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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Family - Music in a Doll's House

Family's debut album released in 1968, is a wonderous prog-psychedelia album. This is a true massive undertaking for a group who were the proto types for Traffic and the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis. Produced by Traffic's Dave Mason, Music in a Doll's House is one of the albums you'll play over and over again to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea. Tracks like the banging classical introduction of The Chase gives a good feel to start off the album, while the beauty of the melody of calmness with the mellotron of Mellowing Grey, and the heavy harmonica blues rocker of Old Songs for New Songs show Family in the influences of the Blues, Folk, Jazz, and a bit of an homage to Steve Winwood's previous group before Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group in a psychedelia format. The music can also be very JRR Tolkien like sound with the barbaric psych song of Me My Friend which is almost very Middle Age Rock music from the Medieval-era of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, they also do a take of Proto-Metal with a string quartet with a little bit of the Spencer Davis punk track of I'm A Man with Peace of Mind. Almost Beatle like material on that track, but very Hendrix to the mix of Traffic. Family's first album is one of the best albums I've listened to. I've listened to it about 5 times now on my iPod and they really show a prog rockin' sound with their influential roots inside the Doll's House.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts

VDGG weren't your typical prog rock band that was filled with goblins and dragons, they were more of an evil version of a combination of King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King meets Genesis's Nursery Cryme. Their next album, Pawn Hearts is a true defying achievement. The album is filled with nightmare tales from Peter Hammill, screeching saxes from David Jackson, keyboards going haywire by Hugh Banton, and Drums as uzi's from Guy Evans. Even though they had some killing and heavy songs like Killer, After the Flood, The Sleepwalkers, White Hammer, Childlike Faith in Childhood's End, and Darkness (11/11), they filled up the sound of terror and filling up the room like a Progressive Rock version of Jekyll & Hyde rock opera routines to jump out of the lake with dark material and alarming effects to keep you from jumping. Lemmings (Including Cogs), is an electrical wave of evil above the cliff top of insanity. Keyboards and Saxes going off like a ticking time bomb while the drums go into a mellow and attack mode. Peter Hammill sings like a madcat as the music follows him into the mystical darkness. Man-Erg is one of the most glorified tracks on Pawn Hearts. It starts off a ballad in the first 2 minutes of the track, and then it goes into a nuclear and post-apocalyptic musical scenario while Pete screams out the line 'How can I be free?! How can I get help?! Am I really me?! Am I someone else?!' this part and the rest of the track is almost a sneering jazz like scenery as the saxes, drums, organs, and Peter's vocals go into a massive embellishment. And if that wasn't scary, this next piece is almost perfect for Prog-Rock's Halloween tradition. The 23-minute piece A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, is almost on the edge of your seat as if a Mad Scientist wrote a rock musical about a lighthouse keeper planning to commit suicide or live his life and start a new beginning. It has this piece going into a haywire version of Zappa's 200 Motels with David Jackson's saxes going up to maximum volume, organs and mellotrons scaring the shit out of the neighbors and the ocean scenery of shock treatment, but still a heavy fucking mind-boggling track. If HP Lovecraft were alive today, he would definitely get a real kick out of it for his sexual beheadings and Re-Animators. This album is one of the best I've listened to from VDGG. It's more of another combination of the sound effects of the Haunted House meets Goth music in the 21st century that will crawl up behind you. It's massive, disturbing, and shocking to get you fit shaped for the torture chambers! All in all, buy this album and turn the volume way fucking up!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute

After the relase of their debut album in 2003, The Mars Volta's career almost turned into a difficult situation. Jeremy Ward who was the sound manipulator on the Tremulant EP and the De-Loused album, passed away of a heroin overdose. He was relpaced by Juan Alderete who was part of the Thrash Metal scene in the 1980's with Racer X. The Mars Volta would later do another concept album based on a diary that Ward discovered while working in the Repo business. The album deals with Family Searching, darkness, betrayal, love, and regret. All of that and Frances the Mute is the true bodyslam of Progressive Rock.
It starts off with Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus which begans as a calmer guitar introduction and then it goes into experimental territory with odd time codes, King Crimson meets Miles Davis of the Bitches Brew-era. This track shows that they ain't turning back for no reason. The Widow has more of an eerie and darker ballad of Pink Floyd's Remember a Day; The next three tracks are truly in your face punk salsa prog rock. L'Via L'Viaquez shows their Hispanic roots of Latin music with Electric Harlow sounds and Fusion guitar styles that Rodruigez does paying homage to Robert Fripp. The next two epics show their atmospheric and punk edges top ticket to the outer scorches of oblivion.
Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore is a mixture of Can and a bit of Funeral Rock music that will send you to the chambers of hell and beyond the outer limits. If you're ready to take the next challenge get ready for an epic suite that clocks it up for about 30 minutes! Cassandra Gemini is a true Progressive Rock suite because you need all the ingredients for a mad jam session. This is a combination of Van Der Graaf Generator meets Bad Brains meets Faust with a bit of a String quartets and the ending of a reprise of Cygnus in the classical guitar mode. Not bad for a band to get the concept album going with the help of Pink Floyd's artwork man Storm Thorgerson to make a strange album cover that is almost similar to The Division Bell in a car format. You never know what will happen next.

The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium

After the fall of At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodruigez Lopez wanted to take the experimental music to a higher scale. They soon formed the Mars Volta and relased their EP Tremulant EP, and their conceptual madness, De-Loused In The Comatorium which is almost a strange but brilliant rock opera on what would happen if the Mars Volta would do their own concpet album based on Lewis Carroll's psychedelic story of Alice in Wonderland. The true origins of De-Loused is based on Julio Vengas from At the Drive-In who suffered from a coma after he took a dose of morphine and then came back and took his own life in 1996 of suicide. De-Loused is a mixture of King Crimson, Salsa Music, early Floyd material, and the homage of '70s Krautrock mixed with Punk. This is the true album that the Mars Voltat knows they're roots very well. The beginning track, Son Et Lumiere/Intertiatic ESP is a real kick in the gut piece. Mixed with Fleas' funky bass punk sound, Cedric's wailing voice, and Omar's guitar going up to a higher ground. You have the sense of a true nature. While you listen to this shocking but suprising track, they defintely go into shock treatment. Roulette Dares(The Haunt Of) is more of a Crimso meets Black Flag track. Tira Me a Las Aranas and Drunkship of Lanterns are more of a slow acoustic darker ballad into the tunnels of spiders and then it becomes a pumping heart of the Mahavishnu Orchestra punks and Robert Fripp guitar style. The last five tracks are most a cimatic roller-coaster ride with faster time signatures, reverbing sound effects, midsts of the jungle, and the fall of the comatorium. Eria Tarka is a thrilling mellotronic journey into hell, the 12-minute Cicatriz ESP is the ultimate trip of shrilling eerie guitar sounds into the abyss, This Apparthus Must Be Unearthed is the moment of death with Punk like Prog of soothing and metal jazz for Cerpin Taxt, Televators is more like something out of the 1973 british horror classic The Wicker Man where the hero makes his scrifice in the jungle and falls to this death while Omar's classical guitar sets the scene while Cedric's voalcs helps the details of Julio's death. And if you think that the album's over and done with, think again, the 8-minute hardcore experimental track Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt is a true heavy metal mixed with a little bit of Rush meets Can's Deadlock (Part II). The album and the group were off to a running start to take Prog Rock into jam band territory.

Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans

Yes had already hit the Prog scene with successful albums with The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge. It wasn't until 1974 that they were about to go into Concept Mode. During this time period, Bill Bruford left Yes to join up with Robert Fripp and King Crimson. Session drummer for the Plastic Ono Band with John Lennon's Alan White joined the group to work with Yes and their controversial concept album based on the book by Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, Tales from Topographic Oceans. This album is one of these concepts that will send you to the land of the Ritual aquarium seas of ambition.

This shows Yes in their prime within the spell of Avant-Garde electronic noises from Rick Wakeman. They wanted to take the boundaries of Progressive Rock a little furter and top it off with some strange Atmospheric sounds that would take you to different worlds. I was kind of suprise of hearing this album from start to finish becasue for me, 20-miunte epics on four tracks is a huge challenge because no one dared to release a 2-LP set with strange and bizarre epics and going on tour to play the whole album in its entireity. From the tales of the dawn of light ( The Revealing Science of God ), The Fruit of Life ( The Remembering [High The Memory] ), and bizarre languages with crazy effects of the Moog ( The Ancients [Giant Under the Sun], Ritual [Sous Sommes Du Soleil] ), They really show a level of madness.

For Rick Wakeman, he felt it was too spacey and felt it was like crap. During the Topographic Oceans tour, Rick would eat a lemon curry during the performance and after the tour, he left Yes to join up the Royal Festival Hall to make one of the most successful live albums of a Rock musical with a Symphony Orchestra of Journey To The Centre of the Earth. After he left, Yes turned to swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz who was part of a trio called Refugee that featured some of the members of The Nice and released Relayer. Tales is one of the highlights in Yes's career and reaching up to the heavens. 20-minute epics to make you go into the mystical caves? Why Not?!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Top 5 Strangest Prog Albums

Aphrodite's Child - 666

1971, this greek trio featuring Demis Roussos and Keyboardist Vangelis who would now later become famous for film scores such as Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, 1492, and Alexander. These guys released this double concept album that would take Hell into Atmospheric music meets Folk meets Heavy Metal territory. You have some unbelievable tracks like the fast guitar strumming live audience sound of the fall of Babylon, the 5-minute hard rock epic of The Four Horsemen, Ambient of early Tangerine Dream sound and Narrations filling up the room with The Seventh Seal and Aegian Sea, and another epic that clocks in 19 minutes and 44 seconds that will send you into the world of apocalypse of weirdness combining the flames with All the Seats Were Occupied. Even though it's weird and crazy, it's fucking brilliant!

Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
Pink Floyd were in Avant-Garde/Live territory when they released Ummagumma in 1969. This was a big change for the Floyd because they weren't the pop single like band they had with Syd, they were going into different areas of instrumental experimentation. The four-part keyboard Zappa like role of Sysyphus shows Rick Wright in a Mellotronic greek figure that will have Caligula happy. Roger Waters bringing his Folk roots in the birds and the river with the mellower Grantchester Meadows and brings The Mothers of Invention into a small cave with chipmunks as he brings his Scottish tradition to tell a weird story with strange noises with Several Species of Small Furry Animals. Gilmour comes along with a 3-part mellower and atmospheric heavy sound on the guitar with The Narrow Way while Nick Mason closes it up with the Japanese like music of Avant-Garde with The Grand Vizer's Garden Party.

Pink Floyd - The Wall

This album was almost the beginning of the end of the Prog-Rock era in 1979 when the Floyd relased their landmark concept album The Wall. The story is about a burned out rock star (similar to Brian Jones and Syd Barrett) who has barracaded himself in his Hotel room as he flashes back through his childhood years in post-WWII, abused by the School teachers, and sexual intercourses with groupies and his wife. After he becomes isolated with everything he sess in his flashback, he builds the Wall brick by brick that the Floyd plays. The situation for him turns to evil as he has a nervous breakdown and then becomes a rock and roll version of Adolph Hitler and his companions the Marching Hammers to kill everyone to be on the Run and Run Like Hell. This album ain't your King Arthur and the Knights tradition for the heart. The Floyd's music on this, is amazing!

Henry Cow - Legend
Let's say that if the Mothers of Invetion and The Soft Machine form together to create a mixture of Jazz and Avant-Garde RIO insanity to the mix, they would combine and form Henry Cow and their debut album relased in 1973 Legend. Saxes going from Bebop and Fast Funky swing arrangements on Nirvana for Mice which is really a mad-like track. Nine Funerals for the Citizen King and Teenbeat Introduction are strangely strange but oddly normal filled with mellowingly sounds that would have Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band would have almost sounded similar to. Those tracks and the album cover of a sock goes perfectly well.

Ange - Caricatures
Ange were more of a french version of the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis when they released their debut album Caricatures and they really show a taste of Hammond Organ becoming the mellotron with a dark twisted puppets to scare you at bedtime. They have an influential sound of Classical music, Metal, and strange stories in french. The album has some amazing cuts like the mellower sadness with Dignite, Jazz metal goes haywire with Tels Quels, and the 13-minute epic of Caricatures, sure brings the attention of dark humor. Ange are really good for evil to come around the corner.

Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh

Let's Say that a Band from France would combine the concept of Opera, Jazz, Science Fiction, and a chanting voices of 'Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West' would frighten the shit out of Wagner and Beethoven of the Classical Music-era from a group like Magma and their Zeuhl-like Space Rock Opera of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Founder and Drummer of Magma, Christian Vander decided to take the foreign language translation into a space-like language called Kobaia. The story of MDK is about the planet (Kobaia) and the people who live there are moving to another planet to find a new beginning and a new life, but Nebher Gudahtt who is also part of the planet, he wants to them to stay in the planet, but no one is following him and refuse to take his suggestion.
The music is almost very Rhiengold like Space Opera sound. You have the crossover between Edgard Varese, Richard Wagner, John Coltrange, and a crossover of Frank Zappa meets Ange. Even though it's a crazy idea to make a Outer Space opera version of Das Rheingold, It is a real kicking ass album that will send you into the darker side of the Milky Way. Not bad for a Zeuhl Band to take the concept into a Galaxy far, far away and to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Egg - The Polite Force

Egg's next album would be a combination of weird and crazyness that could really be more brilliant and strange noises that will leave you suprised. The Polite Force is a massive underground album that has the recipes that you need. Avant-Garde effects, Bach, Fuzztone Organs, and the travels to the cores of asylums! They were taking the album to a territory that no band had ever done before. There are some moments that show Egg in their formation in the autobiographical Soft Machine-like tradition of A Visit to Newport Hospital which talks about the group's formation in the Canterbury circuit. The Jazz-like compostion of Contrasong shows the band into a Bombastic view with a horn section that will have Miles Davis send you down the corridor. Egg then becomes more weirder with maybe their omage to the Beatles Revolution no. 9 with Bolik which has some ambient madness and noodling plus a Bach tradition to go along with it. The last track on this album is their Magna Carta with the 20-minute arrangement of Long Piece No. 3. This is pure crazyness right here. You have the mixtures of ELP's Tarkus, Deep Purple metal sound-like organs, and a bit of shrieking noises again that will give you goosebumps into massive structures of hell. This album is a true combining force of Evil, Ambition, Alarming Organs, and strange twisting figures that will keep you going for more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 5 Italian Prog Rock Albums

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin!

This concept album is based on the life of sociologist and the thoughts of the origins of species, Charles Darwin. Banco doesn't pull any punches with their superior album. They would use ragtime music, haunting oboe sounds, baroque classical music, and harpischord's of the 19th century screeching out from the synths with an operatic rock sound that the original three tenors would get a kick out of.

Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia Di Un Minuto

PFM were one of the Italian Progsters that Greg Lake of ELP and King Crimson fame enjoyed and he got them signed on their own Prog label Manticore. Their first album is a mixture of 18th century sounds. Their debut album Storia Di Un Minuto (History of a Minute or Story in a Minute) is a mixture of synthesized anthems of fairy tale dances (E' Festa), the stories for September Impressions with a Genesis mellotron style of Impressioni Di Settembre and the two-part epic like folk metal of Dove Quando would almost have an operatic feel that would have the three tenors get a kick out of.

Le Orme - Felona E Sorona Picture the scenery. An Italian version of ELP writing almost a rock opera in two sets in an opera house. More of a outer space rock musical to be more precisely. The story takes place on two diffrent planets. One planet is Felona, who is filled with Joy and Happiness and wants to be free with everybody. The second planet is Sorona, she is filled with sorrow and isolation and filled withdarkness across her home planet. The two planets are with a master who combines the planet in an ultimate climatic showdown as Le Orme fills it up with mellotron limits, moogs going up to the milky way, and Carl Palmer influential drum patterns mixing it up with folky acoustic guitar ballads and Jazz like fusion Bass patterns.

Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra
A more sinister and darker approach for group doing a concept album based on the book that Frederich Nietzche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra, not to be confused with Strauss version of the classical music anthem for 2001. Museo Rosenbach's debut album is a perfect gem for Prog lovers. This shows an italian version that crosses over of King Crimson's first album meets Genesis Nursery Cryme in a dramatic way. You have the 20-minute epic that will send Edgar Allen Poe to write a musical version with Nietzche of House On Haunted Hill with mellotrons that turned evil, Black Sabbath influential guitar sounds mixed with a snarling drum introduction and a Hammond Organ from hell. You might want to play this along with any Horror film and scare the shit out of Trick-or-Treaters with.

Jacula - Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus
Kind of a strange band with a strange title ain't it? But for Keyboard and Guitar player Antonious Rex, he must have been a very strange musician or maybe to become a part of Satna's calling when he formed the group in the late '60s and would defintely scare the shit out of them with their second album. Mixed with heavy organs, female vocalists, a strange cover, flute solos coming from hell, and dark occults that would be perfect for Halloween. You have some monks chanting the lord's prayer and Rex speaking in a devilish voice as he goes into a Tony Iommi guitar like solo on Absolution. The darker but mellower acoustic guitar and violin narration of Long Cold Black Night which sets the scary stories into musical campfire turmoil, while U.F.D.E.M. sets the mood with church-like organs becoming massive with synths as Doris Norton's operatic rocking vocals turns up the devilish heatalong with the scariest organic music of skeletal callings for Praesentia Domini. They sure know how to scare other 20th century artist like Philip Glass, Bram Stoker, and the cult hero of the Candyman with bees coming out of his mouth to be immortal. Not bad for a dark band to scare you in your sleeps!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

Pink Floyd were already hitting the London scene in the late '60s with their cult hero Syd Barrett after the release of singles Arnold Layne and their psychdelic debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It wasn't until 1968 where Syd was taking the drug scene a little too far after the release of See Emily Play and the pop humor grocery store sing-along track single, Apples and Oranges. Childhood friend David Gilmour replaced Syd after the release of A Saucerful of Secrets when Syd said goodbye with the folk experimental track Jugband Blues.

They had a talk about what they were going to do after Syd left, they decided to move forward to a planet where no man has gone before. Their 1970 album, Atom Heart Mother is an explosive and almost bombastic concept for the Floyd with the Symphony Orchestra, wires in people's brains, the summer of 1968, Sun's rising above the english country houses, and a good old fashion psychedelic breakfast.

The opening track that clocks in at 23 minutes and 44 seconds of Atom Heart Mother, is the gem of a perfect symphonic sound. You have Rick Wright doing some odd sounds on the keyboard, David Gilmour's space guitar work, Roger Waters doing a little bass solo, and Nick Mason's drum sounds becoming more quiet and calm. The track would almost become more of an alternate soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 which I will get to later on. It's almost atmospheric and strange, but absolutely well made.

If is almost a science-fiction folk ballad from Roger Waters becoming more of a fingerpicking type of guy on the acoustic guitar and David Gilmour doing his Outer Limits sound on his guitar also. Summer '68 is another ballad this time from Richard Wright. It's more of a Rick's taste of the culture of the song about 1968 with the hippies and the love-in's before leaving to serve his country in Vietnam.

Fat Old Sun is David Gilmour's number about the sun reaching over the sky as the song is more of a calming acoustic guitar introduction with Gilmour's taste of vocals. And then at the last 2-minutes of the number, he goes into a rockin' guitar solo. It is so good, you know it's absolutely excellent!

The last track Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, is your mouth-watery 13-minute experimental piece of their roadie Alan Stiles (who cooked breakfast for the Floyd), orders some breakfast and then it becomes more of a flourish/acoustic/prog number while he munches away while the band plays along as he enjoys the composition.

Now about the Kubrick situation. According to legend, Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick heard the album and he loved it so much, he asked the Floyd to compose a film score for him to do his next film which is one of the most controversial films made of all time A Clockwork Orange. The floyd refused to do it because they didn't know how the film was going to set the scenery.

Atom Heart Mother is Pink Floyd's masterpiece along with Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, Meddle, and Dark Side of the Moon. This was the beginning of the Floyd's career up into Space. Even though to this day they hated working on this album, they really kicked the temperature up to 200!

Egg - Egg

If there was one band that took the Canterbury Prog scene into dangerous musical asylums, it would be Egg. Egg was a trio similar to ELP, Soft Machine and Le Orme. They had the mixtures of fuzzy organs, classical bach traditions, and english country garden avant-garde Jazz metal. So they weren't your typical bombastic and gigantic Moog Synths that Keith Emerson had for Karn Evil 9, but more of a trick of the tail twist of evil nature of forbidden fruit.

Their debut album released in 1970 simply called the self-titled album Egg, is a massive arranging and composition of pure weirdness. From the opening carousel jazz like number of 'While Growing My Hair', which is more of a tradition of the Soft Machine's early days in the late '60s more of 'Joy of a Toy' type of introduction. As I mentioned before, they have a classical music style and pay tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach of the Tocatta suite with the fusion and classic organ like sound of 'Fugue in D minor',

'I will be absorbed' is more of a jazzy feel, and the full length version of the next suite in its entirety because of some situations of the rights issue with one of the composers with 'Symphony no. 2 in 4 movements.' You have the Zappa feel and the Edvard Grieg fast tempo organ tradition of 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' into a canterbury version of The Nice that will have your head explode!

Egg had a small fanbase in Europe, but the group would later relase two more albums (The Polite Force and the Civil Surface) until they broke up in 1975 with their last third album. Today, there's an archival album called The Metronomical Society which features BBC Sessions, and rare live recordings in Egg's true style of insanity!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rare Bird - Rare Bird

Rare Bird's 1st album is almost a perfect taste of sinister progressive rock. It almost carried a darker tale of epics and lost for love. But for these guys, they know their genre of Prog very well. Everything on this album, is like a mach made for political views, knights, Pictures of Dorian Gray in a female version with the Devil, and an absolute jazzy fuzztone sound of music. Tracks like the humor sound of the omage 1950's rockabilly sound of 'Times' is catchy and very funny to the rockin' sound of teddybear elvis music while 'You Went Away' is a lush break-up song of going to the war and dealing with their privacy. You also have the anthem of all Prog anthems that was a hit in '69 with 'Sympathy' which deals about Sexual Fantasies and the political protest to stop starvation and war. 'Natures Fruit' is almost another humor song that is quite bubblegumtype of sound, then it becomes more of a swing jazzy sing-along piece. Then the last two tracks is like putting a cherry on a piece of lemon pie. 'Bird on a Wing' is almost a battlefield stompin' music and a love songy ballad about a bird flying up to the heavens to search for a new land, The banging of the Tom-Toms and the eerie keyboard introduction of the harmonizing darker, plus sinister whisper vocals with the 'God of War'. And then two extra bonus tracks. 'Devil's High Concern' is more of a conceptual taste of heavy metal and similar to The Nice. The story of the Queen's last days as she sees the pictures of the lover's that she had and then makes a deal with the Devil with Mystical fuzzy Organs. The mono version of 'Sympathy' is almost a half-speed piece that is almost pure perfecto genius and ends it on a organotic note. Rare Bird's debut album is a true diamond for them. They have relased their next album in 1970 with As You Mind Flies By which is also a superb and killer album. But they never had any success and never saw the light of day after the release of the first two albums. The music of the Sympathy and Rare Bird's music flies into a new generation of fans and new prog-nuts!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine

1968, the year when music started and the world changed. Martin Luther King and RFK were assassinated, the War in Vietnam was still going on, and the riots were in flames. It wasn't until this group from the Canterbury scene that took the psychedelic scene in london that took the genre of Jazz Fusion and Experimental music into another direction. The Soft Machine is one of the bands that took that direction with their self-titled debut album with a taste of instrumentals, Robert Wyatt's mellow vocals and his drums, Kevin Ayers using a speaking tone with the Bass Guitar, and Mike Rateledge's fuzztone organ that would set the world on fire!

I have enjoyed listnening to this album and the group also. They were the true pioneers in the Canterbury Progressive Rock-era. Apart from this, they don't back down to this because of the way they constructed the music from start to finish. Everything on their debut album is like a clean jewel that has been restored and waiting to buy it for the perfect person to enjoy.

Since this album has some amazing cuts on the Soft Machine debut album, there are some crazy tracks that they push it close to the edge. For example, the 7-minute instrumental experimentation 'So Boot If At All' which is is them doing some strange instruments that carry the Syd Barrett tradition of 'Matilda Mother', 'A Certain Kind' is the warmer taste on riding in your SUV on a beautiful sunday afternoon with Robert Wyatt's lush vocals and the story of the girl he loves to be and marry with while Mike's jazzy bebop sound on the organ.

The two rockers 'Save Yourself' and 'We Did It Again', pushes the Soft Machine into Proto-Prog-Punk territory that his beyond hell and chants of a revamp tradition of the Kinks 'You Really Got Me.' 'Lullabye Letter' is filled with anger and frustration song as Wyatt talks to his girlfriend in the song while having sex and making love as the band becomes a fuzztone sound of Pink Floyd.

Other tracks including the mellow heavier two part introduction of 'Hope for Happiness' is a class of proportions of Wyatt's skeleton's in the closet side, the low-key anthem of organs for the Trumpeter's narration of Kevin Ayers speaking tone of voice in 'Why Are We Sleeping?' and his prog fusion of techniques of space in 'Joy of a Toy.'

They were pre-Floyd and pre-fusion back in those days. They were showing their true side of the music scene of the late '60s than Jefferson Airplane and Cream were doing. The Soft Machine's debut album is a pro-choice and early punk prog to get you cookin'

Amon Duul II - Carnival in Babylon

Amon Duul II had the taste of Metal, Punk, and Prog to the mix. They wanted to do something that was beyond the lanterns of space from their previous second album, Tanz Der Lemminge. Their third album, Carnival in Babylon is almost the rebirth of dark sounds and the shrilling taste of mad worlds. Once again, the group was already following in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd to name a few, but this album shows the true example of Outer Space music in the planet Krautrock.

The opening track 'C.I.D. in Uruk', is more of a psychedelic kraut hammond organ with evil light that is mixed with emotional acoustic guitar ballads with almost a Syd Barrett guitar sound, 'All the Years 'Round' is more of Amon Duul's emotional side with a softer taste of Surrealistic Pillow and female vocalist Renate Knaup-Krotenschwanz takes over the vocals as she takes the listener into the watery abyss mixed with fantasies and love including the lyric 'Are you ready for the take off/Are you waiting for the show?' this is more of germany's answer to 'White Rabbit' in a Krautrock version of Grace Slick.

The funky introuduction and shrieking guitar sounds of 'Kronwinkl', almost becomes a fairy tale for Amon Duul II to make it more dramatic and very sinister, The band becomes more of an Indian-Acoustic tribe with 'Tables are Turned' and so far, so good with the guitar becoming more of aghostly dead sound, 'Shimmering Sand' is more of a metal like tale of the ballad of a man who searches for a new land in a new generation of the sand that shimmers, and the 10-minute piece that has almost the word 'epic' written all over it. This is a taste of funk and more of a fusion take of Hendrix's own band from 1970 the Band of Gypsys that would take you into a different world of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This is one of the best albums in Amon Duul II's career because they were the band that you couldn't escape from or hear. They had a sense of darker tales of the babyloniac morals of the Carnivals of Babylon. I have listened to this album twice and it's still powerful and I've enjoyed this big time. So if you want to get high along with other stoner albums including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Amon Duul II's Carnival in Babylon is the next stoner album you defintely want to get into!