'First Communication' defines the new ethos of Agitation Free. One that is considerably looser, more laid back and well, free. Generally this is where the West Coast term is applied. The late 1960's psychedelic scene of the San Francisco Bay Area as defined by The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. A pleasant guitar lead jam, if not exactly a great way to state "we're back!". 'Dialogue and Random' recalls the experimental aspects of 'Pulse' from Malesch and is somewhat of a waste of time. It's the two part 'Laila' where things become interesting, with a fine loud guitar solo among the somewhat peaceful surroundings. 'Laila, Part II' has a killer drum and bass line, followed by a stunning acid guitar melody, certainly Agitation Free's most recognized after 'Rücksturz' from their debut. The return of the swirling organ from the Malesch era is also much welcome. A stone classic of a song. 'In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise' brings us another strong Agitation Free styled melody, in a more laid back setting that typifies 2nd. A sweet, serene song. 'A Quiet Walk' is the odd bird in Agitation Free's catalog, sounding like a lost outtake from an Ohr label recording session. Part one's 'Listening' is an exercise in soundscape and atmosphere. With echoed found sounds, and layers of background organ, the feel is one of meditation and reflection. I think if there wasn't a payoff at the end, this could be seen as somewhat boring in the same way as 'Dialogue and Random'. But at roughly the 5 minute mark I suspect we hit the 'Not of the Same Kind' portion of the track, which provides the climax to the plot set out in part one. Acoustic guitar strumming lay the bed of rice for the main course - some mighty fine electric guitar runs (with studio effects) and percussion. Not an immediately likable song, but one whose hidden qualities come after multiple listens. If 'A Quiet Walk' pulls us out of the creative station, then 'Haunted Island' is off the rails. And it's a stunner. Here we get Agitation Free in hard blues rock territory complete with narrative vocals, some treated with a Leslie ala Brainticket's Cottonwood Hill and some really mean fuzz guitar solos. A closer that is at complete odds with anything else on this album, or even Malesch. A whole album of this style would have been amazing to behold. Bonus track 'Laila 74' takes us back to 2nd's finest melody - here in a live setting (decent quality) where the structure is looser and the jam more intense. An awesome addition to an already great album.
LP: 1973 Vertigo
CD: 2010 Belle Antique (Japan)