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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rainbow Generator, Australia

Rainbow Generator - Dance of the Spheres. 1978 Fission Chips.

Well, I'm finally back here. Seems spending time with the stereo is getting harder and harder to do. Unfortunately my job is highly transactional and social, and when not onsite, is entirely conducted by phone. Not a conducive environment to solo pursuits like listening to music that's for sure. I try to reserve evenings for a little solitude and music. The wife has other ideas sometimes.

The other day I mentioned 3 unknown monsters and one goodie to report. This is the goodie. I've heard about Rainbow Generator for years, but somewhere along the line I either read or understood that they were a mechanical Systems styled electronic band. That peculiar genre of minimalistic sound sculpturing is way too static for me. However, Rainbow Generator is no such thing. They are in fact a highly inventive electronic meets space rock band. In some ways, they're like fellow countrymen Cybotron, though Rainbow Generator do not pursue the obvious Tangerine Dream temptations. With the electric guitar explosions, female and male semi-singing/narrations, didgeridoo, and synthesizer solos - Rainbow Generator conjure up images closer to that of the Cosmic Courier clan. They do use a very primitive drum machine, but it oddly recalls Klaus Schulze's "Picture Music" than anything associated with the cheesy 1980s experiments that were to be hoisted on us. Really swell stuff here for old school space rock heads like me.

See the comments for updates from the band!

Priority: 2

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bahamas, France

Bahamas – Le Voyageur Immobile. 1976 Motors.

Song based progressive pop music sung in French. Relatively harmless, but does feature a few truly inspired progressions hidden within the commercial attempts. Nice organ and bluesy guitar leads are interspersed throughout. Not dissimilar to how the US groups operated in the mid to late 70s. Or perhaps one can be forgiven thinking of this album as a French Alan Parsons Project. Features a beautiful gatefold cover.

Priority: 3

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stefan Zauner, Germany

Stefan Zauner - Narziss. 1976 Ariola.
Stefan Zauner - Prisms and Views. 1978 Teldec.

So now I have 3 monsters to tell you about (coming soon!), plus one goodie I heard last night that I should be able to post about tomorrow (I need to hear it one more time). Anyway, let's continue the clearing house of the main list. I really don't care for these Zauner albums much, but I don't think they're worthless either.

Zauner was a figure involved with the late 70's Amon Duul II albums, and that's clearly not at their best stage. With that in mind, Zauner's own solo albums show enormous potential but fall considerably short. Narziss is the more interesting, as it features German lyrics and more quality synthesizer solos ala Banks. The tone of his voice and the overall structure of some of the compositions point to a love of the early 70s Genesis albums. But there are far too many other elements at play here to call this a progressive rock album - mostly it's straight ahead vocal rock. Prisms and Views falls further down the drain, now singing in English and pretty much tossing all progressive ambitions out the window. I owned this record many years ago, and sold it as quickly as I bought it. This revisit proved that was not a mistake.

Priority: none

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Paradise is Born, Germany

A Paradise is Born - s/t. 1978 TTS Records.

Following on my lead yesterday with Sustain, I'm going to start featuring albums from the main list that never received their own post. I will use these as "gap fillers" while I await some free time to checkout the great music already sent in from The AC, MM, SF and others.

Most of these albums are in the folk or fusion category, styles I didn't feature exclusively in the past. While still not my personal favorite genres, I know many of my audience here are dedicated fans. As hinted at prior, we still have 2 monsters to inform you all of, that I'm very excited about.

I first heard A Paradise is Born back in my cassette tape trading days of the early to mid 1990s. Below are my notes from the last listen back in 2007 or so:

German folky with dual male/female vocals, that sounds more English in execution (and language of course). Parallels to Carol Of Harvest can be found, but without the progressive elements. Some nice electric guitar leads. File next to Stone Angel.

You will sometimes find this album under the name Richard Abt. This album is still largely unknown and very obscure.

Priority: none

Thursday, January 26, 2012

News: The Laser's Edge to reissue Hermann Szobel!

The news continues to fly in this January. Ken has officially announced the reissue of this rare title from Arista. We featured this album long ago. You have to love an album that features the Flatiron building (maybe my favorite skyscraper architecture ever).

Ken is still determining if best fit is on his flagship TLE label or the fusion oriented Free Electric Sound. This will not be a Modulus release.

Excellent news!

Sustain, Netherlands

Sustain - s/t. 1978 private.

As mentioned on the Rhea spot, I realized I never posted about Sustain. It's definitely not a big deal, but given its rarity, I should at least put the word out. I first heard the album about 7 years ago, and had it buried in the main list.

Sustain's debut is one of those big time rarities that have collectors turning every stone over for. And when you finally here it, you go "What? That's it?" Sustain are about as generic as it gets. Slow to mid tempo rock/jazz tracks, amateur thin production, slightly spacey textures, poorly executed accented English vocals, some mild sax and guitar leads. I suppose if you listen to some other Dutch/Flemish albums from the era, like Flyte and Isopoda perhaps, you can get an idea of their sound, though not as professional as either. It's not that it is terrible or anything, but it's hard to imagine ANYONE getting too worked up about it. It's just so... so.... so....


Priority: none

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matao (with Atilla Engin), Denmark

Matao (with Atilla Engin) - Turkish Delight. 1980 Ra Records RALP-6046

Another insane obscurity from The Alaskan Connection. As noted by the AC, Atilla Engin is a Turkish percussionist who landed in Denmark and formed a fusion group. My first thought was this is Engin's response to Oriental Wind (who were based in Sweden)! But Matao are a more fiery bunch with a strong rock component (especially in the guitar work), verse the more decidedly jazz direction of Okay Temiz's group. As if a Turkish drummer suddenly took over Secret Oyster. Not surprisingly, there's a strong slant towards Middle Eastern melodies and scales. The AC's observation about the Rock Andaluz scene in Spain is very astute as well. Another excellent discovery and well worth a CD.

The AC says: "Atilla Engin is a Turkish drummer/percussionist who emigrated to Denmark in the 1970s and formed the band Matao with local Danish musicians. It seems they only stayed together long enough to record this one LP, but what an LP it is! This actually has some similarities with the Louis Banks/Sangam record I covered recently, in that it's an intense sort of ethnic jazz-rock fusion with a strong percussive drive, but obviously in this case with Turkish influences rather than Indian. But what really sets Matao apart and pushes this album over the top is the heavy dose of complex instrumental progressive rock that they throw into the mix, often achieving a sound that bears striking resemblance to some of the classic "Rock Andaluz" groups from Spain. In fact, one of the tracks here is actually named "Rain In Spain", so that style may have been a real influence on them rather than just a strange coincidence. In any case, this is a truly choice blend here. The musicianship and production are superb, and on top of that it's a fairly lengthy LP (over 45 minutes), but remains entirely consistent all the way through, with nary a dull moment or duff track to be heard. A real gem in my opinion, that unfortunately seems almost completely unknown. After Matao broke up, Engin formed a new band (still in Denmark) called the Atilla Engin Group. Their first album, "Nazar" (1982), while not nearly at the level of this one, is also worth tracking down."

Another serious rarity. Not listed in RYM(our friend Isabel has now added it!). As with many of these titles from the AC, I personally added this to our Gnosis database.

Priority: 3 (borderline 2 - probably a couple of more listens and I'll be there!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rhea, Switzerland

Rhea - Sad Sorceress. 1980 private (HD 363).

And here it is - probably one of the most mythical of the sought-after releases by progressive rock fans around the world. I first heard of this title about 5 years ago from Heavyrock. Once I started to search for it, I realized it was on tons of want lists, including from some of the world's largest collectors (which would include Heavyrock!). So it sat on my want list untouched - until now. Of course, leave it to the Alaskan Connection to turn this one up. When it comes to digging for rare treasure, he has no peer.

And with that fanfare out of the way, let's reveal the big secret....

.... exciting isn't it? ....

.... Tom pulls back the curtain....

Oh NO! It's a banana creme pie! (Let's Make a Deal anyone?)

While listening to Rhea I was most reminded of another treasure I hunted down for years: Sustain** from the Netherlands.

There were a few of these kind of European progressive rock acts in the late 1970s and early 80s. Long on ideas, but short on execution. You can tell they had talent, but without the major label funding and expertise, the level of professionalism was incredibly lacking. So I thought it was very astute of the AC to call out Schakta below, as that's a very apt comparison. They are both: From 1980, Swiss, amateurish, feature cool covers, nominally progressive, and mythical for collectors. In fact, Schakta was one of my top curiosities throughout the 1990s, after first hearing about it in a 1980s issue of Marquee Magazine (Japan). My review of Schakta here.

All the same, I enjoyed this album a bit more than both Sustain and Schakta (though hardly worthy of a CD reissue). It is quite charming in its ineptitude. The melodies are not bad, and I enjoyed the organ work - which was surprisingly good. Perhaps this latter element is the separator. Most of these type of albums rely heavily on thin sounding string synths (there is that too though).

So for every Genshi-Kyodotai, there are 5 Rhea's. That is to say, for every mythical album that is great, there are 5 that are hardly worth bothering with.

So unfortunately we have no choice but to demystify Rhea. Certainly my words alone will not stop the search, nor would I recommend that. But just be prepared: Rhea isn't going to be the next Dun or Kultivator.

Don't fret - we have at least two unknown monsters to talk about in the coming days. A few things behind the scenes are being worked out first.

Here are the excellent liner notes from The AC: "Swiss private press mega-rarity that has haunted the want lists of many a prog collector for years. The only problem is that it's not very good. The stumbling, amateurish musicianship and shaky, heavily accented female vocals are no treat to begin with, but are even further marred by a lo-fi, barely produced "live in the studio" sound that quickly grates on the ears. To put it in Swiss progressive terms, these guys make Schakta sound like Flame Dream in comparison. Most of the material is very basic and song-oriented, with only one brief instrumental that doesn't exactly light the world on fire either. About the only highlight here is the lengthy second track, "Going Through the Time To Live", with its droning organ and depressingly morbid lyrics, which has a sort of anachronistic proto-prog feel. I'm afraid it's all down-hill from there, though. At least the typically crude hand-drawn fantasy sleeve art is kind of cool, but that's only going to take you so far. In any case, the band seems to have been from the French speaking part of Suisse, and the album was recorded in Montreux. Oh, the irony..."

Priority: none

** Hmm... I just realized I never posted about Sustain separately. I'll take care of that later. Believe me, you're missing nothing with that album.

Monday, January 23, 2012

News: Aztec working on Jackie Orszáczky's "Beramiada" album

Like the Steven Maxwell Von Braund, here's another one that Aztec is working on!

We featured this former Syrius and Bakery bass player's sole album here

News: Musicbazz to reissue both Pete & Royce albums

And here's the first announcement from Musicbazz. I haven't heard the Pete & Royce (Greece) albums in ages, so I had them in the main list for a revisit. But I'll just buy the CD now! Spyros tells us: "The debut release, already pressed with only covers still pending, is the first two PETE & ROYCE albums on a single disk. Licensed directly from the band’s leader Panos Tsiros and mastered by their original keyboardist Nick Ghinos who is a professional studio owner."

Suffering of Tomorrow (1980)
Days of Destruction (1981)

News: Two new reissue labels launching soon!

I first got wind of this news from a regular reader on Saturday morning. By Sunday, I had full details. This is the most exciting industry news for the CDRWL since Ken started the Modulus label!

Long time friend and charter Gnosis member Spyros is involved with the new venture and he elaborates further: "A parent label baring the “Musicbazz” title and logo that will be dedicated to reissuing progressive, psych, folk, electronic stuff from 1965-1979. So as you can understand the musical style of the label will be somewhat multi-selective, covering a wide range of subgenres. The criteria will be simply “the greatest “unsung” albums from the aforementioned period still not on any CD or LP format”.

"A sub-label called “Cosmic Eye” focusing on post 80s stuff in the acid folk, cosmic electronics, psych doom, neokraut, avant ambient, retro progressive & space rock fields. The scope is reissues/resurrection of very rare material (previously issued only on cassettes or CDrs with minuscule original distribution) or new and promising bands."

Wow! He shared with me some of the newer bands they are seeking out, and they're exactly the type of music I love most, and are featured prominently on my Under the Radar CD blog. I'm not sure where all of the albums he mentioned to me (reissues and new) stand contract-wise, so I will refrain from posting about them just yet.

In the next post, MusicBazz has announced a couple of titles from our main list!

Very exciting!

News: Rictus debut to come out on Strawberry Rain!

Here's one that comes out of left field! Rictus band member Roland Brultey wrote in yesterday to let me know about this exciting development. I wasn't familiar with the Strawberry Rain label prior, and one look at their website showed a few other interesting releases, mostly from Indonesia. Apparently they are based in Canada, and it looks like a label worth following.

I asked Rol if the album was from the master tapes. His response: "No original tape, but a very good transfer and a restoring job which is made by one of the people restoring the Virgin and Atlantic catalogs. And on the CD, there will be bonus songs, and many photo's and an insert with the history of Rictus. I think that makes you happy guy!". And indeed it does makes me happy guy!

Thanks again to Rol for this exciting news. And to Carlos for the introduction!

We featured Rictus a little over 2 years ago.

November 2, 2012 update: From the label: "Reissue of a rare, 250 copy private press progressive rock album from France.  Recorded on a 4 track Akai in the small town of Luxueil-les-Bains, this album was only sold at a few shows and in one local shop.  Pressed at the small Le Kiosque D’Orphee pressing plant, this was truly a private offering with the band having made and glued the covers themselves.  A long album, including the 14+ minute Theme Guerre, the music spans from lo-fi fuzz laden garage sounding numbers to strong progressive songs with numerous bridges and changes. Conceptually a Rock Opera, but plays like a full length progressive album that could rival anything from France at the time.  Remastered with wonderful sound quality, this is sure to open the ears of many who’ve overlooked the band until now.  Limited edition one time pressing in heavy paste-on sleeves, including insert full of photos and history of the band as told by Rol Brultey himself.  LP limited to 550 copies, CD limited to 1000 and includes bonus songs not included on the original album.  Shipping late this month, in shops by November 2012."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Irolt, Netherlands

Irolt - De Gudrun Sege. 1975 Philips.
Irolt - Kattekwea. 1977 Philips.
Irolt - De Smid Van Earnewald. 1979 Philips.

These three albums were sent in courtesy of StrawbsFan (thanks again!), one of our more dedicated folk experts. As stated prior, I'm not the world's most famous progressive folk fan, but I do have an appreciation of the genre. My issues probably stem from my early childhood when my old man would torture me with his Irish/Celtic folk collection (when I just assume go out and throw the baseball with him instead...) And we're not talking the good stuff either - I mean this was the hardcore gather-round-the-pub drunken singalong stuff. But after hearing bands like Mellow Candle and Hoelderlin's Traum, that provided a whole other dimension of the folk genre for me, and I know many of you out there are big fans, so I'll report what I can with my somewhat limited knowledge / palate.

To my ears, Irolt straddle the line between progressive and contemporary folk. This is primarily acoustic folk with inventive arrangements. In this way, they are to folk what fellow countrymen Flairck are to classical music. I love hearing the Dutch language (Oops - correction. Thanks to reader Bas - the language is West Frisian. More info here.) , something that is sadly missing in almost all of the region's progressive rock recordings. If pressed for comparisons, I was most reminded of the German band Ougenweide or perhaps even the first Emma Myldenberger album. These are the Germanic equivalents of Fairport Convention and Pentangle. Though there's not really much of a rock element present here at all. Very professional and worth seeking out for fans. And the album covers are pretty cool too!

Priority: none

Saturday, January 21, 2012

News: Caldera's Sky Islands reissued in Japan

Been meaning to post this for a couple of days. Out of the same series (EMI Japan) that sees the reissues of The Fourth Way albums, comes the second Caldera album. The first album was reissued years ago in Europe on EMI (2004). I haven't gotten around to writing about any of these yet, though I put a placeholder in the main list last year (which is more than I did for The Fourth Way).

News: Esoteric February and March reissues

Nothing here caught my eye from my list, but I'm sure many of you will be interested in these titles. Esoteric always does a first class job and these will most likely be the best reissues to date.

"These are as follows

Terry Riley-A Rainbow in Curved Air
Terry Riley-In C
Jan Akkerman-Talent for sale
Gary Boyle-Electric Glide
Gary Boyle-The Dancer
Dave Brock-memos and demos
Hawkwind-It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous

Februarys titles are
Matching Mole-s/t 2cd expanded
Matching Mole-Little Red Record-2cd expanded
Lindisfarne-Back and Forth
Lindisfarne-Magic in the Air
Bill Nelson -Luminous
Omnia Opera (Delerium)--Omnia Opera/Red Shift
Colosseum 11-Strange New Flesh
Tangerine Dream-Live Miles

March titles are
Sanguine Hum---Diving Bell with 3 bonus tracks--
Tangerine Dream-Electronic meditation
Tangerine Dream-Pergamon
Decameron-Say Hello to the Band
Todd Rundgren and Utopia--Disco Jets (first Cd release outside of japan)
David Bedford-Stars End
Jim Capaldi-Whale Meat Again
Jim Capaldi-Oh How we danced"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tempo e Modo, Portugal

Tempo e Modo - Um Mundo a Construir. 1983? private.

This one comes courtesy of our friend Isabel at Prog Not Frog. I'd never even heard of this album, and one look at the cover had me intrigued. Given that they are of Portuguese origin and supposedly from 1980, I had presumed the album would be a symphonic fusion along the lines of Tantra and Ananga Ranga (which would have been great as well). But that's not really the case at all. Primarily it's a mixture of instrumental symphonic progressive rock combined with a distinct new wave element, that tilts the album towards the neo-prog camp. This latter style, as I've noted in prior posts, was quite a good genre in its early stages, and Tempo e Modo are an excellent example of it. Think early 80s IQ / Pendragon / Twelfth Night. The instrumental tracks are the highlight here, with a strong melodic content coupled with excellent guitar and keyboard runs. A very nice surprise. This is the kind of album Musea used to release in their prime. I keep hoping, perhaps naively so, that they will dip back into the reissue market.

The date commonly affixed to the album is 1980, but as noted in the YouTube video below, I also see 1983. And that does seem more like the logical date. Isabel also posted the back cover, but it doesn't indicate when it was recorded. Pure speculation on my part, but it sure does have that early 80s New Wave of British Progressive Rock thing going on.

The YouTube below gives you an idea of their "neo prog" sound. And to consider the instrumentals are even better, Tempo e Modo is a real nice find!

Oh, and be sure to read the comments from Dom. Excellent info- thanks!

Priority: 3

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Robin Runge, USA

Robin Runge - Don't Give Up the Ship. 1974 QCA
Robin - Don't Give Up the Ship. 1977 Century

moved to UMR

Priority: none

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Louis Banks' Sangam / Jazz Yatra Sextett, India

Louis Banks' Sangam - City Life. 1982 CBS (UK).

Also released in Germany as Jazz Yatra Sextett - Sangam on Eigelstein Musikproduktion.

Oh man, I'm so far behind. There are so many great rarities to talk about, but I'm struggling to get up for air and hear them. The Alaskan Connection has turned in some mighty fine gems in the last few weeks - which I'm sure most of you will be interested in. As mentioned at the beginning of the year, the real job is starting to heat up, so time is becoming an even more precious commodity. OK on to the show - let's see if I can get a few of these out anyway.

Back in the 1980s, one of my favorite discoveries was Embryo's Reise (1980 Germany). Embryo was only a name I'd seen in passing to that point, and so I took a chance on this sprawling double album that documented their musical and literal journey through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Even to this day, I think it's one of the most successful East meets West blending of styles. A true fusion of cultures. Back then, I had presumed perhaps there may be similar bands from the regions they had ventured to. 25 years on, without much evidence to support that theory, I had pretty much given up hope.

Until The Alaskan Connection sent in this gem from Louis Banks' Sangam. Certainly I'm familiar with L. Subramanian, Vasant Rai and others, but its clear right from the get-go that Banks' album is different - much more of the underground rock fusion that Embryo had provided my ears years earlier - and as you will read below, that is not coincidental. Not all of the ideas on the Sangam album work or flow perfectly, but it's exciting to know that an indigenous artist from India was exploring the vast reaches of the 70s jazz and rock underground.

Here are the fantastic "liners", as it were, from The AC:

CBS: IND 1006, 1982, UK

"Louis Banks (real name Dambar Bahadur Budaprithi), is an Indian jazz pianist who's worked with some of the big names in the jazz/fusion scene, including John McLaughlin. In the early 80s he got together with percussionist Ramesh Shotham and a group of musicians from the Karnataka College of Percussion to form the band Sangam, with the clear goal of mixing jazz-rock fusion with the virtuosic traditional music of India. They went on tour in Europe, and ended up collaborating with Embryo, who Shotham (the composer of all of Sangam's material) would play with off and on throughout the 80s. The group apparently didn't stay together for too long, but their album, recorded in Munich and co-produced by Christian Burchard, is a great piece of classic jazz-rock/ethnic fusion that has remained surprisingly obscure, despite its notable lineage. The first side is dominated by a massive, nearly side-long track, reaching a frenzied level of intensity that will leave your head spinning. Things calm down and get a bit moodier after that, but the standard remains very high throughout. Now, the strange thing here is that there are actually two different versions of this album. The first was released on the small German label Eigelstein under the title "Jazz Yatra Sextet", followed less than a year later by the CBS version reviewed here. Having heard both of them, I can say that the track orders are completely different, as are some of the track lengths, although the recordings themselves seem mostly identical. I'm only speculating here, but I think what might have happened is that once they received a little bit of exposure in Europe and got signed to a major label, they decided to re-arrange the material a bit to better suit their liking. However, the CBS version actually seems to be the rarer of the two, oddly enough."

Not listed in RYM (oh good, it's there now - Isabel added it!)

Priority: 3

News: P-Vine (Japan) to release Marc Moulin; Plus

Perhaps not surprising news, given that the Placebo albums have recently been given the royal treatment from P-Vine. March 14th is the projected release date for Moulin's 1975 album "Sam Suffy". Personally I think the album is a slight step down from the Placebo albums, but still quite good.

As well, P-Vine will be releasing a very rare 1972 album by the Belgian group Plus. I haven't heard this album, though it appears to be in a similar vein - and there is some cross-pollination between the groups. Plus is also scheduled to be released on 3/14.

Monday, January 16, 2012

News: Creole Stream (Japan) reissues Svenska Löd AB!

This is the second album we've run across from the mysterious Japanese label Creole Stream (the other was the German jazz rock obscurity Namaz). Since Heavyrock owns that CD I was able to review it, and it looks entirely legit. Still, I was hesitant to rush this news off until I checked with a music industry friend in Japan. He said he wasn't sure about Creole Stream. So I think we'll consider them legit until we hear otherwise.

Reader Bacoso also wrote in to let us know about this reissue. I'm definitely going to pick it up for myself.

We featured this album nearly two years ago
when I thought the name of the band was Horselmat.

News: EMI Japan reissues 2 of the 3 Fourth Way albums

That header sounds like a math formula doesn't it? This news comes courtesy of Mike M. via Laser Ken. I'm not sure why I never put The Fourth Way into the CDRWL - as I own the vinyl of Werwolf and it definitely fits our scope. Fourth Way are yet another band who were really jazzers but experimented with rock textures and instrumentation.

So the debut and the third album "Werwolf" have been reissued. No word on the live album "The Sun and Moon Have Come Together" which was recorded in 1968, but not released until 1970 (and according to a comment below - was reissued in 2010 on a label called Take 5 - thanks for the info!).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

VSOP, Japan

VSOP - s/t. 1973 London / King.

Ahhhh, finally a band from Japan that doesn't require me to type a book as the title! :-)

Here's the last of the Japanese rarities sent in by The Alaskan Connection, though we have a few more non-Japanese albums to cover, including one that's a total mindblower! For me anyway...

VSOP are a fairly typical early 70s blend of blues rock and various other styles. Side 1 is a pedestrian "trail mix" of genres, whereas Side 2 has a nice raw, grungy underground feel about it (and it's a live concert recording). This latter element recalls the Argentinian blues psych scene such as Pappo's Blues or Cuero.

Fortunately for us, The AC has provided a much more insightful review:

"London/King Record (Pop Shop): SKD (L) 1018, 1973, Japan

Side 1:

1 - Shizuka da kara

2 - Ame

3 - Omiyage

4 - Henji wa Irimasen

5 - Tengoku e Ikou

Side 2:

(Recorded Live 3/31/73)

1 - Haru

2 - Yuuwaku sarete

3 - Shinkyokushoukai:

- Chotto dake yo (Taboo)

- Shizuka da kara

4 - Kami ni Sugaru Yowaki Mono ni Utau Uta

Hard rock/heavy psych rarity by this largely unknown unit. Led by guitarist/vocalist Kazumi Mukai, they manage to kick up a pretty good racket here. The first side is a regular studio recording and runs the gamut from blazing guitar-led heavy rock to psych ballads, standard blues rock, etc, and features some fine songwriting throughout. The action really picks up on side two, a live concert recording from early '73. Long, jamming tracks filled with blistering heavy fuzz guitar soloing that will peel the paint off your walls if played at the proper volume. A very good album in this style, and should be a lot more well-known. Cool cover art, too. They also released an even more obscure second LP in 1975 called "Epilogue", which I haven't heard but apparently saw them heading in a less interesting pop-rock direction, as well as a few singles."

And like The AC, I love albums that peel the paint off the wall! Would be interesting to know if they had some archival material from this era.

Priority: none

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Galorn, France

Galorn - s/t (aka Jezaig). 1978 Velia
Galorn - s/t (aka Sands et Derobee). 1980 Velia

This one comes in courtesy of StrawbsFan, who has sent in a nice batch of folk and electronic rarities that we'll also be covering this month.

Galorn are one of many participants in the 1970s/80 Breton folk scene. I haven't really focused too much on the genre for the CDRWL (though I own my share of Malicorne albums), but I do have some peppered throughout the main list and a few more featured on the blog. And while the music is no doubt folk first and foremost, there are underground progressive elements in all of these albums to crossover to our interest area. I'll probably pull a few more out to feature over time.

I've only heard the first album to date, but it's on the darker side of the genre. This isn't gather by the campfire and put-your-hands-together music. Rather these are musical representations of the mystical Dark Ages. The kind of sound that might keep you up all night if you're easily spooked. Violin, flute, acoustic guitar, hand percussion and bass make up the instrument palette, and the atmosphere is misty and haunting. The album cover itself (top one) gives a pretty good idea of the contents within.

Priority: none

Monday, January 9, 2012

Toshio Tanioka / Tom & Jerrys, Japan

Toshio Tanioka / Tom & Jerrys - Nippon Minyou In New Country. 1972 Tam (Toho)
Toshio Tanioka / Tom & Jerrys - Human Being. 1973 Tam (Toho)

Here are a couple more major Japanese rarities sent in by the Alaskan Connection. This is stuff you can't find listed anywhere (including Rate Your Music). The 70s Japanese underground continues to reveal mysterious recordings not heard of prior. We're in 1600's era exploration mode for the modern age.

I'll admit that many of these albums are difficult to absorb at first. Similar to how we were first able to listen to Zeuhl or Krautrock or Canterbury. At some point all of us into experimental music made a leap from normal convention. To illustrate what I mean, perhaps I should use a food reference. It should come as no surprise that I'm also very much into exploring restaurants as well as trying new beers. One thing you notice over the years is tolerance for different flavors and styles. In effect, you train your palate to be able to distinguish the various ingredients and tastes. I feel the same about music. One has to train their ear palate as it were.

For this particular brand of Japanese rock music, my ear palate is untrained. I have a particular aversion to anything "country", and yet I found both of these albums fascinating. Tanioka has a smooth voice, almost like Marty Robbins (my Old Man had a pretty large C&W collection, so I do have some background knowledge of the genre). As well, harmonica is an instrumental that usually has me coiling in despair, and yet here it has a gratifying Spaghetti Western scene setting mood about it. There's also plenty of loose underground rock sections as well, so this isn't something out of scope.

The Alaskan Connection, on the other hand, has an advanced ear palate for this genre. So that's one reason (of many) on why I copy in his reviews- especially for those that are right there with him. So take it away AC!

Toshio Tanioka & Tom & Jerrys - Nippon Minyou In New Country

Tam (Toho): MX-4001, 1972, Japan

Toshio Tanioka - Violin, Guitar, Harmonica. Taisho-Goto, Percussion

Kazuo Mizobuchi - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

Yuichiro Toyama - Electric Guitar. Acoustic Guitar

Iwao Tsujita - Electric Bass, Piano, Cembalo

Shotaro Tanaka - Drums, Percussion

Side 1:

1 - Soran-bushi

2 - Tabaru-zaka

3 - Kobiki-uta

4 - Taue-uta

5 - Dompam-bushi

6 - Suisen no Hana

7 - Kiso-bushi

Side 2:

1 - Itsuki no Komori-uta

2 - Tairyo utaikomi

3 - Chamomi-uta

4 - Kuroda-bushi

5 - Asadoya Yunta

6 - Aizu-Bandaisan

7 - Kokiriko

Toshio Tanioka & Tom & Jerrys - Human Being (Ningen De Aru Koto)

Tam (Toho): AX-4005, 1973, Japan

Toshio Tanioka - Violin

Kazuo Mizobuchi - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

Yuichiro Toyama - Electric Guitar

Iwao Tsujita - Electric Bass

Shotaro Tanaka - Drums

Kazuko Katagiri - Lyrics

Side 1:

1 - Yukidoke

2 - Mike to Tama

3 - Kaminari

4 - Rengesou to Tentoumushi

5 - Okiwasureta Natsu

Side 2:

1 - Akimatsuri

2 - Taian Kichijitsu

3 - Asamoya no Naka de

4 - Furikaereba

5 - Kamakura

Toshio Tanioka is a violinist who made the rounds as a studio session-man in the early 70s Japanese rock scene, even scoring a playing credit on Yosui Inoue's "Koori no Sekai", probably the biggest selling Japanese pop/rock album of the entire decade. Soon afterward, he struck out on his own as the leader of the group Tom & Jerrys. Initially conceived as something of a country-rock band (American country music having a surprisingly large following in Japan), what they ultimately came up with bore scant resemblance to that style. You'll notice from the title of their first LP that, much like the Jirou Inagaki "Dousojin" album which I recently covered, this is another attempt at fusing traditional Japanese "minyou" folk songs with the emerging New Rock movement (or in this case "New Country", confirming their self image as a country-rock band). However, far from standard Japanese folk styles and even farther from any kind of country music you might have heard, the concoction they brewed up here is an exquisite mixture of deep, earthy Japanese folk-rock and languid jazzy psych that is nothing short of extraordinary. There's an incredible emotional depth to this work, something that's very hard to put into words. Each note is perfectly placed, seemingly filled with a deeper meaning related to the whole. The songs are compact and precise, with no wasted or excessive effort, but still fluid and expansive, filled with fascinating small details and nimble musical diversions. Kazuo Mizobuchi's vocals are incredibly beautiful, calm and reflective but filled with melancholy. All of these elements weave together to create an elevated, almost sacred atmosphere that seems to emanate from the very soul of old Japan. A haunting masterpiece which words fail to adequately describe.

Now, how does a group of mere mortals follow up such a transcendent work of art, merely a year later? Well, there's no way they really can, but "Human Being" is still a wonderful album in its own right. Leaving the traditional adaptations behind and concentrating on their own compositions, they created a fully realized concept album using the passing of seasons as an analogy for growing up and aging. A more light-hearted folk-rock sound predominates, and at times their country-rock roots finally come to the fore. But the musical imagination, impeccable performances, and focus on creating a unified whole all make this much, much more appealing than that description might imply. A subtle undercurrent of psychedelia is still present, and the many interesting sound effects and sonic colors evoke a palpable atmosphere, creating a sort of received nostalgia for a childhood spent in the rural Japan of an era long since passed. Aside from these albums, the group also appeared on the soundtrack of the film "Nippon Sanjuushi", which resulted in a single featuring a couple more original songs.

These LPs were both released on the Tam label, a subsidiary of the famous Toho film studios. Japanese prog fans might recognize this as the same label that also released the excellent Yasuo Inada and Bemi Family LP, but that minor classic is practically growing on trees compared to the mind-numbing level of rarity we're dealing with here. Even in Japan, these incredible albums are almost completely unknown. I sincerely hope that this lamentable situation will be rectified by a full reissue campaign at some point in the future. But until that time, Toshio Tanioka & Tom & Jerrys will remain one of Japan's greatest buried musical treasures.

Serious rarities for sure. And we've covered the Yasuo Inada and Bemi Family here on the CDWRL prior.

Priority: none

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mio Hani / Osamu Kitajima, Japan

Mio Hani / Osamu Kitajima - Mio to Juuippiki no Neko. 1972 Warner Pioneer.

Now here's an odd bird! Mio Hani is a 7 year old girl who pretty much recites non-stop throughout the whole album about her 11 cats - in Japanese of course. So it's basically a children's record... BUT... with the psychedelic band Far Out providing the background music. I won't lie to you, this one's a tough listen. However I think plenty of folks out there will be interested in this one, especially some of the darker fuzz laden moments towards the end of the album.

As usual, The Alaskan Connection writes a far better review and detail (not to mention providing the music itself!):

"Mio Hani was a young girl whose father was film director Susumu Hani, known mostly for his French-style New Wave films of the 1960s. In the early 70s, he apparently decided to give his little girl a star turn, casting her in the leading role of his latest film, "Yousei No Uta" (known simply as "Mio" in the west), a Japanese/Italian/French co-production (you can actually watch the whole thing on Youtube, just search for "Mio Hani"). Undeterred by its relative lack of success, he pressed on, conceiving an integrated media tie-in which included a children's book full of Mio's photographs and poems, as well as this unusual children's record of the same name. The whole concept behind this thing seems to be her obsession with cats and the strange fantasy dream-world that she inhabits with them. Anyway, her father decided to charge Osamu Kitajima with the job of providing musical backing for Mio's silly little songs/poems and odd ramblings, who naturally brought along his buddy Fumio Miyashita and the rest of the nascent Far Out (who had already released a single and appeared on the "Rock Age Concert" compilation and were just about to record their debut LP) to help him out. The end result is a concept album of sorts, although full comprehension will obviously be lost on those who don't speak Japanese (I can say that the lyrics are often quite amusing, for what it's worth). Musically, the best way to describe this is as a children's folk-rock album, although that doesn't really do it justice. It flows quite nicely through a variety of moods, and there are lots of neat little psychedelic touches going on in the background, if you listen closely. Occasionally (primarily on side two), the whole band gets brought in for a bit of Far Out-style psych/prog jamming, although that only lasts for a few minutes in total. Overall, it's probably closer to the Fumio & Osamu "Shinchuugoku" LP that was released around the same time than Far Out, but I honestly like this one a lot more. Maybe my brain was warped from watching too much of Carole and Paula's "The Magic Garden" as a young child back then, but I find the whole "psychedelic 70s kids show" atmosphere highly appealing. Comes in a really nice gatefold with an illustrated booklet."

And our friend Isabel copied this review from Tilapia Records of Japan into RYM:

"Mio Hani & Osamu Kitajima with Fumio Miyashita, SAYU EIICHI, ISHIKAWA KEI and ARAI MINAMI (basically Far Out backing up): “Mio To 11 Piki no Neko” (Warner – L-8014W) Hideously rare and impossible to get Japanese psychedelic masterpiece by ex-Far Out and Far East Family Band main man assisting a 7 year old kid on his trip through the love and death of 11 beloved cats. Basically this by Osamu Kitajima produced album was completely backed up by the band Far Out, who did not record their eponymous album until the following year in 1973 but their slowly acidic drenched lysergic jamming is already present on this monster album, only to fully explode when the second side rolls in and which they would perfect for their sole album the following year. The whole affair starts off with a distinct Far Out vibe backing up this young kid singing and talking about her cats. So basically this is a children’s disc where the musicians are tripped out lysergic gunslingers and although it may be deceptively innocent at beginning to dive into this album, it slowly grows darker and darker and acidic intoned. Mio starts singing off in an upbeat, playful and joyous style, interrupted by instrumental breaks where she lovingly raps away about her beloved cats. The scenery is almost folky but with some stoned laidback vibes shimmering throughout. The mood is light, upbeat and optimistic but as soon as side a draws to a close and side b begins the whole affair gets darker and darker as one of the cats gets sick and eventually dies, sucking you into a distorted perceptive and hallucinational vortex of slow bubbling paranoid dementia. And on that moment the true lysergic downer jam-infested riffage of the backing band comes shining through, revealing the true identity of the hired, longhaired acidic gunslingers that are Far Out in the making. Just a splendid record that till this day is still undetected by non-Japanese psychedelic music lovers. The reason for this is that it is a hideously rare album and that it basically always got rightly labeled as a children’s album but no one bothered to point out the lysergic nature of this gem. Largely unknown, but mind-blowingly great, this is one of my all-time treasured and favorite Japanese children/ psychedelic/ hybrid records of all time. Just never shows up on these shores since the album sold so depressingly badly upon its release that only a handful copies remain in circulation. Still affordable at a cheap price until a larger crowd will get air of it and push it through the roof. Just a massive disc and possibly the one to pick up out of this list. Filled with great acid deranged guitar licks and that will please everyone who is into Far Out and Far East Family Band discs. Simply a MUST!!!!! Price: 600 Euro"


Priority: none

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jiro Inagaki / Soul Media, Japan *** REISSUED ***

Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media - Dousojin (Yabunirami Minyoukou). 1972 Columbia

*** Reissued by Columbia April 2015  ***

Moved to UMR

Here are the details from the AC, with his usual fantastic review:

"Nippon Columbia: NCB-7017 (Adventure In Sound series), 1972, Japan

Jirou Inagaki & Soul Media (Music)
Yasushi Sawada (Vocals) Yasuhiro Koyama (Composer, Arranger)

Side 1:
1 - Inanome 2 - Kigishi 3 - Susomi 4 - Kusakahi 5 - Arisobe

Side 2:
1 - Tabute 2 - Sasara 3 - Yabunirami No Isan

Saxophonist and band leader Jirou Inagaki was a familiar face to Japanese jazz audiences in the 1970s, putting in countless hours as a studio session man, collaborating with most of the other big names on the scene, and fronting his own group, the Soul Media. Their early 70s catalogue is a real mixed bag of serious jazz (including collaborations with luminaries such as Masahiko Satoh and Hiromasa Suzuki), exploitation/covers LPs and a few albums worth of easy-going jazz-funk, such as "Head Rock" and "Woodstock Generation", which unsurprisingly later found favor with the hipster DJ types, leading to easily available CD reissues. However, in the midst of all this they also produced one album that should hold great interest to fans of progressive and psychedelic rock. Would it surprise you to hear that it also just happens to be horrendously rare and virtually unknown? No, I didn't think so. In any case, "Dousojin" (a type of Shinto fertility deity, often depicted on stone statues such as those seen on the album cover) is yet another attempt at fusing traditional Japanese music with "New Rock", in this case an interesting fusion of prog/psych and a uniquely Japanese sort of folk-rock. The songs, arranged by composer Yasuhiro Koyama (who also penned one side of Toshiyuki Miyama's "Tsuchi No Ne", another of Columbia's "Adventure In Sound" albums), are all actually variations and elaborations on traditional Japanese "minyou", old folk songs known to people all across Japan for countless generations. The whole album flows very nicely, running seamlessly from solemn folky songs to fuzz-guitar and piano led progressive pieces and back again, always maintaining a deeply Japanese atmosphere. The musicianship and production are both top-notch, as well. Another of Japan's truly excellent "lost" albums, terribly rare and barely known even in its own homeland. Hopefully a proper CD reissue will rescue this from obscurity someday, as I believe it could have wide appeal to fans of prog/psych, folk-rock, and enthusiasts of Japanese music in general."

Priority: 3

Monday, January 2, 2012

News: Vadim to release CCPP and Janko Nilovic CDs

Happy New Year everyone!

This year we open with a news item, which had slowed considerably in the last couple of months.

Before going to the announcement, let's recap some of what we can expect in 2012: 1) The first reissues from Modulus in March (Het Pandorra Ensemble, Randy Roos); 2) the remainder of the Sunbirds and Missus Beastly CDs from Garden of Delights; 3) and finally the much anticipated Laurence Vanay albums from Lion Productions. There are others of course in the hopper. 2011 was a great year for obscure progressive rock CDs, especially from Japan, so the bar has been set high for 2012.

Today's announcement comes from the hipster French label Vadim. Their label output crosses into CDRWL territory on occasion, generally in the areas of early/mid 70s jazz rock. Their best reissue to date, for me anyway, is Laurent Petitgerard's "Pop Instrumental de France".

For my tastes, neither CCPP nor the Nilovic are essential, but I know many who revere these records highly. We never featured the Nilovic and we have the CCPP only in the main list, where I had this thumbnail sketch: "Ceccarelli / Chantereau / Padovan / Pezin - C.C.P.P. (France) 1975 Flamophone. Typical funky fusion, though the guitar solos have more bite to them than usual, thus adding more to the score." Believe it or not, that's actually more informative than the label's description, which says: "Vadim brings you a shining example of 70s European jazz funk with this legendary and unique album from French supergroup C.C.P.P."

Just a quick note to state we still have plenty of rarities to talk about here. A large amount of albums came in from The Alaskan Connection that I still need to absorb. As well we have a couple left from the Midwest Mike stack, including one I think many of you will want to seek out instantly. And finally, StrawbsFan has sent in a nice batch of progressive folk and electronic rarities. Time is my eternal enemy, and the new year promises to be very busy from a career perspective - so we'll see how it goes. The more I can get done in the next couple of weeks, the better....