"Shadows of shadows. Passing. It is now 1831 and as always I am absorbed with a delicate thought. It is how poetry has indefinite sensations to which end music is an essential. Since the comprehension of sweet sound as our most indefinite conception, music when combined with a pleasurable idea is poetry. Music without the idea is simply music. Without music or an intiguing idea, colour becomes pallor. Man becomes carcass. home becomes catycal and the dead for but a moment become motionless. "
-Edgar Allan Poe
Douglas Adams offers another thoughtful perception of music in his fantasy novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency :
" Every single aspect of music can be represented by numbers. From the organisation of of movements in a whole symphony, down through the patterns of pitch and rhythm that make up the melodies and harmonies, the dynamics that shape the performance, all the way down to the timbres of the notes themselves, their harmonics, and the way they change over time, in short, all the elements of a noise that distinquish between the sound of one person piping on a pccolo and another one thumping on a drum - all of these things can be expressed n patterns and hierarchies of numbers."
David Byrne, leader of the lead singer/songwriter of the new wave/punk band The Talking Heads wrote about music in an article in The New York Times in October 1999 :
" Hearing The right piece of music at the right time of yourlife can inspire radical change, destructive personal behaviour or even fascist politics. Sometimes all at the same time. On the other hand, music can inspire love, religious ecstacy, catharic release, social bonding and a glimpse of another dimension. A sense that there is another time, another space and another , better, universe. It can heal a broken heart, offer a shoulder to cry on and a friend when no one else understands. There are times when you want to be transported, to get your mind around some stuff it never encountered before."
Peter Shaffer, the English playwright and screenwriter in Amadeus :
" It started simply enough just a pulse in the lowest registers - bassoons and basset horns - like a rusty squezebox... and then suddenly, high above it , sounded a single note on the oboe. It hung there unwavering, piercing me through, till breath could hold it no longer, and a clarinet withdrew it out of me, and sweetened it to a phrase of such delight it had me trembling."
Jazz Legend Charlie Parker:
" First you learn the instrument, then you learn the music, then you forget all that shit and just play."
Music is often beyond words and has a very special and strange way of speaking to us in abstract mathematical progressions employing the physics of sound waves. Unlike the previous nofreakouts section I've taken the time here to extrapolate some personal thoughts on music through the individual work of some of my favourite artists and compositions. Just like every feature here on my Day Of Timestop site this section it is work in progress , so I add something whenever I feel inspired to share any "delicate" musical thoughts or reflections. Recently I came across this particularily well done edit from Tangerine Dream's Rubycon album from 1975 on Youtube and thought it was worth sharing. This expressive avant garde electronic sound sculpture was recorded during the period in the mid - seventies when the group was crossing new musical plateaus with albums like Rubycon , Ricochet, Phaedra and Stratosfear whose titles are only suggestions for the music which describes abstract ideas and moods which often give impressions of compressed time ensconced within their expansive walls of sound. My favourite, Rubycon, has a hyperboreal atmosphere to it for me ( it was recorded in the month of January ) and always reminds me of a vast foreboding arctic land and timescape, images of geological processes and transformations, glaciers in motion, the tragic plight of the polar bear, terrible beauty.... Many people refer to this music as mood music, elevator music, backround music and even new age music. Alas, they are missing the very point. You have to close your eyes, get close to the music and it's deep melody and let your imagination flow creating your own world within it's comlex structures and developments. Devoid of the human aspect, the music of Tangerine Dream is so sublime that it can be about anything you want. A lion stalking it's prey in the darkness of the Serengeti, the calm and fury of the stages of a weather system or the middle of an asteroid belt. It is very visceral music and once you feel it takes you to places that are limited only by the immagination or as Poe puts it, by an intruiging idea.
No conventional top 40 crap here folks. Hope that you will glean something from my listening room.
Jan Akkerman acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lute, percussion, tympani, hanclapping
Thijs van Leer Hammond Organ, church organ, mellotron , Arp sythesizer, harpsichord, electric piano, accordian, vibraphone, alto flute, vocals, spoken voices, recorder, whistling, handclapping
Bert Ruiter electric bass, autoharp, percussion, triangle, Swiss hand bells, finger cymbals, triangle, handclapping
Colin Allen Drum kit, castanets, congas, tympani, tambourine, flexatones, Chineese gong, cabasa, cuica, woodblock, handclapping
Delitae Musicae / La Cathedrale de Strassbourg/ Harem Scarem / Birth / Hamburger Concerto - i starter ii Rare iii Medium I iv Medium II vi Well Done / Birth / Early Birth
Recorded Feb-March 1974 at Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, England
Originally released in vinyl format on ATCO Records ( Cat# SD-36-100 ) in the USA and currently available on CD from Red Bullet Records and on 180g vinyl on Import Records. Yes folks vinyl is rising from the dead!
Album Critique & Overview
Mani Nuemeier / Drums, Vocal
Uli Trepte / Bass, vocal
Ax Genrich /guitar, vocal
Conny Plank / Engineer
Oxymoron/ Immer Lustig / Baby Cake Walk / Ooga Booga
Recorded Feb 28-Mar 6 1972 at Windrose Dumont-Time Studio Cologne, Germany
The third album from Krautrock pioneers Guru Guru was laced with fusions of pop, jazz, free-form audio experiments, deranged vocals and humour that made it one of the most unusual rock albums ever heard. Trippy and atmospheric it was as adventurous as it could get in 1972. Fortunately Guru Guru were signed to the fledgling German Brain label that encouraged such audacious musical explorations. The album contains only 4 expansive tracks and although representative of the wacked out music being heard from German "kosmische" bands in the early seventies Guru Guru's Kanguru stands out as the most off the wall and "out there". Just look at the cover. The whole thing is warped in a weird and wonderful way and these guys are not just your average three long haired freaks. A bit of a suprise for the more conservative listener. No verse /Chorus /verse / chorus here. Here's a video of the first track Oxymoron. If you can follow the spaced out lyrics that only occur at the 4 minute mark you will find that the song is not talking about a figure of speech but rather bad drugs. Go nuts !
Originally released on the (green) Brain label in 1972 ( Cat.#1007 ) it was the seventh title to be released on the recently formed label. It has been re-released both on LP and CD and is currently available in CD format on Brain Records (Cat # 531 859-6).
It sort of bewilders me that when you enter the word Da Vinci into any search engine on your computer that about a million responses will pop up related to the Dan Brown novel and movie The DaVinci Code. Even exhibitions capitalize on the book and film.Those who are acquainted with Da Vinci'suniversal genius will know that both have little to do with neither. I see it as a pity that so many people associate him with this pop culture status rather than with his sublime intellect. What has always personally fascinated me is that DaVinci was always ahead of the game regardless of what discipline was occupying his thoughts at any given time. He was constantly seeking to make advancements on existing knowledge or methods and what I have defined as a hands on philosopher. He got his hands dirty and proceeded with ways to apply his thoughts.
Although his mind was preoccupied with the study of anatomy, engineering and architecture many questions about the the nature of sound absorbed the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci as well. He studied the vibration and propogation of sound waves and when he was an apprentice to Verrocchio it is quite possible that he was exposed to music, Verrocchio himself being a musician. He produced designs for potential musical instruments that included flutes with key systems and the viola organistra ( above ), a keyboard instrument with a frictionless band that when absorbing the vibrations of strings, created the effect of a full string orchestra.In Decenmber 2009 a group of Leonardo enthusiasts constructed the one shown above using drawings found in his 1000 page Codex Atlanticus from 1488. One has to bear in mind that pianos did not exist in Da Vinci's time. Combining the sound of a viola and a harpsichord, this instrument offered the advantage that the piano had over the harpsichord in that it could play chords. The first pianos did not appear until the early 1700s! So chalk up another one up for Leonardo! Powered by the players strides ( it had to be played while the performer was in motion ) which powered an internal circular crank that pulls a looping bow much like a car's fan belt. As the keys are pressed, the strings are pressed into the bow and an appropriate pitch is achieved.Why didn't I think of that?
Da Vinci was also accomplished on the lira and was an inproviser of rhymes and recitation. As a poet improvisor his preferred instrument was the lira de braccio, a medieval fiddle with two drone strings that created sympathetic effects and was often invited to perform in the courts of his patrons. During Da Vinci's time many Italian musicians worked in the old minstrel tradition of improvising their music and much of it has been lost to time. It was only around 1490 that Italian music began to be composed using notation and it is thought that fragments of some of Da Vinci's compositions have survived.
Finally, here are a couple of CDs that contain music that Leonardo might have been exposed to during his lifetime. The first is appropriately titled The DaVinci Collection by a musical troupe from Toronto Ontario known as The Toronto Consort. A very wide ranging collection of virtuosic performances that seek to depict just about anything that Leonardo might have been exposed to and includes secular polyphonic songs, frottala, lively dances and sacred works. Very alive and vibrant and whimsical at times. The second, Da Vinci - The Music Of His Time is performed by 3 ensembles: Ensemble Villanella; Oxford Cemeratta; Unicorn Ensemble and is a bit more "serious" in nature. It contains 23 selections that also includes vocal music and includes a booklet that describes the musical environment that existed during Leonardo's era.
The Toronto Cosort CD is available through their website www.torontoconsort.org/
While the Da Vinci - Music Of His Time CD can be obtained through the Naxos classical music label here :
No Elevator Music Here Folks !
If I want to listen to every band that ever blew my mind at once then I turn to my latest unearthing, the very cool Djam Karet which means something like " Elastic Time " in Indonesian. The Mahavishnu Orchestra ( '72-73 edition ), Tangerine Dream, Shankar, Peter Gabriel, Pink F;oyd, Hawkwind, KING CRIMSON, Shankar, John Abercrombie ( Gateway sessions ) and tons others are represented in Djam Karet's tripped out unconventional sound that undergoes a metamorphosis from album to album, 17 of them plus shorter CDrs and EPs not to mention offshoot solo ventures. If it were not for some CDs arriving from out of the blue one day in April 2013 from Djam Karet member multi-instumentalist and composer extraodinaire Gayle Ellett my life would certainly be different . I am indebted to him for life for this enlightenment. This has to be one of the the most important musical discoveries of my life. At the young age of 51 I thought that I had heard it all. I actually felt like an idiot. How could this creature have eluded me? Since my musical re-birth I have been exploring everything Djam Karet I can get my paws on. I feel like that geeky 15 year-old who used to haunt the Montreal second hand record shops for that elusive sonic anomaly back in the 1970s.
The best place to start is with their 2010 release The Heavy Soul Sessions. This is the first Djam Karet music I had ever heard and believe me I was flying blind, completely unaware of what was going to hit me. No band has had this kind of profound impact on my ears in years. I could only say to myself, " what the fuck was that?" . It revisits previous works with twists and turns. A King Crimson tribute composition by Richard Pinhas of Heldon is also included and reflects the band at it's most intense in a studio jam situation with no over-dubs where the band themselves are their own audience allowing them to find a certain inner voice using technological advantages not afforded on the live stage. Once you delve more and more into the band's music that spans 30 years the Dr Jeckyl and Mr.Hyde dichotomy between heavy post progressive rock and electric/ambient sophistication becomes evident.
Now, my children it is time here is your Djam Karet starter kit :
SWAMP OF DREAMS
This is music only the abstracted brilliance of Djam Karet could give birth to. The greatest band that nobody has ever heard of! Swamp of Dreams contains 6 titles have been dredged up and reworked from various one off contributions that appeared on anthologies and benevolent albums between 1990 & 2006. They have been cleverly presented in reverse chronological order which is a real treat for hard core followers like myself. Dark, vaporous and menacing sequenced rhythmical effects drive each piece with boundless intensity. A multitude of styles and devices are employed and melded together into something that has some semblance of congruity and it is hard to believe that they were all conceived over a 16 year time span. The whole album is characterized by flawless production, superb musicianship and technical prowess.
The opening track, Voodoo Chases The Muse is anchored by a pulsating, regurgitating synth template. A groovy psychedelic guitar riff plays on as if the wah wah pedal was just discovered. Jimi Hendrix meets Tangerine Dream. It then reinvents itself into something more frightening and conflagrated in some bizarre time signature that only aliens can figure out with Moogs and Fender Rhodes going maniac. The Shattering Sky appeared in original form on a humanitarian CD to raise money for victims of Hurricaine Katrina which devastated New Orleans back in the summer of 2005. The sky actually sounds like it’s going to fall at the onset as the piece proceeds to work itself into a furious rage with frantic jazz bass and thundering synth barrages and fuzz guitar getting into a real cool groove that unfortunately ends too soon.. I actually googled the meaning of the title of the third track, Pentimento, and came up with two different results and tried to associate them with this psychotic piece. It commences with phantasmagoric spacey atmospheres and then transmogrifies into a manic guitar inferno with globs of plodding tonal wreckage. New Light On The Dark Age and the title track are more coherent and fluid pieces and for the most part are free of all the sonic havoc that has to be dealt with on the other pieces. Inventions of the Monsters is my favourite track. An alternate auditory interpretation of creation possibly influenced by Dali’s surreal painting from the 1930’s. Grotesque cat, dog and horse sounds can be heard amidst shifting sound walls and spooky tubular bell-like progressions. The whole thing seems to be gradually closing in on the listener in slow motion. Far out terrifying stuff.
I’m unaware of how the pieces that constitute Swamp of Dreams sounded in their initial forms but what has been done here on the is simply eye watering. A must listen for anyone who wants to grow up to be a synthesizer.
( from my review on Progarchives March 2017 )
I learned of Oscar Peterson's death as a result of kidney failure on Christmas Eve 2007. It was known that Oscar wasn't in good health but it still came as a shock and made headlines throughout Canada, especially here in Montréal, Peterson's birthplace and where he spent his formative years. The nation mourned one of it's greatest icons and world ambassadors who had overcame numerous obstacles to become arguably the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived as well as one of the greatest Canadians. Throughout his career he was bestowed with countless national & international awards and honours including the nation's highest civilian award award for civilian service, The Officer Of The Order Of Canada. I feel like I am writing about God here so I'll be brief as possible. Here's a video of Oscar playing Salute To Bach in Berlin in '85 with Neils Hennig Orsteed Pederson on bass and Martin Drew on drums.
He recorded over 200 albums on 5 different record labels during his lifetime not to mention appearances as a sideman, so it's virtually impossible to hear everything. Here's a short introductory guide as well as a link to the official Oscar Peterson website as well as a a sampling of Oscar Peterson's recordings on the Verve record label.
( Insert 10 " I'm not worthies " here).
A Jazz Odyssey 2 CD set Verve 314 589 380 ( 2002 )
18 tracks taken from 1950-70 featuring Peterson playing with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gellespie, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, Ella Fizgerald, coleman Hawkins and others. Released to complement Oscar's autobiography of the same name.
The Oscar Peterson Trio Live At The Cocertgebeow ( Verve LP 1957 CD 1994)
The first trio with Ray Brown ( bass ) Herb Ellis ( guitar ) in one of their finest moments recorded at The Chicago Civic Opera House in1957. The 1994 CD release contains 5 tracks from a concert in LA from around the same period from an LP that was shared wit the Modern Jazz Quartet. Although the recording quality is not 21st century the music is out of this universe.
Oscar Peterson - Dimensions : A Compendium Of The Pablo Years
This comprehensive 4 CD set from Pablo Records is the most complete overview of Oscar Peterson's career ever released. Here you can listen to the master in every configuration, solo, trio duet, jam sessions on 46 tracks many of which are live For those who have been hiding under a rock this is the place to start. oscar is joined by Count Basie, Louis Bellson, Ray Brow, Bennie Carter, Martin Drew, Harry " Sweets " Edison, Roy Eldridge, Duke Ellington, Jon Faddis, Dizzy Gillespie, Stephane Grapelli, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Hayes, John Hodges, Barney Kessel, Neils-Hennig Orsted Pederson, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker, Clark Terry,Toots Thielman, Ed Thigpen & David Young.
Finally, I couldn't resist including this video : Keith Emerson meets Oscar Peterson. This is from a BBC TV special aireed in January 1976, " Oscar's Piano Party " The piece is a Keith Emerson composition entitled " Honky Tonk Train Blues".
What is so notable about '' Together '' is that the two individual vituosos are a generation apart ( Coryell was 42 ) and yet this isn't even slightly noiceable so mature was Remleer's playing at her young age. It is very obvious though that this was a learning experience for both. The genesis of this affiliation had it's seed in a series of impromptu gigs in a Charlottesville, Virginia student hangout where they would jam with locall musicians arriving unanounced. This would elicit comments such as, '' Not bad for a couple of locals ! ''.
Both were veryy similar yet disimilar at the same time. Both had similar beginnings in that they both started out on instruments other than the guitar and both started out playing straight rock 'n roll and became progressively more adventurous. Coryell was spawned on the stylings Beatles and Dylan which he melded into a fusion style on his 1967 album with '' The Free Spirits, Out Of Sight And Sound '', arguably the first jazz/rock fusion album. Remler started out emulating the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Clapton and the Stones but gradually became more interrested in the tonal complexities of East Indian music most notably Ravi Shankar. She also explored Brazilian rythmns before graduating from the Berkley Scool Of Music at the very young age of 18 ! Coryell was literally all over the musical map while Remler took a more traditional approach embracing phraseologies of Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian and Pat Metheney among others..
'' Together'' is is mostly an electric album that features only the two Coryell penned tracks ( Six Beats, Six Strings and Arubian nights ) on 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars respectively. One of the beautiful things about the album is trying to figure out who is playing what and when. But sometimes it is more than obvious especially when Remler is playing the melody. Her smoother more rythmic approach is the polar opposite of Coryell's more abrasive right hand attacks but it works man! Don't expect anything like the Coryell / Philip Catherine or Coryell / Steve Kahn alliances from the late seventies where it was virtuall y impossible for the untrained ear to figure out who was who.
Women in jazz even at this point in the mid 1980s were more or less known as vocalists but by this time Remler had progressed from a novelty to a guitar force in the jazz world. I think she even steals the show somewhat on pieces such as the jazz waltz How My Heart Sings a bit of an upbeat version of the Earl Zundras standard, made popular to Jazz affivionados in the early sixties by pianist Bill Evans.This is not to say that Coryell ever gets left in the dust as he constantly adapts to her rather more lyrical phrasings although he does go off the deep end sometimes especially on his two compositions Arubian Nights anfd Six Beats, Six Strings the latter of which features a spooky solo, a wonderful contrast all the same.
The stand out track is without a doubt is the Antonia Carlos Jobin Bossa Nova How Insensitive ( almost certainly Remler's idea ) which is saved for the end of the 45 minute work. But I digress. The whole album in all it's differenrt moods is absolutely hypnotic. One of the suprises was the 1934 bluesy standard Ill Wind which was previously performed by such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and even old blue eyes Frank Sinatra. Here we get an exquisite instrumental version played on Gibson electric hollow bodies. Another track that showcases Remler' s penchant for two tone rythmns is the Pat Martino' standard Gerri's Blues. Remler also gets to swing it out on Joy Spring a Joe Pass fave from the sixties.
One of my favourite jazz albums ever that not only introduced me to the brilliant musicianship of Emily Remler who left this Earth way to early at the young age of 32.I t also showcases Coryell at the top of his game. It seems that he goes through some sort of strange metamorphosis when paired with another guitarist or guitarists and '' Together '' is no exception. Positively one of the most expressive jazz recordings to emerge from the 1980s. Unfortunately original vinyl specimens are rather pricey. I saw a Japaneese picture dis pressing going for $ 80 on eBay. Anorther anecdote to this remarkable recording is that they toured together for the last half of 1985 and a few bootleg recordings surfaced not only highlighting tracks from the album but other interpretations of standards and originals. The only sad ending to this affiliation was that it was a one off and I'm sure the partnership would have rekindled itself had it not been for Emily's untimely death.
If I met some aliens visiting from another world I would invite them over and let them some to some music from these guys.
I came across these virtuosos from Munich, Germany through a colleague on progarchives who wanted me to do an interview with one of the members, Markus Grutzner, the bass guitar player ( see link ). I had never heard of them and my knowledge of German jazz was limited. But being a big fan of the Krautrock movement of the early seventies I had managed to familiarise myself with some German jazz/rock talent from that era such as KRAAN, Passport, Morpheous and keyboardist Rainer Burginghaus who had also played with a jazz/rock band called Eiliff in the early seventies. More recently organist Barbara Dennerlein, also from Munich, caught my ear in the early 90s.
The only thing I was told about 7for 4 was that they were a very complex jazz/rock band that also blended other styles from metal to country. The first thing that struck me was their unusual name so I thought that their music must be unusual and decided to check them out. I was floored ! Not since I was introduced to bands like Disengage, The Alexander Kostarev Group and Iamaboveontheleft from the Russian Federation had I heard anything as adveturous and "out there". I started out by listening to their most recent album " Diffusion" from 2008, a title that appropriately describes what the listener is about to experience. Defined in physics, Diffusion is the spontaneous intermingling of the particles of one or two substances as a result of random thermal motion, a fitting metaphor for the futuristic character of the music not only on this mindblowing creature but also their two previous works Time ( 2004 ) and Contact ( 2001) .
Time ( 2004 )
You never know what direction each composition is going to pursue with fluctuating time signatures & discordant themes that are constantly being modified or rearranged within each individual composition. Most of the composing is undertaken by guitarist Wolfgang Zenk. Previosly he played on two albums in the 90s with progressive rock group Sieges Even before starting another band that led to the creation of 7for 4. His playing is extremely difficult to define or categorize, sounding like everyone from Jan Akkerman to Django Reihardt, his musical influences are far and wide and, being a guitar teacher as well, he doesn't write off anything stylistically. There are pieces that have latino foundations ( Spiral Dance ), some that are outwardly rock ( Cyclotron ) and some that are just well, " out there " ( Burnt Chicken Wings). Unlike other bands of this nature who just want to play fast, loud, arpeggiated freeform freakouts 7for 4 is more concerned with melody with each member of the band contributing to the quantum result. The group's name 7for 4, by the way, is a play on the intricate tme signatures that the 4 piece band prefers.
7for 4 are :
Wolfgang Shenk / guitar
Markus Froschmeier / keyboards
Markus Grutzner / bas guitar
Klaus Engl / drums
Check out one of my faves from the CD "Time" as well as the links.
Shrouded in mystery because there were only 300 vinyl copies of this tripped out album pressed sometime in 1972 or 1973 and nobody seems to know who the freak is playing on it. Musicians are thought to be the who's who of the early 70s Krautrock scene but some sources indicate that the players originate from England. It surely seems that there are different combinations of players on each track and that the five tracks came from different sessions with the sound quality differring from track to track. I have heard of at least two sightings of vinyl copies so there are at least a few out there. It was released on CD in 1996 and more recently in September 2010 and even these were limited editions and are very hard to dig up. A booklet attempts to explain the origins of this freaked out jewel. Listen to this monster and try to figure out what planet they emanated from.
I was very suprised to find this audio video of this delightful English band that time forgot which was active from 1968-1969. Combining a myriad of styles that included psychedelia, jazz and folky stylings they could be best described as a slightly more adventurous version of Fairport Convention or Pentangle that leaned a bit more towards the progressive rock effusions of the early seventies. Their lyrics had a darker tinge than most psychedelic meanderings of the day and in this respect were a bit closer to contemporary King Crimson and Gentle Giant. It certainly would have been interesting to see how their inventive musical ideas would have developed had they not faded into oblivion. This particular album with it's complex orchestral arrangements and female vocals was recorded in just two days for the Deram subsidary label of Decca Records and was their soitary recording. It was one of those bands that were unfortunately overshadowed by other progrock bands that were coming of age at the time. For more details about this marvelously experimental band check out the link and if the vid stimulates your curiousity Pre-flight is available on CD through the second link at a very reasonable price of $10.95.
For me the land of Oz has always conjured up popular images of the indigenous kangaroo or the drone of the ancient dideridoo so frequently heard creating mysterious atmospheres on documentaries about the vast & remote areas of the Australian outback. But a metal band named after an obscure Roman annalist? The first thought that confronted me with this prospect was : this I've got to hear ! Well, so much for stereotypes. I was hooked right away. The first foray for Sydney based Hemina, " As We Know It" , a 25 minute extended play CD, reminded me of a take on the progressive rock that I grew up with in the glorious 70s but with a modern metal mentality.
Progressive rock bands in the late 60s & early 70s were adding other dimensions to rock music by augmenting it with classical motifs, introducing jarring time signatures only found in jazz and expanding instrumentation to include string and brass sections and even whole orchestras. Hemina has done a bit of reverse engineering and come up with a hybrid that is full of melody, harmony and emotion with a metal foundation that assimulates many progressive rock hallmarks, most notably fluctuating moods and atmospheres, articulate philosophical lyrics and extended running times. Two guitars, various keyboard arrays and a solid rythm section of bass & drums configure the band and, with the exception of the drummer, all members sing vocals in one capacity or another thus offering many musical possibilities.
The mastermind behind Hemina is a gent by the name of Douglas " Dougie " Skene who plays guitar, sings lead vocals, writes the lyrics and most of the music along with 2nd guitarist Mitch Coull. What I found interrsting is that songs themselves are composed with the aid of computer software that convert the concepts into musical notation which allow for fine tuning afterwards. Individual band members then modify their parts with their own ideas. Pretty cool eh? Stylistically, it is a band that I find difficult to categorize because there are so many elements at work here. I would have to say that I wouldn't be afraid to play any of these songs in front of my grandmother and it's not music I would tell anyone to crank up to eleven, but rather listen to what the songs have to say. Each song has it's own identity and speaks a message. Comparisons have been made to bands like Dream Theatre, Pain Of Salvation and Ayreon but what I noticed most of all with my initial listens was early Steve Rothery era Marillion.
Prior to listening to this remarkable band my only incursions into Australian music were confined to artists like Midnight Oil, Wolfmother and er...Kevin Bloody Wilson so listening to this fledgling band came as a pleasant suprise and does credit to the metal scene that seems to be happening in the land down under. Geographically isolated, it is perhaps more difficult for Australian bands to break internationally and many otherwise promising bands remain local phenomenoms so check out the vid of a piece called To Concieve A Plan that is not included on the current EP. Lacking in quality it gives an idea of the energy the band possesses on stage. The three main exquisitely engineered tracks from the EP can be streamed through their facebook page linked below along with an interview with guitarist/lricist/vocalist Doug Skene. And if your ears like what they hear there are two links by which you can purchase the CD at the very cool low price of only $6.99
HEMINA are :
Doug Skene / guitars, lead vocal
Mitch Coull / guitars, vocals
Phill Eltakchi / keyboards, vocals
Jessica Martin / bass, vocals
Andrew Craig / drums, percussion
Warrior On The edge Of Time, United Artists, May 9, 1975
The lonely silouhette of a warrior on horseback gazing out into a foreboding chasm on the cover of Hawkwind`s 5th studio album foretells the imagery and legend which inhabit the grooves on this psychedelic sci fi / fantasy freakout. Loosely based on Michael Moorcock`s 1970 fantasy novel, The Eternal Champion, themes are also borrowed from American Fireside poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and English romantic Percy Shelley to convey the fantastic . Warrior On The Edge Of Time is heavy, atmospheric and dark, drawing it`s energy from a maelstrom of synths, mellotrons, woodwinds and power chords. While the themes follow an implied chronological sequence each song represents an individual porthole to specific events which occur along the way on this eternal cosmic experience. Science fiction themes intertwine with fantasy elements and an air of continuity is achieved by the short pauses between songs along with solioqies spoken by an unseen higher power which cautiously guide the listener throughout this most treacherous journey.
The record conjures so many vivid images both instrumentally and lyrically that it gives the impression of a double album which belies it`s original 43 minute running time. Blasting off appropriately with the guitar led Hawkwind classic, Assault & Battery, based on the Longfellow poem Psalm Of Life , synth orchestrations, harmony vocals and surreal electronic effects then start to breathe life into the journey the on The Golden Void as if one were living amidst the vast imagery they conjure which makes it a superb headphone album. References to Moorcock`s novel appear both in the music and the soliloqies throughout the work, two of which are voiced by Moorcock himself despite not even having recieved a studio fee! Even the instrumental Opa Loka, which takes after the sound experiments of German avant garde duo Neu!, describes the city, Loos Ptakai, that is the setting for a pivotal battle in the book. Early on in the first soliloqy a champion is declared by the unseen power and the plight of this champion will be followed throughout his time-quest. The space ballad, Demented Man almost positively references this character, Erekose, who is torn between loyalty and betrayal. Swathed in synths, mellotrons, violins, flutes and effects Spiral Galaxy 28948 ( which corresponds to Violin/keyboardist Simon House`s birthdate ) is one of the spaciest instrumentals ever recorded by Hawkwind and adds an abstact futuristic aspect to the whole adventure. Nik Turner`s The Dying Seas complete the work appropriately but the odd track out is the more straightforward rock song, Kings of Speed, which may be referring to the drug or blasting off into the future but does sound notoriously like another attempt at charts in whatever context one percieves it. On CD releases the Lemmy composition, Motorhead appears which has absolutely nothing to do with anything here.
Original LP gatefold cover ( back & front ) & inner sleave
It`s difficult to avoid mentioning the album`s stunning cover with it`s mystical artwork. When it was originally released in vinyl format on United Artists Records in mid `75 it featured a cover which folded out to form an eight pointed shield from the inside, which made further references to The Eternal Champion. On the inside a Rubin vase-like visual illusion was created from the cover painting by Compte Pierre D`Aubergne which forms the impression of the face of The Champion along with some sexual references if one wants to read more into it. This would make more sense to one who has read THe Eternal Champion which wasn`t one of Moorcock`s most popular works as a result of it`s ominous conclusion. Even though the album is not a recreation of the story per say reading the novel itself does explain some of the concepts which make up the album. On early Canadian Dojo CD releases of the album the complete 160 page novel was included with the package along with an attempt at recreating the effect of the original record jacket with the shield being reproduced in black & white only. Long live vinyl !
Certainly Hawkwind`s most ambitious recording up to `75 which many consider to be the band`s masterwork and turning point including guitarist Dave Brock himself. Many changes within the band coincided with the release of Warrior On The Edge Of Time including a switch to Charisma Records and the notorious sacking of founding member Lemmy for alleged drug possession in the middle of the supporting North American tour. Fittingly, Longfellow`s introductory lines from the opening track, And departing leave behind us footprints in the sands of time bear testimony to albums the greatness. Of course Hawkwind endures to this day but this remains their piece de resistance, and the ULTIMATE sonic Scifi / fantasy trip. A true seventies progrock classic.
( from my review on progarchives.com )
These days whenone thinks of Norwegian rock the first thing that comes to mind is all that underground black death metal crap that isn't even endorsed by the mainstream metal community with names like Mayhem, Death Throne, Immortal and ...well you get the gist. Many of them have been linked to white supremists and neo-nazi movements and aren't representative of some of the remarkable popular music that has emanated from this unlikely location. I picked two whom I think are worthy from different eras.
The first is an interesting obscure folk metal band that I discovered on the web. Couldn't find anything on them at all except that that they were from Norland County in the northern part of Norway. Their music with vocals sung in Norwegian was very melodic, dark and atmospheric with clean female vocals. As far as I know they only made one album in 2006 before disbanding.
My next selection is New Born Day by Ruphus who are arguably the finest rock / jazz rock band ever to emerge from Norway. Singing in English they began their career in Trondheim in1973 following early seventies progrock formulas set by bands like Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Uriah Heep and others progressing into more jazzy explorations towards the end of the decade. I managed to find a youtube entry that showcases the complete album for the uninitiated. This is one of the best albums of the early seventies progrock movement as far as I'm concerned. I also highly recommend their 1975 album Let Your Light Shine which reveals the changes in musical direction. Both are 5 star albums with exceptional musical faculty. Here's the review I wrote for Prrogarchives a few years ago that you can read while listening to samples from this extraordinary recording.:
Ruphus - New Born Day, 1973, Brain ( Ger ) & Polydor Records ( Nor )
Lost Norwegian classic that time forgot from '73. Solid debut from a band that never really became known outside their native land although they did perform in Germany & Switzerland, this album in particular has over the years been unfairly compared to the likes of Uriah Heep and Yes but it really stands by itself. Harder rocking than the afore mentioned with powerful male/female vocal pairing and thoughtful lyrics despite the overall heaviness set them apart from UK contemporaries and if any comparisons could be drawn then the German band Octopus, who were yet to arrive on the scene would come the closest. Every track has it's own catchy groove here with vocal harmonies, keyboard orchestrations, guitar freakouts and some really heavy dominant Hammond organ.The sheer energy and dynamics of New Born Day cannot be over-stated with it's fluctuating arrangements which also have classical suggestions and jazz aspirations which would come into prominence as the band's career progressed. Not lacking faculty, the music veers into so many directions with more melodic sections featuring acoustic guitars, saxophone and flute which are particularily effective on tracks such as the prophetic Scientific Ways and up-tempo Still Alive giving the compositions even more colour. Other devices such as vocal incantations and emotive screams from vocalist Gudny Aspaas also come into play making this a total early seventies art/rock package which would give any contemporary band a run for their money. Although not a concept album per say all the tracks are loosely connected by cold war themes which are evident on tracks like Scientific Ways, The Man Who Started It All and Day After Tomorrow. Anyone into everything from early Deep Purple, Gentle Giant, King Crimson or Yes ought to check out this precious blast from the past to see what was really happening musically in Scandinavia during the early seventies besides ABBA. While it may sound a bit dated, without question it personifies the true spirit of what was progrock back in it's glory era
- Gudny Aspaas / lead vocals
- Thor Bendiksen / drums, percussion
- Hans Pelter Danielson / guitar
- Håkon Graf / organ, piano, vibes
- Kjell Larsen / guitar, flute
- Asle Nilsen / bass, flute
- Rune Sundby / acoustic guitar, saxophone, vocals
In December 2010 most of the members of past Ruphus lineups got together for a blowout concert in Oslo. This is what they looked like almost 40 years on.