Thursday, March 24, 2011

Zebulon 1980

Another masterpiece from master shige, from beneath the waterlogged ruins of the tragic islands of Nihon...
Classical progressive in the germanic late-seventies style with synth soloing, lush keyboards, digital strings, electric and acoustic guitar arpeggios lulling you into the dreamlands of the isles of Arnold Böcklin with the long drawn-out spectres and sea-images of distant travels and travails... Novalis: "we are nearly awake when we dream about dreaming." This gives me hope there is still uncovered treasure in the lost archipelagos and ruined architectures of the seventies, the lost atlantises of progressive rock buried under the tempested waves battering our frail and fraying memories. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel yes, but here and there we will find a huge monster, an elephant oil field deep from the cretaceous that will reawaken our hopes for a brilliant future of beauty and cocaigne-like plenitude. But then in the morning we look again and find the dream is over, like Prufrock, "voices wake us and we drown," except the remnants of the memory of certitude that could have come about cling to us in a shudder.

From cd reissue again:
" What we have here is the type of album we wish all private symphonic rock albums to be. Not long ago, we featured a band called Profil and their album "For You". Zebulon reminded me of that album, though this is much more keyboard driven [sic] than the purely guitar oriented [sic] Profil. Zebulon has a positive energy, with many hooks and changes, and plenty of fiery solos. At any one time while listening to this, I was reminded of other German bands such as Tonic, Trilogy, Rousseau, Prosper and maybe even the first Amenophis album. Probably the only weakness is the choice of keyboards / synthesizers that are employed - generally of the cheap and tinny variety. It's a small complaint with music this good. The AC comments "This one is straight-up excellent instrumental prog, with a few fusion touches thrown in for good measure. I really enjoy this album, and it seems almost totally unknown." Overall, a superb instrumental progressive rock album."

I don't know if it stands comparison to Tonic or Trilogy, the compositions here are not quite as ingenious and inventive as some other german bands along the same lines, certainly they are more gifted in complexity than Novalis for example, so to me it's more enjoyable; as well the energy level never lets up (there is no slow wimpy song) but after a few listens it all starts to blend together, kind of like italian restaurants wherein varieties of pasta supposedly make for varieties of bona fide foodstuffs. Check out for example track 2 which travels for several minutes in G major, very briefly modulating to E flat but no sooner said than done we go back to the same G riff as if the musicians were frightened of the risks they were taking by changing keys. At least they don't stay in the same chord for an entire long song like so many other teutonic culprits. Notably absent is the sine qua non of prog, the tritone, until in the last track, "zombie d'amour" we get a great minor second dissonance (cluster-like).

We cannot thank the ripper enough for this egregious act of resuscitation in bringing to a wider audience such a phenomenal piece of progressive rock, lost to time, lost to space, lost to the collective jungian consciousness of humanity. (Except in the deepest dreams of beauty.) Along with everyone else we feel so horribly for the people of their country and the impossible injustice of the chance mayhem the world visited upon them. We know that we are in an endless cycle of suffering in this existence, spring must follow winter, snow must follow the cold. Our deaths are necessary for births to come, we must leave for our children to take our places, we have been told to die so nature can change our molds. We are all the same carbon and H2O cycling endlessly through the billions of years the earth has circled around. For human beings, awareness of this paradox is the ultimate suffering, to be cognizant of one's own temporality is the punishment for our eternal minds. We are allowed to think of everything but only at the cost of all thought to be extinguished one day, one unpredictable day.
Therefore, as Gautama Siddhartha taught, it is our duty to reflect upon the only subject there is, the subject of the question of our existence...

Zebulon is

Ollie Ernst......keyboards
Michael Krenke......bass, Siefkophone
Thomas Krenz ......guitar, percussion
Micky Schmidt......drums, percussion

A1 Opium Haut Opi Um 5:32
A2 Crazy Marck 4:16
A3 Pudding Exploison 9:11

B1 Walpurgisnacht 6:06
B2 Galappagos 4:30
B3 Schwanenflug 4:35
B4 Zombie D`Amour 5:18


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sangi - Steps (Italy, 1978)

A work by Maurizio Sangineto [birth name], aka Sangy.
Review from rateyourmusic is pretty much spot-on (for once):

"The Sangi album is a very pleasant fusion album, with a noticeable late 70s cruise ship / tropical feel. Sax, guitar and Rhodes lead the solos. Exquisitely played and produced. A very obscure album." [from ashratom]

more from cdreissue:
'The Sangi album is a very pleasant fusion album, with a noticeable late 70s cruise ship / tropical feel. Exquisitely played and produced. As the AC says "I think part of the appeal of this one is the excellent sound quality, especially for such an obscure small label release. I doubt anyone could make an album that has quite this kind of production nowadays." And it's true. For such a small label private production, the rich full sound here is amazing...
Finally, the AC notes "The other interesting thing is that there's a cameo appearance by Lucio Fabbri of PFM." '

Phase Shifter...

New Cross 1986 (US)

Another remarkable 'lost' masterpiece from the US -- it seems that despite what was going on in popular music at the time, there was still a huge amount of inventiveness in songwriting in the mid-eighties. As I've said so many times before, I wish I had known about progressive rock and jazz at the time I would have jumped on it like Berlusconi on a ... better not say.
This album has features of Ixt Aduxt, Babylon, King Crimson, Moira, with a lot of highly interesting guitar arpeggios and rips, strange chord changes, and the typical american gruff singing style -- not overstylized as in neoprog, just a little bit 'progressive', maybe think mirthrandir style. I can't understand what these guys were thinking at the time -- 1986 -- but like true artists, they cared only about their craft and skills and not about popularity, clearly.

I love the meandering arpeggios in the first song "Currents" where the singing kind of comes in and out without real straightforward chorus or even focus. The second song "Fall of reason" builds up a beautiful tension, then the singer starts almost talking over some metal-style chromatic riff. I'm not sure if these guys were influenced more by punk-style rio or the older progressive tradition or what, but it's a bizarre but beautiful concoction. Suddenly some chiming that sounds like keyboard vibes appears, in the middle the song has a gorgeous energy, it reminds me a lot of alternative metal. I'm sure the lyrics are worth listening closely to and understanding but I've never had the patience to do it, maybe someday we should transcribe them (as we did in high school) and see if it makes up a poem.

"...they are conscious of nothing at all..." (tracks 3 and 4) has that typical thin slicing guitar sound of the eighties but the chords are just out of this world, surely no one else in the whole of the eighties came up with a chord succession like this one, unless maybe in progressive quarters of Germany or France. It bridges passages together in gorgeous electric harmonics-- unbelievable thought put into this song.

Track 5, "Wreckage of Consensus" starts as a song sung with electric guitar accompaniment, this reminds me a lot of dzyan 1 or moira perhaps. Suddenly drums appear and the song closes out in some amazing, absolutely brilliant progressive harmonies with organ and dramatic tension building and building like a movie, including some chromatic metal riffs and chord dissonances (like clusters)...

How come these guys didn't make more music? Truly a tragedy of massive proportions, from the hindsight of fans looking back on it all today. Had they been in the mid-70s for example, wouldn't they have made more of an impact and output?

Fall of reason
"...they are conscious of nothing at all..."
Wreckage of a consensus
Middle dream

Mike Ezzo - Percu
Steven Cade - Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Rick Ezzo - Bass

Eagle Rock, CA, USA, 1986

Wreckage of a Consensus...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indonesian masters of prog...

Many like me who grew up in the seventies assumed there was a "Mystery of Easter Island"-- how these primitive people managed to create and lift up these huge monsters of stone on a barren 10 mile wide island. Heyerdahl was most responsible for creating such a mystery and he claimed incas or indians from south america went westwards, rather than the obvious migration of polynesians from the east. I think it was mentioned in the notorious 'chariots of the gods' as well.

Many years later when I read about the story of Easter Island -- the scientific story -- it turned out the reality was far more interesting than the crazy theories of aliens from outer space (well, not quite as interesting as that). The polynesians, who were without doubt the greatest sailors in the history of man, sailed out initially from southeast asia (they were originially thought to be from Taiwan!) to the phillippines, to indonesia, thence to the marquesas, to australia, new zealand, finally to easter island, an area almost a third of the surface of the world. This is very simiar to the migrations of the indo-europeans from the steppes of central asia to all europe and india. On Easter Island, their tragedy was that they used up the forests that covered the Island to transport the statues (on logs and wooden beams) thus depriving themselves of the ability to even leave their island.

When the last tree was cut down, they were stuck there forever. There could no longer be a seafaring vessel with which to escape on the ocean. Suddenly they were in a prison which they had entirely created themselves, out of political or interpersonal discord or lack of foresight. As Jared Diamond said, "what did the person say who cut down the last tree?" Most likely they were starving, needed fire, and had no choice. And predictably, the further history of the people was one of constant fighting, hardship, even cannibalism. How can anyone not feel that the destruction of our whole earth is leading us down the same path, hurtling with reckless or careless abandon? I would love to hear an optimist's opinion, because to me, the experience of the easter islanders is very much like the politics of selfishness and acquisition that occurred in copenhagen with regards to kyoto, destroying a climate change agreement that everyone knew was an utter and emergency necessity. And in scientific circles, the feeling is that we also will destroy almost forests on earth in the next 100 years. For those who do agree with me, check out the amazing novel "The Road" (not the movie) for a view of our future.

In addition to their sailing talents, the polynesians (Austronesians) were surely amazingly musical people, anyone who has visited any country in Oceania knows these people feel music more profoundly than most humans, they live and die music every day. So it's not that surprising that we have so many musical gems coming out of Indonesia, including progressive masterpieces such as Giant Step.

Overall sound is slightly syrupy with popish singing, some hooks attempting to be radio-friendly esp. when the string section pulls out its schmaltzy background, but every track features some interesting feature or other. Occasionally the singers are slightly off-key and the timing is not professionally millisecond-precise but it's full of musical ideas and bursting with creative inventions. Track 7 starting with some wonderful piano solo in F features an almost composed rock song with fugue-like melodies moving in and out from electric guitar, flute, synths. Dramatic accents play out between choruses. A lot of synth soloing on keys gives it the classic prog seventies sound. Virtuoso Lisztean grand piano playing, delicate flute solos, abrupt chord changes one after another in the elp tradition all make appearances. Track 8 is a little annoying with a have-to-hear-it-to-believe melody that jumps an octave and back down again after a pause. I imagine this is derivative of folk music of the area because I have no other explanation for it.

Thanks to master shige again for these albums. To quote:

Contrapunk "Putri Mohon Diri" (1976,classical prog)

Album title... Putri Mohon Diri
Band's name..... Contrapunk
produced by..... Adji Bandi
year... 1976

Side A
Grace Simon
Titiek Puspa
Grace Simon
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi

Side B
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Grace Simon
Grace Simon

The following text was tranlated into English from this link

CONTRAPUNK is a group formed by ADJI BANDI, TONO SUPARTO, PUNGKY MOEKTIO, ARIS and JESSY. They tried to combine classical music with rock music.In other words..."Bach-Rock".
This group started to record their first album,but during the recording,PUNGKY MOEKTIO (key)resigned and instead of him, YOCKIE SURYOPRAYOGO joined as a guest player. and moreover,added NANO(flute).And the album released by them was "PUTRI MOHON DIRI"(1976)(means...princess,please yourself) supported by TITIEK PUSPA and GRACE SIMON as guest vocalists.. 'PUTRI MOHON DIRI'(track2)is a song that finished the second place in Festival Lagu Populer Indonesia(Indonesian Popular Song Festival) in 1976. It was the song that sounded magnificent and fitted the opera style performed by Titiek Puspa .But unfortunately,though promising,this group disappeard with only this sole album......

Contrapunk is....
Adji Bandi....viola,piano,lyre,vocal
Tono Suparto....Bass
Aris...lead guitar
Yockie Suryoprayogo( of "God Bless")....keyboards(supported member)

(guest vocalists)

As bonus I include a true underrated gem, which I've listened to repeatedly and am always shocked by. Check out the side-long track which is chock-full of musical ideas and melodies, never repeating, one after another, no long boring guitar solo. I speak of Yockie Suryoprayogo "Musik Saya Adalah Saya ". Here we have basically maybe a pop rock album wherein the composer has thrown all kinds of madness into the mix, odd chord changes, very unusual melodies, and to top it off there is this side-long track which remains me of Dezo Ursiny's Ostrov because it is sung throughout, not simply an instrumental symphonic style composition. (In all honesty, not quite the masterpiece as Dezo's.) I have to wonder about this guy-- what was he thinking? Was there really a market for this in Indonesia at the time? Or more likely, it was his labour of love, his attempt at demonstrating how far he could go in music?

As a double bonus I include another album from Yockie, "Bahtera Asmara", with beautiful female vocals, check it out.

All thanks to the master shige for his insuperable generosity. For those who pray, send all your prayers to the unfortunate people of Japan and a soon recovery from this unimaginable catastrophe...


Kolibri - "Winterserenade" {Germany} [1985]

Psychedelic Folkrock album with English lyrics and a dreamily playful atmosphere. Very rare original on the Hamburger Eulenspiegel label (1032)

A1 Tanz der Kolibris 3:30
A2 Winterserenade 6:48
A3 La nuage 9:54
B1 Aprilwetter 7:27
B2 Take Five 8:07
B3 Yedigün 6:54

- Ingo Höricht - g
- Hans Kumfert - b, g, fl
- Georg Lejeune-Jung - g
- Alfons Meisenfeider - bouz., g, b
- Torsten Ribbe - fl
- Olof Roter - perc.


Thanks to ZenBa :o)

Link in comments...

My loveletter to prog...

From aforewritten comments it's easy to see that we have received complaints from a quarter. It really surprises me that some could see reason to be unhappy when those who buy these rarities at high cost and higher rarity share freely. Is this really the natural way of humanity, to take everything for granted if it is free and easy? For a small number to have the ability to ruin things for the greater good? In my work I know that a small, vocal, aggressive minority, can easily ruin things for the majority simply by creating onerous restrictions on the rest-- this is a kind of tragedy of the commons too... We see this everywhere in the bureaucracy of democratic countries where increasing regulations (which protect the tiniest minorities to the detriment generally of the rest) create hardships (e.g. financial) for the honest ordinary person-- who wants nothing to do with these issues. Well, my wife has the simplest answer to this: "we're doomed, and we deserve it. People are all selfish." (To which I usually say, what about me, am I selfish?)

In these posts I have attempted to communicate my deep and undying love for progressive music: as I sometimes say as a joke to my wife, I am so lucky every day to have so many beautiful albums to listen to, and also, to have a wonderful wife and beautiful children.
I feel I have searched all my life for this music. As we all know it's addictive. For sure it's a drug, one I couldn't bear to leave behind on my holiday... Once you 'get it' you can't go back, in my opinion, it becomes a passion. I cannot bear to listen to someone playing the muzak or soft-rock radio stations at work. I start to rant, and they of course all laugh. We want to hear something new and different every day, a new chord change or interval we never heard before, something completely unexpected again. Of course it will never be the same as the first time we heard Soft Machine (only about 11 years ago, in my case) or name any other of your favourite: for me, Carpe Diem, Pulsar, Transit Express, Jox, these are some of the albums that transport me directly on an interstellar drive to heaven at 99 percent of light speeds. Sometimes we find something that comes close to that beautiful feeling we first had when, jaw dropping and in ecstatic shock, we hear some kind of music that we never could have thought possible.

All my life I've listened to music, to pop and rock, to modern classical, getting bored of those, to jazz, getting tired of that, back to rock and then to metal and alternative until they lost interest... then when I discovered progressive rock I realized, here is the type that included within it all types, all styles, all genres, and not just in a kind of awkward mishmash (as is done nowadays by the novices) but actually in the most beautiful and harmonious way imaginable-- think of how Conventum melds together folk music and classical music, how Maxophone blends classical with rock, how the recent Genre band combined rock with jazz, creating a completely coherent whole. And the best of them all created music that was not only original, but beautiful and harmonious.

Why is it so beautiful? We don't know exactly why music is harmonious to the human brain. But I believe that it has to do with the concepts of chaos and complexity, which are general features of many things in life and physics. Basically, we can say that life as a chemical phenomenon is on the border between random chaos and complex order, it has a very distinct uniqueness which appears to be chaotic but which is rather at the maximum possible complexity. It is difficult to differentiate between the two but I think the human brain has the ability to tell-- for sure to a chimpanzee the music we listen to is random noise, but to us who can interpret the acoustic signals in the maximum possible information-processing manner, it is not, on the contrary, it operates at the maximum possible complexity which is comprehensible to the brain. This, to me, is what progressive music is: the maximum information we can process as beautiful all in one package, on the border of chaos, almost at the point of collapse, always at the edge of the abyss of the fall... This is why these sudden chord changes and dissonances appeal so much-- they can't be random, they have to be based on the collective musical consciousness of humanity, the unconscious heritage locked into the acoustic cortical connexions and synapses that have been passed on to us through generations. Surely this is the summit of music, of musical ability. All the collective aspirations and achievements -- and rock with its energy and strength, jazz with its emotions, and classical music with its scientific accuracy, are all important bases, together they create a three-dimensional vector space that we become lost in as a world that is more spacious and potential that any world we can come across in reality... a kind of infinite-dimensional Hilbert space in which the vector state of absolute beauty resides in permanent platonic perfection...

For sure we know that Joachim Kuhn needs no introduction, anyone who doesn't know who he is should not be reading this, so as a treat I would like to present this lost album from another master shige rip, called "Information", from 1981, with included cover. It has moments of the wonderful Kuhn that we love so profoundly-- the master who created Cinemascope, Hip Elegy, Sunshower, Springfever, etc., all of which when I first heard about 6 years ago I thought I was going to die of joy, thanks to the wonderful one who first shared them to me, the great "master of prog" mentioned before, to whom I beg forgiveness every day... I think it's an important (lost) document for all those who love Kuhn. Track 2 (Miles) has a bit of that Manhattan Transfer unison jazz sound but moves into some advanced-level songwriting, track 3 (Dreamworld) has a cool atmosphere of mysterious progressive, and 7 (Line of fire) features the typical waterfall-like solo piano style and constant key-changes of the inimitable master.

In closing, I want to mention that despite the deep love of progressive we have, we have to keep this in perspective, there are very very few people in the world who share this 'bizarre hobby' as my wife calls it, maybe one in a million. We really should be working together and not trying to hoard rarities from each other like little trolls. We shouldn't be hiding stuff in basements everywhere but instead like a kind of monastic collective effort, everyone should be trying to preserve as much as possible by ripping everything they can for the coming dark ages and making as much available as freely as possible. We shouldn't be bitching to another about quality of this or that rip or so on, but appreciate we are brothers and we are in this together, working together for the preservation of a cultural treasure greater even than the gold and cemetaries of the Nile. I believe this a hundred percent & this is why I do this. Those who complain should understand we all work full-time and have very little free time-- this is all done as a labour of love in our spare time and it's not like I have a chance in hell of ever getting any financial reward or any other success with this. What a joke!! I could (and probably should) be blogging about my crazy children and the cute things they do and the many toys we buy for them every day, and thereby I could get a million-dollar book deal and endorsement from Toys-r-us, but I don't, because this music is my true passion.

Please-- keep your complaints to yourself... We are not a medical licencing authority here. Again, when I tell my wife about these matters, she laughs, she says, some of these people never leave their parents' basements, do you not realize this?... but her main point is this, ít's so unimportant in the long run, do you not realize...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Apprentice - Rough Draft 1982 (flac and mp3)

On fire with a US fusion tear here, from the fantastic shige we have this amazing high-quality rip... This time from the early eighties, you can't mistake those digital keys and splashy drumming style. Musically this album is phenomenal, high energy and great composition. I step back for magister dixit:

"Rough Draft "Apprentice"(1982)...superb USA obscure jazz rock & fusion. Ripped from LP.
Track 7 is the masterpiece !!!!!
Equipments I used are....
turntable....DENON DP-47F
CD recorder....Pioneer PDR-D5
phono equalizer...ONKYO PE-155

James Pastman....Acoustic and Electric Piano,Mini,Micro Moog,Obertheim Polyphonic,Clavinet and Percussion
Mitch Hayes....Acoustic and Electric Guitars
Kenny Nugent....Bass
Jerry Leake....Vibes,Marimba,Hand Drums and Percussion
Frank Stauffer....Drums

Side One
1.Rough Draft (6:02)...James Pastman
2.Barnstorming (6:46)....JP
3.Prank (5:06)...JP
4.Charlie Brown (2:32)...Vince Guaraldi

Side Two
1.P.M.(Privately Maintained) (4:58)....JP
2.Freeze Frame (4:35)....Mitch Hayes
3.Time Change (6:54)....JP
4.It's in the Cards (3:24)....MH

Recorded at Sunset Sound Studios,LA,California,in 1981(?) or 1982(?)"

Very professionally played fusion by this experienced (albeit unknown) team, one throwaway song in the form of the christmas charlie brown song, I think the compositions are really outstanding, you can listen many times to this and always find new ideas to enjoy yourself with...
Track 5 ("privately maintained") reminds me a lot of Finnforest with the circular electric piano pattern and strong electric guitar statements starting with a windy-atmospheric beginning. Definitely my favourite for the aforementioned european sound. Digital strings make an appearance but thankfully are kept subdued in the background. A more unfortunate 80s-sound casio keyboard starts off the next track though-- is it possible we really loved that casio sound back then, 25 years ago? Hard to know. Track 7 is a more progressive shadowfax-like composition with a lot of energy and velocity to drive us through to the end.

Hopefully there can be no complaints about the high-quality, highly-competent rip here, tracklists are included for once in my posts. For those who hated my last two submissions and the fact they were put out publically rather than fantasized about in the privacy of a basement alone, I would appreciate more positive comments if there are any people who are thankful, which, of course, there may not be. Thanks to the two people who posted kind remarks to the last two albums. No thanks to those who complained about the Coalition post, I suggest maybe just deleting the file from your computer if you don't like it, you can right-click on the file if you want and press the 'delete' button.

It seems the old adage "say nothing if you have nothing good to say" has transmuted in blogs to: "only speak if you have a complaint." I don't want to sound too old, but honestly, I couldn't be the only one who finds it depressing that we encounter rudeness everywhere we go in this world today, and I know from travels, that this is a phenomenon that is pretty much worldwide except possibly certain small pockets of Hawai'i.

Finally, we all hope and wish for the best for the people of Japan in this unbelievable tragedy, whose repercussions will continue for a long long time.... A quote again from master Shige:

"Sometimes a little good.
Almost all bad.
They are our lives."

P.M.(Privately Maintained)...
Time Change...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Coalition - Mindsweepers 1975

Continuing shortly on from the last fusion post of Genre here's another ultra-gem dug up out of the heaps of oblivion by osurec. This is from mid-seventies and without doubt has a bit more of the earlier Soft-Machine style of prog-fusion. Here are some of the peculiarities of this particular record that make it highly worth your while:
Starting with a strong opener in C minor with an unusual chord change to F sharp (?) we move into a sax solo interlude followed by a C major composed baroque-style canon. This to me harks back to Charlie Mingus' song of the same name (I think, because that track was also in C but I might be mistaken since I haven't heard it in years).

Side two starts with a march (believe it or not) in 7/4 alternating with 9/4 which gives it that jerky sound, starting with drums and flute, and then using some really tasty strange piano chords full of jazz-dissonances to accentuate the simple melody. We then get a G7 song that recalls spring especially with the constant flute solos hovering abovehead like a pesky songbird looking for peanut butter. This then crashes abruptly into a modal E song, that is, scale of diatonic C is used for solos, no sharps. Some incredibly tough gruff electric key chords, typical modal sounds stage rhodes soloing, before returning to the G7 theme.
Quite a good record and outstanding to hear something so unknown, turn out so good. They did a second album subsequently called "Birth"...

I can only repeat how rich the mine of fusion is from this period with seemingly no bedrock in sight still. This is especially true of german late-seventies fusion, to which I would like to turn attention to shortly. In this regard there is a huge amount of impossible to hear material out there, which some feel should be hidden from the masses of humanity. It confuses me why one would want to hide from fans music that they would love, when in the first place, there are so few fans of this style still around and about, and why someone feels they need to hide it from those very few fans who are probably diminishing year by year in number. Maybe someone can explain to me the rationale in the comments section without getting too rude in the process. What is without a doubt true is that the germans adopted the progressive fusion style (just as they mastered electronics and krautrock and developed them into artforms) and really ran with it, creating some of the most amazing high-energy jazz-rock in human history since the middle ages. This should be part of the german heritage but puzzlingly it is not. Of all countries it seems as if germans are the least cognizant of their progressive past.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Genre - Commercial Success (US) 1978

From the mighty osurec, "Unknown and Underrated US Jazz prog rock, they came from Albuquerque, private press issued in 1978"...
Of course, the title of the album alone makes one want to feature this. Is there a chance of commercial success for these highly professional and inventive artists in the year 2011, 33 years later? Well, when I hear what music other people are listening to, I am slightly doubtful but I am by nature a pessimist. I would love to hear an optimist's opinion.

For we who love progressive music we often find, especially now so late in the game, we have to mine fusion to find some of the crazy songwriting and willingness to experiment that are its hallmark. And of course it's amazing how much creativity went on in jazz in the period from early 60s to late seventies, even early eighties, when fusion became a reviled term (which I take it, it stills is today, in the 'music biz' and the general public). Personally, I prefer the real classical progressive music such as Genesis, but I feel we've run out of this classical style almost.
Let's start with the opening of this record where a drum crash leads to some insane triplets played unison style with electric guitar and keys, hyperfast, smashing into a sequence of chords that sound lifted from the best RtF chord changes. Subsequently a similar triplet series leads up to higher chords, then abruptly, before the minute mark, we switch tempos to a slow sequence with digital strings and some sustained chords. After some soloing this passes into some slower triplets that sound quite classically composed and then reiterates the triplets with synthesizer only to move on to a standard funk tune. All this in the same track. Virtually the whole thing could be studied as an exemplar of fusion in the late seventies, all styles are featured. The first side continues on into some light fusion sounds, which I understand, may not appeal to all. (I take it this 'soft fusion' is the reason fusion became anathema later on.) Pay attention to the end though, oddly enough an acoustic guitar solo closes it out. I wouldn't say it's the best composition but definitely it makes for a very varied record.

Side two features some more really eye-opening music. Electric guitar is front and centre throughout the record but in the first track we get some crazy Jimi Hendrix solo riffage after a bunch of minor second chord changes recalling alternative or early metal, like black sabbath. Subsequently a chromatic scale descends into the standard funky fusion style again that even we fans are getting a little tired of at this point. At least the energy never falters on side two, and the musicianship is superb. More ingenious riffs pop up out of nowhere, collapsing into almost metal-hard guitar patterns or thick chunky chords. Obviously this guitarist was not just a prodigy but had some brilliant ideas in his acoustic cortex. Side 2 closes out with an aggressive F sharp note on the guitar into an outro with a descending pattern of chords (what could be more fitting), like a fusionist's fadeout-- was it a fadeout to the whole concept of progressive and creative rock music for all mankind?

This is an outstanding example of how much thought can be put into one instrumental record. How unfortunate that this record and the players are unknown and relegated to that great big deleted bin in the sky.



1 Knock Out
2 Love Light
3 Auntie em
4 Just Messin' Around


1 All Mixed Up
2 On the Spot
3 Commercial Success
4 Love Light Reprise

Side A...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jukka Linkola - Banana (1976)

From wiki:
Jukka Tapio Linkola (born July 21, 1955 Espoo, Finland ) is a Helsinki-based jazz pianist , bandleader and composer. He studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki 1972-1980, and in addition has made a study trip to the United States. He served on the Helsinki City Theatre's conductor from 1979 to 1992.
[Note that this record thus comes from a 21 year old man!]

Infos from
Composer, conductor and pianist Jukka Linkola began his career in jazz, but since the 1980s he has become better known as a composer of serious music. His repertoire as a composer is exceptionally large. It contains not only orchestral works, concertos and chamber music but also operas, songs, musicals and jazz. In all, 40 recordings of Linkola’s works have so far been released. Linkola has composed a wealth of music for the stage. In 1976 he composed the music for a production by the Dance Theatre Raatikko called “Banana”.

He composed the musicals “Peter Pan”, “Kallion kimallus”, “Peer Gynt” and “Boris Godunov” and the ballet “Näkki” for the Helsinki City Theatre, the musical “Max and Moritz” for the Theatre 2000 in Tampere, “Antti Puuhaara” for the Tampere Theatre and the musical “King Lear” for the TTT-Theatre of Tampere. In 1989 the Finnish National Opera commissioned a ballet for the story by Astrid Lindgren “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter... [long biography follows]

So we see again how brilliant music can be when a classical education is combined with willingness to delve in the realms of jazz and rock. I'm not surprised to read that this is music for dance since it has that extreme variety and change that is typical of ballet. We start with a very atmospheric opening, a sustained piano note (Linkola plays all keys) leading into a very pohjola or wigwam-like sequence of piano chords. Side one progresses into some fairly soft conventional light fusion sounds. By track 5 it seems the experimentation session has gotten started with those typical smooth sounding dark grooves that we often hear in northern european jazz combining electric piano and a lot of minor seconds.
Side two then proceeds into the stratosphere of musical ingenuity. I believe the sixth song is a copy or direct quote of Debussy's Cathedrale Engloutie with the right and left hands playing same chords but I may be wrong. The sense of drama starts to really build up. Track 7 returns us to euphony with a sax and acoustic guitar melody accentuated with electric piano arpeggios sounding like ibises flying off. A long track ensues with all kinds of styles cycling throughout, a more classical composed opening moves into finnforest style electric jazz ending in a gorgeous electric guitar solo and drum break. The prologue is quoted from again with the sustained piano notes, with a really out of this world spacey piano composition in the middle that to me all on its own makes the whole work priceless. The album curiously closes out with some very conventional chord changes on a light fusion sound-- I would almost call it a throwaway song.

What a work! As usual I can only pray someday this kind of music can be regarded rightfully as on a par with the more famous composers in the canon of western music.
Again mention should be made of the brilliant album cover showing barbed wire in closeup. How this refers to banana [republic?] I don't know.
Thanks to the crazy Maitre D for this album.

Bass - Ilkka Hanski
Guitar - Juhani Rantanen
Percussion - Jukka Linkola , Upi Sorvali
Piano, Synthesizer, Composed By, Arranged By - Jukka Linkola
Producer - Tommi Liuhala
Recorded By - Dan Tigerstedt
Saxophone, Flute - Pentti Lahti

[coming next up, back to smashing fusion with Genre - Commercial Success]

Valkoinen on kaunista...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Didier Bonin - L'air Lumiere 1982 (Private Pressing) {Bonus, Arbre-Verre 1979}

From French rock discography:
"This is the versatile musician, guitarist and keyboardist Didier BONIN's first [act. second] production on which he offers a refined, suggestive, very beautiful and melodious music inviting the listener to dream and travel. The delicate chords of the acoustic guitar combine and mix with the gentle, flowing, spatial sounds of the keyboards to create a poetic, romantic and impressionist universe. "

I find very little information about this artist online, which is odd because the sheer professionalism of the playing and songwriting is astounding. Bonin's work sounds very much like french masterpiece Michel Moulinie's Chrysalide (for those familiar with it) or less so perhaps Claude Perraudin's Mutation 24. We have the very atmospheric 12-string acoustics with sustained and reverbed electric guitar melodies, all instrumentals, occasional use of synthesizers but mostly with delicate arpeggiated guitarwork front and centre. Because of the guitars I wouldn't describe this as electronic, though it has the 'mood' of electronic music i.e. introspective and thoughtful. There is that typically french melancholia and exquisite delicatesse in the music, such as you hear in for ex. Yves and Alain Lorentz Espaces and a lot of French library music e.g. Serge Bulot. Some of the songs feature dropped-D tuning to give that particularly droning sound to the chords. A lot of tritones as usual in progressive. Check out the insane chord progression in the song "Ecumes" (sea-foam) where D minor passes to G minor, but then suddenly ends in G7 (major) in the second part of the intro melody. Wow! That's what makes this kind of music so incredibly interesting to listen to. Bizarrely I'm reminded of the Smashing Pumpkin's Pisces Iscariot which had a couple of songs that had the same acoustic strumming with soft echoed electric guitar melody on top.

An amazing song called "Silences" features speaking at the start-- I could swear David Lynch copied this "Silenzio" for his brilliant movie Mulholland Drive where two-thirds through we have the abrupt switch from dreamland to horrible world of reality. However, the chance of him having heard Didier Bonin is surely zero. The sound of the synths in this track and the last one has that typical seventies intergalactic sound.

He made two albums, one in 1979 (Arbre-verre, glass tree) and one in the early eighties (Air-lumiere, or light-air), confusingly, two tracks from the latter appear on side one of the former, the aforementioned Ecume and Air-lumiere. Is it a case of self-plagiarism or self-homage? I don't know, I don't have the original vinyls to check, hopefully someone can enlighten us here without getting angry and confrontational in the process. The second side is distinctly inferior to the first, although it ends surprisingly in a classically dramatic D major suggesting to me the artist was classically trained in composition. I do feel this music is far too beautiful to be abandoned by the wayside in the cultural heritage of humanity. I hope I'm not the only one to believe this.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Crossfire Colourful Music

One of the rarest of the rarest private pressed german albums from out of those magic seventies, we can thank the very generous contributor filfer for this share, an album which is quite impossible to find online if you for some crazy reason wished to buy it. Is it worth the rarity and price? Well I would leave that to the listener to decide since tastes are so varied especially in this progressive racket. Oddly for such a late seventies output the vibe is of fifties-sixties surf music with rickenbacker picking and quick and bouncy rhythyms. The singer seems to think he's doing late-fifties hollywood. Except for two instrumentals it is debatable whether this should be called progressive rock since most of the album consists of simple guitar songs. A couple riffs remind me of the early seventies aussie band Pirana, but the songwriting is nowhere nearly as good. If you didn't know it you would expect the date on this to be 1972 or thereabouts.
The first track starts strongly with some nice C sharp minor (?) riffage even leading into a nice rapid modulation. It builds up nicely to some guitar soloing which is quite good. Then we have this odd sounding organ chorus of take a trip to music, sounding like a cheap supermarket organ from the sixties -- anyone alive in that time might recall and shudder at the sound of the cheap electric organs of the day.
The second instrumental, a play on how high the moon, "How high Von Mohn" (reference--?) has another insteresting descending minor chord riff in C minor this time, and a break in the middle between passages features a very cool minor seconds scale on the choppy guitar. The following descending minor 7th set of chords is quite trite though.
I really wonder about the musicians' thoughts about this oddly anachronistic style. On "1000 stars" we hear an almost don ho-hawaiian guitar picked melody.
Mention must be made about the hilarious and playful cover of an ?elephant being chased, presumably a drawing made by one of the artists.
Egbert Theissen (guitar, vocals, bass), Rainer Mussmann (guitar), Burghard Netthöfel (bass, vocals, guitar), Klaus-Dieter Junke (organ, piano, string ensemble), Udo Winkler (drums, percussion), Helmut Philipps (congas, timbales, percussion, drums), Jochen Vetter (drums, 1981)

Colourful Music...
Take A Trip To Music...