Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moravagine (Fra 1975)

Typical french jazz-rock progressive in the mid-70s style, by this I mean featuring highly professional playing, progressive elements a la transit express, potemkine, speed limit, Noetra, Neo, etc., almost in the light magma-derivative style (but not zeuhl) perhaps like Joel Dugrenot or L. Thibeault. Every song features instrumental flute melodic jazz, sometimes more overtly american styled as in the Dave Brubeck-like song Culbuto, sometimes with the inevitable (for this time) hispanic influence as in usted de poisson, and as usual we hear quite a great deal of classical music education, I think particularly of the second track's piano opener, with its splashy piano solo full of scriabinesque atonality and waterfall notes.
On closer exam I'd go so far as to say this album is average compositionally, with the exception of the long first-side track where we take a musical trip to galaxy Andromeda (or constellation andromeda?). Starting with the aforementioned piano intro we hear a wonderfully unusual flute melody in E minor which transcends oddly into different keys, throwing in an unexpected F natural, evoking obviously the spacey aspects. We progress to a very interesting acoustic bass solo (they don't usually get very interesting) before moving into more composed chord changes, modulations, reminding me of the long track on Abraxis (Valse de la mort) before a flute and oboe serial melody closes out the space trip.
I hope you enjoy this completely lost slice of french music. I take it the name, in case you're wondering, comes from an early 20th century novel by Blaise Cendrars. Anyone who read the book who reads this, please comment. Here is the amazon review:

"At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Blaise Cendrars's Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch—except that it's a lot more entertaining to read. Heir to an immense aristocratic fortune, mental and physical mutant Moravagine is a monster, a man in pursuit of a theorem that will justify his every desire. Released from a hospital for the criminally insane by his starstruck psychiatrist (the narrator of the book), who foresees a companionship in crime that will also be an unprecedented scientific collaboration, Moravagine travels from Moscow to San Antonio to deepest Amazonia, engaged in schemes and scams as, among other things, terrorist, speculator, gold prospector, and pilot. He also enjoys a busy sideline in rape and murder. At last, the two friends return to Europe—just in time for World War I, when "the whole world was doing a Moravagine.'"


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Red - "Red" {UK} [1983]

Recorded in approx 1982 - 82 and finally released in 1983. The album took a long time to get released on Jigsaw records, by which time the band had effectively split and we were all doing other things.
We were all influened by the jazz rock movement at the time, hence the crazy tempos and the sound of musicians finding their feet and developing a style.
The line up on the album (on vinyl) was: Dennis Fitzgibbons - guitar and songs, Jerry Soffe - bass, Mark Ambler - keyboards, David Holmes - percussion and Frank Hockney on drums. We reformed in 83ish with Phil Bastow on keyboards but the band didn't do much more after a second album was delayed and delayed. The track on the juke box is called Tonights the Note.

This was released amongst all the other New Wave of British Progressive Rock albums (now known as Neo Prog). But Red were nothing like IQ, Twelfth Night, Marillion, Haze, etc... nor were they like mid period King Crimson ala their name. Nope, this is a very strong instrumental fusion oriented album, with some early 80s keyboard sounds. What separates this album from the pack is the ferocious guitar playing, and the outstanding melodies. I bought this on LP in London when it came out, and it's still one of my favorites.

- Dennis Fitzgibbons - guitar and songs
- Jerry Soffe - bass
- Mark Ambler - keyboards
- David Holmes - percussion
- Frank Hockney - drums
- Phil Bastow - keyboards

A1 Stiff Collar
A2 Self-Indulgent Noise
A3 Cool And Unapproachable
A4 Daft Tench Swims Backwards
B1 Turbo-Tortoise
B2 Kraval
B3 Lost For Words
B4 Tonight's The Note

Thanks to Fusionaut :o)

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Window - "The Empyreal Ballet" {USA} [1978]

So here's one I've been wanting to post about forever. I had a cassette of it from long ago, but without info. Usually a simple Google search will find me an album cover and other data. Except in this case, it was as if the album didn't exist. I couldn't find anything about it anywhere. I asked Midwest Mike, The Alaskan Connection and others, but no one seemed to know anything about it. When that happens, I begin to question the tape markings. Was it mislabeled? Was it ever actually released? Did I get a demo album way back when?

Then, about 2 weeks ago, I received a note out of the blue asking if I was interested in knowing more about the album (it's in the main list and I was asking for info). Of course I said yes! But that trail seemed to go cold as I never heard back - until today, but he had already sold it! On a whim, I decided to Google it again - and lo and behold - there it was, sold on ebay just 3 days ago! So I have to figure it was the same gentleman. That's pure speculation, but whatever, the ebay auction had photos and some info! So thank you to the ebay seller (blind-boy-records) - and if it's the same person who contacted me - thanks again!

So it appears Window are a San Francisco / Bay Area based group, and they released this one very good progressive rock album. Honestly, I was certain I was going to find out the band were from Illinois or Missouri, because it does indeed have that Midwest progressive rock sound, especially apparent in the vocal sections. The mix of complex progressive rock, piano jazz-rock and AOR FM radio ambition only cements the comparison. Excellent electric / acoustic guitar work, flute, tuned percussion, with a horn section and complex rhythms is what you'll find on "Empyreal Ballet". Curiously for a band of its type, there are no keyboards (beyond the piano of course).

A1 The News
A2 Danche Through the Storm
A3 Phantom
A4 The Empyreal Ballet
B1 Nightwatch
B2 Peter Gunn on Mars
B3 Blue Space
B4 Like It or Not

Thanks to Osurec (album) and Tom (review) :o)


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