Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Oniris, France

L'Homme Voilier. 1979 Barclay

Oniris demonstrates strong ties to Ange, Mona Lisa, Grime, Synopsis, Trefle etc… this is the dramatic French vocal symphonic rock we all know and love. 

Priority: 2


Jester, USA-California

Jester. 1978 private

The name alone will no doubt draw snickers from long time critics of progressive rock. And while today a jester is certainly one of the more trite cliches of the movement, in 1978 it hadn't necessarily played itself out yet, so it would be a natural choice for a young band to pursue a moniker such as that. Musically, this Long Beach, California based band were very much a product of their time and place. Like a lot of bands in the late 70s, they decided to hedge their bet by putting one foot into complex progressive rock compositions, and the other into the safer waters of commercial album oriented rock. Unfortunately the latter puts off the former, and the targeted radio audience never materialized. Thus an album such as this finds itself on an obscure list on the internet, only read by deep divers and obsessionists like your humble author. When in progressive rock mode, they remind me most of the 80's California band Drama, but with less fusion elements. Also, the locally produced Bounty EP would be a good reference. I've seen two covers for this - one blue and one red. Not sure which is the original, or if they were both released at the same time.

Priority: 3


Horizont, Sweden

Horizont. 1978 CBS
Andra Vyer. 1979 CBS

Horizont's debut is an interesting album that gives a head fake early, before revealing what they are truly about. For most of Side 1, Horizont play a mix of straight ahead rock (with Swedish vocals) - but with a directness that wouldn't be out of place in 1981 - and more thoughtful progressive rock instrumentals. Side 2 turns on their progressive influences, especially the Hammond and guitar work, and is quite good. It would seem that the band needed to compromise a bit to get released on CBS. 

Interesting to note that while browsing the CD booklet of the Atlas Bla Vardag album, APM had announced their intention to release a Horizont archival album. That indicates to me that the best material was never released during the day, and the album above was indeed a compromise. Of course, that's pure speculation on my part, as APM's CD never did see the light of day.

I haven't heard the second album yet. 

Priority: 3


Good God, USA-Pennsylvania

Good God. 1972 Atlantic

Philadelphia based jazz rock band, that sounds more European than American. Heavily indebted to instrumental Zappa, Good God's album sounds like many groups from Germany, Denmark, and France. Maybe a little too much unhinged sax work for my liking, but still plenty to enjoy here. They cover Zappa's 'King Kong' and John McLaughlin's 'Dragon Song', both of which perfectly fit their style. 

Priority: 2


Docmec, Switzerland

Objet Non Identifie. 1976 Javeline

First side is live, and demonstrates the band's clear Genesis influence. Here they recall the similarly minded Kyrie Eleison. Side 2 is in the studio, and is more original, with plenty of introspective quieter moments. There's more of a French influence here, and I hear elements of Pentacle and Orion on these tracks. 

Priority: 3


Chetarca, Australia

Chetarca. 1977 Atlantic

Like many bands from Australasia, Chetarca seemed to have a fondness for boogie rock. And if you can get through the first few minutes of the opening couple of tracks, then you'll be rewarded with some truly progressive music, featuring dual keyboards and a host of exciting ideas. Similar in some ways to the New Zealand group Airlord. 

Priority: 3


Andreas Aarflot, Sweden

Det Rivna Pianot. 1978 Manifest

Andreas Aarflot's sole album is like a direct cross between National Health and Quebec's Contraction. Though the female vocals are in Swedish, the delivery is similar to Contraction's French. Meanwhile the music maintains a strong Canterbury structure, including some familiar melody lines. On Det Rivna Pianot you'll encounter a classical component (pipe organ, strings), sweet female vocals sung in Swedish, and wonderful flute solos. The album breaks down a bit on side 2, before gathering itself on the finale. Aarflot appeared to be quite the talent, and yet he pretty much disappeared without a trace after this. Too bad, as his one album is excellent.

Priority: 2


Astre, USA-Oklahoma

Foresight. 1981 Akustic

Astre were a band from Tulsa, Oklahoma who released only this sole album before disappearing. Multi-instrumentalist Bill Tankersley is the only one to have recorded beyond Foresight, putting out two true solo cassettes in 1984 (one under the name New Warmth). There's also a band named New Fire Ceremony credited to him, who released one industrial (?) album in 1993.

Foresight is an horrendously under-produced album. However, behind the mess, is a superb complex progressive rock album. One hopes for better tapes to emerge, and a fresh CD reissue to take the grime off of this gem. It's difficult to appreciate as it is, unfortunately.

Priority: 3


C.B. Busser, Switzerland

Movies. 1978 Musk Project
Instepraiser. 1978 Bellaphon
Warship-Suite. 1980 Musk Project
Once and For All. 1981 Musk Project

Busser was the keyboardist for the blues rock group Whipping Post, a band who took the unusual step of mixing Allman Brothers southern rock with mellotron. Movies is his debut solo album, and like so many solo albums, it's a disparate mix of styles that lack cohesion. About half the tracks are bombastic choir mellotron driven numbers, that will have fans of the instrument drooling at the mouth. The others are CSN styled folk numbers and miscellaneous styles. Like many artists in the 1970s, I'm sure Busser wanted to prove, probably to himself, he had more range in his repertoire. A decent album, but only about 20 minutes of truly interesting material (for me anyway).

I've not heard his other three albums though they all look interesting.

Priority: none


Credemus, Germany

Auf Dem Weg... 1984 Werola

Christian symphonic rock with female vocals like Eden, Werwolf, Gloria's Children, or maybe Sweden's Autumn Breeze - though Credemus aren't as consistent as those groups. This is one of those albums I bought from Eurock back in the late 1980s. Pretty scarce nowadays.

Priority: none


Drops, Denmark

Drops. 1976 Hookfarm

Of the multitude of obscure fusion albums released in the mid 1970s, Drops is definitely in the top tier of that bunch. Foregoing the temptation to add US styled funk seems to be the separator, while the band focuses more on melody and composition rather than pointless solos. Five piece group with all the requisite instrumentation (sax, flute, el. piano, synthesizer, guitar, bass and drums). While certainly not at the level of the best German fusion groups like Embryo or Missus Beastly, Drops is well worth considering especially if your tastes run more towards jazz than rock. Features two members from Thors Hammer. 

Priority: 2


Francisco (Francesco Lupica), USA-California

Cosmic Beam Experience. 1976 Cosmic Beam

True organic cosmic rock from California. He prides himself on not using electronic instruments and many of them are self built. Haunting sound, and typically one of a kind album that could only come from the American underground. Shades of Cosmic Debris and Children of One are present, as is some of the earlier Popol Vuh work - ironically in their electronic phase. 

Priority: 3


Jean-Philippe Goude & Olivier Cole, France

Jeunes Années. 1976 Saravah

Keyboardist Goude is a recognizable name to many progressive rock fans for his participation with that most bombastic of Zeuhl groups - Weidorje. Prior to that project, he had teamed with percussionist Olivier Cole and released this one highly inventive keyboard / drums duo album. Rather than a series of organ/drum overload tracks, Goude focuses on moodier Rhodes and acoustic piano pieces, and utilizes his one synthesizer sound for his aggressive solos. There's a slight electronic music aesthetic applied throughout. A nice record, that has slipped under the radar. After Weidorje, Goude released the more overt Zeuhlish Drones album which Musea reissued many years ago. From there, Goude began to focus more squarely on incidental music geared for TV and films. I once had Meli-Melodies on LP, though it wasn't a cohesive album, like most library albums.

Priority: 3


Yves Hayat, France

A Conversation Between East & West. 1976 Timing

French music library album that mixes sitar, tabla, electric/acoustic guitar, drums, and Moog/clavinet based electronics. Excellent and a nice companion piece to the Yves et Alain Lorentz Espaces 2 album. 

Hayat apparently released a must own album, as considered by rare groove DJs, under the guise of Droids (1978). I haven't heard the latter yet.

Priority: 3


Leland (Yoshitsu), USA-California

This is My World. 1976 private (1978 Contempt)

The second press is the most known (left), but apparently the 1976 issue has a unique track. Though sold as a psych record, and that may be true when listening to some of the splendid solos, this is pretty much a hard rock album in terms of structure, content and vocal style. Leland's voice reminds me of a known mid 70s hard rock band, but I cannot seem to place it. Sort of high pitched, with a tint of anger. Decent enough album that was pretty easy to find 15 years ago, but has become quite collectible in recent times.

Priority: 3

There's a very convincing reissue out there called A Self-taught, Decathlon, Hard Rock Musician! from Stone Circle. It combines the second pressing with a live EP. The label looks a bit dicey and all their reissues were done from 2015 to 2016. They have some obvious pirate editions as well. Instincts are telling me this one isn't above board. We'll just leave as is for now, and we can always alter later if more data emerges.


Swegas, England

Child of Light. 1970 Trend
Beyond the Ox. 1971 BASF

Swegas' debut Child of Light features a nice mix of horn rock, Brit-Jazz, progressive rock, and even some free jazz. There's some strong Hammond organ and jazzy electric guitar work are on display here, along with a full stage band section (trombone, trumpet, and dual saxophones) who get in a few superbly intricate charts. And excellent soulful vocals. Definitely not your simple blues based horn rock album, as was typical of the era. Swegas ties closest to fellow countrymen Brainchild and Heaven rather than the usual American suspects like Blood, Sweat and Tears. Though I'd submit Swegas are not near as infectious as Brainchild in the songwriting department. Five long tracks here that allow the band to stretch out in a creative, improvisational jazz rock manner. 'Photographs' is an exceptional example of the genre. Also digging the painted naked lady Swingin' London gatefold cover.

Priority: 2


Topper, USA-Missouri

At Last. 1977 Scot

As stated in many places, I truly enjoy the underground rock scene of the great American Midwest and Topper are no different. This time hailing from Kansas City, we have a band that was typically over ambitious, and wonderfully amateurish. The Moog soloing in particular is inspired. There are a lot of ideas on their one album, and it's clear they had a few Uriah Heep, Nektar, Yes, and Led Zeppelin albums in their closet. Basically a mix of hard rock, progressive, and a little bit of FM/AOR too. And they get a little too close to plagiarism in a couple of places ('Smile for the Clown' rips straight from 'Stairway to Heaven' incredibly. Guys, surely you were aware everyone knew this song already. Right?).

Priority: 3


Vindication, USA-Indiana

Vindication. 1974 Custom Fidelity

Vindication were a trio from Columbus, Indiana, who released only this one very obscure album. Once again we're dealing with American teenagers still in high school, similar to Tom Nehls and Richie Duvall. And like both those gentlemen, they were the good kids in class, not rebellious types that are usually rewarded in musical circles. Turns out that the members of Vindication were also all hardcore prog heads, very much into Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, and King Crimson. And like a lot of youth in the middle of the country, they were also very much into exploring their Christian faith. And this is reflective in the lyrics, but not in the music. This isn't a lame progressive album so as to get the message out. No these kids really went for it, in the same manner as other Midwest bands of the era did such as Yezda Urfa, Xebec, and Graced Lightning. Perhaps not quite as accomplished as the great Yezda Urfa, but for certain they had talent to burn and some intriguing compositions. According to their bio, they recorded and released the album - in very limited quantities, which is most certainly true seeing how few have ever been spotted - between their junior and senior years of high school in 1974 (so the "accepted" date of 1973 seems to have been off by a year). Quite an accomplishment for 16 to 17 year old young men.

Unfortunately they let their faith get the best of them on the closing track 'You and Me and God', and it's a typical youth group sing-a-long (similar to Michigan's Earthen Vessel in that way). So skip over that (unless you happen to like Christian folk songs) and enjoy the rest!

No reissues exist, though the band has loaded MP3s of all the songs on the internet if interested.

Priority: 1


Fernando Yvosky, Venezuela

Dos Mundos. 1975 private

Yvosky's sole album is a good example of the pastoral progressive rock that was coming out Italy in 1972/1973, and perhaps closer to home, in Argentina. Early PFM combined with Aucan is what you can expect here. Well worth discovering. Features a beautiful gatefold cover, which is hard to imagine given that it's a private press from a country not known for that.

Priority: 3


Omega Plus, France

Omega Plus - How to Kiss the Sky. 1969 Pitch

Featuring Claude Engel on guitar (later with Magma, Dayde, Univeria Zekt and many others), How to Kiss the Sky is generally considered France's first psychedelic record (see also Dickens, Octopus 4, and Popera Cosmic). This is a good example of the Hendrix psych sound, and with the addition of flute, adds more than the usual copyist acid psych rock that many American bands were doing during this time. Also includes one long free rock improvisation that's pretty interesting. A short record, that doesn't even break the 30 minute mark. 

Priority: 3


Oniris, France

L'Homme Voilier. 1979 Barclay Oniris demonstrates strong ties to Ange, Mona Lisa, Grime, Synopsis, Trefle etc… this is the dramatic Fren...