Asia Minor - Between Flesh and Divine. 1980 France

Asia Minor - Between Flesh and Divine. 1980 WAM

CD reissues: 1991 Musea; 2009 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP)

LP reissues: 1989 Musea; 1992 Si-Wan (Korea); 2016 Rainbow 45 (Turkey)

Between Flesh and Divine is the second and last album (of the original incarnation) from Paris based Asia Minor. The band name is appropriate given the leaders are Turkish, though there is no mistaking this is a group born from the late 70s French symphonic progressive rock tradition. They are certainly one of the most well known and respected among the prog rock faithful, and history has been kind to Asia Minor. And for good reason. Understanding the scene in which Asia Minor derived from will go a long way to erasing the "80s stigma" - France was the one country successfully holding on to the glorious 70s at this time. And I for one do not hear Asia Minor as a "band of the 80s".

The music has a kinetic crispness to it, with flute and psychedelic tinged guitar, and a hyperactive rhythm section propelling the proceedings forward. Camel is often thrown out as a reference, and its probably the most accurate, especially when one considers albums like Mirage, and the fact that Camel were more psychedelic than usually given credit for. If the opening two tracks don't grab you, then I would suggest going no further, as these are arguably the highlights. 'Boundless' sounds like a rougher version of The Alan Parsons Project circa Pyramid, and the murkiness makes it more enjoyable. Side 2 is a mirror image stylistically speaking, though perhaps just a bit lesser in quality. An album worthy of its lofty reputation.

The original LP is a private press that didn't sell that well initially. There were two factors that pushed Asia Minor into the limelight among collectors of the day. One was the British mail order channel Lotus Records. This drew the attention of an 80s cash rich Japan. And subsequently the remaining backstock was purchase in bulk and brought back home. So if you're in the market for one, look at the Japanese market where you're likely to find one at a very reasonable price. And sure enough, my mint copy came from there. The Musea CD is excellent, and comes with a full history and excellent sound from the master tapes. There are no bonus tracks unfortunately.

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