Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Baby Guru - Baby Guru (2011 )

Baby Guru is an ever evolving musical organism consisting of the unpredictable trio of: Obi Serotone, King Elephant and Sir Kosmiche. Their homemade debut album, which was recorded at King Elephant’s basement, is entirely produced, arranged and mixed by Baby Guru and is released in vinyl and cd from Inner Ear. Walking in the footsteps of Can, Baby Guru record long improvisational jams, without any rehearsals, following their instincts and the unexpected inspiration and unlocking their subconscious. Later on they would isolate the best parts and end up with a final result, using editing techniques. Looking for the influences of “Baby Guru”, one comes across psychedelic music, the band’s love for samplers, African percussion, electronic methods (looping, splicing, editing) but also kraut pop. It’s worth mentioning that they used no guitars at all during the recordings of the album.

Marilu wears flowers on her forehead, puts on a hippie dress and starts dancing in the fields, defying the warnings of Baby Guru. An old 60's commercial gets married with a minimal African beat while in the background a freak hits the old piano with a violin stick. The ghosts of Silver Apples and early Kraftwerk (dressed up in punkish outfits) make their appearance. A sampler comes from the sky and Baby Guru couldn't help following it. Kraut grooves are transformed into a multi-faceted monster with broken saxophones, disorientating samples and electronica-obsessed bass lines until the whole thing explodes into a punk'n'bass roller coaster. “Inner Space” keeps building and building until Baby Guru find themselves in a state of ecstasy, driving Hank Moody's car across a shore in California and an old Rolling Stones song is playing on the radio. 80's post-punk grooves, with an electro-pop flavour, get interrupted by dreamy, mellow soundscapes. Around 3 a.m. in the morning, on the verge of exhaustion they say goodbye…let all the bright light wash all over the dark corridors of your mind baby…Baby Guru | Baby Guru | CD Baby

Baby Guru: Baby Guru

Monday, 25 April 2011

Out Of Focus - Palermo (2008)

Embarked on a Germanic culture promotion tour in Italy, OOF played some five or six gig in the peninsula, the last one being Palermo (Sicily) and it got recorded, even though some of it had to be thrown away due to an hilarious "cut the power" incident between the concert hall janitor and the band. The great Garden Of Delights released these tapes in 2008, placated a very average colour picture of the band and as usual took great care in giving all of the possible infos surrounding the gigs, hence the incident recounting mentioned above. Unlike many of the Live albums released by the label, the length of the session makes this release particularly worthy.

If you've been reading me for a while, you'll know I jumped on this album as soon as I heard of its release date, because OOF is one of those groups that have yet to find a flaw in their discography, even if out of their six albums, three are posthumous releases. This live album took place well after the release of their second eponymous album, which is about the time of their peak (arguably some will say the FLMA album is their apex), and I was expecting to hear a lot of that sophomore album. Surprisingly, only two of the six tracks are from any other albums of theirs (and both from the OOF disc), the other four being song projects interrupted by jams and extended solos. As usual with GOD releases, the sound is remarkably good, when not simply superb, and this is all the more enjoyable, because the disc allows us to see a side of the band that was not previously documented on disc before: OOF was as wild, energized and improvising on stage as they were in the studio and here, they played their set in continuity, most of the time linking their tracks together.

If the opening Whispering (taken from OOF) appears to be shortened from 13+ to roughly 9 minutes (not counting the first "crowd and adjustments" minute), but an extended Hennes Hering KB solo (this is close to a Moog experiment that Emerson would've done some two years before) links it with the (surprisingly?) Drechsler-credited Café Stilleto and its 13 minutes KB extravaganza. Again taking no time, the group unleashes into a Moran-credited groove (the I Want To See Your Face No More improv) where he pulls a lengthy flute solo, followed Spori's lengthy drum solo, directly leading in the Where Is Your Home Town improv with Moran pulling an excellent sax solo, joined by Hering's great underlining organ. There is a real track that was probably in the works in what I call the "improv", but obviously, it never saw the light of day.

The only time the group actually stops between tracks is at the start of Fly Bird/TV Program (taken from the eponymous album) that if extended, remains fairly faithful to the studio original, even if with OOF and certainly in the light of this release, such notion can be relative. The closing I'm Kissing Right (where the hell do they get their track titles??? ;o)) is probably the best "improv" of the album and might have been the closest to a future track, Moran not only having real lyrics and actually going wild on the scatting, yelling out his pleasure. I will allow just one comment on the attribution of track credits: on the three historic Kuckuck albums, the song-writing credits were all attributed to the full group, but in the three posthumous release, they are mostly credited to guitarist Dreschsler (a bit strange when knowing his guitar parts are not that determinant to the group's overall sound, but he was at the production desk) and sometimes Moran Neumuller.

So Palermo 72 gives us an excellent look at the live side of Out Of Focus, which seems not that much different from their studio facet, if you'll except an understandable looser and jammier mood on stage. While this live album might not be as strong as the three historic ones and Never Too Late, it certainly matches the usefulness of the Rats Road and is no lesss essential for progheads. OUT OF FOCUS Palermo 1972 music reviews and MP3 ( Review from Progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing 1- Whispering
2- Café Stiletto
3- I want to see your face no more
4- Where is your home town
5- Fly bird fly - Television program
6- I'm kissing right

Line-up / Musicians
Remigius Drechsler / guitar
Hennes Hering / keyboards
Moran / flute, sax, vocals
Stephan Wiesheu / bass
Klaus Spöri / drums

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Ikarus - Ikarus ( 1971)

The 15-mins Eclipse starts out blues-like with a big guitar riff, but soon evolves into excellent phases of instrumental interplay, while Kohler's voice and accent being rather convincing, but the lyrics (not necessarily his when reading the credits) are not quite so. The opening track is quite interesting with its multiple movements including the organ-filled Scyscraper over symphonic layers (incl mellotrons) and ending in electronic birdsongs and other bruitist stuff. The following Mesentery is the weakest track of the album and disappears in a kosmic and spacey interlude before returning via string layers. The flipside opens on TV or Radio jingle ?like riff, which is the start of the other epic, the 11-mins Raven where Petersen's wind instruments soar, then suddenly (abruptly) morphing into a psych/space improv in its middle section before climbing back gradually via a an heard-elsewhere riff (Heep's Gypsy Woman) and ending in footsteps. The closing track (sung by guitarist Schulz) Early Bell's Voice is a strange trip through ether-modified soundscapes where the organ dominates until disappearing into a knell tolling its madness. Strange ending.

This was to be their only album (now very rare and expensive as a vinyl), most of the members continuing their musical foray, but not necessarily in prog circles, with leader Petersen becoming a record producer later in the decade after passing through Cornucopia. While I wouldn't call Ikarus essential to your collection, it is surely good enough to earn a spot in it and therefore deserving its fourth star.(review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Eclipse: (15:24)
a) Skyscrapers
b) Sooner or later
2. Mesentery (6:11)
3. The raven (including "Theme for James Marshall") (11:43)
4. Early bell's voice (7:43)

Total Time: 41:01
Line-up / Musicians
- Lorenz Köhler / lead vocals
- Wolfgang Kracht / bass, back vocals
- Jochen Petersen / acoustic & electric guitars, alto & tenor saxes, flute, clarinet, back vocals
- Bernd Schroder / drums, percussion
- Manfred Schulz / guitar, lead vocals (4), back vocals
- Wulf-Dieter Struntz / organ, piano

Ikarus - Theme For James Marshall (part I)

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Friday, 22 April 2011

Kerrs Pink - Tidings (2002)

This veteran Norwegian prog band has a storied past with both the first self titled debut and the splendid sophomore Mellom Oss being fine prog-folk examples, led by the fluid lyrical guitar of Harald Lytomt. "Tidings" follows two adventurous and well-received releases (A Journey on the Inside and The Art of Complex Simplicity) and suggests a tad more conventional perhaps even commercial approach. The opener "Hour Glass" is pretty standard neo-tinged prog and is accessible enough for any fan but there is no real awe to wildly applaud. The lads do immediately get back to their folkish strengths on the inspirational "Tidings from the Distant Shore", a scintillating nearly 9 minute display of electric folk, with sweeping orchestral themes, delicate female vocals with male interventions, a propos marching violin, sizzling synths and a weeping guitar solo to finish the job. "Shooting Star" is a Freddy Ruud composition and thus strongly favors a variety of massed keyboards, a very deliberate piece that glows gently, set ablaze by a tortuous Lytomt lead solo, full of emotion and effect. The female backing vocals offer a soulful approach to counteract the male vocals that unfortunately grate unconvincingly. The longest cut here , "Yumi Yeda" is a welcome return to their more sophisticated style, showcasing exemplary melodies, allied with some inspired playing by all , even though the lead vocals are somewhat accented and weak. The guitar wails and weaves majestically however, providing another glimpse of how the instrumental prowess can be impeded by unconvincing voice work. "Moments in Life" conjures up strong Camel tinges with more lyrical guitar observations in a dreamy wash of keyboard colorations, again ruined by some wayward "American style funky-groovy" female vocals that plod on totally ludicrously, having little function other than to divert from the instrumental pleasure. Why? Next up, "Mystic Dream" is another near 10 minute piece that sails off at first assuredly, diving quickly into a sedate vocal segment, morphing into lung calisthenics that have no purpose and a fine solo section featuring both guitar and keys. Again, the same attributes apply, great musical parts raped by unpersuasive lead microphone work. Gratefully, the final track "Le Sable S'est Ecoulé" is an instrumental workout (using the oft-used Martin Luther King "I have a dream" quote as well as a JFK snippet) that demonstrates the tonal and technical abilities these vets obviously possess, preferring more experimental orchestrations thus clashing wildly with the previous material. In my opinion, their weakest effort by far, please chuck the vocalists and return to more conventional folk-prog singing and all will be fine tidings from then on. 3 Pink Grains of Sand. KERRS PINK Tidings music reviews and MP3 ( review from progarchivres.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Hour Glass (5:32)
2. Tidings From Distant Shore (8:30)
3. Shooting Star (9:40)
4. Yumi Yeda (10:15)
5. Moments In Life (8:37)
6. Mystic Dream (9:46)
7. Le Sable S'est Ecoulé (5:38)
Line-up / Musicians - Harald Lytomt / lead guitars
- Freddy Ruud / lead keyboards
- Lasse Johanssen / keyboards
- Jostein Hansen / bass guitars
- Knut R. Lie / drums, backing vocals
- Lasse Tandero / lead vocals

Total Time: 57:58

Kerrs Pink Live 2002 - Point Blank

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Jane - Age Of Madness(1978)

"Age of Madness" has all the traits of a band on autopilot - no truly outstanding songs, mostly shorter material, repetition of simple motifs beyond their usefulness, overall brief running time, etc. After the almost uniformly adventurous and convincing "Between Heaven and Hell", given the lateness of the hour for such epic material, a disappointment was inevitable.

Yet in the case of Jane, "Age of Madness" also played to their strengths. Their ability to stick doggedly to a simplistic yet catchy theme and plod along with slight variations was without peer in the German scene and beyond. It also strangely fits with the theme of madness, when one is unable to completely escape the infinite loops and disconnected circuits in one's brain. The title cut here is such an example, spacey, textural and hypnotic. "Memory Symphony" is similar, but more symphonic, with string synth sounds galore. The marriage of Jane's trademark psychedelia with country and western motifs in "Love Song" even shows a willingness to break new ground; even if this may have been commercially motivated, it doesn't seem like compromise. For a heavier repeating loop, try "Bad Game" - again, Jane takes a riff where it has gone before, again and again, and does it better than anyone, thanks to Hess and Wieczorke, amply backed by the rhythm section.

"With Your Smile" is perhaps the best thing here, kicking off mid-song and highlighted by some of Hess' best work and a near danceable beat. It is the ultimate expression of Jane's paradoxical blend of professionalism and amateurism.

On the negative side, "Get this Power" combine the worst of all eras of Jane, and must have sounded laughably retro even in 1978, and "Auroville" fails to inspire in spite of a similar formula to the album's successes. Nevertheless, as an overall collection, this late stage album has the temperament to outlive the vicissitudes of its age. 3.5 stars rounded up. JANE Age Of Madness music reviews and MP3 ( Review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Age of madness (5:45)
2. Memory symphony (4:25)
3. Auroville (3:40)
4. Love song (3:53)
5. Bad game (5:14)
6. Get this power (2:40)
7. With her smile (4:20)
8. Meadow (3:27)
9. Age of madness (part II) (2:39)

Total Time: 36:03
Line-up / Musicians Klaus Hess / guitars, vocals
Martin Hesse / bass, vocals
Peter Panka / drums, percussion, vocals
Manfred Wieczorke / keyboards, vocals

Jane - Age of madness.

Jane - Auroville

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Renaissance - Illusion (1970)

I borrowed an edition ("Innocents & Illusions") of the 'original' Renaissance's two albums including also some bonus tracks. The first album I had quite unsuccesfully listened already in my teens when I had just found the Haslam-Renaissance. Also that groundbreaking album finally sounded better now, but my real surprise was this Illusion. Its reviews here are mostly not very favourable but I was totally charmed. It has more folk flavour than the debut, and it has Jane Relf much more as the lead singer. Debut is perhaps proggier and has more classical references in John Hawken's piano solos, but there's no denying that Illusion is very beautiful folk-prog - even if 'Love Goes On' and 'Love Is All' are rather simple naive songs with lots of harmony vocals (nice songs anyway).

'Past Orbits Of Dust' (14:39) is to me the most boring just as 'Bullet' is in the debut. They are the most experimental but don't exactly give worth their length. Highlights here are 'Golden Thread' and 'Mr Pine' (the latter penned by Michael Dunford, key figure in the 'new' Renaissance) that beautifully bring together the prog and folk elements. The sound is full of warmth and the vocals of both sexes very pleasant throughout the whole album. (Though unprofessional Jane is naturally far from Annie Haslam's skills.) If you're not put off by naive folkish charm you'll enjoy this!

The bonus tracks (4 to this album) are so nice too that it's a miracle how they remained unreleased(?) at the time. PS. The text also gives a clear historical view on the first Renaissance and its gradual way to the other line-up. ; ) RENAISSANCE Illusion music reviews and MP3 (Review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Love Goes On (2:51)
2. Golden Thread (8:15)
3. Love Is All (3:40)
4. Mr. Pine (7:00)
5. Face Of Yesterday (6:06)
6. Past Orbits Of Dust (14:39)

Total Time: 42:31
Line-up / Musicians - Keith Relf / vocals, guitar
- Jim McCarty / drums, vocals
- Louis Cennamo / bass
- John Hawken / keyboards
- Jane Relf / vocals, percussion


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Patto - Patto (1970)

The band Patto sprung from the ashes of sixties band Timebox who's soul tinged pop/rock was to find them little commercial success. After the departure of keyboard player Chris Holmes the remaining members took the surname of vocalist Mike Patto as the new name for the band and continued in an altogether different direction.

Although Timebox had shown signs towards the end of a more adventurous direction there was no mistaking it with Patto. They were much more of a rock band fusing powerful (sometimes) heavy rock with a good dose of jazz and a sprinkling of blues into songs with inventive structures and extended guitar workouts courtesy of their trump card, the brilliant Ollie Halsall, surely one of the most underrated guitar players to have come out of the UK. On drums John Halsey and bassist Clive Griffiths made up a fine rhythm section that could play it straight in the more rocky moments or follow the subtle twists and turns of Halsall's complex jazz excursions with ease. On top of this they had the benefit of the powerful and gritty vocals of Mike Patto who was an excellent vocalist in the classic rock tradition; another under appreciated talent.

The production of the album, courtesy of Muff Winwood is very bare and spacious and really captures the band in the raw allowing the listener to hear every little nuance.

The album gets off to a great start with the slow build of The Man. From restrained beginnings it gradually increases in intensity into a powerhouse of a song and also introduces one of Halsall's other talents; playing vibes. Hold Me Back is a much more straightforward rock song but certainly not ordinary as Halsall's fluent guitar playing weaves as it fluctuates between riffs, licks and lead runs with few overdubs with a superb solo. Time To Die sees the band in a more mellow mood. Acoustic guitar and delicate work from the rhythm section underline a fine vocal performance. Red Glow is an album highlight and another powerful rock moment. It features perhaps Halsall's greatest solo on the album which really burns.

San Antone is a lighter but more uptempo moment which really swings with jazzy overtones and Government Man is another moment of subtle restraint; both great songs. Money Bag captures the band jamming in jazz mode, Patto's vocals not arriving until late and closing track Sittin' Back Easy is another gem moving from delicately picked guitar to a powerhouse of a riff.

Patto were also known for the humour they injected in their performances, something that doesn't really come across on this album or follow up Hold Your Fire. For that you'd need to investigate their third album Roll'Em, Smoke 'Em, Put Another Line Out which however is musically inferior to this gem of a debut and its follow up. They were never a band blessed with luck either with poor album sales, Patto died of cancer in 1979, Halsall died of a drug overdose in 1992 and Griffith and Halsey were involved in a serious car crash while touring with Joe Brown which left Griffith paralysed down one side and no memory of the Patto days apparently. A truly sad story but at least we have this startlingly good debut and even better follow up to remind us what a fantastic and undiscovered gem of a band Patto were. ATTO Patto music reviews and MP3(Review from Progarchives)

Songs / Tracks Listing

1 The Man
2 Hold Me Back
3 Time to Die
4 Red Glow
5 San Antone
6 Government Man
7 Money Bag
8 Sittin' Back Easy

Line-up / Musicians

Mike Patto / vocals
Ollie Halsall / guitar, piano, vibes, vocals)
John Halsey / drums, vocals
Clive Griffiths / bass

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Ash Ra Temple - Seven Up (1973)

This album is so grossly underappreciated it's not even funny. I think this album is total genius. ASH RA TEMPEL was never known for a steady lineup, the band lost vocalist John L. from their previous album (I heard stories that John L.'s previous band, AGITATION FREE thought he was so far out there that they had to give him the boot, and apparently ASH RA TEMPEL felt the same). For an organist, they brought in Steve Schroyder, who previously appeared on TANGERINE DREAM's "Alpha Centauri" (and also Zeit, but only as a guest). And of course, it wouldn't be ASH RA TEMPEL without guitarist Manuel Göttsching, plus bassist Hartmut Enke is still here.

This album features none other than Timothy Leary, the famous LSD guru! He was in exile in Switzerland, and in fact, ASH RA TEMPEL had to record this album in Switzerland because Leary would have been arrested if he ended up in Germany. Anyway, this album really was done under the influence of LSD. Leary would spike the cans of 7-Up that the band members would drink with LSD, and then let them play. The first half of the album featured a bunch of blues songs, but never let that deceive you! After only a couple minutes, all hell breaks loose with the most relentless electronic effects that jut won't let up! Every time you think the band is starting to rock out or play the blues, it goes right back to LSD land just that fast! The second half of the album is more conventional ASH RA TEMPEL, keeping with the early '70s Krautrock sound (reminding me of early TANGERINE DREAM). Grossly underrated stuff, as far as I'm concerned. ASH RA TEMPEL Seven Up music reviews and MP3 (Review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Space (15:55)
- a. Downtown
- b. Power Drive
- c. Right Hand Lover
- d. Velvet Genes

2. Time* (21:37)
- a. Timeship
- b. Neuron
- c. She

Line-up / Musicians - Timothy Leary / voice
- Manuel Göttsching / guitar, electronics
- Hartmut Enke / bass, guitar, electronics
- Michael Duwe / voice, flute
- Portia Nkomo / voice dubbed during the mix
- Steve Schroeder / organ, electronics
- Dietmar Burmeister / drums
- Tommy Engel / drums dubbed during the mix
- Klaus D. Mueller / tambourine
- Dieter Dierks / synthesizer dubbed during the mix
- Brian Barritt, Liz Elliot, Bettina Hohls / voice

Space 1/2 - Timothy Leary&Ash Ra Tempel

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Pulsar - Halloween (1977)

Here comes another 5-star rating for my all-time favourite French prog act. 'Halloween' is a stunning concept album in which Pulsar continues to explore in its own reflective mood and vibrant melancholy, though the symphonic aspect of their prog is notably enhanced by a couple of factors: the employment of a major range of instrumentation (the flautist also plays clarinet, the keyboards and percussions are more abundant, guests on cello and congas), and the programatic, almost cinematographic disposition of the sections comprised in both Parts of the material. The varied musical passages make fluid transitions from introspective melancholy ('Sorrow in My Dreams', the introductory section of 'Tired Answers') to mysterious agressiveness (the tribal 'Fear of Frost', the rocky section of 'Tired Answers') to sheer sweetness (the sung parts of 'Lone Fantasy' and 'Colours of My Childhood'), which shows you how well these musicians can deal with perfect compenetration while exhibiting their own individual skills for the whole group's benefit. The gloomy density and mysterious tone that flood all over "Halloween" reaches some occasional creepy peaks sometimes (the climatic synth leads on 'Fear of Frost' flow magically on the groovy rhythm section as expressing a dance of sinister creatures drunk in a metaphysical joy), but never in the sense of a ghost story or terror movie: I feel it more like a psychological thriller, a certain indefinite horror that comes from an instrospective point of view. An example comes from the comparison between the first two sections of Part II. The sung sections of 'Lone Fantasy' and 'Dawn Over Darkness' are equally melancholic with an overwhelming vibration, but the former is sustained on a controlled use of the basic melodies and textures, while the latter utilizes a more expansive colorfulness (the doubling of flute and clarinet and the soaring guitar leads are simply delicious). The last section features soaring dual keyboard layers aupon which a voice that imitates a castrato's Latin singing adds a weird sense of subtile humor to the overall mysterious vibe. If "The Strands of the Future" signified Pulsar's arrival to its stage of maximum maturity in the quest for their own voice, "Halloween" was a step forward in the evolution of that voice. Conclusion: an undisputed gem of French prog, whose special beauty and eerie unquietness can't be reached by human words. PULSAR Halloween music reviews and MP3 9 review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Halloween part I: (20:30)
a) Halloween song (1:20)
b) Tired answers (9:30)
c) Colours of childhood (6:00)
d) Sorrow in my dreams (3:40)
2. Halloween part II: (18:40)
a) Lone fantasy (4:50)
b) Dawn over darkness (6:10)
c) Misty garden of passion (2:15)
d) Fear of frost (3:35)
e) Time (1:50)

Total Time: 39:10

Line-up / Musicians - Victor Bosch / drums, percussion, vibes
- Gilbert Gandil / guitars, vocals
- Michel Masson / bass guitar
- Roland Richard / flute, clarinet, acoustic piano, strings
- Jacques Roman / keyboards, Mellotron, synthesizers,

PULSAR - Halloween Part1 (2/2)

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