CD: 2012 Production Dessinee (Japan)
As with the recently featured Mike Selesia album, here's another surprise reissue we announced on the CDRWL back in June this year. And similarly it's a Japanese mini-LP, from a reputable label. When reading through the Production Dessinee discography, I found myself trying to find a musical link with Catch Up. I can't - it seems to be an anomaly for the label. As for the packaging, the original was a single sleeve, and thus this an exact miniature replicate. As is custom with Japanese releases, the only liner notes are in kanji. But barring any specialist label reissuing this, then this is a fine alternative. Not sure why Crippled Dick Hot Wax didn't release it, since they had already reissued their debut album.
And we haven't even hit the album's most transcendental piece - the two part title track that encompasses all of Side 2. Starting with male monk like chants, you already know this is going to descend into the deepest recesses of your mind. Acoustic guitar, cello, flute, chimes, wordless female voices, and hand percussion fill out part one 'Hegoa Heldu Da', and then it goes deeper down the well on the second part 'Maritxiki Korupeko', where they subsequently turn on the electricity. And the female voices become more haunting. And then... well... discover for yourself I'd suggest.
This is a special work and entirely unique amongst all the albums coming from the Basque country.
CD: 1994 Elkar / Lost Vinyl
The original is a gatefold, and has always been rare. Released exclusively in the Basque country of Spain, the album had very limited distribution. I bought the CD when it came out, and that was my first exposure to the album. It's a joint release from Basque specialist label Elkar with the progressive leaning Lost Vinyl label of Valencia. Worth noting that the CD has a purple night sky rather than the dark blue as found on the LP (the photo above is the original LP cover).
La Statale 17 is a fine melodic instrumental progressive rock act. Nothing overly dramatic or dynamic, as would be found in the 1973 Italian progressive heyday. Just a pleasant romp with guitars and string synths brought to the fore. Similar to other northern European progressive groups from this time frame such as Lady Lake (Netherlands), Ocarinah (France), and Flame Dream (Switzerland). I'm sure had the band possessed more of a support base, they could have been a top tier group. As it stands, they are a nice historical curiosity.
For Side 2, Emphasis looks towards Genesis as an influence. They took the unusual step, for an Italian band that is, to sing in English. And they also employ some flute and acoustic+fuzz guitar strengthening the comparison. But like La Statale 17, there's a distinct Northern European slant to their sound, most notably Hoelderlin at the time of Clowns and Clouds comes to mind. But references to Saga (Netherlands) and Neuschwanstein (Germany) would not be out of place. There are some really fine instrumental passages throughout, and Emphasis represents the better of the two acts to my ears.
CD: 1994 Mellow
A very rare album, released only in Germany originally to an audience of absolutely no one I presume.
CD: 1995 Silence
My first copy of the album was the original LP, but moved it after replacing it with the CD, to no regrets.
CD: 1999 Spalax
From the town that hosts the University of Michigan, and it's clear the student body was TURNED ON in 1968 (which might explain why they lost to Ohio State 50-14 that year, but that's another story...).
SRC's debut is one of the gems of the major label US psych scene. Crushes most albums in this genre. Don't miss out on this one.
CD: 1993 One Way
Music From Heaven was originally released on Tokyo's own Marquee Moon as a promo LP, and may have in fact been the first release for the label/magazine/store. Though the Belle Antique CD lists 14 tracks, everything is stuffed onto one indexed song making it a PITA to listen to one particular track. When listening to the CD carefully on headphones, you'll hear background music, as if the master tape contained other music before being overwritten with Mako's album.
2015 update: I sold my CD copy (1994 Belle Antique)
A stunning work of psychedelic music, that makes you pine for more of it. If only there was more of it....
At least one well known collector on RYM says it's his favorite album ever. That's outstanding. I'll say top 75 for me. An amazing piece of music.
LP: 1969 Discofoon
CD: 1991 Free (Germany)
The original LP comes in a fine single sleeve with a flapback cover. An album I paid good money for a nice copy, and wouldn't have it any other way. This one's coming to the grave with me anyway. Can you believe this album was released by a department store (Vroom & Dreesman)? It blows my mind to even dream of albums like this coming out from, oh I dunno... say... Montgomery Ward. It's impossible to fathom! Incidentally the store is still going strong today, but it's been many years since they were in the music business. The 1978 release features a completely different cover. Gone are the stoned guys on the front. That's part of the charm!
I once had the Free CD listed as a bootleg, but I received a note from the label stating adamantly that it was legit. There is a pirate Free label, and I'm not sure if it's the same one. Discogs, for their part, label this CD as "unauthorized". The sound is fine and the cover has been faithfully reproduced. And that's it. It's a cheap one page liner card. There is a recent reissue on Pseudonym that I should investigate.
CD: 2008 Tempus Fugit / SPV
The Tempus Fugit CD is the definitive edition. It comes in a slip case, with a full poster, new essay, photos, and a 26 minute bonus track. The CD also includes a replication of a poster from a concert in Stuttgart, resembling the album cover art.
Only misstep is '22 Broad Street' while all of Side 2 is great, especially 'Orange Climax'.
Musea CD adds two newly recorded (1999) short tracks from Boulé, Verdeaux, Tim Blake and others. Both are surprisingly relevant and very good.
CD: 1999 Musea
CD: 2012 Shout! Deep Jazz Reality (Japan)
As mentioned in the CDRWL, talk about a surprise reissue! Deep Jazz Reality is a respected label out of Japan, who reissue obscure US based jazz albums. The package is very nice - an exact replica of the original single sleeve cover (presumably, as I've never actually owned one). There's an interview with Selesia in the liner notes. The bad news is it's been translated to Japanese, so not much help for us English readers. Maybe someone can translate it one day.
Like all worthy Italian bands of 1973, Alphataurus on their self-titled debut, featured top notch musicians to play guitars (electric and acoustic), bass, drums, and an arsenal of keyboards (organ, synths, piano, spinet, vibraphone). And, of course, the requisite dramatic, powerful vocals in the Italian language. The music alternates between heavy and soft, and is at most, heavy rock with hundreds of time signature changes, not to mention navigating through the style changes which include classical, blues, jazz, Italian pop of the 19th century and hard rock. How this all meshes seamlessly is the brilliance of the Italian progressive rock Renaissance. The five long tracks here all display these wonderful qualities and represent yet another classic of the day. Stylistically, they compare most to Banco del Mutuo Succorso.
Fortunately, it wasn't just the music that called for high levels of creativity. The album art work was but one more exciting component of the movement. And here, Alphataurus moves to the top of the class. The original on Magma Records features a triple fold out cover of an olive branch-carrying dove dropping nuclear bombs out of its hatch while an inferno takes place below. A jaw dropper.
LP: 1992 Si-Wan (Korea)
CD: 2003 Arcangelo (Japan)
One of the most extraordinary covers of them all (as stated above), the original is a amazing triple FOC, and is now extremely rare and sought after. I was never fortunate enough to own one, and now the price is exorbitant. My first copy was the single sleeve Japanese LP on King that I picked up the late 1980s. I eventually replaced that with the triple FOC on Si-Wan, and still own this copy today. Si-Wan later repressed this as a single sleeve and is relatively common. One of a handful of original LPs that I don't have, and that I'd consider spending major money for to obtain.
CD: 1999 Cohesion
The CD above adds 4 bonus tracks which are pretty much worthless as they are single and/or mono versions of tracks from the album. The CD features a nice 2 page essay in English and full recording details. A very nice reissue that is still widely available.
II: This one picks right up where the debut left off, with a noticeable production improvement. The muddiness of the debut is mostly absent here (though still far from perfect), and the guitar solos have more bite. As with the debut, Psiglo have a certain outlook similar to the Italian scene from the same era. So for this album, Psiglo starts off in a more conservative manner and track 2 'Construir, Destruir' is squarely in singer songwriter mode (complete with flute). Track 3 'No Tiene Razón de Ser' appears at first to be going into the same direction, but it's a head fake and begins to introduce more complex ideas. From here on out, this one has it all for progressive rock fans - dizzying tempos, inventive structures, psychedelic instrumental sequences, dozens of ideas. Final two lengthy tracks are near masterpieces! Psiglo II is more classic Italian sounding than, for example, Argentina's Los Barrocos, a band they share many similarities with.
CD: 1997 Record Runner (Brazil)
Psiglo's second album was originally recorded in 1974 in Argentina, escaping the repression from their home base in Uruguay. Argentina was no bastion of freedom either, and the album remained in the vaults until 1981 (not 1980 as noted on RYM), where a small pressing eked out in Uruguay before being erased from the market landscape. As such, originals of the second album are actually rarer than the debut. The album was finally rescued in the 1990s by the CD age - with no further restrictions from more tolerant political regimes.
Worth noting that while the Record Runner CD combines both of Psiglo's albums, it does exclude the track 'Es Inútil' from the debut which, at close to 9 minutes, is a pity. However it does add the 1972 single 'Gente sin Camino' (6:07), which is arguably a better composition. There isn't enough space to include both unfortunately so they made the hard choice to go with the single. The CD also features all the lyrics, band snapshots and a newly written short essay in English. This is the version I own and was my introduction to the band.
CD: 1994 Belle Antique (Japan)
Architrave Indipendente's sole album is the closest I've heard yet of a band sounding like the original 1973 Italian progressive r...
This is Hecenia's second album, and a dramatic jump up from their debut. The main reason for this is the wise decision to turn off the...
I first discovered Agitation Free by accident in the mid 1980s. One of those albums I bought because it looked cool and was cheap. It h...
Cosmic Invention were a supergroup made up of Japan's finest astral travelers such as Ghost, White Heaven, Subvert Blaze, and Overhang...
Live at the Cleveland Agora is St. Elmo's debut album from this fine progressive rock band from the namesake city. It would be thei...
Phil Thornton is the main man behind Mandragora and they were one of the great UK festival psych bands. And while this goes under the Phil...
One of the three great Japanese progressive bands of the 2000's including Pochakaite Malko and Naikaku. Influenced by the Canterbury s...
As mentioned on the Detta har Hänt review, Gösta Berlings Saga seemed to be moving away from their Swedish folk roots and more towards mod...
Two albums in now, and I can honestly say Gösta Berlings Saga has never written a song that has blown me away. Nor have they played anythi...
Free System Projekt is yet another band we're featuring here that comes from the Tangerine Dream retro movement, that is found more pr...
Out There Somewhere is the second and last album from Ship of Fools. They were one of the last of the UK Festival bands to emerge before t...