Supersister - Iskander. 1973 Netherlands

Iskander is Supersister's 4th LP, and steers the band from an insouciant Canterbury styled group toward a more traditional prog rock concept album. Still, on close inspection, one can hear similarities to their first 3 albums, and there's plenty of familiar rhythms and melodies that one recognizes from the world of Soft Machine. It's just not as overt. So if one thinks of Iskander as played by neighboring Trace, rather than the predetermined expectation of what Supersister should sound like, the album opens up in a big way given this new perspective.

Then there's the presence of American WWII vet and famed jazzer Charlie Mariano on sax and flute. He was in his own discovery phase of life, moving on from his hometown Boston and his underground psych/prog/jazz group Osmosis, and digging deep into the European scene. It appears he spent most of 1973 in the Netherlands, first jamming with flutist Chris Hinze, before hooking up with Supersister - an odd combination that doesn't necessarily gel as one would hope (Supersister weren't a jazz group for certain). Mariano was to eventually head back to Germany and jam with Embryo for a couple of years, which was a better fit for the talented saxophonist.

Overall, Iskander is more consistent than its predecessor, but lacks the charm of the early albums. Objectively though, an excellent album if you approach it on its own terms.

Personal collection
CD: 1990 Polydor w/Spiral Staircase

Oddly this one I've never owned the original LP for even though it's not very expensive or hard to find. I should probably rectify that situation. My first copy was the French press (also from 1973) that I bought in the 80s. The CD is as basic as it gets, and shares a single disc with the lesser Spiral Staircase (IMO, one many disagree with). But the sound is excellent, and to my ears anyway, is better than the recent Esoteric remasters.

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