Tuesday, 28 June 2011

East Of eden - Mercator Projected (1969)

A spellbinding work from the dawn of the progressive era, Mercator Projected is no fully-formed symphonic prog masterpiece. But as a harbinger of the future (this album emerged in 1969) that is also challenging and enjoyable in its own right, there are few albums to match the status of this one. East Of Eden's true star is Dave Arbus who plays violin, flute, recorder and sax (although Ron Caines also joins in on sax) and it is a shame that the group's success with the novelty hit single Jig-A-Jig (#7 in April 1971) eventually stranded them in no-man's land. However this awesomely inventive debut should not be allowed to be forgotten.

What stays with me most is the glorious hook of Isadora ... "Isadora dance, we are entranced" probably works best if you're down with the hippie vibe, for dancing flutes and Eastern themes are draped around lyrics that are simultaneously corny and deep. Mercator Projector is also defined by the psychedelic rambles of Waterways, and perhaps more than anything else the proto-prog blues of Northern Hemisphere and the hilarious harmonica-driven Centaur Woman (replete with an impressive fuzz-bass solo courtesy of Steve York).

The softer side of the band is featured in the melancholic Bathers, in which violin, organ (from Caines) and recorder are blended to astounding effect. With the subtle drumming of Dave Dufont giving the song added character, this song might well appeal to those who enjoy King Crimson's early ballads. The propulsive Communion also features flute prominently, as well as some cute sound effects and even a joke told in another language (they translate everything except the punchline!). Moth is another piece that incorporates Eastern style exploration, although it is occasionally interspersed with a glorious Beatlesque melody. It all concludes with the high-octane jazzy jam In The Stable Of The Sphinx, which is carried by the saxes, but features spectacular turns on violin and guitar from Arbus and Geoff Nicholson respectively.

There are shades of Jethro Tull & Gravy Train here, but these guys are generally jazzier, almost straying into Soft Machine territory. There are times when they sound like King Crimson or The Moody Blues, although it's interesting that they don't use the mellotron at all. When you factor in that they were doing this stuff at the same time that most of these bands got their start, it becomes apparent that East Of Eden is an essential stop for those looking to investigate the roots of progressive rock. I consider Mercator Projected to be among the best proto-prog albums ever. ... 77% on the MPV scale EAST OF EDEN Mercator Projected music reviews and MP3

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Northern Hemisphere (5:03)
2. Isadora (4:19)
3. Waterways (7:00)
4. Centaur Woman (7:09)
5. Bathers (4:57)
6. Communion (4:02)
7. Moth (4:03)
8. In The Stable Of The Sphinx (8:20)

Total Time: 44:53

Line-up / Musicians
- Dave Arbus / electric violin, flute, bagpipe, recorders, two saxophones
- Ron Caines / Soprano & Alto saxophones (acoustic & amplified), organ, vocals (4)
- Dave Dufont / percussions
- Geoff Nicholson / guitars, Vocals
- Steve York / bass guitar, Harmonica, Indian thumb piano

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Flooting Grooves - Upsyde Downe (2007)

FLOOTING GROOVES is Pearce Van Der Merwe. Born in Cape Town in 1975, he grew up in South Africa and Italy, surrounded by music. Having a varied background ranging from classical to jazz, rock and related styles, he started playing flute after hearing Jethro Tull. Groups like Ozric Tentacles and Pink Floyd opened him up to Psychedelia and that's where his journey began!

A party in Amsterdam in 2000 changed the course of things forever, marking Pearce's introduction to the trance scene, with its addictive and infectious grooves! Another turning point was the meeting of like-minded musicians and beings Dan Symons (a.k.a Dymons) and Ajja Leu (one half of Yab Yum) who both played instruments and laptops. The initial meeting and jamming eventually led to Pearce moving to Switzerland to join The Peaking Goddess Collective (PGC): the organic chill and psytrance band formed in 2003 by Ajja, Dymons & Master Margherita, which combines laptops and synths with live instruments: Flute, Guitar, percussion, Bass & Fx.

After his beginnings with the PGC, where his flute found the perfect niche in which to evolve, he started to participate actively in the production of the collective's tracks. Soon, he was also producing music solo, finding his own sound and ultimately performing live: FLOOTING GROOVES! Ethnic, groovy, floaty and psychedelic, his music ranges from chill to airy progressive beats. His performances are always a success and music lovers greatly appreciate the sight of the live instrument fusing with machine production.

In the past six years, Pearce has performed live at a great deal of parties and festivals including Alien Safari and Vortex (South Africa), Eden Festival (Scotland), Tribe of Frog (UK), Antaris Project (Germany), Space Pirates' Revolution (France), Solstice Festival (Ruigoord, Netherlands) the renowned Boom 2006 and Boom 2008 in Portugal and Soulclipse in Turkey, both with his FLOOTING GROOVES project and with The PGC. The trance caravan has taken him to South Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Croatia, Ukraine, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Israel, Portugal, England, France, Turkey, Ireland and Germany.

Since 2004, FLOOTING GROOVES has released a number of tracks on Peak, Electrik Dream, Vertigo, La Magica Boutique, Celestial Dragon, Space Tepee Music, Elestial, Moonloop and Syncronize. He has contributed to most Peak Records releases with down tempo tracks for the chill compilations as well as chill intros and outros for the night-time compilations. More releases are to come!

The FLOOTING GROOVES full-length debut album "Upsyde Downe" was released on Peak Records in 2007 and received fantastic reviews. Since then, he released two more debut albums along with his collaborative projects: “Organika” with The Peaking Goddess Collective (Peak 2007), and “Organic Space Age” with Cosmosophy (a Dymons - Flooting Grooves collaboration) (Elestial 2009). His eagerly awaited second album “Psydeburns” is scheduled for release on Peak Records in the autumn of 2009.

May his trails be happy and fruitful, and may your trails cross his! Peak Records - Switzerland's first psytrance record label

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Fusioon - Absolute Fusioon (1974)

Fusioon's recordings are amongst the most exciting offerings in Spanish prog history. Thier second slbum 'Fusioon 2' comprises a stunning combination of delightful melodies and counterpoints, clever interplaying, delicate dissonances, and even some electronic avant- garde stuff which adds an interesting air of weirdness to the overall musical product. It is clear that the band is pretty much into traditional classical music (in Fact, they quote Tchaikovsky somewhere in track 3), as well as contemporary chamber (such as Bartok), jazz, and Catalonian folk: hece, it should come as no susrprise that all these varied elements are essential to their own prog sound. At times, Fusioon sounds a bit reminiscent of Gentle Giant, Return to Forever, and in a slightly manner, of Zappa; yet, they manage to create a particular sound of their own. The band's repertoire is basically instrumental: the occasional choral arrangements (performed by the band members themselves) are included for playful purposes, mainly. "Farsa del Buen Vivir" is a nice tune, catchy but not simplistic, which serves as a good opener. It is in the following numbers that Fusioon's skill and inventiveness shines in full splendour. "Contraste" and "Diálogos" comprise plenty of dissonant passages, synth textures, and jazz-fusinonesque flavours; on the other hand, "Tritons" and "Concerto Grosso" are structured on a symphonic basis, still containing some occasional avant-garde adornments and surprising counterpoints. Fusioon works immaculately as a well-oiled ensemble: maybe this is the main reason why 'Fusion 2' is such a recommendable album. Review from progarchives.com

 Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Farsa Del Buen Vivir (3:08)
2. Contraste (6:32)
3. Tritons (8:15)
4. Dialogos (6:42)
5. Concerto Grosso (9:52)

Total Time: 34:2

Line-up / Musicians
      - Santi Arisa / percussion, drums
- Jordi Camp / bass
- Marti Brunet / guitar, synthesizer
- Manel Camp / piano, organ

Friday, 17 June 2011

Brainticket -Psychonaut (1972)

The original BRAINTICKET had already collapsed after the recording of "Cottonwoodhill". Some of the members went to join future member of the Swiss prog band ISLAND (who released the album "Pictures" in 1977) Benjamin Jäger, and named the group TOAD. That group sounds little like BRAINTICKET, or like a precursor of the "Island" sound, but more like conventional hard rock. Meanwhile organist/flutist Joël Vandroogenbrock simply resurrected BRAINTICKET with brand new musicians (amongst them being Carol Muriel, Barney Palm, Jane Free and others).

The result being "Psychonaut" was an obvious reaction to their previous album, as this album was the complete opposite, going for actual songs here and avoiding any disturbing experiments. "Radagacuca" is that prime example, which starts off with some trippy organ, some echoey flutes, and of course, silly lyrics. "One Morning" is a wonderful, piano oriented piece with pleasant vocals. "Watchin' You" is one of the more heavy, rocking pieces, and is by far the most rocking piece I ever heard BRAINTICKET do. "Like a Place in the Sun" features some spoken dialog, with parts reminding me of EARTH & FIRE (that's where people mistakenly think BRAINTICKET was a Dutch band, although Brainticket purposely obscure their nationality, as the band often consisted of international musicians). "Feel the Wind Blow" is a much more laid-back, acoustic piece, with George HARRISON like guitars. "Coc'o Mary" is a heavily percussion-dominated piece that sounds like a cross between SANTANA (because of the Latin-style percussion) and JETHRO TULL (because of the Anderson-like flute). Incredible album, which shows everything that was great in the early '70s!BRAINTICKET Psychonaut music reviews and MP3 Review from progarchives.com.

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Radagacuca (7:24)
2. One Morning (3:51)
3. Watchin' You (5:15)
4. Like A Place In The Sun (6:28)
5. Feel The Wind Blow (3:32)
6. Coc'O Mary (6:08)

Total Time: 32:38

Line-up / Musicians - Jane Free / lead vocals, tbilat, tambourine, slide whistle, sounds
- Jöel Vandroogenbroeck / organ, piano, flute, sitar, sanze vocal, rumors, generator, arrangements
- Rolf Hug / lead guitar, acoustic guitar, tablas, vocals
- Martin Sacher / electric bass, flute
- Barney Palm / drums, percussion, strange sounds
- Carole Muriel / additional vocals

Friday, 3 June 2011

Klaus Schulze- Beyond Recall (1991)

The ever prolific Klaus Schulze has always been keen to embrace new technology, and as the 80s turned into the 90s samplers and associated devices started becoming more prevalent in his work. This offering from 1991 sees Schulze embracing digital technology and using it to add new dimensions to his work. This album was sufficiently cutting edge to make it onto the playlist in chill out rooms at early 90s raves, and the Future Sound Of London even included a sample on their excellent Life Forms album.

For all the new technology, this is pretty much business as usual for Schulze - there are no acid house rhythms or trance-ambient-dub remixes here. The opening track is 26 minutes of what sounds like samples of ethnic flutes and tropical wildlife woven into the kind of electronic tapestry that has been a mainstay of the synth maestro's output since the 70s. This piece sets the tone for the whole album, and therein lies the one problem with a lot of Schulze CDs - while the sound is great, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. There's a fair amount of repetition - or perhaps minor variations on theme is a better way of putting it - and after a certain point all the tracks seem to blend into one.

This is a fascinating and diverting album for fans of the electronic prog genre, but ultimately it would have benfitted from some judicious editing. Worth checking out, but not essential. KLAUS SCHULZE Beyond Recall music reviews and MP3 review from progarchives.com

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Gringo Nero (26:54)
2. Trancess (12:50)
3. Brave Old Sequence (11:02)
4. The Big Fall (11:35)
5. Airlights (14:34)

Total Time: 77:07
Line-up / Musicians
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizers, keyboards

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Thursday, 2 June 2011

Jade Warrior - Last Autumns Dream (1972)

Final album for Vertigo, and the best one, in my book. I never really thought the early JADE WARRIOR for Vertigo as a prog rock band. More like a varied rock band that included hard rock, jazz, folk, and ethnic influences. There are actually quite a few straightforward songs that I don't really feel comfortable call prog. There are some more adventurous numbers as well. I don't really call myself a big JADE WARRIOR fan, and I don't feel the need to have every album they did, but this is actually a quite decent album. JADE WARRIOR Last Autumn's Dream music reviews and MP3 ( Review from progarchives.com)

The third work released in 1972 "Last Autumn's Dream". Work impressive strange jacket. The sound is near the first work exotic. Acoustic music is a peculiar, clean feeling, and overflows in an exactly spiritual mood. It is a good album of which atmosphere consists well very much.Four stars. Excellent addition to any prog music collection. JADE WARRIOR Last Autumn's Dream music review by braindamage ( Review from progarchives.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. A Winter's tale (5:11)
2. Snake (3:02)
3. Dark river (6:33)
4. Joanne (2:53)
5. Obediance (3:19)
6. Morning hymn (3:36)
7. May queen (5:22)
8. The demon trucker (2:34)
9. Lady of the lake (3:17)
10. Borne on to the solar wind (3:02)

Total Time: 37:51
Line-up / Musicians - Tony Duhig / electric guitar
- Jon Field / alto & concert flutes, congas, percussion
- Glyn Havard / vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
- Allan Price / drums
- David Duhig / lead guitar (

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