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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Agharta, Canada

Agharta - s/t. 1980 Jam

While on the topic of obscure fusion, let's cover off on this one that Midwest Mike sent me years ago. It's been in the main list since then, but I do think it's worthy of its own feature. On reflection, it's a fine album, falling just a smidge onto the other side of the Priority fence.

Agharta's sole album can be summarized as a light and breezy instrumental fusion work with piano and various woodwinds (sax, clarinet, flute). Lead by keyboardist Jacques Mignault (and released on his own label) with the help of other local Quebec jazz musicians, most notably Michael Seguin. Very much a product of its day, with strong overtones of same era Weather Report and Spyro Gyra. The flute, piano, and odd electronic piece give it a warmth perhaps missing in similar type efforts. Well done for the style. Neat cover art.

Quick update: The AC commented that he remembered this one being reissued on CD. And he found a couple of (expensive) copies on Amazon. It appears to have been solely distributed through CD Baby from 2006. And many of those were just CD-R's, so we're not sure if this was factory pressed or not, since it's long gone (and not mentioned on any of the discography sites). So we'll leave the post as is for now.

Priority: none

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bellvista, USA

Bellvista - The Painter. 1982 En Route Records

Next up from the AC's latest expose. This one impressed me enough, that I went ahead and secured the LP right away. The AC says: "Boston area fusion band's only LP, and it's a good one. Intelligent compositions with plenty of nice keyboard and guitar work. The electric guitar soloing in particular gives a nicely contrasting aggressive edge to the mostly melodic proceedings, going into full-on psychedelic mode on the lengthy final track. Recommended to genre fans. Guitarist Peter Calo released a solo album on the same label the following year, but much of it is more pop/vocal oriented."

No doubt The Painter is "of the era", with its sunny disposition, and proto smooth jazz sounds. The opener 'Once Upon a Fantasy' displays there might be more to this than a tropical vacation, as guitarist Peter Calo turns up the fuzz a bit. From there it's a bit of cruise ship lounging, and perhaps even a little acoustic light world music via the Steve Tibbetts channel. All of that is well and good, but do we get that payoff track? Oh yes, we DO! And as the AC notes, it's the finale title track that delivers it - a blistering 9 minute psychedelic guitar fronted fusion number that is guaranteed to have you digging through collection looking for your Love Devotion Surrender album. Well, no Larry Young on organ of course, and cheesy period synthesizers are in full force instead. But for 1982, that ain't bad right?

Priority: 3

Friday, May 22, 2015

Natdamperen, Denmark

Natdamperen - s/t. 1975 Abel

This one came up on the CD-R revisit project last night. I only had a rating for it, but no notes nor was it in the main CDRWL. So I remedied that...

Ugh. What a mess of an album. Some of it is horrific, and some of it is sublime. Perfect for an archival release, as long as I get to choose the tracks of course....

Let's start out positive: 'Cabana In' and 'Cabana Out' could have easily been on an Embryo album from this era, with its deep jazz funk groove and wah wah guitar providing the base.

Then there's the band's lengthy namesake track - straight from Furtive Pearl era Secret Oyster, with blistering bumble bee guitar, fuzzed out Rhodes piano, and especially the blotted sax layered on top of it all.

And now it's time for the.... BAD. The album opens with the incredibly insipid 'Lille', which sounds like a cross between television advertising music and The Benny Hill Show. This obnoxious sound is carried further on the tracks 'På gaden' and 'Malstrømmen'. 'Kniven' is a smooth jazz throwaway, whereas the closer sounds like a drunken requiem composed for a wake.

Mixed bag here, so proceed with caution. But 17 minutes of high quality jazz rock music that just can't be ignored.

Priority: none
It should be noted that Natdamperen went on to release two other albums, but with one of them named Boogieman Eats Frikadeller, and considering the above review, I think I can pass unless someone convinces me different.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


PBX - Milktoast Repose/Gangplank. 1978 Collage Records

What we have today more or less equates to a 45 RPM single. But the music here, as The AC so perfectly articulates below, is brilliant. And it looks like there might be movement towards a full archival release! Let's hope so - because if all the music sounds as to what I heard, we are looking at the next Yezda Urfa, which was the band that leaped to my mind anyway!

"Bay Area (Los Gatos) prog band who's only release was sadly this obscure EP. Usually, I wouldn't submit an EP quite this short (around 11 minutes total) for inclusion here, as it would be tough to reissue without additional archival material, but in this case we already know that such material does indeed exist. And what wonderful news that is, as I can say without risking hyperbole that this release is amongst the strongest ever recorded by a progressive rock band in the United States. The usual ultra-complex Yes/Gentle Giant-isms of the US underground prog scene are here in full force, but the real difference is that this is more guitar-driven (no keyboards here at all, surprisingly) and ferocious than the usual suspects, with heavy elements of mid 70s Crimson and even some classic Mahavishnu stylings on display. The guitar absolutely rips through the solos (especially on side 2) and the drumming is flat-out world class, in the Billy Cobham/Furio Chirico mold. Vocals are surprisingly smooth and melodic for an underground US act, giving it an almost British touch at times. Just jaw-dropping stuff, really. It's nothing short of a tragedy that they never recorded a full studio album, but as I mentioned above, there is some good news to report. Guitarist/band leader Peter McKibben (who is still musically active) has been contacted and had this to say:

"PBX was a crazy band, trying to make a mark in the Bay Area (SF) music scene when punk and New Wave were starting to become popular. Probably wasn't the right time for a progressive jazz/rock outfit to try to get noticed, but we were having fun, so we didn't care. We actually played on some punk/wave shows, opening up for Pearl Harbor and the Explosions and the Dead Kennedy's (they hated us).

I just found an old cassette from 1978 of PBX playing outdoors in Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley. On the other side of this cassette, is a live recording of PBX playing at a weird dive called the "I Café"...I believe Pearl Harbor played after us on that occasion. Anyway, a longtime friend of the band knows an engineer who's been converting cassette recordings to cd. I don't know what kind of condition the tape is in, but he's going to try and make the transfer"

Let's hope it all works out and that a proper reissue/archival release can be arranged, because I can't imagine any prog fan would be disappointed with what I've heard so far."

Priority: 2  (Being conservative here given that we only have a small sample, and what remains is a live concert (no idea how professional it was recorded). Obviously if all the music is as above, this is an easy Priority 1!)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Manzanita, USA

Manzanita - Pirate Lady. 1979 private

Back to the rare AC stash that was recently sent in. Wow - what a cover! If I had run across this LP at a store, I would have bought it immediately, and asked questions later. So AC, what is it? "San Diego based group's sole release of pleasant instrumental fusion. Melodic sax and electric piano are the main ingredients here. Tends towards the smooth side, but has just enough compositional interest to keep you listening. Another one of those obscure private fusion LPs that boasts surprisingly excellent production values."

I'll admit this one was too jazz-light-fusion for me. Certainly easy to listen to, even though it's not pushing any of my buttons. As we know, though, there's a large audience for this sound, and the AC is zeroed in tight with it, so this is one of those times you probably need to ignore my comments (perhaps good advice in any event). For fans of high quality, yet smooth, fusion.

Priority: none

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


TCB - Open for Business. 1970 Traffic.

And while on the topic of obscure horn rock bands, let's talk about one TCB from New York (supposedly, though details are scant just like with Myrth). I bought a sealed copy a few months ago, having not heard it prior, but knowing it was in the brass rock genre. This TCB is not to be confused with Elvis Presley's backup band who operated from 1969 to 1977. And just like that TCB, this ensemble is indeed an acronym that stands for Taking Care of Business.

Musically it's a mix of soul based horn rock with gruff vocals and bluesy motifs, coupled with a gentle folk side recalling perhaps Michaelangelo of "One Voice Many" fame. Roller rink organ, fuzz guitar, harpsichord, male/female vocals, alto/tenor sax, and trumpet are the primary instruments. The music is very much a sound of its time and recalls other such acts like The Albert, Sod, 4th Cekcion, etc... The band's ace up the sleeve, though, is the 23+ minute closer, which shows TCB stretching out in a jazz rock way. A choppy organ, bass, drums vamp is laid down, and each instrument is allowed some time for a solo including a bit of scat singing. While not exactly groundbreaking, it is unusual to find this much time allocated for such music - especially on what is essentially a pop rock record. A fine album worth investigating, and would make for a nice CD.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Myrth, USA

Myrth - s/t. 1969 RCA

Here's a title that would have been certain to be part of the CD-R revisit project, but I bought the LP in the meantime, and thus it gets its debut ahead of that. It's a relatively common album, but finding one without a cut corner, saw cut, or any other such damaging mark proves to be quite a challenge. I finally found one, and in fact the cover above is that copy.

Near the bottom of the main CDRWL post, I have a number of horn rock bands clumped together. These are albums that I haven't featured yet, and perhaps some will never be, as they aren't very good IMO. But Myrth is certainly worth further consideration.

I'd say within the horn rock spectrum, Myrth tracks closest to Ides of March. The vocals are gruff, and the music is hard charging. The horns are tight and well charted. And, yes, there's a commercial slant to some of the material, that is wonderfully offset by more progressive leanings. This is exactly the style of music you'd find on Ides of March's "Vehicle", a much under appreciated album in my eyes. It remains debatable if the horn rock era will ever find a new fan base after its initial run. But if it does, Myrth should be an early consideration. I would be a first day buyer.

I haven't been able to discern where Myrth originated. The album was recorded in Hollywood, and it would seem given the logistics of a large ensemble, that southern California would be the logical source. But I've also found references to Utah and Arizona, that are possible but not conclusive. More great info about the band can be found here, where I queried about the location of the group. As you can see, it remains inconclusive.

Priority: 3

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pandora, Sweden

Pandora - Measures of Time. 1974 SMA

My experience with Pandora is very similar to the one I have with Apartment One, that we just spoke about last week. For years and years, this was a top curiosity. On the same label as Lotus' debut, an album that I owned and adored - and with descriptions indicating that Measures of Time was a symphonic progressive masterpiece - my curiosity meter was far into the red zone. When my friend Heavyrock secured the LP about a decade ago, he had me come over and we checked it out. We both looked at each other in horror. We thought it was terrible! Fortunately I had him burn me a copy for posterity.

A few years ago, I revisited the title and changed my tune somewhat. It isn't that bad I said to myself, but it still didn't make a huge mark. I didn't promote the title from the main list.

Now comes the CD-R revisit project, and I really am changing my tune now. If there's ever a justification for this project, it's albums like Pandora that benefit. Of course it's no masterpiece, and I could probably take a negative disposition and continue to maintain the album is worthless. But I'm an optimist by nature, and I found much to enjoy on this listen.

The first track is dubious though, and has much to do with my early frown. It's a direct rip from Uriah Heep's Salisbury, and not at all in touch with the remainder. From there on out, the album switches gears to a semi-progressive rock album. The band they emulate most, and it becomes clear on multiple listens, is Genesis. Now this is interesting actually. The progressive rock world is filled with Genesis imitators, and one could argue that the group was germane to the entire "neo prog" movement of the 1980s. But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone (outside of Italy) imitating Genesis back in 1974, especially from Sweden. The album is vocal heavy, sung in English, and can weigh down the compositions. But there's much happening musically behind the scenes, taking this album up a notch. Guitar, keyboards, and irregular rhythms all make this one an interesting listen. It does require some patience, and it definitely insists on focus, as otherwise it blows by without notice. Speaking from experience of course.

Priority: 3

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Azabu Ongaku Shudan, Japan

Azabu Ongaku Shudan - s/t. 1971 private

And now we arrive at the serious rarity hinted at a few days ago. I tried every database trick in the book, including image recognition and kanji translations, and could not find one thing about this album. As we know with Japanese albums, it's not uncommon for a name to take hold even if it's entirely incorrect. And the AC always give us the correctly translated version, so I thought maybe I'd find an erroneous entry somewhere. But alas, I did not. So it appears we are introducing the world to this most intriguing album. As stated here on the CDRWL before, Japan is the final frontier for super rare / unknown albums from the original psychedelic and progressive rock time frame. Sure... Germany, England, and our own beloved United States seem to still be harboring some undiscovered gems (Metaphysical Animation perhaps the greatest of them all), but it is in Japan where we continue to find the most unknowns. And where we often find the AC doing his deepest exploration.  Before reading one sentence, I started listening to the album. The first track is heavily influenced by 1968 era Chicago Transit Authority, which is a really good thing in my book. Then there's some random messing about in the studio, with some chamber/classical bits, and in comes a guitar freakout - and once again Terry Kath leaped to straight to mind. What is this anyway? Off to the notes I went...

"This large "group" was actually an amateur musical collective from the exclusive Azabu section of Tokyo who recorded this singular document of avant-psych freakout and then dispersed back into the void. Things get underway with a blast of driving brass rock-esque jazzy psych, before some spacey classical flute leads into a weird piano and percussion motif that repeats over and over, starting again just as you think it's finally done. You can tell that they're just trying to mess with your mind at this point. Soft acoustic folk-psych follows, but is disrupted by a noisy outburst and radio speech that is swallowed up in ominous avant-garde piano dissonance. A brief flute interlude precedes a headlong dive into wild garage psych, morphing into a full-on psychedelic jam with organ and absolutely insane fuzz guitar soloing. Quietly, a rising chorus of birdsongs emerges, backing a return to the gentle acoustic folk guitar and flute heard previously. But then, a strange surge of fluttering electronics heralds a chaotic collage of Japanese phone conversation, backed by a sinister electronic dirge. Clattering percussion rises from this seething mass, heralding an onslaught of pounding rhythms, droning horns and destructive psych guitar, with wisps of strange noise and moaning in the raging storm. Abruptly, the haunting acoustic folk psych and flute cut in, ending the chaos in a moment of zen. This is a truly harrowing piece of music, encapsulating the bad acid freakout visions you're glad you never had. Unfortunately, side two can't keep up this kind of all-out delirium, and the group's roots as a large-scale amateur music collective come to the fore, with some strange and inept jazz and folk songs, rambling detuned jazz bass and piano, and even a lengthy late night jazz club jam session. However, a few moments of interest are still lurking within. A couple of somewhat experimental classical piano and flute pieces, and a very Third Ear Band-esque number with percussion, flute and droning strings are the highlights, and the album closes with one final brass rock/orchestral blast with bleeping electronics to come full circle. Privately pressed in micro quantities and still only known to a few hardcore Japanese collectors, this album, while by no means a consistent masterpiece, is still an essential snapshot of authentic psychedelic freakout on the outer fringes of the era's underground scene."

This is one of those albums that really strikes a chord because of the time and place. Truly a group stretching the boundaries of what was known - very much a product of 1971, an era when this mentality was the norm rather than the exception. The highs go really high here, and so the corresponding down time is more tolerable. Because there's some serious payoff action to witness. Always a hallmark of an album worth repeated listens. And, as such, I christen this a:

Priority: 3

Friday, May 8, 2015

Zone Time, Japan

Zone Time - s/t. 1976 private

So here's the first of two albums we are introducing to the world (this week, that is...) - or at least I think we are! Of the two, this one is definitely more mundane (relatively speaking), but still worthy of discovery. Tomorrow we have a real humdinger. (Note that the term "humdinger" has now officially been sighted in the CDRWL). The AC tells us: "Very obscure private press LP by a group of Keio University students. An extremely long (almost 55 minutes) and well-produced album that's all over the map musically, from keyboard driven semi-prog to ultra-heavy guitar psych/hard rock, soft rock, crooning balladry, etc. It's like they took every idea from the early/mid 70s rock scene that they could think of and tried to cram it in here. Quite inconsistent obviously, but with some real moments of interest. The guitar work stands out in particular, with some excellent psych and hard rock style soloing. Sort of fascinating, but it will probably try your patience by the end. Beautiful cover art, and comes with a nice booklet."

Can't add much to this. A diversified album, with an obvious background of the great acts of the day, perhaps once again The Beatles being a primary influence here, despite the late date. It is indeed more 70s rock than 60s psych, but in effect, the kitchen sink mentality is at play here. And do I hear some Peter Frampton in these grooves? Why I think I do! 55 minutes is an extraordinary length for the era. Perhaps too much so.

Priority: none

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Updated post: Everfriend

And now we continue our journey through the AC's latest excavation experience. We will be introducing two super rare albums, perhaps for the first time to the world at large, right here in the next couple of days! In the meantime, we have this far more pedestrian (though no less rare) entry, as noted by The AC himself. Who knew Everfriend had a 3rd album? Did Everfriend know that Everfriend had a third album? These are the questions that puzzle the great minds of our time.

You can read the update here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

News: Collusion to be reissued on Audio Archives

I'll be honest and state upfront that a lot of these Audio Archives discoveries of the past few years have been disappointing. I actually thought this was another archival release, but it appears to have been released in 1971 on the SRT label. Guessing SRT to be some sort of custom pressing plant, similar to our own RPC. In any case, I couldn't find any evidence of the original vinyl, have never seen one for sale, and it hasn't been on ebay before. Which means little of course, just data points.

Having said all of that with a pall of doom, I do have to admit this album looks to be intriguing. It certainly reads that way in any case. We'll keep an open mind, and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Label says: "Reissued on compact disc, this is a genuine prog rock obscurity from 1971, originally released in a tiny run on the custom SRT label. Collusion was a Dagenham-based six piece with twin guitars and interwoven male/female vocals as the main ingredients. Expect hard-edged prog-rock with tasty folk and jazz elements. This engaging CD features seven original tracks with the stunning 'Bluebirds' and the epic 'Sweetbread Line' as the undisputed highlights. The CD is presented with a special poster sleeve offering rare pics and memorabilia. There also are extensive sleeve notes and a band history by singer Tony Davison, plus an additional comment by their manager and esteemed promoter Darrol Edwards."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cruciferius, France

Cruciferius - A Nice Way of Life. 1970 Barclay

My history with Cruciferius is a similar tale to Alpha Ralpha, in that it's an album I was familiar with - had somewhat of a mediocre impression - and completely forgot about it. Like a lot of people, I was drawn to this title due to the Magma connection, in particular one Bernard Paganotti. I had a chance to hear this album in the late 80s, and it didn't sound anything like Magma. Therefore it isn't any good! What? Ah, the impetuousness of youth! As I ran across the name recently, I realized I didn't even have a copy of it. But YouTube does, and I heard it in full for the first time objectively. And what you find is a band with similar influences to Magma at this time. A mix of jazz, pop, and psych, exploring the boundaries of rock during this era. It's not a common sound for France, though one can find similarities in groups such as Alice, Eden Rose, Frantz, Iris,and yes, even Magma's sprawling 2LP double set. And the side group Univeria Zekt. So while not a jaw dropper, it's a fine historical piece well worth a CD reissue, especially if some relevant bonus tracks can be found.

Priority: 3

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Apartment One, Netherlands

Apartment One - Open House. 1970 Pink Elephant

I first came across this title around 1990 or so from a Dutch catalog, circled it, and then never saw it again. Ever. Over time, it became one of my top curiosities. And then about 10 years ago, it was pretty much the top curiosity. Not long after that, I was fed a CD-R copy, and of course disappointment ensued. Just as in my experience at the beginning with this album, I totally forgot about it. Until the CD-R revisit project unearthed it again. There's been an entry on the main list of course, but now we're giving the album its own page.

Apartment 1 (or Apartment One as noted on the label itself) is a straightforward late psych / early hard rock record. Sounds more like what was happening with their fellow countrymen in the 1960s Dutch scene with albums from Cosmic Dealer, The Outsiders, and Q65. Plenty of excellent fuzz guitar and soloing to enjoy here. All on top of some splendid older organ sounds. The opening tracks on each side are instrumental, and represent the best material on the album. The vocals are in machismo English - with a gospel tinge. As such, it reminds me of the vast bone yard of US post psych albums from 1970 on labels like Paramount, ABC, Verve, Rare Earth, and Mercury.

Priority: none

Friday, May 1, 2015

News: Wolfgang Dauner Group's Rischkas Soul coming soon on Long Hair!

Big news today! The great German reissue label Long Hair is releasing the much wanted Rischkas Soul on CD and LP soon. I was wondering if Dauner would ever get to his (IMO) best title. Now we know he will!

Label says: "For the first time on CD and Vinyl reissue Dauners famous release 'Rischkas Soul'! Recorded in November, 1969 and first released as a so called private pressing the recordings had a second release nearly three years later on famous German label Brain (1016, 1972). Dauner with his strong sidemen Sigi Schwab, guitar and Eberhard Weber, bass and cello with two drummers (Braceful and Wittich) played cool jazz fusion with fluiding organ play from Dauner, sometimes heavy, sometimes dreamy and psychedelic guitar eruptions from master of guitar Sigi Schwab, tuneful and melodic and mostly straight on rhythms. CD and LP come with informative booklet/ insert and liner notes from Wolfgang Dauner himself. A must have!"

And since I have that Brain label LP copy, I'll probably just get the CD this time. But if you don't have the LP, it's worth getting for the gatefold artwork!

Phrydderichs Phaelda, Germany

Phrydderichs Phaelda - Bruch=Stuecke. 1975 private

Phrydderichs Phaelda, well.... you know it's something that should be given full attention! So exactly what do we have here AC?

"This group hailed from the town of Dinslaken, and apparently the odd name was a play on their pianist/group leader's, Friedrich Schepers. It seems that he was a music teacher in the area, and the rest of the group consisted of students from his school. Musically, this is a nice instrumental jazz rock set, driven by electric piano, jazzy guitar and a dextrous rhythm section. Angular but melodic, with a few compositional twists and turns to keep the interest level up. Quite well-recorded for a small local private press, too. It should be noted that this album was actually recorded and released in 1975, not 1981 as is usually listed."

So... as the AC said, it's a nice instrumental jazz rock set. Keyword here is jazz.... followed well behind by rock. Overall, this is inoffensive music that is sure to please all, and wow nobody. Sounds like a US album too, not even a small hint of its German heritage. Not Krautrock, Kraut fusion, or even sauerkraut. Instrumental music lead by lightly amplified guitar, electric piano, and a tight rhythm section. As far as jazz music goes though, this is a mighty fine listen, and flows by with much ease and comfort. A good one for a late night drive down the interstate. Professional to a fault, and well recorded as the AC notes above. I'd buy one if a CD came along.

Priority: 3

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tocabiol, France

Tocabiol - Es El,  Es Ela... 1977 Revolum

Here's a title I ran across the other day, and decided to promote from the main list to give it more exposure.

The first half of "Es El,  Es Ela..." is strictly regional folk music, while the other is a long spaced out acid folk rock journey, with narrative vocals. This half reminds me some of Sergius Golowin without the intense percussive build-ups. Perhaps they have another session similar that would make a great CD? The album is sung in Occitan, a language found in southern France and northern Spain.

Tocabiol has a second album that came out in 1979 (Beleu), but I recall that one is of little interest to progressive rock fans. I have it in one of my later CD-R binders, so I'll relisten to see if my opinion changes at that time.

Priority: none

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Alpha Ralpha, France

Alpha Ralpha - s/t. 1977 Wea.

Interesting one here, as this is an album I've been aware of for many years, but apparently didn't properly digest it. I had a mediocre grade on Gnosis, no rating on RYM, and an entry in the main CDRWL list without description. My RYM friend Silly Puppy recently asked me if I had heard the album. I had, I stated, but it had been many years. I didn't even have a CD-R copy, but fortunately YouTube has the album in full, so I finally revisited the other night.

Alpha Ralpha's sole album is a wonderful, and perhaps pure, example of instrumental symphonic progressive rock. Given the name and cover, there's also an underlying space rock tone. The music has a warmth that was typical of the late 70s French scene, and a sound I find very appealing as I get older. In fact, it's that same type of familiarity we recently called out with the new Herba d'Hameli album (Spain) that we featured over at the UTR. Overall, a fine record well deserving of a CD reissue.

Priority: 2

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yesterday's Children, USA

Yesterday's Children - s/t. 1970 Map City

This title came up in a cross reference, looked intriguing, and off I went to buy a copy. Uh-oh, nothing but gray water on this one. And sure enough, YouTube has the album in full to check out. So I did.

Yesterday's Children were a band from Connecticut, who play a mix of hard blues rock and heavy psych. Very consistent of the type of album that came out of the 1970 cultural transition year in America. Final track 'Hunter's Moon' is an absolute killer, predating the metal movement by a decade. Yet one more American band from this era that was one and done. On the Map City label, perhaps most known amongst collectors for the equally obscure Purple Image. I think Yogi Berra might have appreciated that last sentence.

Priority: 3

Sunday, April 26, 2015

News: Zanov's In Course of Time now on CD!

Some of you will remember at  the end of last year our announcement that Zanov was looking into reissuing his back catalog. And he was looking for Facebook Likes. I guess he got enough of them, because we have our first CD! "In Course of Time" is his 3rd and final album from the original run. Furthering the good news, the Dutch label Groove Unlimited has placed it on their imprint. Given that they are the most respected and largest of the electronic music labels/mail order houses, this can only be a good thing for Zanov, as hopefully he'll be encouraged to reissue the first two albums as well. Thanks to Gnosis Mike for the tip on this!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

News: Charlies archival Jail Sessions to be reissued by Shadoks in May

Shadoks continues to mine the great late 60s/early 70s Finnish hard rock / progressive band Charlies. This title, as per Shadoks protocol, had been released on LP already earlier in the year. This particular album is getting a fast track to CD without the usual 2 to 3 year waiting period. It appears to contain 4 additional tracks not found on the LP. I haven't heard the album yet, and didn't find any reliable reviews, but the label hype sheet does sound intriguing for certain: "After 'Musiikkia Elokuvasta Julisteiden Liimaajat' and 'Buttocks' here we have our 3rd release by the great Finnish band CHARLIES. This album was recorded in 1969 and 1970 in Charlies rehearsal room, an 'drunk tank' at the local jail, since Kari Lehtinen's father (later on known simply by the nickname ”Pitkä”) was the local police officer, so the band could use this room for playing and recording. After Charlies got the 1969 Julisteiden Liimaajat album done, and even though they got a lot of positive feedback from it, they never thought the final product sounded right. Pitkä (bass) and Eero (guitars) spent a lot of time considering how to deliver a much harder sounding album as a follow-up, representing the true Charlies spirit. They got the chance to make a new album, one that would be released by the famous Love Records label. The result again was only as good as the budget resources provided. Although in the end, the album Buttocks gained a good, hard reputation, they were never content with it. One night Pitkä said: ”Eero, we should have made our album from your tapes, the result would have been much different.” So the recording your hear now are those tapes the band was very happy with. Much heavier in sound, amazing electric guitar, 100% pure heavy underground sound. After 45 years this Charlies album comes out as the band wanted it to sound like with many alternative versions of songs from the Buttocks album and unknown songs as well. 100% pure Charlies!"

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nariyuki Shimamoto, Japan

Nariyuki Shimamoto - Prelude To... 198? Private

And the second rarity in this week's batch from The AC...

"Early 80s (there's no date listed on the LP, but I'm guessing it's from around 1982, based on the sound and style) progressive electronic obscurity from Japan. Ghostly synths, weirdly effected vocals and a little acoustic guitar create a mysterious atmosphere, although it's all a bit insubstantial and light on thematic development. Gets kind of repetitive by the end of the album, as a seemingly endless synth wash stretches off to the horizon. Closest comparison would be some of the obscure cassette-only releases by Osiris from the same period."

And while I haven't heard these Osiris cassettes, I did once own the LP (documented elsewhere here), and take away the wild fuzz guitar, and that's exactly what you get here. It's primarily an early 80s styled electronic musik album with polyphonic synthesizers, and completely lacking in heavy analog tones. Picking up a later Earthstar sound here, given the cool vocal effects. This latter element propelling the album to its greatest heights.

Priority: none

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nimbus, Germany

Nimbus - s/t. 1980 private

And now it's time for our weekly review of the AC's latest archeological finds. Of all the albums in his latest dig, I have to say Nimbus (Germany) is one that I keep hearing about, but never have actually heard. Its reputation is stellar, so does it live up to the "hype" as it were? I use the term hype carefully, but I fear to say that there are many out there who do, in fact, hype this one to me. As in "buy my CD-R... now!" (I don't buy or trade CD-Rs, but that doesn't seem to stop the solicitors of such).  And one can't possibly have a deep dive expedition without at least one Kraut Fusion album, now can we?

Let's check in with The AC and see what his lab results produced: "Yet another instrumental progressive fusion rarity from the vast German private press scene. But this one's a cut above the norm, with excellent compositions spiced with a healthy does of progressive rock, keeping things interesting all the way through. The keyboard work in particular stands out. Unfortunately, the sound could do with some cleaning up, which makes a reissue all the more necessary. This is certainly in the top tier for this style, so hopefully one of the German labels will step up to the plate someday."

And as usual, The AC's findings are as accurate as a DNA sample. One of the more frustrating aspects about this release is finding information on it. Try looking for Nimbus (1980 Germany) on the internet or any online discography. Oh, I tried all my database tricks I picked up as a professional DBA in the 90s, but not much relevant showed up in any event. Too generic I'm afraid.

The music is as The AC describes, a highly melodic instrumental jazz rock album, with guitar and keyboards in the lead. Bands like Surgery, Mosaik, Moira, and Profil are all good guideposts here, and all just as obscure as hell too (though at least the former did get reissued by Garden of Delights - and one we bought immediately).

And speaking of GoD, this album has their name all over it. Clearly one for their digital archival machine. And, just as the AC notes, a sound cleanup probably will take this one up a full point.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

News: Fractal to reissue 3rd and 4th Sonorhc albums

Thanks to reader Gal, we learned this morning of this imminent CD reissue that is due on April 27. Amazonia is an archival album, released here for the first time. Both of these albums will be presented on one CD.

Label says: "Good news from the Sonorhc’s « space shuttle » ! After the two first albums « Purf » (1972) and « Outrelande » (1982) released last year, Fractal records deliver now the second volume of the expedition with the third and the fourth album of the band : « Portes d’Orient (East Gates) » (1984) and « Amazonia » (1985) again on CD, perfectly remastered and in the same concept « two albums in one ».

As a band who claim to be « without leader », Sonorhc is a collective with variable line-up as shows this reissue : four musicians (Youval Micenmacher, Laurent Cokelaere, Pierre Buffenoir, Jean-François Gaël) on « Portes d’Orient » and only two for « Amazonia » despite this one could be saw as almost entirely composed by Jean-François Gaël alone, inevitably one the of major force in their ranks. Jean-François Gaël is born in Paris in 1938. He worked as guitarist, composer or arranger with : Hélène Martin, Francesca Solleville, Marc Ogeret, Marcel Mouloudji, Jean Ferrat, Colette Magny, Catherine Sauvage, Henri Gougaud, Antoine Tomé, Mama Béa and with poets : Jacques Prévert, Louis Aragon, Eugène Guillevic, René Char, Pierre Seghers... Theses collaborations will find success five times for the «Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros» award. He worked at the GRM in 1965, at the GMEB in Bourges in 1985 and at the IRCAM in 1995. He now composed film soundtrack for cinema and TV in his own studio.

So, here is finally reissued and for the first time after thirty years (yeah !) two sounds library records. Title name for each will transport you immediately in the right place: don’t need to move, the space shuttle travel for you ! With 32 tracks in total and with the adequate instrumentation for both albums : « Portes d’Orient » is a stunning meditative ethnic musical trip for guitars, bass, drum, percussions, moog, duduk, flute, guembri, arghoul, woodblock, hurdy gurdy… Overall it reminds the famous Agitation Free first album « Malesch » without the « rock » side but adding the « spiritual » side of Peter Michael Hamel works. « Portes d’Orient » is a very scarce album nowadays and almost impossible to find now in original vinyl LP. « Amazonia » use more synths but also many others ethnics instruments making this one a relaxing and melodic album in a reverie jungle mood. Jean-François Gaël done three trips in the Wayanas tribe in Amazonia and he also worked at that time for the french serie TV « Carnets de l’Aventure » and then brings together all his « amazonia » themes for this album. The patterns are diverses and united, going from Bernard Parmegiani’s electroacoustic side (« Passoula ») to Francis Bebey’s « psychedelic » sanza (« Sanza Sun »), Jorge Reyes’s ambiant ritual (« A Ouanary ») or Steve Roach’s tribal works (« Pakira »)… Two hidden lost gems made in France finally dig up ! Sonorhc go back in time (the space shuttle show you the correct sense of the reading : from the right to the left) and explore the consciousness !

NB :

- (1) : « Portes d’Orient » from 1984, is the real third album of the GROUP Sonorhc, and it should be NOT credited only to the duo : « Jean François Gaël - Pierre Buffenoir » (it’s an error) : there were no artists name printed indeed on the original cover album, but the Sonorhc logo appears well on the camel saddle in the drawing made by Jean Pierre Lamerand at that time.

« Amazonia » is a complete unreleased album recorded in 1985, never published before, and again with a front cover made again and at that time (!) by Jean-Pierre Lamerand.

- (2) : The album « K’an » (1993) became in that way the fifth album of Sonorhc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The West Coast Workshop, USA

The West Coast Workshop - The Wizard Of Oz And Other Trans Love Trips. 1967 Capitol

This one came up via the CD-R revisit project and is being promoted from the main list. I've had this one a long time, having been fed a copy by my old friend ProgCzar about a decade ago. Like many major label US psych albums, this title remains elusive for legit reissues. There is at least one pirate of this album, so watch out!

The West Coast Workshop is one of the better exploitation albums you can hear. It's primarily orchestrated pop music geared for a mature adult crowd. That is until they break into these cool long jams featuring flute, tablas/hand percussion, and sitars. In the end, you have a "psychedelic" version of the original soundtrack + a handful of originals. Get hip man. Solid. As one online zine (Scram) states it's "easy listening gone horribly awry". Well said.

Priority: none

Monday, April 20, 2015

News: Two jazz titles of interest: Caldera - Dreamer / Lloyd McNeill - Tanner Suite now on CD

Gnosis Mike informed me a few weeks ago of the Caldera, and I'm just now getting around to it. We're both fans of the Latin jazz rock / funk / pop ensemble from New York. I even enjoy their more commercially oriented Earth Wind and Fire styled albums (especially on Sky Islands). Dreamer is considered by many as one of their best, if not the best, despite being their 4th and final album. It's the only one I haven't heard to date. The CD is pressed by Capitol of Japan, but is currently available at a domestic price (here in the States anyway). According to the various discography sites, they had also pressed a CD of this title back in 1990, but it was rare as hen's teeth, I'm sure, before this repress.

The second scan shows Lloyd McNeill, an artist that I've done a poor job of covering in the past. Not sure why, as I'm a huge fan of the jazz flautist, who plays with an incredible spiritual passion. Though truth be told, the music is on the margins of what we cover here. Tanner Suite is definitely not the place to start though. It's more sparse, and academic as it were. I do highly recommend the other two "Asha" releases that have already been reissued in the last 5 years: Asha 1 (1969) and especially Asha 3: Washington Suite (1970). These CDs on Universal Sound are with direct involvement of McNeill, and are well worth exploring. McNeill returned in the mid 70s with 3 fine flute jazz albums, slightly updated for the times (though McNeill was always his own person with his own sound), and those remain without a CD reissue. Ultimately I'll give them a feature here on the CDRWL.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

News: Maloo All About the Things reissued on Made in Germany

And here's the second notice from Grant. I have to admit this is one announcement I flat out missed. I saw it - oh yes I did - and just ignored it. Not sure why, as Maloo is in the main list (notes below), though I never gave it a feature. It's been a long time since I heard the album and it was in the stacks for the CD-R revisit project. The good news is, if I find it more agreeable than prior, now I can buy the CD from the always excellent Made in Germany label!

Finding information in English about this reissue has proven tough. But from what I can gather, this is a 2 CD set of related artists. Spaces of Reflection is from 1976, and is a new title to me. It appears to be a free jazz album if the notes below hold true. And predates 1977's Maloo effort. With trusty aid Google Translate by my side, I will attempt to decipher the label's hype sheet, and edit accordingly:


The duo with Bernd Töberg (g) and Michael Kullick (dr), was throughout this creative period (1974 - 1976) strongly influenced by the 'Coltranschen freedom' (ED: We'll guess this means John Coltrane here). With this particular style of jazz, to make the total improvisation as the heart of their work, it was the exceptional duo's first time to explore further a random harmony instrument. The high art of improvisation, and the dense congenial interplay of guitar and drums, that comes along thematically most melodic and rhythmic, has been able to unite in a progressive fashion, modern jazz, rock, blues and free improvisation itself.


By mid-1976, however, the duo had taken on a musical change. Because the new works were now composed with complex issues and an extended functional harmony, and did not want to play again and again to the absolute power limit, the duo has been extended by a bassist for a new trio named 'Maloo'. With Wolf Struck on double bass, the new songs could now be played much more relaxed. With the addition of another electronic instrument (Moog Synthesizer), it was possible to insert the new compositions with advanced sound textures to create even more space for the artists. The album was produced by REINHOLD HEIL who at that time studied at an engineer school in Berlin. He was a member of the jazz-rock band BAKMAK and went to NINA HAGEN BAND and SPLIFF later.

CD 1 – Spaces Of Reflection:
1. India 08:25
2. Voodoo 11:50
3. Funkline 03:35
4. Turn Around 09:24
5. Impressions 05:57

CD 1 Total: 39:11

CD 2 – All About The Things:
1. Lenthe 12:26
2. Jordan 05:04
3. Bolus 05:04
4. Nightmare 10:42
5. Samba De Linthe 02:04
6. Nightingale Waltz 07:56

CD 2 Total: 38:16"

My own notes on Maloo stated (again, it's been a few years, so I do want to hear it again): "All instrumental light jazzy rock. Rhythms are pure jazz while the guitarist noodles away with a slight amplified tone. At times, I was strangely reminded of Harmonia's "Deluxe", though Maloo are entirely different genre wise. It's just the way the guitarist meanders about, similar to how Rother would do on occasion. Not a great album by any means, but one worth a listen or two if you appreciate jazz guitar with a rock edge."

News: Easy Chair reissued on World in Sound

OK, time to take a break from the rarities until later in the week and catch up on some news and CD-R revisits. CDRWL reader Grant has informed us of a couple of relevant reissues that have come about recently. First off is this extreme rarity from Seattle circa 1968 reissued by the high quality World in Sound label of Germany. Easy Chair was recorded on one side and featured only 3 songs totaling 20 minutes. There's no bonus tracks here, so consider this a mini-CD as it were. I've not heard of the band or album prior to this announcement. (4/21/15 update: I did listen to it on YouTube last night, and I have to say it is really good. Somber stretched-out blues psych. It's sadly too short, so a CD may be superfluous, but I'll buy one if the right price comes along).

Label says: "Long expected and now re-issued (with remastered sound) for the first time! Easy Chair's 1968 one-sided album, with a running time of 20 minutes, is one of the most sought-after US North-West psych-underground records of all time. Original copies have been sold for over 1.000 US$. Justly remembered as psychedelic rock pioneers, they crammed an amazing career into only one year of activity. Easy Chair performed with the Yardbirds, Cream and the Mothers of Invention. Their epic West Coast blues features the unique chemistry of psychedelic guitar leads, fluid lines and hypnotic chording. By the end of 1968 they caught the attention of Zappa's crew and signed a record contract with Bizarre Records. Unfortunately Easy Chair broke up too soon, though multi-instrumentalist Jeff Simmons, together with drummer Al Malosky, recorded the 'Naked Angels' soundtrack (re-released by WIS in 2008). After releasing his solo album 'Lucille Has Messed my Mind up' in 1969, Jeff joined The Mothers."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Akira Ishikawa & His Count Buffalos, Japan

Akira Ishikawa & His Count Buffalos - African Rock. 1971 Dan

This is not my first run in with Akira Ishikawa & His Count Buffalos, as Shadoks reissued their (next?) album Uganda (1972) on LP and Tiliqua followed up with a CD reissue a couple of years after that (mentioned in the AC's notes as well). I found the album a disappointment, as it was primarily African percussion with a few cool Mizutani freakouts, but honestly it sounded as a late addition, and didn't fit the album as a whole. I'm about 10 minutes in here, and I have to say they reissued the wrong album. So far, this is great.

Time to check the archaeology dig notes from the AC to get his impressions: "Akira Ishikawa's travels to Africa and subsequent fixation on fusing African music with modern jazz and rock is well documented, but unfortunately several of his more interesting LPs that came out during this particular period are not. First there was the avant-garde free-jazz freakout "Impression of Africa - 'Uganda'" (unrelated to the later well-known "Uganda" album), a commercially unreleased 1970 live supersession arranged by Masahiko Sato and performed by the combined forces of Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalos, Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd, and the Terumasa Hino Quintet. Only a couple of test press copies of this are known to exist (Columbia seemingly deemed it "too extreme" and refused to release it), making it perhaps Japan's rarest and most valuable experimental jazz LP. Interestingly, if you read the liners of the original "Primitive Community" LP, it's actually mentioned there as a "shocking" introduction to the Africa-meets-jazz/rock concept in Japan. But more relevant to the album being reviewed here was "Power Rock With Drums - The Road to Kilimanjaro" (1971, Canyon), credited to Ishikawa, but aside from his drumming actually performed by the Freedom Unity and composed (partially) by Hiromasa Suzuki. This latter name is perhaps the key point here, as although the second side of "Power Rock..." consists of nothing but pop/jazz covers, the first side features two lengthy and more interesting Suzuki pieces fusing African music and progressive jazz-rock. This seems to have laid the groundwork for "African Rock", released later the same year, for although it's credited to and performed by Ishikawa and his Count Buffalos band, all but one of the pieces were actually written by Suzuki once again. 

So, now that we've set the scene, what about the music? Well, thankfully this one is a bulls-eye for what they were attempting. Eight all-original instrumentals (aside from a little "tribal chanting") are featured, and the style can perhaps best be described as a fusion of the better parts of the following year's "Uganda" (think of "Pigmy") with some hints of "Primitive Community", filtered through the psychedelic/progressive jazz-rock stylings that Suzuki would develop over the next two years on his "Rock Joint" albums. The highlight of the album for me is the one-two punch that leads off the second side, "The Earth" featuring some of Mizutani's wildest fuzz soloing ever, followed up by "Love", a darkly mysterious flute and tribal percussion led piece that really nails that "lost in the deep jungle" vibe. An excellent album overall, and hopefully one that will be reissued someday. Confusingly, there was another identically titled "African Rock" LP released in 1972 (this one featuring a close-up of Ishikawa's face on the sleeve), but it consists of nothing but cover tunes and is of much less interest."

If the phrase "Mizutani's wildest fuzz ever" doesn't get your heart started, you may want to consult your doctor. Or your coroner. This album is everything you want in a funk psych jazz rock album - except you almost never do get what you want. It's the perfect blend of sweet grooves, wild psych, and deep funk. Horn charts, flute, tribal drums, and Mizutani psych guitar. What more can you ask for? A really splendid album, that the always deep diving Japanese record companies seem to come through on. It's a matter of patience at this point. But given all the wonderful Japanese reissues we've seen in the last 5 years or so, we can only hope this one will achieve top priority.  I'd be a first day buyer for sure. As for original LP's, well they're predictably expensive - more than I would want to pay for this type of album. I did find a couple of copies out there, if you are so inclined and financially secure.

Priority: 2

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tower of Dreams, USA

Tower of Dreams - s/t. 1981 private (EP)

From the mysterious lands of Japan to the medieval castles of Europe, so goes the AC. Well at least if cool album covers are any indication. But alas, the band is from New Jersey. As the stylus drops, one hears some dark electronics. Oh, this one is going to be good! Let's check the AC's dig notes shall we? "If you were to stumble upon this odd little artifact of the private press heyday, you'd probably be pretty excited, thinking you may have just discovered some lost relic of the US progressive rock underground. Evocative band name and song titles, all instrumental, primitive but cool black and white fantasy artwork, weird comic insert with conceptual track descriptions, etc. A sure fire score, right? Well, "not so fast, my friend!" as a certain sports broadcaster is wont to say. Unusually released on 10" vinyl, this is somewhere between a very short LP and a long EP (around 20 minutes), being the work of New Jersey bassist Gene O'Brien and his backing band. Musically, it's kind of hard to pin down, as it's not really prog, psych or fusion per se. Maybe "atmospheric instrumental rock" will do the trick? It's all very low-key, with just a few flashes of guitar soloing to liven things up, and rhythmically quite straight forward. It seems to be themed on sleep and dreaming, so I guess the overall soporific atmosphere is appropriate. About the only direct comparison I could make would maybe be the most sedate parts of the Bob Bath Band album (similarly instrumental, guitar-oriented, and methodically paced), but even that's a stretch. A puzzling one really, although I can't help but kind of like it. For US underground completists only."

Ah crap. The review is very fair, and it does remind me of those American bands that surfaced in the early 80s when the majors had long pulled out of the progressive market, and anyone with a good connection and a few extra dollars, would get an album pressed. They all have this sort of "dull" sound. Not the music necessarily, but there's just no edge to the instrumentation or production. As The AC notes, I kind of like it too. But honestly, past the cool cover and intriguing comic book, there's not a whole that that pushes this one forward into the tantalizing category. Interestingly enough, a copy sold for all of $2.99 last week on ebay. Not all long lost artifacts have value.

Priority: none