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Monday, September 6, 2010

Feed Your Head - Essential Progressive Rock: The Mind Expanding Sounds of Esoteric Recordings

The unheard gems of Progressive Rock, Electronic Music, and British Folk is really an interesting nature to escort the listener to uncharted territory to make it explosive and impossible to describe about the genre, not because they are familiar with ELP, Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson, but to see there are other bands that were obscure, weird, and brilliant. Compiled by the People at Esoteric Recordings, This digital downloadable compilation is a tribute to the label in which to me is considered, The Criterion Collection of Progressive Rock. Feed Your Head – An Essential Progressive Rock may be one of the best compilations in a line of obscure Prog bands and artists, but this puts the icing on the cake that is almost like a best of album to ensure the essence of this magnificent and bewildered musical babylon.

While the tracks may get you interested and inspire the disagreements, delight, and scratching your head in some bewildered moments, but what it is, it is. Since you admire the music and go into the lake for bands that never made a dent in the states, then this is the starting point and not directly a moving target for you. Even though you admire the four bands along with Rush, which I do, but such is the evidence here that most of the bands are not on the compilation and may see that there is a different world out there, however, Feed Your Head takes the listener on a magnificent journey through the underground scene of Progressive beauty from the experimental, space rock heroes, folk, obscure, and cult heroes in the mind of Esoteric Recordings.

Kicking off the compilation is Hawkwind’s full extended version of Space Punk sound of their homage to the 1930’s cult classic of mass madness, Reefer Madness. It is a hidden gem that is unexpected and hardly a song that could have been used for the opening credits for the movie about the dangers of Marijuana. Mind you, if you think the first track is a number for you take LSD and go on a drug frenzy, think again, Krautrockers Brainticket bring a psychedelic avant-garde territory with hallucination with There’s A Shadow Watching You, this band could have written the score for Logan’s Run starring Michael York while German trio Schike, Fuhrs, and Frohling bring electronic music for a magnificent train ride with Explorer, a piece that could have been written for the pioneers of electronic rock, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.

Elsewhere, Web featuring Keyboardist and vocalist Dave Lawson bring Jazz Fusion to the table as if to pay tribute to the Bitches Brew-era and In A Silent Way homage of Miles Davis on the 8-minute epic, I Spider as Space Ritual bring Space and Heavy Metal to a new voyage thanks to the Jazzy sax solo sound done by Nik Turner with Sonic Savages. But it’s the Fusion of a Flaming fire from the Canterbury gods, The Soft Machine’s 9-minute rocker, Hazard Profile (Part I) featuring a dazzling guitar work done by Allan Holdsworth that he’ll take your breath away and knock John McLaughlin out his seat while King Crimson and ELP lyricist, Pete Sinfield brings New Orleans Jazz and funk with a psychedelic ambient dream section like no other on The Night People.

Jan Schelhaas, keyboardist of Caravan and Camel, brings his Dennis Wilson style vocalization on the atmospheric new age sound on The Coast of Peru. The track is so beautiful, that you almost couldn’t stop the compilation because of the song’s majestic beauty and almost could have been a part of the Pacific Ocean Blue sessions. The second half of the compilation, gets much better than this and serves a dinner special of mass quantities. John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest live recording at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2006 of The Poet / After The Day.

At first it starts off with a symphonic sound done by Woolly Wolstenholme as he does a lukewarm forest-like soundtrack as John Lees sings like an angelic mastermind as it kicks in the Genesis Steve Hackett sound with After The Day as the band go into the layered and virtuosity that you’ve never heard before that is emotional and will take your breath away. And then, we are inside the mind of Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come. His homage to the Krautrock scene with Time Captives which could have been recorded in 1982, makes it a mind boggling composition to NEU! David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, and Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express.

Claire Hamill, who’s one of the most exquisite voices in the Folk scene, brings a middle-eastern and Kate Bush representation on the eerie classic, Trees while Italian Prog kings, PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi), brings a English version of Impressioni Di Settmbre (The World Became the World) to a soaring symphonic rock sound to the skies. Then we go into the psychedelic blues with Eddie Hardin and Pete York, who was a part of the Spencer Davis Group which featured Steve Winwood, bring a sinister live version of Everyone I Know at De Lane Lea Studios to a smaller audience that is one hell of a track featuring the two members bringing soul that is beautiful yet an explosive track that is out of this world.

If you are ready for Texas Rock, well get your cowboy hat and boots on for Stray Dog for heavy blues rock with Tramp (How It Is) which features guitarist and now composer, W.G. Snuffy Walden (The West Wing, The Wonder Years, and Friday Night Lights) brings his Jimmy Page and Billy Gibbons homage on his guitar and vocalization on his raunchy sound and makes Stray Dog a cult name. The last number closes with Maestoso featuring Woolly Wostenholme, Blood and Bones is a moody post-apocalyptic number and shows how progressive music does not have to be a dirty word anymore. That is the beauty of Esoteric Recordings.

It doesn’t have to be the kings of the genre of the music, but shows there are other bands that you really need to check out. It’s not drawing a line in the sand to see who’s prog or not prog, but bringing a romantic affair of independent ‘70s prog bands that never saw the light at the end of the tunnel. For the rest of the Prog geeks, this is a truly tribute to the indie prog label, and to see what Esoteric have up in their sleeves for the future.

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