonstrated a renewed dedication to progressive rock possibly inspired by all the exciting music being made by those alternative rockers, who let's be honest, made some remarkably creative and occasionally quite progressive stuff in that wonderful decade, musically, of the 1990s. In fact pure prog rock experienced quite a resurgence in that time too which has gone on to today (eg Pangee Hymnemonde, posted recently).  I mean, just check out the song that opens the album:

One of the ultra-progressive hallmarks of this composition is the way it keeps changing: chords, rhythms, ideas, vary dramatically, quite uncommercially, throughout a relatively short 7 minute period. Plus note tritone in first riff.  The addition of keyboards for extra color is a welcome importation too (compared to their earlier albums).

Wonderful stuff, and from now on, the band mostly plays in a classic hard electric prog rock style that is uniquely their own--which is unusual too.

I can't resist posting the lovely acoustic piano keyboard song called Heart Attack too, with its remarkable backing vocals and its just incredibly original chord progression, I believe this is similar or the same as the Language of Acceptance song from Mujokan:

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Back to the Sisyphos discography with 1986 Under Pressure

I guess for this album in the mid-80s they decided to go with a more commercial rock sound with the jumpy rhythms typical of the period, although the absence of digital keyboards and percussion is really welcome. Everything is electric guitar and vocals based.  So for example the track called Find Myself Bored, with its suspended chord arpeggios (typical of that Police-influenced era) for the verse, passes into an instrumental bridge section with a nicely original riff:

You could also say it seems to herald the sound of alternative rock which knocked the culture out only 5 years later. Of course, those Seattle rockers in the vanguard couldn't possibly have been aware of them.