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Monday, September 30, 2013

Gold, USA

Gold - No Class What So Ever. 1980 Alpha

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Bob Bath Band, USA

The Bob Bath Band - Traces of Illusion. 1984 RPC.

And here's another entry from the shrouded figure known as He Who Must Not Be Named. RPC was an on-demand custom pressing plant from New Jersey, and some of the rarest albums from the USA are on this imprint, because it wasn't a true "label". Not in the traditional sense anyway. Generally RPC was used for churches and schools, and the final product was meant for family, friends, congregations, i.e. keepsakes. On "Traces of Illusion" they even used the generic "clouds" cover that other private presses used throughout the US during the 70s and 80s.

The Bob Bath Band is basically an instrumental guitar based trio with occasional synthesizer accompaniment. Most of the material is subdued, but not sleepy. The songwriting is above average, as actual thought was given to melody. Generally the music continues to drive forward at a steady pace. So there aren't any neck breaking shifts in meters, but rather a more methodical approach is applied. And every once in awhile, ole "Bobby" kicks the pedals into gear and rips off a mean solo. Had he done that throughout the album, it most certainly would have added one to two points to the overall grade. Definitely doesn't sound like an album from 1984, as the tones are still psychedelic edged, and there's none of that mid 80s gloss. Blindfolded I would have gone with the late 1970s for this album.

This is a good one. Bob Bath is still active in the Pennsylvania area, and has a webpage here.

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sideline, Germany

Sideline - Sidesteps. 1979 private

Here's the next submission from the mysterious He Who Must Not Be Named. He says he had it stored in a safe deposit box in an unlisted private Swiss bank that sits on a cobblestoned winding street somewhere in Geneva. You know, this guy....

Interesting Switzerland comes up, as the country is often referenced in relation to this album. I'm not sure why as the back cover clearly attributes a Bremen address to a leader of the band - violinist Hartmut Koehler. Perhaps some of the other musicians are Swiss, but I would consider this a German band. And they fit squarely into the very large Kraut Fusion genre of that era. Some have suggested that if you wanted to obtain any kind of educational degree in Germany between 1976 and 1983, then you had to produce at least one jazz fusion album. I'm starting to think that may be more truth than fiction.

Before offering my own insights, if indeed I actually have any, I think our friend Lev has done a fine job summing this one up on RYM: "A rare example of highly obscure German/Swiss fusion LP from the late 1970s / 1980s, which actually stands out from the lot. It is no secret that for some strange reason this music style really took root on these shores, with one little-known band after another recording harmless and useless albums of run-to-the-mill breezy tropical jazz-rock, expertly performed but totally devoid of any substance. Sideline weren't like that, they explored more edgy / angular sides of prog and fusion and weren't afraid of going into more experimental realms - thanks not least to the excellent unpredictable violin playing. So, if you're thinking about diving into this scene (which I've been wallowing in for the last few years), make this one of your starting points."

And how many times have you seen the CDRWL use almost that exact language when describing these European fusion bands: Tropical and breezy?  There's just no other way to put it. It was just the cruise ship / island vacation / Love Boat mindset of the day. It was in the music, on the television, in the movies, on the LP cover of ELP....

But Sideline is for certain different, as Lev points out above. The music is a bit edgier, more melodic, and sounds like it was recorded a few years earlier when jazz musicians were still exploring the exciting possibilities of rock. Violin, as would be expected from a leader, is the dominant instrument (though the music is all composed by guitarist Hugo Vogel). Sometimes electric violin can be too flashy (Jean-Luc Ponty) or too hoedown like the Appalachian Americana influenced bands. Here the sound, style, and playing by Koehler is just perfect. If I had a preference though, I would have preferred the guitarist to go beyond the jazz tone here. If only he'd let 'er rip psychedelic style (as the violin will on occasion), then this album would've jumped two points.

A solid effort for the style, and worth a CD I think.

Priority: 3

Friday, September 27, 2013

Circles, Germany *** REISSUED ***



Circles - s/t. 1983 Einhorn
Circles - More Circles. 1984 Einhorn
Circles - Third Cycle. 1987 Einhorn

Mental Experience (Spain) has reissued the first 2, and Bureau B has issued an archival release. No word about Third Cycle, though I'm considering this band as closed for now.

I've been sitting on the first Circles album forever, wanting to blog about it, but figured it would be nice - and more informative - if I could get a hold of one of their other two albums. Thanks to Gnosis Mike, I now have "More Circles" too. I have yet to hear "Third Cycle".

What drew me to the debut by Circles is this isn't some ordinary electronik album. There are few sequencers and no Moog solos. No - rather Circles seems to have channeled their inner Can, especially their instrumental years around 1974 and 1975 - that happened to be documented many years after these recordings via The Peel Sessions (and my personal favorite era of the band). Lots of psychedelic guitars, psychotic echoed vocals, flute, sax, trumpet, and even some steady metronomic drums (perhaps almost too rock oriented compared to the ultra disciplined Can). Some of the spacier moments recall Cluster's "II" album. It's amazing to me how well Circles' debut album captures the early 1970s Krautrock spirit. There's absolutely nothing Eighties about it.

"More Circles" not only moves Circles much further ahead in time, but also about one country to the West. There is no doubt the duo was heavily influenced by one Richard Pinhas for "More Circles". Some of this could have been outtakes from Heldon's "Interface". While I was amazed at how the debut captured the zeitgeist of the original Krautrock scene, here they seem to have completely embedded themselves into 1979 France. If you're like me, and your idea of a good time is listening to loud fuzz guitar up front with synthesizers providing the backdrop, well then... grab you a copy of "More Circles". That would explain Side 1 anyway. Side 2 is far more experimental, and while there's some of the excellence of Heldon here too, there also some pretty far out avant garde ideas as well. An uncompromising piece of music.

Priority: 2

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Synthesis, France

Synthesis - s/t. 1971 Fabulous.

While on the topic of horn rock bands from the AC, let's cover another of his submissions. The AC states: "French horn rock with strong prog/psych leanings. Not to be confused with the later French Synthesis, this is a completely different group. Interesting, in that not too many French bands picked up this particular style, despite its popularity at the time (T.N.T.H. is the only other one that immediately comes to mind). Cool fuzz guitar and gruff vocals. Gets kind of freaky at times!"

Oddly enough, about the only other French horn rock band that leaps to mind is Magma at their absolute very beginning, and their offshoot group Univeria Zekt. Obviously, it's a real stretch to call either of them horn rock bands (and if so, at the very jazz end of the spectrum) but the influence was there before the Zeuhl style had fully developed.

As the AC says, this one is more squarely in the traditional horn rock genre, similar to many of the US/UK bands of the era. I'd say Synthesis tracks closest to classic early Chicago, and that's a good thing in the CDRWL book. With song titles like 'Dilemma of My Life', 'Walkin' In the Hell', 'Insanity', 'My Obsession', and the 3 part closer 'Symphony for a Stranger', I think it's safe to assume that Synthesis weren't aiming for the bubblegum hit parade. The songwriting is top notch, the horn charts are exhilarating, the guitar is fuzz laden / psychedelic, and the energy level is high. And the album gets freakier as it goes, and I've said this a few times before, that's always a hallmark of a great album. As if they said, "Oh screw it, no one will buy this, so let's just GO FOR IT!". Yea, baby.

I really dig this one. A few more listens could bump it even higher.

Priority: 2

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eight Day Clock, Australia

Eight Day Clock - Clockwork. 1976 RCA

And here's another one from the stack sent in from the AC. Eight Day Clock are a large scale horn rock band, right out of the 1970 playbook. So 1976 is way past the glory days of this scene. It almost seems like the Jackson 5ive TV show had just arrived in Sydney, and Blood Sweat and Tears was getting regular airplay on the local radio stations.

When evaluating horn rock bands, there are two types to consider: Vocal and Instrumental. This one definitely falls in the Vocal category. From there, is it soul based, or more pop sounding? Mainly the former. So that leaves the actual quality of the songwriting. Here I'd give them a C+. There are no monster tracks to call out like on The Gas Mask album for example. But it avoids the downer blues aspect of bands like Sod, Brut, Little John, or Chelsea Beige. Eight Day Clock are no Rodan or Brainchild that's for sure. The cover of The Doobie Brothers 'Listen to the Music' is most certainly a low point here. And the album as a whole peters out on the second side.

Overall, a pretty harmless 11 track run. There's some good horn charts here, and a few good sax/flute/brass/guitar solos to toe tap with. Reminds me quite a bit of the two Puzzle LPs (1973/1974 Motown). A pleasant album.

Priority: none

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sponge, Scotland

Sponge - Foam Spins (One).1989 Alternate Media Tapes. Cassette

Let's get back to the AC's rarities' pile here. He tees this one up as follows: "Scottish space-rock band. This was recorded live in Edinburgh throughout 1987. They spend a lot of time messing around with free-form spacey electronics, but when they finally get around to kicking out the jams, they do muster up a pretty intense Hawkwind-meets-Ash Ra Tempel type of sound. Released a bunch of hopelessly obscure cassettes in the late 80s, but this is the only one I've heard. Sound quality isn't great, but I suppose that's to be expected. Yet another interesting piece to the forgotten UK festival/space-rock puzzle".

Ultima Thule, the long standing mail order shop, and publishers of the excellent Audion Magazine, adds this review for Discogs: "Sponge were amongst a family of bands/musicians from Edinburgh in the late 1980's. They played a brand of space-rock that stepped on from classic Hawkwind, especially so on this tape of live improv/jams, fleshed-out with copious amounts of synths/electronics. Strangely many of their releases were cassette only on the Birmingham Alternate Media Tapes or American Audiophile Tapes, and thus they are extremely rare nowadays. The only problem with this tape is the cruddy quality, someone did something seriously wrong with the mix, although the music is brilliant, if you tweak your bass and treble controls!"

And perhaps the oddest aspect of all is that they have at least 6 albums all released between 1988 and 1989 (?!), and this supposedly is the last one. So from an obscurity perspective, Sponge would have to be considered in the same league as Rancid Poultry, another band that the AC helped fill the CDRWL's collection on, and we covered at length a couple of years ago. How a group could be so prolific,and yet completely unknown until now, is definitely a mystery. But the UK Festival scene certainly produced a lot of interesting material out of its primordial stew. It's like discovering entirely new organisms out of the Amazon rain forests. As we mentioned in an earlier post, Head Duster continues to educate us about some of the truly rare bands from the scene. Our good friend Spacefreak also saw many of these bands back then, and has provided valuable information to us regarding the scene. Perhaps they knew Sponge?

There's over an hour of improvised space rock on here, and like most of these type of live outings, the album itself could have used a good edit. It's like having to eat spoonfuls of the spinach, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, rice, beans all before actually getting to the meat. As mentioned by both gentlemen above, the sound quality is of bootleg standard.  I'd say Sponge relates closest to AMA, another long form improvisational space rock band - though AMA didn't possess synthesizers or  saxophone. And I'm also reminded of the Milwaukee collective F/i, at their most loose and reckless jam mode. If you're a fan of space rock, this is one you'll want to hear. When they get "in the zone", there's some pretty good ripping going on here. But it's not really anything that needs to be pressed on CD.

Priority: none

Monday, September 23, 2013

Indiscreet, Germany

Indiscreet - Difficult to Contribute Silence. 1985 Nabel.

Perhaps the great irony of this post is that it's the next entry from He Who Must Not Be Named. If anything HWMNBN is discreet. So discreet in fact, he tells me of fantastical tales of providing only the finest young ladies for oil rich sheik's in Dubai. I dunno, sounds far fetched to me but...

Indiscreet are a German band who are clearly a product of the middle 80s, when no one, and I mean absolutely no one, was going 1970s retro. Everyone had to have a modern, cold, and clinical sound. Belew-era King Crimson is of course the blueprint here. But I was reminded perhaps even more of Michigan's Inserts, especially in the sense of open space the band operates in. This has more of a jazz angle rather than rock, and is on the margins of the scope of the list. Some of the alto and soprano sax playing here is as annoying as it can possibly get. A lot of the free improvisational stuff on here does not work, and is truly dull, if not downright teeth gnashing. Indiscreet are at their best in full ensemble mode, especially when the violin is present.

(Our friend Tristan Stefan just alerted me that this album has been posted on Prog Not Frog this past June. I'd received this CD-R earlier in the year from HWMNBN, and didn't realize it had been posted since then. So you all can hear it as well, presuming the link is still active. Enjoy!)

Priority: none

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Garuda, Indonesia

Garuda - s/t. 1976 EMI (England)

So here's out third submission from He Who Must Not Be Named. Now, he alleges he got this LP directly from his "best bud" Suharto (you know you're an important dude when you only have one name. And you're even more important when you can't name that name...). When did HWMNBN get this album? When he supposedly was supporting the ambassador representing France in the late 1970s. You know, I'm calling bullsh*t right there. But... maybe?

So my first thought here is: Selamat datang di disko  

Oh go on, look it up. You know you want to know what it means.

Done?

Right?

He Who Must Not says this: "There's a great story behind my travels to Indonesia... Composer Tony Campo is from there, Bali in fact.  His bio is featured briefly on the back of the record.  I take it he became a session bassist in the UK and did quite a few library records, often in collaboration with others.  His style is jazz-funk, as befitting the music of Bali which is very dance-oriented.  It's obvious that this album, which is named after the semi-mythical eagle-winged deity that is Indonesia's national symbol, is his masterpiece, the second side is called Suite No. 2 and is his attempt at creating a kind of jazz-funk symphony, you'll see what I mean when you hear it.  Note that the famed Frank Ricotti plays vibes and percussion on this record." 

In fact, had their been no second side, then I would wonder why it was sent to me in the first place. I mean, I actually like disco instrumentals, but it's not exactly the purpose of the list. But Side 2, while never quite losing those fat beats, takes on a whole new dimension. There's truly a depth found here that is uncommon in both funk and even in pure jazz. If you want to begin your dig for this album, you better like tight horn charts. With long fuzz guitar solos. And echoed Fender and vibes. I just happen to embrace said concept, hence I rate this:

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Amuthon, Germany

Amuthon - Wirklichkeit. 1982 private.

So here's the second entry from He Who Must Not Be Named. I had personal interest in this, as this showed up on ebay from a dealer with a bunch of rare Krautrock rarities last year. I won a couple of the auctions (on items I already knew), but there were quite a few I never heard of. Some clearly were out of my interest area. This one's description was somewhat appealing, but who knows right? And then HWMNBN shows up with this one in virtual hand. Cool. On this title, he also provides some insights:

"What a cover!!  some kind of unusually creepy everyman has a key that will unlock the mind... In terms of music, it's a very hard rock style with almost the polished british heavy metal sound from the late seventies (like granmax or americans legend from the fjords), not like the old rough krautrock sound from the early seventies. In fact at the start of track 1 I thought I heard influences from Led Zep's Song Remains the Same (the song that is, not the live album), although the minute the singer opens his voice the track does lose a lot of its allure. With titles like god, reality, you'd think this was a philosophical treatise exploring Kant, and maybe it is, I can't make out any of the lyrics. Oddly they switch between german and english.  A very impressive, albeit rough, outing totally uncharacteristic of German bands."

Well he certainly has a point about the vocalist, as he comes across as a Teutonic Arthur Brown. You can almost here the translation "Feuer!".... "Hölle Feuer!". Of course we must correct our presumably European friend (he mentioned something about watching over the Holy Grail in Provence. I mean, I'm calling bullsh*t right there. But you know... maybe?). Obviously Granmax is from the great Midwest (Missouri), rather than England. But let's not be pedantic, but get down to the meaning of what he's saying. Yes, good old fashioned American hard rock is a very astute observation.

Not only is the album half German and half English, but some of it is recorded live and some in the studio. Talk about "cobbling something together" for a release. There was quite a few of these private semi-progressive "Deutschrock" albums from the early 80s, and Amuthon fit squarely in the middle. A little Anyone's Daughter, 1980s era Grobschnitt and Novalis, Wintauge, Profil, Grim Reaper, and, oh, about 100 more obscurities few have heard and even fewer care about. It's certainly good, and non offensive German rock musik. Worth a spin, but no need for a CD reissue as far as I'm concerned.

Priority: none

Friday, September 20, 2013

Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation, Germany

Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation - s/t. 1974 private.

Names like Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation tend to be a magnet for the CDRWL. Especially bands with that name and coming from the Year 1974. And with a personnel pedigree that includes Broselmaschine, Kollektiv, and Annexus Quam. All favorites of the CDRWL. Oh the mind wanders... What kind of psychedelic treat is in store for me?

This album comes courtesy of the Lolly Pope, who was a regular contributor to the Roots and Traces Blog.  He is the same gentleman that turned the CDRWL onto the wonderful Cosmic Circus album awhile back (now reissued by Garden of Delights) and a few other choice items. Just a mere few days after making his personal recommendation to me, he left this mortal coil. I had no idea until recently. Like so many in the blogosphere, I did not know Werner personally, He was one of the many friendly, yet anonymous, faces that would offer their expertise to my blog, for which I'm eternally grateful. So I dedicate this post to Werner 'Allen' Voran. Here is the Lolly Pope's writeup:

"Another Kraut, not a Krautrock rarity. An experimental LP recorded in Germany 1971 to 1973, released 1974. Some say MUSICAL GROUP IMPROVISATION is the great lost third ANNEXUS QUAM album, but we also have members of KOLLEKTIV and BRÖSELMASCHINE here... ..among other very seriously improvising musicians from very different backgrounds. Together they demonstrate how it should be done. Jamming without illicit drugs! (In the daylight anyway...). Produced for the use at secondary schools and universities by The Study Group Musik North-Rhine Westphalia, on authority of The Ministry Of Work, Health And Social Affairs, Düsseldorf. A CD-reissue of this rare artefact is long overdue, but the mastertapes seem to be lost, and it took us half a lifetime to find a mint vinyl copy. 

01-Improvisation Nr.1
instrumente: synthesizer, sopransaxophon und querflöte mit elektronik, e-piano, e-gitarre, schlagzeug
freie improvisation
02-Improvisation Nr.2
instrumente: e-gitarre, synthesizer, orgel, sitar, sruitbox, stimme, piano, superstring, kongas
improvisation nach einer grafik
03-Improvisation Nr. 3
instrumente: stimmen und hände
improvisation nach einem projizierten dia eines surrealistischen bildes. das bild diente als stimmungsrahmen für die improvisation
04-Improvisation Nr. 4
instrumente: kunstoffschlauch,stimme, flasche, konzertgitarre, chimtas, tabla, marokkanische trommeln, pfeifen mit dem mund
improvisation nach einem projizierten landschaftsdia
05-Improvisation Nr.5
instrumente: bratsche, querflöte, konzertgitarre, aufblasbare tabla
freie improvisation
06-Improvisation Nr. 6
instrumente: posaune, konzertgitarre, bratsche, schlagzeug
freie improvisation
07-Improvisation Nr.7
instrumente: stimmen, cello, tabla, dickmilchbechergeige, spiralfedergong, schlitztrommel, flexaton, flöte
improvisation im freien mit hunde-hecheln und vogel-gezwitscher
08-Improvisation Nr.8
instrumente: konga, shanai, tabla, posaune, maultrommel, konzertgitarre, schellen, bratsche, präpariertes piano
freie improvisation
09-Improvisation Nr.9
instrumente: richak, sitar, bratsche, tabla, ektara
improvisation nach einem projizierten landschaftsdia
10-Improvisation Nr.10
instrumente: piano, stimmen
freie improvisation

(TITLE: MUSIKALISCHE GRUPPENIMPROVISATION - Katalog-Nr.: TST 78426, RESCO HT 30152 - No label name. Manufactured by Telefunken)

Musicians:

PETER and MARITA BURSCH (BRÖSELMASCHINE)
KLAUS DAPPER (KOLLEKTIV, BRÖSELMASCHINE,GLATTER WAHNSINN)
JÜRGEN HAVIX (KOLLEKTIV)
HARALD KLEMM, HANS KÄMPER, GABRIELE and PETER WERNER (ANNEXUS QUAM)
Plus:
KARL GODEJOHANN -WERNER SCHERMEIER - JOHANNES HOBBING - EDWIN STILLER - ANKE and GERHARD LISKEN - MARGRET BREUKELGEN - MARGRET CONZELMANN - BRIGITTE GÖBEL - MICHAEL GOEDECKE - ROLAND GRÄBE -JOHANNES HOBBING - EGON HUNEKE - GERLINDE PAULUS - WILHELM SCHULZ - UWE NIEPEL 

The sessions, or weekend workshops, were led and co-ordinated by Harald Klemm between 1971 and 1973. The improvisations were either totally free, or inspired by shown paintings and projected colour slides of landscapes. Nr.7 is an outdoor recording wiih panting dogs and chirping birds. An all instrumental album, except for some ethereal, non-verbal femal voices. A certain affinity to the second album of Annexus Quam is obvious, but there also are moments that remind of a less aggressive, more disciplined Limbus, a less classically trained Between, Popol Vuh without the religious ambitions and a lot more."

I think his reference to Limbus 3/4 is spot on. Though there is at least one direct reference to Soft Machine's "Third". Very much a product of its age. This is for those who truly love the avant garde. Nothing fake about this - the real deal in both atmosphere and sense of exploration. A bit "outside" for me, but an absolute must for fans of radical frei musik.

Priority: none

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rantz, USA

Rantz - s/t. 1982 private

Here's another album from our friend Tristan Stefan over at Prog Not Frog. In fact, he even called me out on this one. I missed it, but Tristan sent me an e-mail recommending I pull it down. And so I did. "I wish Tom Hayes and cd reissue wishlist would feature this since I feel it should be priority 3 at least.  There is a wonderful mix of hard, soft, instrumental, no fusion, but a lot of ingenious composition and some killer tracks.  Reminds me a bit of Syn Cast the first Stone, but with a harder edge."

The irony to all this of course, is when you go the website, you actually get a full-on political RANT(Z).  LOL. Anyway, the CDRWL tends to stay apolitical when in music mode, which is not the same thing as actually being apolitical. I'm just grateful we live in various countries where we can express our viewpoints without official reprisal. There's almost no time in written history where that was truly the case. Here in the good ole' USA we can blather against Obama's policies until we're blue in the face. Nothing will happen to you, beyond retorts in a similar manner. Truly be glad you can do this.

Better is Tristan's keen ear and his ability to discern and filter what the CDRWL tends to recommend. I'm grateful to friends like this.

Now this is one doggone weird album, I'll tell you that. The early 80s were a lost time for America. These were my high school years, and I remember them like yesterday. Culturally we bordered on anarchy. Which is of course the breeding ground for true creativity. Unlike Europe, we never had a true "progressive scene". We had fans of English progressive rock, but indigenous bands pretty much wallowed in obscurity. I've already documented this to death in my USA Midwest Progressive Rock list. Myself, I was banging my head against every wall (explains things doesn't it?) while listening to heavy metal. Then moving to 70's progressive and sequencer based electronic music. And eventually relating WAY TOO MUCH to Nicolas Cage in "Valley Girl" with his Tangerine Dream T-shirt and being a social outcast to those "preppies" with their Top Siders and pulled-up-collar "Alligator shirts" and weren't allowed to date the cute cheerleaders, only because we listened to Iron Maiden and knew how to program Assembly code on an IBM - even if said cute girls actually liked you. Today you're cool if you're a geek. Back then we were just geeks (actually we were called "Freaks" - that was the early 80s term used for us long hairs who went to heavy metal and hard rock concerts, played in the high school band, and actually learned how to program a computer). And, naturally enough, us Freaks listened to "weird music".

Which gets me back to Rantz (whew... wasn't quite sure how I was going to do that). I don't even know where to start here. The cover is indicative, perhaps. The female vocalist sounds like a mutant Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons. The guitarist plays in a decidedly psychedelic manner as if 1973 never happened. Did I mention flute? Oh yes, it's everywhere here - all played 1970 style. The compositions? Clearly informed by the MTV acts of the day: Men Without Hats, Talking Heads, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Human League... oh you get the idea. (I'm so old, I remember when MTV only played music videos). Gotta love a tune called 'Gnostic Blues'. You know, I've been thinking of getting a bunch of international guys together to rate progressive albums... and call it Gnosis! Naw, that would be dumb. Anyway, really time warp stuff here for a high school junior in 1982. About the only album this f'ed up is the Amish Rumspringa band Quasar Light. Seriously, if Ancient Aliens had a show on progressive rock, Rantz would be their proof. Not sure they'd be off base either. If only they were from Roswell, New Mexico. "Could it be, as Ancient Astronaut Theorists believe..."

So Tristan, you are WRONG and you have no idea what you're talking about. It is no way a Priority 3. No. It is a...

Priority: 2

(Thank you, Tristan Stefan)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nucleus, Canada

Nucleus - s/t. 1969 Mainstream (USA)

Compared to the current sea of rarities we're sailing through, Nucleus' sole album is as common as "Frampton Comes Alive". And this is not an album that was "fed" to me over the past year, but rather came from an old dusty box of tapes I was going through in the Spring. Most of these tapes have either already found their way to the CDRWL, or in most cases, have actually been reissued already. But Nucleus completely fell through the cracks. In fact, I don't remember having ever heard this album, nor do I have it graded anywhere. Well... my bad then.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the world's biggest "psych" fan. I absolutely adore psychedelic influences in my progressive rock, but actual psych rock tends to be too straight for me in most instances, and rarely lives up to the genre name. But when an album is truly psychedelic in both sound, and composition, then I take notice. Nucleus is that album. In fact, at times it's a bit too disjointed to get into. It's really a strange phenomena they have going here. They seem to be jamming, but in odd time signatures ---- for each member. Perhaps it's pure incompetence, and no one band member can keep up with the other. Maybe. But I doubt it. It sounds intentional to me. It's downright disorienting at times. Which, almost by definition, is psychedelic. There's some incredible Hammond organ and acid guitar on here, with all sorts of screamed, distant, and... well... melodic vocals. Damn, this album is just flat out cool honestly.

Naturally enough, since Nucleus is not super rare, the album currently is suffering through pirate hell. Hopefully some merciful label will provide it a nice home with liner notes from the artists and/or bonus tracks. I actually think this one would do well in the reissue market (I'm buying!). Sundazed, Sunbeam, or Lion should try for this one. Nucleus later became A Foot in Coldwater, which actually had a fairly successful rock n' roll career in Canada on the Daffodil label. This an album where a reissue seems realistic. Anyone?

Priority: 2

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Frank Pisani, USA

Frank Pisani - Sky. 1977 Dellwood.

Time to get The AC into the mix. And here's his first entry for the 2013 CDRWL Rarity Series. It was born out of a conversation based on my initial release of the Midwest progressive rock list I published this summer.

Dellwood is one of a handful of "tax scam" labels that proliferated in the USA during the late 1970s, which as we discussed before, was basically an IRS loophole that was exploited (of course it was) for a few years before being finally sealed up (which created new loopholes - akin to trying to trap water in your hand). I have other insights on this topic, via the legit CD reissue of Zoldar and Clark on my UMR site. Zoldar and Clark, incidentally, was also on the dubious Dellwood label.

So who the heck is Frank Pisani? No idea. Just some schmuck from Chicago we are lead to believe. It's presumed to be the same Frank Pisani that has (had) a music and comedy act. But in 1977 he wasn't clowning about, but rather getting down to the serious business of releasing commercially accessible music for FM radio. BUT, in what seems to be a unique 1970s Midwest American trait, he was throwing in plenty of complicated progressive ideas and measures. As if to ensure to himself that, at the very least - YES - I am a serious musician. For that alone, Frank, the record companies will ignore you. Duh. As Dave Stewart of National Health (and other groups of course) once famously said about music executives: "We don't want music to get in the way of a Top 10 hit!" And so a desolate Frank sent in his tapes through some esteemed and academic music magazine like Creem or Circus, had his demos pressed up for a tax dodge label, and received absolutely nothing in return. And he probably never even knew the album came out. In fact, it's entirely possible he will learn right here on the CDRWL - some 35+ years later. It's actually happened before...

If you blindfolded me, and then asked me to name the time and place - I'd say Midwest 1977. Seriously. Such a bulls-eye for the entire insane genre. As I state in the premise for the list: "In the 1970s, within the American Midwest and Ontario, there existed a fascinating subculture that was distinctly their own - and this phenomena was sharply expressed in the music of the region. It was here in the early 1970s that unmitigated FM radio ruled supreme, and countless Baby Boomers checked in each night to hear some of the wild music coming from Europe during this time (especially in England). Yes and ELP were an enormous influence in the region, as was the relatively obscure Gentle Giant. Certainly Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator had their disciples as well."

Jamming Hammond, loud electric guitar, high energy rhythms, rough and bluesy but-oh-so-sincere vocals, and.... cowbell. Yea, there's a little too much crooning at times, and there's that always present party-time Grand Funk Railroad sound, but that only adds to the vibe. Man, this is just a heck of a lot of fun. Probably ties closest to the Canadian band Dillinger, though I hear serious references to classic Kansas as well. And how about that cover? The marketing department worked overtime on that obviously. "Here's a sheet of Engineering Graphics paper. Make it work." Ya know, minimum wage didn't get you much in 1977 either.

Obviously, I'm a fanboy for this stuff, so take my fanaticism with a grain of salt. But I want to see this on CD anyway (uh, I mean legit there pirate boy - don't want a bootleg of a bootleg - dig?). Probably would move 10 copies, including free promos. And people wonder why I don't get into this business...

Priority: 2

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dhope, Germany

Dhope - Musical Exhibitions. 1980 private.

I think it's time to break in He Who Must Not Be Named (HWMNBN), and this constitutes his debut on the CDRWL (yea, we're pretty sure it's a he - so that narrows it down by exactly .00005%). There are few albums as mythical as Dhope, and it sits in the same league from a rarity perspective as albums such as Rhea and Lindwurm (What's that you say? Right, of course... the other Lindwurm). Garden of Delights has been promising to reissue this album since about... ...1981 was it? So I wouldn't hold my breath for an imminent CD from your favorite retailer.

One of the bigger controversies out there is the release date. Most websites have it as 1976. GoD says 1980 and I'm not likely to argue with them, as they do know their... (poop). As I listen to the album, 1980 seems far more plausible to me. More in the composition style than the instrumentation, which is definitely of an older stock. One does have to remember that the 3 number system of 197? will draw far more dollars than the one that goes like 198?, and so dealers are very aware of the impact to said bottom line. I checked with our resident Gnosis German expert Lev (no, Lev is not HWMNBN - nor is anyone on Gnosis - let me quell that right here) about the date. He has a full scan of the back cover, but there is no date anywhere. Actually there's a YouTube video out there with the second track, and the back cover is part of the video montage. Perhaps it's on the label of the LP itself - or in the runoff groove? We haven't seen one, so we don't know.

Musically, this one takes a bit to get going. The opening track, while a finely crafted piece, is somewhat straightforward, but with some fine Moog, and features that unique lower register German voice singing English. Perhaps not quite as dour as Paternoster (what is?), but that's too far off. Later on he sings in a higher register, which I found a bit more appealing. Now I'll be honest here, this album didn't floor me on the whole. Or maybe I should say it didn't really match the reviews I've read. There's no mellotron (as confirmed by a band member), and the time changes are more like theme shifts rather than metric gymnastics embedded within each measure. The compositions sort of bounce along harmlessly, with plenty of fat bass and 4/4 drumming, sometimes in a pseudo disco beat (like I said... 1980). There's some fine, though not exceptional, guitar soloing, and most of the keyboards are organ and Moog. And all of the above is fine for me honestly, as the music definitely fits the time and place. But... you will not be thinking this is the German album from 1973 Italy as perhaps the Tonic album does in places. However, if you like the late 70s German symphonic sound, and get a bit tired of all the Kraut Fusion from this era, then I think Dhope will certainly satisfy, and will be most welcomed on CD - especially as it's certain to sound better after GoD has cleaned it up.

Comparisons? Perhaps an amalgamation of all 3 Indigo albums, Fly, Novalis, Gloria's Children, Minotaurus, Shaa Khan, Anyone's Daughter, Waniyetula (Galaxy), and others of its ilk. Or a male vocal equivalent to Werwolf, Rebekka, and Eden. Consider me a first day buyer of the CD. Presuming I'm still alive in 2047....

Priority: 3

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trilogy, England

Trilogy - Arctic Life (EP). 1982 private cassette.

This entry comes courtesy of our friend Head Duster who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the UK Festival scene of the 1980s (and was obviously a regular patron of the events). His website is a goldmine for those of us looking for rare cassettes from that scene. Most of the music falls outside of what we focus on here at the CDRWL (primarily dance/techno/reggae/punk/experimental), but it's a fascinating read all the same. And I make sure to visit the blog monthly. We'll have a full Oroonies feature eventually (I have only a couple of albums up now), and I owe him for most of the material I'll be presenting.

So it's odd that I'm introducing his site via a music group that has nothing to do with the Festival scene. Rather, Trilogy were part of a slightly earlier movement known as the New Wave of British Progressive Rock. As you all know, the CDRWL is a big fan of that genre - perhaps because it was the first one I personally grew up with in regards to progressive music. I was already a veteran of the NWOBHM scene, and that was where I cut my teeth on collecting rare imports as a young high school lad. As I was beginning to learn about 70's progressive music, it was refreshing to know that new bands were emerging in that style. Not only that,  but I did manage to get to London for a week in 1984, which helped solidify my position. So I do tend to be nostalgic about it all.

Trilogy were, as you might suspect, a trio that also happened to feature quite a bit of keyboards. When the keyboards are active, I am reminded indeed of many of the bands from the early 80s period such as Twelfth Night and Pallas. But the guitarist plays a double neck guitar - and you have to know exactly where I'm going here. Correct... Rush. As in "Moving Pictures" Rush. Tightly wound, non-sprawling Rush. And I love it. Rush meets Pendragon? OK  - works for me! Obviously the production quality is lacking, but it's a homemade cassette - what can you possibly expect?

The cassette is a 4 track EP, so of course that alone doesn't warrant a CD. But if they have other studio material, or soundboard live stuff - then it surely would be of interest to many I think. Heck, if Tamarisk can do it, then any other obscurity from that time and place can! Perhaps they could reform for a full effort as well? Why not - they probably haven't been asked to do so in nearly 30 years.

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Red Summer, England

Red Summer - Release. 1982 Rimshot

So let's start our 2013 rarities session here - a nice modest release to get things going. This one came as a recommendation from our friend Tristan Stefan over at ProgNotFrog, where he also posted the album for awhile (not sure if it's still up). Tristan has also provided an insightful review, so it's worth clicking the link above for that alone.

I think Tristan's reference to Mike Oldfield is very much spot on, especially considering he still had one masterwork left in him, with the brilliant "Amarok" still 8 years away from Red Summer's album. And there are some parallels to that future work here. There's also some twee Anthony Phillips styled moments interspersed throughout on the shorter numbers.

Though Red Summer are a duo, they manage to pack in quite a few ideas per track. And it's just this setup that also reminded me of Jade Warrior's "Horizen" album, also from the 1980s. Jade Warrior always managed to feature a big sound from a small lineup. And there is that distinct world music edge that pops up now and again, further solidifying the comparison.

Perhaps most startling is the opening title track, that had me at first thinking I may have the wrong disc in the changer. Why? Well, it sounded so very French, that's why. Like a long lost Richard Pinhas tape circa "L'Ethique". There's also some of that good ole fashioned handmade, basement styled NDW electronik German sound prevalent as well. Unusually loud and psychedelic guitars pop out of nowhere on "Release", and are completely incongruous with most anything else going on in England during this era.

Fascinating album that seemingly came out of nowhere.

Priority: 3

Friday, September 13, 2013

Many rarities on the way!

We start TOMORROW. I've managed to publish a solid backlog of daily entries taking us into early October (it helped that I took a couple of days off of work to do this) with a few more to hear. Tentatively scheduling mid October for our BIG announcement (see below). Not all of the albums were great (or even good), in my opinion of course, but that's to be expected. But I do think they are all interesting at least - and many are heavily sought after. We will either enhance or demystify their reputation. Some of the albums have been posted to the blogosphere already, while others were passed to me in secret by hooded figures via hidden cathedrals. And one of the albums you will be able to hear IN FULL (or rather 7 of 8 tracks), as we will be able to point to you where it is on the internet. The album itself has been shared by a band member. It's buried because no one knows what the album is! And we will bring it to light soon. You won't want to miss it.  Thanks again to all the contributors that made the 2013 CDRWL Rarities Exposition possible. I hope you enjoy reading about them as well!

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Just a quick note to let you all know that I do have some rarities that have come through the door within the last year. I have yet to hear them myself, but advanced word says they are worthy of our attention. I got off to a bit of a false start with the Humus album in early June, but then redirected my attention onto another music project for the summer - mainly listening to CDs that are in my collection that I haven't heard in forever (examples: Drama - s/t (France) 17 years since last heard; debut album by the Polish band Lizard - 16 years since I last pulled it from the shelf. And dozens more). I think that's going to be my summer routine going forward.

We've been the fortunate recipient of many great looking rare items as sent in by the now legendary The AC, as well as wonderful contributions from Tristan Stefan and SF. And we have a new contributor - someone who is cloaked in mystery. A dark shrouded figure who we don't even know actually. Someone we will refer to as He Who Must Not Be Named.

And we're sitting on one major gem in this pile. One that we first heard last year via The AC, but we sat on it as we worked behind the scenes for a CD reissue. Perhaps the rarest US progressive album ever made. And it's a killer. This is not hype I assure you. A jaw dropper. Better than even the Ginga Rale Band, Rob Thomsett, and Phase that we discovered last year. It's almost too good to be true. But it IS real. And no one knows about it. That's going to be the cherry on the top of this year's discoveries.

I'm targeting a start date around September 14th or sometime after. So check back then. Of course, I will continue to share news as it comes in.

In the meantime, I'm also sitting on a huge backlog of ready-to-go entries for Unencumbered Music Reviews and Under the Radar. I plan on getting those out this weekend - so there should be daily postings on both those sites for days to come.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

News: Exciting announcements coming from the Lion label camp!



December 8, 2013 update: The Vanay albums have been released!

We've recently heard from Vincent, who runs the CDRWL's favorite US based reissue label: Lion Productions. While not all of Lion's releases intersect with the CDRWL's personal interests, this latest set of news either touches the circle, or is a complete bullseye.

I think the most exciting news is that the Laurence Vanay albums are imminent! As in the October / November time frame. The LPs may come a month or two later depending on pressing plant priorities. Vincent states: "Loads of bonus tracks on both CD versions, almost doubling the original length of the albums. The LP versions will be exact replicas (without bonus tracks)." And the big surprise here is that we can also expect reissues of her mythical, and previously unreleased, "Les Soleils de la Vie" and "La Petite Fenetre" albums! What will not be reissued is her "Magic Slows" album, since Ms Thibault isn't very fond of it herself. And fellow Gnosis explorer Lev from Russia has already demystified the contents of the album, thus categorizing the omission as "no loss".

We've also been told that we may see Probe 10 as early as December of this year, or early 2014. So that's also very exciting news for the CDRWL.

With that, let's move onto Lion's three new releases that I think many of you will be interested in. I haven't personally heard any of them to date. The T2 is what amounts to the second post-"It'll All Work Out in Boomland" archival set of releases. Lion was involved with the first set as well which were called "T2" or "Fantasy". Those recordings were from 1970, and this latest batch constitute their 1971 to 1972 output (obviously). And, yes, this has already been issued on LP. This will be its debut on CD.

Tin House is a 1971 hard rock album from Florida that is highly rated in some circles. Based on the reviews I've read, it sounds like something I need to hear. Might as well just start with the Lion CD!

The Guy Skornik is another album that looks intriguing.  Not too many albums will reference Wahkevitch, Berger, Gainesbourg, and Manset in the same paragraph. I've also read comparisons to Popera Cosmic! The promo sheet says: "Digipack CD + 28 page booklet. Between 1970 and 1973, EMI/Path released several ambitious and progressive pop albums, including 'La Mort Dorion' (Grard Manset), 'Puzzle' (Michel Berger), 'Hathor' (Igor Wakvitch), and 'Pour Pauwels' by Guy Skornik. Skornik was a mystic explorer, psychonaut, and gifted musician, who was immersed in the metaphysical revolutions of his time. He presented television reports, laced with elements of Eastern mysticism, on LSD experiences. And then there was Skornik's album, 'Pour Pauwells', inspired by the revolutionary writings of Louis Pauwells, one-time counterculture hero and disciple of esoteric spiritualist G. I. Gurdjieff. Guy was brought to the public's attention for the first time in the beginning of 1970 with the release of a magnificent LP on the Path-label. Skornik tried, and succeeded perfectly, to do with his music what Louis Pauwels did with his huge best-seller 'The Morning Of The Magicians'. This is one of a handful of classic French progressive pop concept albums released in the early 1970's, together with Serge Gainsbourgs 'Melody Nelson' and the titles mentioned above. Features arrangements by Ivan Jullien (Franoise Hardy, Johnny Hallyday, Quincy Jones and Elton John). Licensed from Parlophone. Limited to 500 copies."

Lots to look forward to here!