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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flying Island, USA

Flying Island - s/t. 1975 Vanguard.
Flying Island - Another Kind of Space. 1976 Vanguard.

Like the Morgen that we posted not long ago, Flying Island has to be considered one of the more recognizable names in the list. US distribution was thorough, and it's the kind of album that I think many people consider obscure (which it is in the whole scheme of things), but is still widely known by fans of 70's underground rock.

When I think of Flying Island, I tend to categorize them as a fusion band. But this listen to both albums proved to me that's not really the case. Even though there's a little funky business (especially on the debut), I would say that Flying Island are more of an instrumental progressive rock band. The lead instruments are violin, guitar and organ, and this is definitely no chops fest. Compositions are first and foremost, while instrumental dexterity backs up the highly melodic, but complex music charts. The violin in particular will remind the listener of Curved Air and Darryl Way's Wolf. Instantly recognizable cover art, another fine trademark of the Vanguard label. I miss the days when a label could be identified in this way.

Italy's Comet Records did buy the rights to the Vanguard catalog well over a decade ago. But for some reason they left off Flying Island, a group that most assuredly would have sold well for them. So my guess is Vanguard no longer had the rights either. These are long overdue for a reissue.

Speaking of Vanguard - what a cool label right? They never were quite plugged into the various rock scenes and yet they signed plenty of interesting bands. Their psychedelic selection is well respected (and from the CDRWL perspective, none is better than the 1968 album by Listening). This post reminded me of two other albums on Vanguard from my collection that I forgot to include in the main list: The Open Window and Cosmology. I plan on listening to both tomorrow. I'll determine then on whether they get a separate blog post or just an entry in the Original Wish List.

According to Chris Fox of Helmet of Gnats - the band is from his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut.

And another Progressive Ears insight: Violinst Faith Fraeoli later played on the "Perfect Symmetry" prog metal album by Fates Warning (also from Connecticut).

Priority: 2

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