Monday, 26 November 2012

Eloy - Inside (1973)

This is the first truly progressive album ELOY recorded. Frank Bornemann certainly wasn't too happy with the political direction the band was heading on their first album. Of course original member Erich Schriever was mostly responsible for that, but of course, Frank Bornemann didn't think music and politics should mix. So Schriever was given the boot, and original drummer Helmuth Draht left too. So Fritz Randow came in for drums, Manfred Wieczorke switched to organ and Frank Bornemann now started to sing as well as play guitar. Bassist Wolfgang Stöcker lasted long enough to appear on this album.

So of course, all the left-wing political statements are now gone, in place of sci-fi oriented lyrics, with a spacier sound, more in the PINK FLOYD realm. The album consists of four extended cuts, beginning with the side-length "Land of No Body". Lots of PINK FLOYD references here, but parts of it also remind me of CAMEL. I just love that experimental spacy organ in the middle, it really trips me out. "Future City" sounds a whole lot like JETHRO TULL, but without the flute. Apparently certain FM stations in America were flattered by that, and so they played it ( Inside did receive an American release, on the Janus label - the German version was on Harvest, which is their first album for the label), of course, if "Future City" was ever played on American radio, it was on "progressive free form" FM stations (the FM format that existed before the rise of AOR in the mid 1970s). The album closes with the mellow "Up and Down". It wasn't sung by Frank Bornemann, but by Manfred Wieczorke, which comes to prove that he shouldn't sing (and he never did afterwards). Plus there's some narration that sounds like a German Bob DYLAN. And while the vocals are the weak part of the song, the spacy organ and atmosphere more than makes up for it. Great stuff, especially if you like that underground early '70s guitar/organ-driven prog.Revew from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Land Of No body (17:14)
2. Inside (6:35)
3. Future City (5:35)
4. Up And Down (8:23)

Remaster edition bonus tracks:
5. Daybreak (3:39)
6. On the road (2:30)

Total Time: 43:07

Line-up / Musicians
- Frank Bornemann / guitar, vocals, percussion
- Fritz Randow / drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, flute
- Wolfgang Stöcker / bass
- Manfred Wieczorke / organ, guitar, percussion, vocals

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Host - HARDT MOT HARDT (1976)

What amazed me most about this album was the virtuoso guitar playing of this guy named Fezza. He also plays the flute and wrote all the songs except for the instrumental. But man can he light up the guitar,and he can play some delicate and intricate melodies as well. This record is no doubt symphonic yet there are some classical elements and some downright scorching guitar solos as well. The singing is in Norwegian and is quite good. The drumming and organ play are outstanding as well. These guys don't take themselves too seriously either as there are some silly moments.

I like the vocal melody to open the instrumental "Ase" it's pretty funny. "Lektyre" is an orchestral song with vocals. "Sirkus" is the longest tune and one of my favs. I like the aggressive guitar playing and there is some violin and what sounds like the accordion to me. The opener is a good one, with crisp drumming and some beautiful guitar melodies. "Gorobin" opens with some intricate guitar before we get the full sound around the 2 minute mark.The drums and organ dominate although the guitar is again great !

My favourite song is "Nattergalen" as it all seems to come together beautifully. The guitar,drums and vocals are incredible while the flute solo is a nice touch. Organ play follows and then an amazing guitar solo. There are some good bass lines in the final song "Aeraeeo" and i swear Fezza can make his guitar talk. The vocals are theatrical and the organ and flute all add to an amazing sound.

This took a while to grow on me but right from the start there was no disputing the talent of this Norwegian band. A beauty from 1976. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Profetens ord (5:40)
2. Gorobin (5:09)
3. Nattergalen (7:10) Ørnkloa (3:17)
4. Sirkus (7:42)
5. Lektyre (3:55)
6. Åse (3:19)
7. Æræeo (5:57)

Total Time: 34:59

Line-up / Musicians
- Geir Jahren / vocal
- Bernt Brodahl / bass
- Willy Bendiksen / drums
- Fezza Ellingsen / guitar, flute
- Halvdan Nedrejord / organ, piano

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Host - PÅ STERKE VINGER (1974)

Simply one of the best Norwegian albums ever! All of the songs have an extremely high standard, no dead-points. The musicianship on this album is very good, and so are the vocals too. You can in fact almost hear some Iron Maiden types of music on this album. although this album came out a couple of years before Maiden's debut. I love this album, and I would recommend it to anybody. 

I love this band ! I really didn't think of IRON MAIDEN as some others have mentioned, but yeah they have twin lead guitars and a bassist who you can't ignore if you know what i mean.The vocals are in Norwegian and are excellent. I'm actually glad he sings in his own language,it sounds amazing ! And the drummer is so impressive.The truth is that this band could play with anybody.They're all gun slingers. I have their second and final release which is also a killer album but i like this one a little more.

"Fattig Men Fri" opens with 30 seconds of fury before it settles down as reserved vocals come in. I thought i heard mellotron but it's "string ensemble". The one guitarist also plays moog,clavinet,organ, and grand piano. Nice guitar solo after 3 minutes as well. Awesome opener and probably my favourite. "For Sent A Angre" opens with guitars as bass and drums join in followed by vocals. I really like the drumming on this one. More excellent guitar after 1 1/2 minutes. "I Ly Av Morket" opens with piano as drums then reserved vocals arrive. Tasteful guitar after 3 minutes. This is fairly mellow overall and my least favourite.

"Satans Skorpe" starts off slowly but gets better as it goes. Some vocal harmonies in this one too. Great sound after 1 1/2 minutes as it gets heavier. Guitar solo a minute later and check out the chunky bass. The tempo picks up late as the guitar rips it up. "Dit Vi Ma" is just so impressive, just sitting back and listening to these guys play is a joy. Nice fat bass in this one and some blistering guitar. "Samhold" is more aggresiive with some killer bass. Vocals a minute in. Scorching guitar after 2 minutes. The vocals really shine on this one. "Pa Sterke Vinger" opens with guitar as passionate vocals with floating background organ comes in. Very melodic guitar leads on this one. The ground shaking bass before 5 minutes is joined by guitar and drums.They seem to just jam at this point. Nice.The guitar lights it up after 7 minutes. Vocals are back a minute after that. Reviews from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fattig Men Fri (4:50)
2. For Sent A Angre (2:55)
3. I Ly Av Mørket (5:11)
4. Satans Skorpe (4:17)
5. Dit Vi Må (4:14)
6. Samhold (3:41)
7. På Sterke Vinger (9:57)

Total Time: 35:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Geir Morgan Jahren / vocals
- Lasse Nilsen / guitar
- Bernt Bodahl / bass
- Knut R. Lie / drums, vocals
- Svein Rønning / guitar, clavinet, organ, string ensemble, Mini-Moog, flute, vocals

Sunday, 18 November 2012

ZAAR - ZAAR (2006)

This French prog rock quartet, rising out of the ashes of Sotos, is built around brothers Yan Hazera and Michael Hazera on lead guitar and drums, respectively. The single-named Pairbon replaces Sotos' bassist, Bruno Camide; the cello and violin from the earlier group are replaced by a hurdy-gurdy played by Cosia (another single-named musician). Historically, the legacy of Magma has lain heavily on most French instrumental prog rock groups, but the Hazera brothers lighten up Magma's relentless, apocalyptic zeuhl sound with lots more space and some short acoustic pieces that demonstrate a refreshing willingness to move outside conventional prog rock boundaries. There are parallels here to Univers Zero's best work, especially on "Scherzo # C," where shifting time signatures and dissonant contrapuntal riffs create a challenging type of chamber rock. The two long pieces on the CD provide plenty of scope for drama, but both "Sefir" and "Omk" utilize a number of quiet interludes to both ratchet down the intensity and create expectations for what follows. As a result, the "payoff" becomes not the shrieking climax but, rather, all the adventures along the way. Cosia's use of the hurdy-gurdy is particularly creative on the opening piece. Although this instrument has folk and even medieval classical roots, the hurdy-gurdy on this CD seems to be subjected to various electronic treatments and some "outside" playing that occasionally suggests a small animal in distress. Indeed, Cosia's first solos almost seem to be generated by a Moog synthesizer or electronic oscillator, although he also displays the instrument's ability to produce bagpipe-like drones and later shows off its violin timbres (in essence, the hurdy-gurdy is a mechanical violin). It's hard to believe that all these sounds are generated by a single instrument (even a really strange one), although nothing on the CD cover or liner notes indicates otherwise. Overdubbing is a distinct possibility, of course -- and with all the contemporary devices available for a guitar to plug into, Yan Hazera could also be responsible for some of those mystery sounds. The second long piece, "Omk," reverses the roles initially, with Hazera soloing and Cosia providing the backing drone, but then Cosia takes over again with a moody solo that hovers between scraping violin and wheezy pump organ. Both long pieces also showcase the excellent staccato attack of drummer Michael Hazera, whose work can move beyond simple (or even complex) timekeeping and into improvisational territory that owes more to jazz than rock. This is a very sophisticated recording that deserves a wide audience. ~ Bill Tilland

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Sëfir (20:07)
2. Zolg (1:59)
3. Ce n'est pas triste (2:42)
4. Tougoudougoum (1:29)
5. Discasambo (3:23)
6. Omk (17:20)
7. Scherzaaah (0:38)
8. Scherzo # C (4:45)
9. [...] (1:34)

Total Time: 53:54

 Line-up / Musicians
- Yan Hazera / guitar
- Michael Hazera / drums
- Cosia / Hurdy Gurdy
- Pairbon / bass, double-bass

Paatos- Timeloss (2002)

Finally an innovative group. A lot of my friends, although they dislike everything to do with rap, techno and other styles of recent music forms (I do too but can enjoy some French rap), actually thought that trip-hop was interesting because of the very expressive moods that bands like Portishead or the early Bjork. I thought that in the mid-90's, trip hop could present a form of evolution for proggers. As far as I know, this is the first album of its kind to exploit that direction and they have stricken gold right from the start. The moods and ambiances are simply beautiful as is Petronella who looks like she's coming from the northern part of Sweden and has got Lapp blood in her and in concert she made me think of the star from Iceland (Bjork), under the careful eye of hubby Huxflux, from behind his drum kit. On guitar, eine Fiske (of Landberk fame) adds up with his so expressive guitar lines this touch of almost divine background, while the other ex-Landberk Stefan Dimle rattles the bass guitar strings. Rounding up the quintet is Wallen on vintage keys.

The album seems to have at least a retro visual concept matching its title, the booklet pages showing illustration of outdated house interiors, starting with the Art Deco hotel hallway lift cage on the front cover. Opening on the excellent Sensor, starting on jazzy bass and electric piano, but once Fiske's guitar enters, the track veers superbly rock, with Petronella's voice underlined by trons of mello make a banner track, well worth the early 90's Swedish trilogy. The following and aptly-titled Hypnotique is a soft spellbinding track, lasting over 8-mins, with Petro on cello, again a superb load of mellotron washes and a guest flutist giving a haunting ambiance. Téa starts with Fiske's ever-recognizable guitar and this crescendoing track (not my fave, though) will become the A side (remixed I think) of their 45 RPM single. Fiske again opens They Are Beautiful, the weaker track of the album (IMHO, anyway), despite a superb clarinet (courtesy of the flutist mentioned above), but I find the track a little long.

Do overcome your prejudice and listen to the last track Quits, as it may set you back but if you listen carefully and are open minded, this track alone is worth hunting the album as it is mind-boggling and offers great possibilities for the group's future adventures. It is the most openly trip hop track of the album, but is the apex of the album. In concert, Quits was used to get you wilded up at the end of the set and makes you (and the rest of the crowd) beg to hear it again as the first, second and third encores.

Of course, the main deception was the album's short duration (less than 40 mins), BUT?.. The Japanese version of this album comes with two bonus tracks, thus bringing an extra superb 13 mins of pure bliss. Both tracks are without Fiske's guitars (he had already gone by then), but Nylander fills the shoes as if they were his. The 8-mins+ Ouka sounds like a superb quiet improv, but carefully controlled; while Otaku is definitely more chaotic and abstract, filled Petro's cello and weird electronic noises. Great stuff, well in line with Quits. Timeloss is definitely one of the 00's best albums and few albums of the 90's and 80's in the prog realm can come to its shoulder height. Think I'm exaggerating, uh? Get this album and quick! Try for the superb Japanese Mini-Lp version with the bonus tracks, if still available.Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Sensor (5:11)
2. Hypnotique (8:32)
3. Téa (5:45)
4. They Are Beautiful (7:44)
5. Quits (12:17)

Total Time: 39:29
 Line-up / Musicians -
 Stefan Dimle / bass and double bass
- Reine Fiske / electric and acoustic guitars
- Huxflux Nettermalm / drums, congas, percussion, water, saw, triangle, programming
- Petronella Nettermalm / vocals and cello
- John Wall´n / electric piano, Hammond organ, Moog, clavia, Yamaha synths, mellotron, upright piano, Steinway grand piano, harmonium, sampler

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Guapo - Five Suns (2004)

This must be one of the most original releases I've heard since long time. Although I do recognize some elements from King Crimson's red and vroom period or even Anekdoten. Still there's more to it. The sound of this instrumental music is in between progressive/psychedelic and postrock from bands like "Explosions in the sky" or "Godspeed". It's post rock because of the melodies that slowly return on and on while the tension is building up. I would call it progressive rock because of the wall of sound and the excellent way the guys are handling their instruments. On "five suns part 2" for example there's the power from the guitar reminiscent to Sonic Youth, the powerful Wetton like bass lines and acrobat drums but on the other hand there's also a tiny sound of a hammond organ and a spooky mellotron. The combination of these very different ingredients gives a splendid result ! Needless to say this music is very basic and sober although quite detailed. Although I never listen more than a couple of songs at once, each track is compelling all the way. My personal favorite may be "Topan", a calm track with emphasis on the gentle Hammond sounds especially on the opening tones. Never heard anything from this band before so I can't compare this record to other Guapo releases but this is a fine and most original effort worth of checking out for those who like some instrumental, dark and powerful music.

Amazing album which is like a blistering King Crimson, Ruins and Anekdoten on steroids with heavy bass and full on mellotron, but theres also some excellent lighter progressive moments in here.A band to watch for sure.

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Five Suns - Part 1 (4:31)
2. Five Suns - Part 2 (10:19)
3. Five Suns - Part 3 (10:30)
4. Five Suns - Part 4 (12:57)
5. Five Suns - Part 5 (7:55)
6. [untitled] (1:00)
7. Mictlan (8:58)
8. Topan (6:37) 

Line-up / Musicians 

- Daniel O'Sullivan / Fender Rhodes, organ, Mellotron, harmonium, guitar, electronics
- Matt Thompson / bass, guitar, electronics
- Dave Smith / drums, percussion 

The Mind of a Brother- Spacious Mind (1989)

Without a question one of today's most notable and highly hypnotic prog acts about the scene are Sweden's "The SPACIOUS MIND". Take note of these guys my friends they are simply bigger than life! "The Mind Of A Brother " marks the 4th CD released from these culturally cosmic inclined space rockers and stands on its own as another wonderful album. Not unlike "Organic Mind Solution" and "Cosmic Minds At Play" this album is full of what can only be described as a sonic mind blast. "Brother" is full of raging fuzz guitar solos, bongos and percussion, wild vocals, heavy sound bites and psychy backdrops. The SPACIOUS MIND are a wonderful mix of psych and progressive genres offering some absolutely stunning sonic breakouts. This album is not well suited for those long Sunday afternoon drives in the county , but instead is a great way to start your morning off right! Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Prophet Am I
2. House in the Country
3. Interplanetarian Love Machine pt III
4. The Closer You Get to the Sun
5. Outlaw Mutation Boogie 
Line-up / Musicians
- Jens Unosson / synthesizers, electronics, atmospheres
- Henrik Oja / guitars, vocals
- Thomas Brännström / guitar, vocals, whistles, glockenspiel
- David Johansson /percussion 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Boud Deun - Astronomy Made Easy (1997)

Incredible fusion from the USA. I didn't enjoy this one as much as "The Stolen Bicycle",but this is still jaw dropping stuff.This is the kind of music that really needs to be listened to carefully in order to fully enjoy and appreciate it.The violinist in particular has a unique style,but they all are so amazing and tight.

"December 17th" opens with pounding drums and bass as some creative guitar arrives. A bass solo follows. I am awe struck with how amazing these guys play. What a display ! "Good King Friday" features some beautiful guitar and violin interplay. "Spiders" opens with some great guitar as the bass comes rumbling in and drums pound away. The song settles down as violin comes in. A full sound to end it. "Sleeping" is a mellow violin driven track. It's ok. "Niether" again features some mind boggling play,especially from the drummer and guitarist. "Copper Ink" is the longest track. It's really out of control with periods of rest in between. It calms down 3 1/2 minutes in with drums and violin. The bass before 6 minutes is killer.

"Conversations With Ellis" features some fat bass(no offense) and odd metered drumming. Some smooth violin melodies follow. "Coal Boxes And Daisy Cutters" has some crazy guitar in this rip snorter. "Lincoln" is fairly reserved 2 minutes in with bass,drums and violin. The guitar 4 minutes in is great as the drummer pounds every square inch of his kit. "Jupiter" 30 seconds in is the heaviest part of the album. More other-worldly drumming 5 minutes in right to the end of the song. "The Miller's Tale" is a short, yet blistering assault. "The Quince Tree" is more laid back until it changes 1 1/2 minutes in as rumbling drums arrive. Guitar and violin play over top. Bass solo 4 minutes in.

This is a no brainer for fusion fans or fans of virtuoso playing,however it rarely lets up with the bombast which is probably why their "The Stolen Bicycle" is one i prefer much more to this.Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. December 17th (3:22) 
2. Good King Friday (2:38) 
3. Spiders (4:57) 
4. Sleeping (1:17) 
5. Neither (2:54) 
6. Copper Ink (9:51) 
7. Conversations With Elvis (3:43) 
8. Coal Boxes And Daisy Cutters (3:35) 
9. Lincoln (5:23) 
10. Jupiter (7:42) 
11. The Miller's Tale (1:18) 
12. The Quince Tree (5:07)

Total Time: 51:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Shawn Persinger / guitar 
- Matt Eiland / bass 
- Greg Hiser / violin 
- Rocky Cancelose / drums

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sidhartha - Trip To Inner Self (1990)

Those who know me well, also know about my fascination and adoration of psychedelic music. Much of what I´ve reviewed here on PA reflect my wild out there leanings - those albums that melt away your brain like throwing a piece of lard on the barby. I guess these writings could lead you to believe, that I detest musical patterns and melody, but that is far from the truth. The truth, at least in these regions of music, is that my initial love of music was Pink Floyd. They were pioneers in terms of creating music that was both psychedelic but also very song based - meaning that the listener much of the time had story lines, choruses and returning melodies (Oh yes I hear you in the back: That´s not progressive matey!!! - well who bloody cares?, and yes it can in fact be progressive as well...). When I hear modern bands trying to emulate that kind of approach, I must admit to feeling a tad untouched, bored and I start looking around the room for the nearest Floyd album to get the real deal - the real fix.

Katjing! This album suddenly pops into the picture, and whilst drowning myself in contour less and eroding music - I suddenly hear strong melodies combined with a sense of nouveau Floyd soundscapes, that tickle my fancy like a midget alzheimers patient in a feather suit dancing the jig at the end of my bed. Rrrraaaauuww! Now you are probably thinking: Oh goody another copy cat band with loads of buttery Gilmour soloing.

I will put your minds at ease, and start by saying that you need not to worry: Of course there´s buttery Gilmour soloing....., but not like you´d think that is...

Siddhartha is a Turkish band, and even though I pride myself with having music from the far side of the globe, the only other album I have from this country, is by a symphonic act called Asia Minor. Compared to Asia Minor that perhaps wields the most peculiar of all English accents known to prog, you´d be hard pressed to hear where Siddhartha hail from, if it wasn´t for those small sneaky Arabian melodies that from time to time are played by an elegant sounding electric guitar. These are very effective sections by the way and furthermore constitute a small part of what makes this album so good: a multitude of different characteristics.

You´ll hear spacey synths steaming and oozing from behind the tracks like some sonic back draft from an invisible door. They are there, but then again not really. Just like those waves of sound you´ll get from a pensive Richard Barbieri, they exist like musical ghosts hovering ballet instructors. In the front of these surrealistic vacuums of sound, you´re treated to melodies led mostly by electric guitars(one track is with an acoustic). Using massive build ups, without ever getting in the vicinity of post rock, these guitars utilize swaying and fluctuating riffing that orgasm in - yep, you´ve guessed it: buttery Gilmour solos! But not quite, as this ax man is far more fiddly(in a good way though), and he relies on completely different musical ideas. In fact, I am quite sure the third track is a spacey psychedelic rendition of the melodic guitar refrain from Metallica´s Unforgiven, without being a rip off. That´s diversity for ya right there. As a natural musical eruption of these soft wailing guitars, you quite often also get another solo intertwining itself into the main line, and beautiful things are afoot - shooting you right out of your sofa and into the skies. This guy is a real treat, and the way he infuses his culture into the notes is masterful and subtle, just like a Persian ninja sneaking his hand up your skirt. Swish!!

What definitively shifts the focus away from the Floyd, and adds a deep bountiful and rawkous foundation - is an incredibly heavy drummer. This dude sounds like a cement mixer! He changes the face of the music, which by itself would be soothing and psychedelic, - and puts a hot poker up its backside. I could say something ludicrous along the lines of: This is a rocking Pink Floyd on steroids, and whilst being close to the truth, - it would also diminish what this band has successfully achieved, and that is to have created an astounding piece of psychedelic tinged song based music.

There are no duds on this album, and the farther you get into its bosom the more enthralling and alluring it gets. The soft bitter sweet vocals are another hit, which brings a fragility to the mix that is highly intoxicating and used very effectively in all the right places. Soaring male siren singing in a world of grunts, coarseness or whiny margarine.

Needless to say, that if you´re into Floyd and how they rolled in the mid 70s, you should need this like a parrot needs a pirate´s shoulder. Fans of Porcupine Tree and Vespero should definitely also try this album, as it conveys a way of developing and enhancing a form of music that once was monopolized by a single artist. Well not any more boyo! 4.5 original stars. Review fro

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Trip to Innerself (10:25)
2. The Explorer (6:51)
3. Desert (3:30)
4. Baroque (3:57)
5. Nervous Breakdown (11:51)
6. Beyond Destiny (9:33)
7. Distant Cry (6:42)
8. Black (8:45)

Total Time 61:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Özgür Kurcan / vocals, guitars 
- Ege Madra / guitars 
- Ulas Akin / bass 
- Volkan Yildirim / keyboards 
- Orkun Öker / keyboards 
- Kaan Sezgin / drums
- Nil Karaibrahimgil / vocals
- Kerem Özyegen / vocals 
- Neslihan Engin / keyboards 
- Berke Özcan / percussion
- Serkan Yilmaz / percussion

Monday, 5 November 2012

Jade Warrior - Fiifh Element (1998)

I discovered JADE WARRIOR through the VERTIGO Double Vinyl Album Sampler "Suck It And See" from 1973. A track entitled MWENGA SKETCH appeared on this set, which is a lively & heavy dose of Santana-esq beats going from heavy to soft and to heavy again. The details of the track were not specified to a new album release by this UK progressive rock band, only described as COMING SOON/TO BE RELEASED by the label. Unfortunately, with poor sales and lack of interest and promotion of their previous albums, Vertigo decided to withdrew their contract with them, and the sample track, followed by material for the next two albums were shelved, never to be released, with the band immediately changing label (ISLAND) and direction. The guitarist TONY DUHIG sadly passed away in 1990, and much interest to release the bands rare recordings by the other group members had begun, only to have taken some years to have ECLIPSE released by a re-issue company (ACME) and to have the album fully remastered and with original artwork that was to be used if released in the 70s.

The Album re-release was deleted and is very rare. It was the decision by European label REPERTOIRE to again release ECLIPSE, as well as the other album recorded at the same time, entitled FIFTH ELEMENT, which was the band's final album, with a mix of Heavy and soft sounds, compared to their new softer direction on the ISLAND label.

Overall, my opinion on ECLIPSE, is an amazing experience....their debut and second album work towards the direction of soft to heavy melodic sounds, with the volume slightly turned down. By the third, and classic album, LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM, they managed to mix both the heavy/soft sound pretty well, but there is still the element of creating lengthy peaceful & dreamy tracks. On ECLIPSE, the volume has been turned up, especially on tracks SANGA, TOO MANY HEROES, HOLY ROLLER and the sample track from the Vertigo LP sampler....VERY HEAVY STUFF...! I don't think many fans of Jade Warrior have discovered this album, but are aware of it's existence, and i would seriously recommend purchasing a copy whether you're a fan of JW or Progressive Rock. Revew from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. On the Mountain of Fruit (5:12) 
2. Discotechnique (2:43) 
3. Hey Rainy Day (4:12) 
4. We Are the One (4:27) 
5. 24 Hours Movie (5:02) 
6. Annie (4:04) 
7. Yam Jam (3:50) 
8. Have You Ever (6:00)

Total Time: 35:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Duhig / guitars 
- Jon Field / percussion, flutes 
- Glyn Havard / bass, vocals 
- Allan Price / drums 
- David Duhig / guitar

Sunday, 4 November 2012

U Totem - U Totem (1990)

A Revelation.

Ever had one of those?

I had a few during my life; most occurred during dark, depressing or desperate times; others happened while listening to specific albums.

One such album was this one.

This revelation consists of the understanding that imagination and daring to explore are one of the great human traits; Understanding that music, at its most beautiful, whether complex or simple, can be a healer, a comforting friend, a motivator; Understanding that music can be a reason to live for, a purpose in life, a cause to get up in the morning and keep on living despite hardship.

Musicians from 5UU's and Motor Totemist Guild came together to create this masterpiece of an album and joined by other session musicians to complete the sound. I am having hard time expressing just how wonderful and special I find this album to be. It is one of those albums I feel a sort of catharsis while listening to it and want to start it over again when it ends. However, I feel un-equipped and not knowledgeable enough to write about this, but since I love this album so much, I'll give it a try and please forgive any mistake or nonsense I might write.

Instrumentation - Abundant and varied instrumentation makes this album a delight to listen to; so rich and smooth is the sound, along with Emily Hay's vocals. Saxophones, flute, piccolo, bassoon, contrabassoon, sitar, piano, vibraphone, guitar, bass, drums, percussion and the use of tape recordings - all those play the music, making it lively and special. Not only the type of music, the influences on composition, but the type of instruments are a look back at their influences which are I would guess 20 century composers (I am not an expert on this at all, but having read about and listened to some I would assume this is the case; Stravinsky would probably be one) and previous chamber rock groups.

The music has been said to be a mélange of 20th century classical music, avant-garde, rock, chamber music all mixed to an end result that is the special sound of U Totem. Well, yes but how to translate the greatness of this album into words? Complex, very well played, sophisticated and compelling, the music never ceases to amaze me. Just listen to "Both Your Houses" and how all the instruments combine together while the rhythm goes on. Not only shown by the complexity, the progressiveness of the music is shown also in how they ornament the songs with the instruments; in the intervals which are filled with the occasional "odd" sounds, atonal parts or "experiments"; they drift away with each song from the main theme to explore the grounds. Each song is cleverly orchestrated, maneuvered through the gushing waters, from one part where the classical instruments lead the way, into other parts, where the more "modern" rock instruments take over. With all this going about, the beauty is kept, the connecting musical thread is always there and the magic is never lost. The repetitive part in "Both Your Houses" around the fourth minute (before and after Emily screams her heart out in the background) is a fantastic example of how to play the same theme and make it sound great by changing the instruments and using whatever comes to mind (and using slightly different scales to create a seeming disharmony). Brilliant!

Take for instance "One Nail Draws Another" with its almost 15 minutes. It goes through so many different parts, uses so many elements of their influences, and yet there is not one boring moment, there is continuous movement, and constant progression while going back to visit the same themes as the song goes. Emily's vocals and the male opera-like vocals joining in the middle add to the richness already found in this song.

"Two Looks At One End" and Yellow Umbrella Gallery show their more modern influences, their avant-garde and quirky side (as if it wasn't enough as it is) and their use of the tape recordings and manipulation of the keyboards. Engaging and dynamic, weird and sometimes disharmonic, these pieces are enriched with the seemingly random use of the recorded sounds and voices and Emily's vocals (on that first track of the two).

Another thing to praise here is that each song is easily identifiable and different than the others. I don't sense a repetitiveness and yet the collection of songs and tracks fit very well together; each song brings its own approach (however slightly or not-so- slightly different than the others), making this collection of 7 songs feel as a whole - meaning, this feels like an album, and not like a collection put together.

This album might lead you to the US side of avant-rock/chamber-rock, if you haven't "visited" these realms already. Both the "donating" bands to U Totem are obvious bands to explore (although I much prefer this group or project), as well as Thinking Plague, whose In Extremis I think draws somewhat of an influence from this album.

To sum up, this is one of my all-time favourites. An album as rich in sound as it is special, complex, intriguing, thrilling, stimulating, exciting and whatever other adjectives you may want to add to it. Their sound mingling together music by 20th century composers, chamber rock and avant-garde is one that I treasure, and find beautiful, compelling. It was a revelation the first time I heard it; being struck by the combination of complexity, oddity and beauty, realizing how fantastic music can be when musicians take it to a ride through their wild imaginations and perform for us their vision.

Honestly, my words cannot do justice enough to this fabulous album and these fine musicians and composers. Reading this, I feel I have failed to pass on what goes through my mind when listening to this and more importantly what the music actually sounds like and how great it is. So I'll simply say that if you are a follower of this type of music, this is a must have album. If you are interested in checking this type of music, but don't yet feel comfortable enough in it or are new entirely, I would start elsewhere, and save this to later on when you can appreciate it fully and without trying to adjust to this type of music. It might take the pleasure of the album. But this is a mandatory stop station in your excursions throughout the avant-rock/chamber-rock (or whatever you want to call it) realm.

A must have!

Review from

Jade Warrior - Eclipse (1998)

If you like to follow the musical evolvement of this band, you should place this album behind "Last Autumn's Dream" in their discography, as it was recorded originally after that release. I'm more fond of the material this band did before year 1974, when they moved to Island label and started to do long instrumental suites (though they are quite nice too). I had heard some of these songs from the "Reflections" compilation, which is now quite futile album as this album is posthumously completelly released.

The record opens hazily with "English Morning", which is a very good classic psych folk performance. I really appreciate like the delicate manner how these guys manage to paint feelings with their instruments, being a true album highlight. "Sanga" is then a happy instrumental number with some African drumming, fuzzy guitars and jazzy flutes. "Too Many Heroes" is a decent bluesy rock song, and "Song for A Soldier" is psychedelic some sort of anti-war song, quite interesting and different. There are some personal rhythm patterns done with bells on it, and they are contrasted with very raw rock parts. "Maenga Sketch" has more cool surrealistic sound walls on it's beginning, from where a long jam sequence emerges. This too is fun to listen, but there's bit pointless playing going on also I fear, and the jams on "Released" worked much better in my opinion. I also must admit that "Holy Roller" was not a very good track. Luckily the final long song "House of Dreams" is again very good, slow and hypnotic classic Jade Warrior performance.

There are lots of nice elements and good playing to be heard on this album, but it's not as good as the other early 1970's recordings I believe. This album is mostly for the fans of the band, but not possibly poor introduction to the sound of this group either.. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. English morning 
2. Sanga 
3. Too many heroes 
4. Song for a soldier 
5. Maenga sketch 
6. Holy roller 
7. House of dreams

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Duhig / guitars 
- Jon Field / percussion, flutes 
- Glyn Havard / bass, vocals 
- Allan Price / drums 
- David Duhig / guitar 

Thinglink Plugin