Hermann Szobel - Szobel. 1976 USA

Hermann Szobel - Szobel. 1976 Arista

CD reissue: 2012 Laser's Edge

Packaging details: The Flatiron building is still my favorite skyscraper, and quite an engineering marvel for 1902. So any album cover that features it, I'm likely to appreciate. The album itself was a CDRWL feature until this summer. The new Laser's Edge CD is fantastic, with great sound, unseen photos, and excellent historical liner notes, "Szobel" is certainly one of Arista's most obscure releases. Arista started as a "progressive" label, much like Virgin did, but by 1978 they were already hopelessly signing commercial slop.

Notes: An album that is complex as all get out by 18 year old prodigy pianist. "Szobel" has a distinct avant progressive flavor to it, though I suspect there's no intention of going for that sound per se. Instrumental Frank Zappa is an obvious influence here, with some tight wind charts, and I'm betting that Szobel may have heard a Henry Cow album or two.

So I first wrote the above sketch in 2006. I've since been told that Szobel was largely ignorant of contemporary music, which seems to be consistent with his very eccentric personality. Even today, no one knows exactly where he is. He's pretty much disappeared into the ether.

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