CD: 2011 Black Widow (Italy)
* - A "reviewer" on RYM uses this term often as a pejorative.
LP: 2001 Akarma (Italy)
CD: 2010 Air Mail (Japan)
CD: 2005 Musea (France)
CD: 2000 private
Ramp originally started as a trio, and the synchronicity of ideas is apparent. There were (and are) a ton of solo electronic musicians, but many of those sound monolithic to these ears. The best acts, like the ones I mentioned above, feature at least 3 performers if not more. Later, the band changed their sound to what they call "doombient" which I hope to hear one day as well, though I'm not entirely convinced it's a style I'll embrace. Hardcore EM followers no doubt are already very familiar with Ramp.
The lineup on Nodular is:
Frank Makowski: sampling, sequencing, electronics, loops
Stephen Parsick: electronics, sequencing, rhythm programming
Lambert Ringlage: electronics, micro composers, tapes
Martina Fantar: voice on "before the storm"
Martina's atmospheric voice is positively enchanting in this setting.
All the tracks are good, but the 19 minute 'Phasenverzerrung' is absolutely brilliant. If it doesn't lay you out on the first try, then there's a better than average chance this style isn't for you.
CD: 1998 Manikin
CD: 2004 If Society
CD: 2002 If Society
About the only group from France that Fernand Pena et Puzzle remind me of is Canelle. And as you may recall from that entry, my initial thought about them is that they were from Quebec. Perhaps Fernand Pena et Puzzle is a bit less pop/country than Canelle, and more geared toward progressive and psych. So in that light, Fernand Pena et Puzzle recall groups such as L'Engoulevent, Connivence, and Harmonium more so than the standard Brittany groups of Malicorne or Gwendal. While it's not specifically cited in the liner notes, I doubt Pena is from Breton, and thus that adds another dimension to the usual folk music coming from France. There is some really fine electric guitar work here, among the folk/vocal based compositions. At times it's straight rock, others it's haunting acoustic folk, and even a little bit of funky business to date it precisely at 1977. Despite the band moniker, this isn't really a solo affair, as the group Puzzle features no less than 10 members (mostly on various stringed instruments).
LP: 1977 Centaur
The album is housed in a nice gatefold cover. Still no legit reissues can be found.
LP: 1972 Brunswick
This album never did get reissued. I was in touch with McLuhan member Paul Cohn back from about 2007 to 2011 or so, but I hadn't been able to find out anything else. I don't think they ever found David Wright, who was the primary songwriter. There's more info from my old CDRWL blog here. That post also points to Paul's blog, where he has a recent entry that should be read.
Klaus Schulze was one such luminary to be attracted by this large Japanese ensemble. Helping produce their early albums (the first two albums are very similar, the latter of which was re-recorded and sung in English, and other slight variations), Schulze saw an opportunity to promote cosmic rock all over the globe. However, I always felt the debut album/successor tried too hard to be the next Dark Side of the Moon. The instrumental bits are great only to be ruined by sensitive pop ballads - not Far East Family Band's strong suit I'm afraid.
But it all came together on Parallel World. Focusing on their instrumental cosmic sound and pretty much foregoing the pop commercial-oriented songs, the six-piece Far East Family Band unleashed a gem that easily could have found itself on the Kosmische Kouriers label. In fact, the recording comes closest to sounding like the first Cosmic Jokers album with more focus given to the whooshing synthesizers than the guitars (Schulze's influence?). As one can guess, the two keyboard players are featured most prominently, and it's hard to imagine that Far East Family Band actually had two guitarists as well!
The album opens with 'Metempsychosis' (Arzachel anyone?) which is a tribal drum and synthesizer atmospheric backdrop piece that sets the stage for 'Entering' which contains some intense fuzz bass and a ripping guitar sequence among the 12 minutes of keyboard ecstasy. Brilliant, and this is the finest track Far East Family Band has ever recorded! 'Kokoro', thankfully, is a short psych ballad. This is the sort of piece their first albums featured, so one can get a brief whiff of this style. The side long closing title track sounds like a long-lost Galactic Supermarket recording and aptly finishes a masterwork of cosmic progressive space rock.
CD: 2009 Super Fuji
There are at least two covers for the original. The first scan above represents the original cover. My first exposure to this album was the second LP press (second scan). I eventually sold it, once I obtained a CD press, which ended up being a boot despite it being sold in legitimate channels. One has to be very careful when looking for the CD. There are only 2 legitimate presses that exist, as I write this. One is the very obscure 1991 release on Columbia, and the other is the Super Fuji Japanese mini-LP, which I ultimately sourced for the collection. There are numerous pirate editions, so be careful!
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