Friday, January 29, 2010

Eiliff - Close Encounter With Their Third One. 1972 Germany

Eiliff - Close Encounter With Their Third One. 1972. Archival

CD issue: 1999 Garden of Delights

Despite the title, this really isn't a "third" album, but rather a live concert from October 18, 1972 in Koln (Cologne). The majority of the disc is taken from their second and last album Girlrls! There is one new 5 minute composition entitled 'Lilybaeum' which is a quite nice atmospheric piece. The highlight of the album is Houschang Nejadepour's frenetic solo on 'Hallimasch'.

This is one of many great archival finds from Garden of Delights. They also later released a second live album from Eiliff entitled Bremen 1972.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wapassou - s/t. 1974 France

Wapassou - s/t. 1974 Prodisc

CD reissues: 1995 Musea; 1997 Si-Wan (Korea); 2009 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP); 2015 Lion (USA)

LP reissues: 198? Omega Studio; 2015 Lion (USA)

Wapassou is certainly one France's most innovative bands of the 1970s. And that's saying something given the competition. Basically Wapassou are a drummer less trio, with Crumar organ, piano, synthesizers, violin, guitar, bass and female vocals. Haunting, atmospheric music. Their debut is still perfecting the formula, so there are some drums and many guest musicians.

Original LPs (scans 1 and 2) are very rare. All the CD reissues above feature two bonus tracks (a single from 1974 that is very good). The liners for the Musea edition is in French. The Si-Wan is the exact same, with one page of additional notes in Korean. Only the usual Japanese liners for the Belle Antique version. The cover is one of my all-time favorites, and the LP is a centerpiece of my media room. My personal LP is the Omega Studios reissue (3rdscan), most likely pressed in 1985 or 86. Omega is a rebranding of Prodisc, so it's in effect a second pressing. I bought the Belle Antique CD mainly for the extraordinary cover. I have not heard the Lion issues to date.

Last update: August 22, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ethos - Ardour. 1976 USA

Ethos - Ardour. 1976 Capitol

CD reissues: 1993 EMI/Capitol (Japan); 2009 EMI/Capitol (Japan mini-LP)

Packaging details: With an original album on a major label such as Capitol, some may find it strange that the only way to obtain Ethos' classic debut "Ardour" on CD is via a Japanese press. But perhaps not so strange given the pathetic stance of the money hogging pop culture of the music business in America. 1976 was a different time and place for both American culture and business in general. So an album like Ethos could squeak in on a major label, make a decent profit, and everyone would go home happy. Today, I'm sure Ethos is held up at corporate meetings as a prime example of "Mistakes from the Past - How to Avoid them, a Seminar". I own the original LP (which you can still obtain very cheap) and the Japanese mini-LP version.

Notes: Ft. Wayne's Ethos were like many bands of the Midwest whose obsession with Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant are well documented. These English progressive bands would enjoy regular airplay on the local underground, and very popular, FM stations played throughout the region. Concerts were met with great enthusiasm, and any kid that possessed a great talent for musicianship along with a hyperactive imagination, were quickly assembling together a band and making a go of it for themselves. Most ended up nowhere. Some procured a private release handed out at sparsely attended concerts by local union workers who were more interested in the booze and broads than the music itself. And then a few made the "big time". In this scenario, Ethos were one that MADE IT. Today, they're the kind of band that late middle aged guys whisper quietly about in a game of I-know-more-about-music-than-you-do. As in "I own an album I bet you haven't heard, that's way cool - a band called Ethos. Bet you haven't heard of them!". So basically popular enough to still be called out by over-aged dorks, yet too obscure for anyone at Corporate America to give a rat's ass about. Pretty much sums up the American progressive rock scene of the 1970s doesn't it?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Edgar Froese - Macula Transfer. 1976 Germany

Edgar Froese - Macula Transfer. 1976 Brain

CD reissue: 1998 Manikin

Packaging details: There are other CDs, but they are all remixed versions that are not desirable. The Manikin CD is the only one from the original masters tape. Unfortunately it's very difficult to find now, and has become quite expensive. Fortunately the original LP stayed in print well into the 1980s, so I would recommend buying the LP and burning your own CD-R copy in the interim.

Review: It wasn't long after I discovered Tangerine Dream in the early 1980s, that I found myself immersed in the Froese discography. And I promptly picked up every album from "Aqua" to "Pinnacles". None were as profound to my young ears as "Macula Transfer".

For me, T Dream's "Phaedra" and "Rubycon" were life changers - albums that altered the way I viewed, and ultimately listened to, music. To this day "Rubycon" is a Top 5 album, and probably will always remain that way. So it has always seemed strange to me that "Aqua" and "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale" never resonated in a similar manner. Froese's solo albums typically represented the same style of the corresponding Tangerine Dream album of the same year. And in that way, both "Aqua" and "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale" are further elaborations on ideas set forth prior. And since they are indeed solo albums, they do indeed sound like stripped down versions of the more fleshed out T Dream trio. I never embraced them in the same way. So last week, as I picked up a new Green Brain LP copy of "Aqua", I was determined to give it one more shot. And still no emotional movement. Just so I'm clear - I think these albums are excellent. They are absolutely essential to a serious electronic music collection, and they both come wholeheartedly recommended from me. But they aren't special in the same way that "Phaedra" and "Rubycon" are. To me, that is.

So with all that out in the open, let me state now that "Macula Transfer" is indeed that special album. It was always the "odd album out" in the Froese catalog. It's the only album by Froese, and Tangerine Dream for that matter, that was released on Brain Metronome exclusively. No represses on Virgin. And because of the latter omission, finding "Macula Transfer" on CD has become quite the challenge. But before we go to that topic, let's discuss the music. Because it too is quite unique. "Macula Transfer" is unlike any Froese album... or Tangerine Dream album. It is not Froese's solo response to "Stratosfear". Or to anything else. Even today, as countless artists try to recreate the "classic trio" era of Tangerine Dream, no one has really attempted a try at what Froese did here. Basically Froese mixed his obsession of the mellotron with an instrument that he had basically packed away for several years -- the electric guitar. And other than maybe "Electronic Meditation", there is no other album from Froese that features as much psychedelic noodling as "Macula Transfer". His mixing of choral mellotron with atonal fuzz soloing remains a highlight of his entire canon, and is downright chilling.

Now a word about Edgar Froese and reissues. The dude is downright goofy about his past work. Clearly he suffers from OCD, as he cannot leave well enough alone. So rather than release straight reissues of past material, he finds it necessary to either re-record, or remix all of his previous work. So there's a "Macula Transfer 2005" for the 5 people who are interested. As my cohort Mike says on these very pages: "Edgar's got a serious penchant for adding graffiti to his old art that's extremely frustrating to his fans and to date I haven't seen a single positive review of the redos of albums like Epsilon and Aqua, which apparently have been techno-fied and modernized and well, just about everything a classic fan doesn't want." Unfortunately if you want the original recording, you'll need the Manikin CD - or the multitude of Brain LP releases.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Circus - Movin' On. 1977 Switzerland

Circus - Movin' On. 1977 private

CD reissue: 1990 Decoder

Packaging details: Circus' second album, and recognized masterpiece, is also frustratingly not available (legit that is), and hasn't been for many years. I was fortunate to pick up the CD when it first came out. I wasn't familiar with the group at the time, but Greg Walker at Syn-Phonic convinced me I would not regret the purchase. And as is usually the case, he was right. Later on, I bought the original LP on ebay to shore up the collection.

---Sireena of Germany had announced its intention to reissue the first album late in 2009, as reported on our CD Reissue Wish List site. But they backed away from that, and no other followup announcements have been made. If it does indeed come to fruition, then it would stand to reason "Movin' On" will finally become available again. This album has been booted more times than a juvenile delinquent at a nun's ass kicking contest.

Notes: The first 4 tracks are really swell, but what sends this album to the stratosphere is the 22 minute plus title track. It's actually quite amazing there isn't any electric guitar, though the bass and drum work is just phenomenal here, and propels the music to an incredible intensity.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ash Ra Tempel - Le Berceau de Cristal. 1975 Germany

Ash Ra Tempel - Le Berceau de Cristal. 1994 Spalax. 1975 archival recording

Release details: The one and only release of this is the extinct 1994 CD, which has now become quite the collectable item. I bought mine immediately upon release. Though I've seen copies for a reasonable amount in auction. Patience will likely pay off here. The liner notes are in French, which is disappointing.

Notes: 1975's Le Berceau de Cristal (not released until 1994) is a soundtrack to a French film, which displays the logical development between the Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra albums. Manuel Gottsching lined up with friend, and former Agitation Free guitarist, Lutz Ulbricht to continue his exploration of  cyclical guitar sounds and electronics. It's truly a successor to "Inventions for Electric Guitar", with sound on sound electric guitar at its core, with some sequencers, Farfisa, and other synthesizers added on top.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ash Ra Tempel - Inventions For Electric Guitar. 1974 Germany

Ash Ra Tempel - Inventions For Electric Guitar. 1974 Kosmische Musik

LP reissues: 1975 PDU (Italy); 1975 Cosmic Music (France); 1981 Pop Import; 2016 MG.ART

CD reissues: 1991 Spalax (France); 1998 Spalax (France); 2004 Arcangelo (Japan mini); 2010 Belle Antique (Japan mini); 2011 MG.ART

Here's where Manuel Göttsching began his solo career, though he maintained the Ash Ra Tempel moniker for one more album. Inventions for Electric Guitar was a revolutionary album for the day and is still forward-looking over 35 years later. Creating a sound-on-sound electronic vibe using only guitars and tape loops, Manuel weaves a wonderful tapestry of music that is at once intense and yet beautiful. He adds color with vicious solos while the guitar loops are bouncing in the background. Yet another brilliant work - and something entirely different for his past works.

It's been said this is the first electronic album performed entirely on electric guitar. And while Achim Reichel employed a similar tactic, his albums were group efforts. Gunther Schickert, another follower of this technique, also first released his landmark "Samtvogel" in 1974.

Originals are housed in a single sleeved cover. My first LP copy came in the mid 1980s, at The Record Gallery in Dallas, on the Pop Import imprint. I sold that once the first CD (Spalax) came onto the market. It's been reissued many times on CD, and my current copy came with the Ash Ra Tempel box set that also included the first two albums. An odd mix, but I'll take it. Interestingly enough, the album didn't come out on CD in Gottsching's native Germany until 2011, when he released it on his own label. None of the CDs are particularly noteworthy - all straight reissues. Finally in late 2016, I secured an original LP. I now possess original LPs for all of the Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra albums except New Age of Earth (which was ironically the first one I ever bought - but sold the LP years ago. D'oh).

Last update: February 25, 2017

Friday, January 8, 2010

La Seconda Genesi - Tutto Deve Finire. 1972 Italy

La Seconda Genesi - Tutto Deve Finire. 1972 Picci

CD reissues: 1994 Mellow; 2002 Akarma (w/Paride e gli Stereoquattro - Naufrago in città)

LP reissue: 2002 Akarma

The first two tracks are instrumental jazz + rock with squonking sax, a driving rhythm, and a general sense of abandon. I'm reminded most of Duello Madre at this point. The remainder of the album is more geared towards the early Osanna sound (L'Uomo in particular) with wailing flute, crunchy organ, loud guitars, and super vocals in Italian. 'Dimmi Padre' is definitely the highlight, a composition that could have been lifted right off of Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno's excellent album. It's the classic Italian progressive rock sound, and done so well here. Highly recommended album.

A super rare album in original form, where LP's can run well into the thousands of dollars. Each is hand painted (see top copy), and it is said only 200 were produced. Based on my own observation over 30 years of collecting, this would seem to hold true. The Akarma CD (second scan) comes in a thick tri-fold "Karma-Pak" with liner notes in Italian. The CD is a vinyl transfer. I'll feature Paride e gli Stereoquattro at a later time. And that time has finally come.

Last update: January 7, 2017

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Aera - Turkis. 1979 Germany

Aera - Turkis. 1979 Erlkonig

CD reissue: 2004 Erlkonig w/ Live

Packaging details: The CD is a double that also includes the "Live" album from 1980. The original LP is relatively common. I personally own the CD.

Notes: Here's one of Aera's later 1970s albums, where the band veers into funky fusion territory, similar to other German bands of the era like Kraan and Munju. Fuzz bass, organ and extra percussion take this to a higher place than most though. Not the highlight of their catalog, but a good random pick all the same. Best track is the 3 part suite 'Dracula' which mixes haunting organ with a late 70s midnight spacey vibe. Watch out for tracks like 'You Need Some Speed' and 'Siebert' that are a bit generic in that Sanford & Son theme song sort of way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Embryo - Father Son and Holy Ghosts. 1972 Germany

Embryo - Father Son and Holy Ghosts. 1972 United Artists

Other UMR features on Embryo

CD reissues: 1999 Disconforme (Andorra); 2003 Garden of Delights
LP reissue: 2010 Wah Wah (Spain)

Release details: The original LP features a wonderful gatefold, and has become pricey over the years. I bought my copy at a local Dallas record store in the late 1980s, and that was my introduction to the album. Originals are scarce and expensive, so I think this title is a good candidate for an LP reissue, which Wah Wah has supplied. The Garden of Delights CD adds a 20 minute live bonus track, and full liner notes. I still own the Disconforme issue myself, but would like to upgrade at some point.

Notes: It's a well known tale now, but this was actually the 5th album by Embryo, and the 3rd attempt to appease United Artists as a followup to Embryo's Rache. The label wanted a more commercial release, and thus rejected both Steig Aus and Rocksession, both later purchased by Metronome and released on their Brain imprint (green label). Father Son and Holy Ghosts is by no means commercial, and one suspects the label gave up at this point - and released Embryo out of their contractual obligations afterwards. One of the highlights of this release in particular is the contribution of Sigi Schwab on guitar, who adds a lot of exotic eastern stringed instruments to the mix. Just listen to 'King Insano'. Probably the track that defines the album best. Moody and introspective with flute and Schwab's exotic electric stringed instruments (veena, tarang). Hoffman adds some amplified sax while the band grooves hard (and wonderfully phased I might add). At close to 5 minutes, it's Embryo concentrate - just add water.

Last update: July 25, 2015

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rhesus O - s/t. 1971 France

Rhesus O - s/t. 1971 Epic

CD reissue: 1996 Musea

Packaging details: I once had the original LP, but it wasn't a very good copy and played with considerable background noise. The Musea CD is excellent as usual with complete liner notes and photos. And that is what I currently own.

Notes: Rhesus O are most notable for featuring future Magma bassists Francis Moze and Bernard Paganotti. Most of the compositions open with a tight structure, and a strong melodic quotient (which is where the Canterbury comparisons come from), while featuring loose jazz solo segments in the middle. The longer the track, the more noisy the jazz segments become. I prefer the shorter pieces under 5 minutes myself.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Flasket Brinner - Flasket. 1972 Sweden

Flasket Brinner - Flasket. 1972 Polydor

CD Reissue: 2002 Universal-Mellotronen

Packaging details: The original is a double LP, but the CD is a single. To accomplish this feat, the band dropped two tracks. One a very short incidental piece from the studio album. The other is the awful "Wild Thing" cover, by far the worst thing on the original live side - and a blessing it's been left off. The CD features a great sound, and a nice tri-fold digi-pak. I sold the LP to no regrets

Notes: This is a fantastic Swedish psychedelic progressive album, continuing on from the awesome debut. While the first album had more of a jamming like outlook, their second album focused more on compositions. At its best, like on Grismakt, we hear Flasket Brinner mixing in Swedish folk melodies, while building on an instrumental intensity. The pyrotechnic psychedelic jamming found here is some of the finest ever committed to tape. Other classic tracks include Klotet, Bennys Hammare, Jatten Feeling, Batum, Bosses Lat, Tysta Finskan, Orspranget. There are a couple of throwaway tracks like Anderssons Groove which is a typical early 70s rock n roller completely at odds with the other material.