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Friday, July 22, 2011

News: Shadoks latest reissues



An interesting batch this go round, with what looks like a potential monster. These albums are set to be issued in late August.

Bump 2 is the CD issue of the archival LP they released roughly a year ago. I still haven't heard it, though it does have a good reputation (though I never cared much for the actual 1970 release).

Question Mark is a pretty good psych rock band from Nigeria, circa 1974. Their sound isn't too far from other African psych outfits that you will hear from Nigeria or Zambia. Shadoks had issued this on LP back in 2007. Here's our blurb from the Original CD Reissue Wish List: "One of a handful of interesting African rock albums. This one is in the same genre as B.L.O., Witch, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, etc... Features some nice old organ sounds, a lot of scratchy fuzz and 1960s psych style melodies. Better than most Sub Saharan African albums I've heard - closest comparison would be the Nigerian band Ofege."

What really caught my eye is their LP reissue of Estrella De Marzo. I'd never heard this title from Bolivia before, but anything that compares to Wara and especially Climax is going to garner interest from me. Hopefully it's not hype, because the following description from Shadoks has my name all over it: "Most do not know much about music from Bolivia, like us. What's flashing our minds are the Andes, La Paz and flute music by Indios. But there are some great rock & underground bands such as Wara, Climax and most of all Estrella De Marzo. This album (still unknown to most collectors) is not only special because it's from an country not many listeners know much about. This album is so great, so much underground, so unique and well crafted, that it goes into a strong competition with most "classic underground releases" from South America. If you are in to wild fuzz guitar ala Zappa, and if you like Kissing Spell from Chile, beautiful vocals with strong lyrics and great beats , you will love this album. The early Pink Floyd has also influenced this album. For us it was one of the big musical discoveries for this year. Every track is great, high spirit progressive underground rock, as good as it can be. This album "A Los Ninos Con Amor" (to children with love) was recorded in 1974 with, keyboards, guitars, drums, bass & vocals."

And finally we have an archival release from the American expatriate King George Clemens. I haven't heard the 1968 album proper, though this claims to be more in line for what us underground heads prefer. We shall see. Label says: "King George Discovery - Peace Of Mind, was recorded in Sweden in 1968 with the US musician King George Clemens on guitar & vocals. A close friendship to Jimi Hendrix, who toured also Sweden in 1968, dropped many tracks from the release plan when the band was recording an album which also came out that year. All tracks who where competing with the music of Jimi Hendrix was not released, until now. A collector from England found the unknown tracks who where pressed only as a demo LP for the band. What a great find. Some tracks where placed on youtube and collectors where starting raving about this album. It is soo good, the guitar work is amazing, as psychedelic as it can get. We could release this album in cooperation with King George Clemens and we are proud to have this treasure released on vinyl and later onto CD. It's just great! One of the most important release this year for sure!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beyond, USA


Beyond - Music and Beyond. 1980 Tuhlottesound.

Here's an album my buddy Jeff turned me onto years & years ago. And to be honest, it never really grabbed me. Until now. As usual, he was right all along, and it's really a very good LP worthy of recognition.

Generally you'll read the group is from Texas (mainly due to an error in the Acid Archives book). But actually they're from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the management of the group is from Coffeyville, Kansas (on the border with Oklahoma). Jeff met the drummer years ago and confirmed the data. So I suspect various members are from the NE OK, SE KS area.

Dec 2013 update: OK, I now have the vinyl of this. The record is officially on the Tuhlottesound label (one word) and is based in Copan, Oklahoma - which is north of Bartlesville, Oklahoma near Coffeyville, Kansas as stated above. The album was further mastered in Dallas in 1980 so that would be the final release date.

The music is a mixture of classic hard edged arena rock and all-out complex progressive rock. A little heavier than the usual Midwest progressive rock sound that we've featured extensively with a small to non-existent keyboard presence, but in reality Beyond were under the same influence as other groups from the region. Converse to tradition, Side 2 is the more commercial oriented part of the album, and it leaves one with a slightly bitter taste at the end (which is why I think the album never resonated with me prior). The complex songs do recall Astre, another Tulsa based group. Some fantastic acid guitar throughout, with some fuzz bass, and even some jazzy tuned percussion. A very cool relic from America's heartland.

Thanks again goes to Moe Curly for the reminder on this one.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quasar Light, USA


Quasar Light - Experience This. 1981 Jet Eye.

One of the absolute funniest reviews I've ever read concisely stated the following: WTF is this? That got a belly laugh out of me. How many times have I felt exactly like that? Who knows, but no album I've heard in the last few years qualifies that expression more than Quasar Light.

WTF is this indeed. I don't even know where to begin. Umm... yea, it's like... OK. No more like... yea, that.

The first half of the album is like an alien pop album with hard rock guitar and disembodied female vocals. And no mistaking its 1980's heritage. So far, so bad - to be honest. But then this thing starts to go off the rails. In the weirdest way possible. Not that it's avant noise or anything so overt as that. No, they still are going strong with actual songs. But they're weird, twisted, distorted and downright complex at times. It's progressive rock in the 6th dimension. There is absolutely no reference here. Band is from the York area of Pennsylvania and one has to suspect that they're Amish on a Rumspringa binge. The only reference I could find on this album was a stream of consciousness rant on MySpace from the Quasar Light founder. Yea, what a surprise that.

Do I want to see this reissued? Yea, I kinda do actually. It's just too unique to ignore. Underground America at its weirdest right here.

Special thanks goes to Moe Curly for the tip on this one.

Priority: 3

Sunday, July 17, 2011

News: Sireena to issue archival Mythos album and Franz K's second album


A quick trip over to Sireena shows a couple of interesting looking titles.

First we'll announce the second archival live release from the Stagge's Hotel series that started with Thirsty Moon (and I have yet to hear). This is a 1976 live recording called "SuperKraut" (I really like the Ohr album inspired cover art!). Since this is from their "Strange Guys" era, I'm more curious than excited. Musically Mythos were quite good during this period, mixing hard rock with flute and progressive structures, but they had become a vocal heavy band, and the vocals are definitely their Achilles Heel. Perhaps in a live setting, they focused more on instrumentals. We shall see.

Second we have Franz K's album "Rock in Deutsch" receiving its first CD reissue. Over 15 years ago I picked up Repertoire's reissue of their 1972 debut "Sensemann" and have always enjoyed it, despite the German political context. Over the length of two side long cuts, the band delivers on a number of fronts, especially the guitar. I have no idea why I never bothered to check out their 1973 followup (originally on Zebra), especially since it has a similar positive reputation. So that's why its absence on the Original CDRWL. Whatever the case, it will be easier for me, and everyone, to hear now!

News: RPM releases Armada


We just returned from a week long vacation without computer access, and generally when I do that, the news comes flying in. But not last week. However this one did catch my eye, while reviewing The Laser's Edge latest additions. RPM is one more wing of the Cherry Red series of labels, and our site usually features their Esoteric imprint.

I'll copy in Ken's description here. It definitely sounds interesting! "Archival collection of unreleased recordings from an unknown British prog rock band that existed in the early 70s. No one in the band that is particularly well known although the leader Sammy Rimington apparently has been active in the US jazz scene for decades now. Rimington is the band's guitarist. He also plays flute and sax. The material has a strong emphasis on flute leads but offers up some nice cutting guitar leads as well. Vocalist Terry Cooke isn't a mind blower but he's certainly up to the task and contributes flute as well. The label hype references early Genesis, Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and King Crimson as influences. Frankly the only one I can say I hear is a vague comparison to Islands-era Crimson. There is a jazz influence but I wouldn't really call this "jazz rock". This is prog rock that would have easily fit on Neon or Vertigo. Sound quality varies from"yeah I guess this is OK" to "perfect". Quite a nice discovery and essential for anyone interested in early British prog."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crow, England




Crow - Live at the Oyster Stores. 1992 private cassette.
Crow - Medicine Wheel. 1992 private cassette.
Crow - The Tides of Apsaroke. 1993 private cassette.

As we are in the midst of the unknown UK festival psych scene of the 1980s and early 90s, I'm happy to announce what may be the absolute best group I've heard in the entire genre: Crow. I first heard of this group from a posting by Uwe Zickel over at ProgArchives a few years ago (and props goes to Uwe for turning me onto many newer space rock bands as well!). He posted their Myspace page, but for whatever reason I never bothered to check it out. But I did add all 3 albums to my Curiosity List, and out of the blue, The Alaskan Connection sent me two of them this past winter with a bunch of other UK psych rarities (like the AMA albums we just posted recently).

Holy moly! This is the good stuff right here. No pussyfooting around with electronica or reggae. Just hardcore space rock, in high flight mode most of the time, with loads of effects applied to the guitar. The guitarist plays not only fast solos, but a multitude of rhythm wah-wah that drives the music forward in an exciting way, with plenty of meter and thematic shifts to keep you guessing all the way through. There are sparse vocals, generally applied to add a trance-like effect and do not deter or become the centerpiece at any time. There are no keyboards to speak of, so the guitar and bass have the responsibility for all the tones and atmosphere - and they do a fantastic job at just that.

"Medicine Wheel" is the more psychedelic of the two albums, with plenty of tribal drumming and freaky guitar sequences with intense build-ups and actual climax releases. Both albums add didgeridoo to great effect. "The Tides of Apsaroke" ups the ante to a whole new level of intensity. Dare I say the guitar is almost heavy metal? Not a 1992 post-Metallica palm mute method, but rather a 1979 NWOBHM sound, similar to maybe early Saxon or Iron Maiden - but with the sound on sound fuzzy technique like Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles. I've never heard anything like it! And what an exciting path for other bands to pursue! There are a few more vocals on this album, and the material is definitely angrier, but no less satisfying for space rock heads. I haven't heard the live album, though the two live "bonus" tracks on "Medicine Wheel" are pretty rough in the recording department - so hopefully it's better than that would imply. Of the two albums, I prefer the purest "Medicine Wheel", but Tides is the more adventurous and also just plain awesome.

So filtering the above, what do we have: Take the heavier Ozric Tentacles tracks like 'Eternal Wheel' and 'Dissolution', mix with the punk angst of Omnia Opera, toss a little pyrotechnic Mandragora jamming, throw in the progressive tendencies of 'White Rhino Tea' Ozric or the obscure band Blim, and add a dash of metal to the guitar sound. Almost sounds like the perfect formula - not sure I could have drawn that one out any better in the playbook.

Crow was awesome, and definitely the best band from the UK psych scene no one's heard of (even besting Blim). They reformed briefly, and I hope that's not it from them. Reissue labels? This is a no brainer pick up. For certain they would have sold back in the day - if only anyone had heard them!

Priority: 1

Friday, July 1, 2011

Omnia Opera, England




Omnia Opera - Beyond the Tenth. 1986 private cassette
Omnia Opera - Celebrate for Change. 1987 private cassette
Omniasphere - Surfing the Zuvuya. 1990 private cassette
Omnia - Seeking the Elusive. 1997 private cassette

As of October 2017, still nothing has emerged on the following paragraph.

From their website: "Squalor studios is currently engaged on a project to digitally remaster the popular Omnia Opera early cassette albums: 'Beyond the Tenth' and 'Celebrate for Change'. A project that is long overdue for those whose originals have worn-out! The final decision as which record company to use has yet to be made but there are rumours that Voiceprint may be taking an active role in promotion and distribution."

--- Omnia

August 3rd, 2015 update:  If there was ever a title more apropos than Seeking the Elusive, I sure would like to know. But the AC has persevered and we now have finally heard this rarity! The AC notes "Very obscure cassette album by this post Omnia Opera group (it's basically the regular band lineup, just with a different drummer). A more stripped-down and guitar-oriented recording, with lots of thrashing, heavy Hawkwindian riffage and angsty vocals over a steadily pounding rhythm section, with the usual keyboards and spacey effects used only sparingly. All of the techno/electronica elements that had crept in on "Red Shift" are completely out the window here, and the songs tend to be a bit more concise, making for nothing but a full frontal assault. This one has seemingly been lost to history, and aside from a reworking of "Second Skin" on their comeback album "Nothing Is Ordinary", none of this material has ever appeared elsewhere." And really, while on the topic of Nothing is Ordinary, clearly this was the path Omnia Opera were heading even at this stage some 15 years prior. If you like the 1993 debut CD, then for certain Seeking the Elusive will be of great interest. Perhaps a bit rawer in sound quality, but compositionally very familiar.

Priority: 2

Last update: October 13, 2017