Reviews in this issue:
Daevid Allen - Stroking The Tail Of The Bird
Tracklist: Stroking The Tail Of The Bird (Part One (10:01), Part Two (15:50)) (25:51),
Moonpeople Gliss (10:25), Deep Sea (12:59), Rainbow Meditation (9:58)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Catalogue #:||VP 207 CD|
|Year of Release:||1990/1999|
Stroking the tail of a bird is a very delicate matter. You have to take your time, be very
gentle, make no sudden moves or sounds, and be quiet. Now replace the tail of the bird with
your ear and you know what this record is doing to it. Long-stretched soundscapes by keyboards
(of course) and guitars, often slowed down to 50 or 25 percent...
On the front cover, this CD is credited to Harry Williamson, Gilli Smyth, and Daevid Allen (ex-Wilde
Flowers, the band from which Soft Machine evolved). I
think this is a re-issue of a previous release, but I am not sure. The title track and
Moonpeople Gliss are from 1987, Deep Sea is from 1976, and Rainbow
Meditation is from 1998, the latter obviously added to this release only. I can only assume
Daevid Allen is present on all the tracks except the last one, which was written and recorded
by Williamson, who I think is playing on all the tracks. Smyth co-wrote the title track, but I
don't know if she's on the other tracks as well.
Smyth is credited with "space whisper". She is not a regular singer, but she's a
vocal artist, who creates the weirdest of spacey sounds with her voice.
It's more meditation music than soundscapes, actually. You hear actual melodies. Weird melodies,
but still... The compositions create, I suppose, a great surrounding to meditate. You really
have to listen to this, it's not good for background music. Within the musical genre, this might
be one of the better albums, but it's not something that I would listen to very often. I mean,
it's not bad or something. But it's just not very exciting. Well, I understand the musicians
didn't make this to create exciting music. It's hard to explain, but I think it's just
beautiful sounds, and nothing more. For Allen / Williamson / Smyth / Gong collectors only, I'd
say. Or you like to meditate a lot, of course.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Ritual - Suberb Birth*
Tracklist: Original Dinosaur Spaceship (6:09), Golden Angel (4:27), Coming Home (4:11),
Really Something (3:51), Lobby (4:49), 6/8 (3:22), Into the Heat (4:59), Sadly Unspoken (3:53),
Did I Go Wrong (5:38), Mothersong (3:53), A Voice of Divinity (3:35), Do You Want To See the Sun (4:00)
|Country of Origin:||Sweden|
|Catalogue #:||TF VÍ 15|
|Year of Release:||1999/2004|
Tracklist: 2004 Re-release Do You Want To See the Sun (4:00), Lobby (4:49), Sadly Unspoken (3:53), Did I Go Wrong (5:38),
6/8 (3:22), Coming Home (4:11), Into the Heat (4:59), Really Something (3:51), Mothersong (3:53), Golden Angel (4:27),
Dinosaur Spaceship (6:09), A Voice of Divinity (3:35)
The review here is of the original (1999) Superb Birth release and Remco's text remains unaltered. This update to the
review marks its world-wide re-release in 2004. The album has been remastered by Hans Fredrickson in the Rommaro Studio
(Sweden), and the running order for the tracks has altered (See above).
The second album of Swedish band Ritual, since their self-titled debut album in 1995 (published by
Musea). I saw them live in Holland a couple of years ago, and was sold immediately. Their 1995 album
is probably one of my most played albums. So when I heard that they released a new album and that DPRP
got a review copy, I was very glad I had the pleasure of reviewing it.
The album is different from the first one, in the sense that the songs are somewhat sharper, less
symfonic, but the quality of the first album is definitely preserved, including the soaring bass work
by Fredrik Lindqvist. Immediately in the first song the new direction Ritual takes becomes apparent:
powerful hammering bass and drum, dissonant guitar chords, tumbling vocals and even Steve Howe-like
slide guitars. A very impressive opening piece, Dinosaur Spaceship, typical of the general direction modern prog is taking.
After this exhausting piece, a semi-acoustic track follows. Again the flirtation with dissonant chords, but
the clear vocals of Patrik Lundström keep the song from becoming out-of-control.
Coming Home is more regular rock, with melodic lines that for the first time remind of their
debut album. The type of song you want to play loud in your car on a sunny day (that is, if you have
a better car than I have ;-). Really Something is really weird. Deep, headache-like pounding of
all the instuments together opens this track and continues until a U2-like middle piece breaks things
a bit. This modern U2 reference continues with Lobby, but mixed with the typical Ritual sauce.
6/8 opens with a melancholic cello melody and then a cool organ (mellotron?) creates the right
background for a Middle Eastern-like track (as they proved they can do on their first album).
The next couple of tracks continue this line. Did I Go Wrong deserves some attention, with
a tired, complaining melody, almost New Wave like, with a firm bass melody. This track is
very, very Radiohead-like, a reference that they flirt with throughout the album. Actually, this
song is released on single, and with the right promotion I think it could even become a minor hit.
Mothersong somehow lacks the production of the other tracks, somehow it sounds pale. What
went wrong here? This song contains some sound effects, mixed into the song as in the Cure's
Like Cacatoos (for those who know this track). A Voice of Divinity is a piano-vocal ballad,
with a Focus-like melody.
And then for the finale: Do You Want To See The Sun. Somehow, sometimes, you have these
tracks that do something to you. I immediately felt connected to this one, like I knew it for
years. It made me really happy, like sunshine in your stomach. I bet most of you won't have this
when listening to this song, since it's not particulary happy or anything, but it's the typical track
that is associated with summer, beer, friends and sunshine for me. This is definitely going to be
an all time favourite.
OK, concluding: a worthy second album of a very talented band. Less symphonic, more Radiohead than
their debut. Great songwriting, great instrumentals and it contains a song that can really uplift me.
Their artwork is reviewed in The Artcorner and
in contrast to Mattias, I quite like it. Their final rating can come as no surpise.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10.
Stramonio - Seasons of Imagination
|Country of Origin:||Italy|
|Catalogue #:||NW 003|
|Year of Release:||2000|
Tracklist: Awake The Jester (8.46), Ashes In The Wind (7.01), I Swim In The Air (7.06),
Get Lost In Time (5.17), Without You (5.46), The Song Of The Harvest Fly (8.29), Vital Elation
All you Dream Theater fans out there, your attention, please! The new millenium sees the
release of the first album from Italian prog metal band Stramonio, and it is a beauty.
With the highest recommendations to the following of DT.
Stramonio was formed in 1992, playing at first mostly classic metal and melodic hard rock. They
recorded several demos, including When Body Dies Soul Lives and Awake the Jester,
experimenting with progressive rock and metal as the line up went through the usual changes.
April 1999 saw the completion of the first full length studio album Seasons of
Imaginations, which contains two new tracks.
Stramonio are Frederico De Vescovi (lead and background vocals), Nicola Balliana (acoustic and
electiric guitarss), Luca Arrighini (electric guitar), Luca De Lazzaro (keyboards), Cristiano
Zanvettor (bass), and Roberto De Cesoro (drums). Guest performances on violin and flute
complete the instrumental section.
Stramonio's style of music is melodic/progressive rock and metal, owing a lot to Dream
Theater and also to Rush. On this album one recognises the typical Dream Theater
shifts from up tempo rock to darker and deeper rhythm lines, with familiar solos. De Vescovi's
vocal lines also owe a lot to James LaBrie of Dream Theater.
Compositions are original, though I must again mention DT's influence. The players get to show
their quality in a diverse collection of songs. More typical prog metal is alternated with
complexely arranged tracks and the album includes a very good power ballad Without You,
somewhat remeniscent of Yes. I've been enjoying a lot of prog albums where strings are
added lately, and the addition of violin to some songs here again brings added attraction. Same
goes for the flute. Sound quality has come off well in production.
Some remarks must be made concerning De Vescovi's vocals. I know some people are hesistant or
even against vocalists with non-English accents, especially Italian or German accents. This has
never been a problem for me personally. I even think an accent can add something to the charm
of a vocal perfomance, for example in the case of Italian band Marathon's singer Glauco
Giacchello and, especially, with German band Eloy's vocalist Frank Bornemann. But if you
disagree, at least be forwarned.
Seasons of Imaginations comes in a beautiful digi pack with artwork by the well known painter
Luis Royo. Quite impressive packaging for a first studio album, which I feel earns them half a
point extra in my evaluation.
A great album, highly recommended. Of course there are a lot of Dream Theater clones out there
at present, but I can't think of any that are as good as this. I'd like to see Stramonio
develop a more personal style, but if they choose to keep following the tracks laid out by
their fenomenal predecessor, this still surely remains a band to keep a close eye on.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10.
Delivery - Fools Meeting
Tracklist original album (45:54): Blind To Your Light (5:05), Miserable Man (8:28),
Home Made Ruin (3:23), Is It Really The Same (5:44), We Were Satisfied (4:02), The Wrong
Time (7:50), Fighting It Out (5:48), Fools Meeting (5:27)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Catalogue #:||Rune 115|
|Year of Release:||1970/1999|
Bonus tracks (25:16): Harry Lucky (3:41), Home Made Ruin (alternate take) (2:56),
Is It Really The Same (live) (5:19), Blind To Your Light (live) (5:29), One For You (7:43)
I think there are a lot of you that have never heard of Delivery. I had never heard of
them before when I got this CD. It is the re-issue of the one and only album by a band whose
name is stated in the family trees of some well-known other bands, like Caravan,
Hatfield And The North, National Health, Gong, and Soft Machine.
The core of Delivery is formed by guitarist Philip Miller, drummer Philip
"Pip" Pyle, and pianist and Phil's brother Stephen Miller. On this CD, which contains
the complete studio recording history of the band, the line-up includes Roy Babbington on bass,
Carol Grimes on vocals, and Lol Coxhill on saxophone.
The music can be filed under progressive blues. It's all based on the blues, but there's a lot
more than just that. It's got elements you can hear on Deep Purple's first three
records, but without organ, Cream without the emphasis on the guitar solos and more on
the songs instead. And there is a lot more jazz in the music of Delivery.
Another distinctive element in their music is Carol Grimes's voice. The record company saw in
her a British Grace Slick or Janis Joplin, and here voice is somewhere between those, although
she also reminded me of Stone The Crows and Julian's Treatment's first album
(singer Cathy Pruden).
Phil Miller is quoted saying "Delivery was a learning band". This is where it all
started for most of the musicians. Steve Miller had been playing with Alexis Korner, but the
others, who were a few years younger, were less experienced. Blues was the music that inspired
most of the successful bands, but Steve was also very interested in jazz and rhythm &
blues. The joining of Lol Coxhill introduced more jazz, more freedom of playing to their music,
making it more jazzy and more progressive.
I am not a great fan of saxophones, and a solo like the one in Is It Really The Same is
too freaky for me (Coxhill had left the band to join Kevin Ayers, but was invited as a guest
player on the recording). In other, less jazzy pieces, where the sax is less prominently
present, it offers a strange but nice ingredient to the whole of the sound, sometimes reminding
me of Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt.
I prefer drummers and bass players like this, who have that blues feeling in their play. They
know when to play loud, and when to play gently, unlike too many rock musicians. The Wrong
Time is a great example with its heavier and softer pieces alternating. It has a soft jazzy
opening, and a quiet bluesy part (after a long sax solo, I should add...). This song shows both
Steve's great piano playing and the band's blend of blues and jazz.
In 1971, Pip Pyle joins Gong, to be replaced by Laurie Allen. The music progressed more
and more towards jazz improvisations, which led Carol Grimes to leave. When Roy Babbington
also left, the band quit. The story of Delivery continues however, since later, Coxhill
formed a band with Steve Miller, Phil Miller, Laurie Allen, and Judy Dyble, formerly singing
with Fairport Convention: DC & The MB's (Dyble, Coxhill, And The Miller
Brothers). Also here, a lot of improvisations. This band fell apart when Steve was asked to
replace David Sinclair in Caravan, and Robert Wyatt formed Matching Mole with
David Sinclair and Phil Miller.
When playing in Caravan, Steve Miller brought in much of the music he had written for
Delivery earlier that year. Songs on Caravan's Waterloo Lily album,
quoting the CD booklet, can be heard as late / lost period Delivery songs with the
framework of a great Caravan album.
One day, Phil Miller, Pip Pyle, and David Sinclair dropped by when Steve Miller was recording
some piano tracks, and they were invited to perform one of Steve's song, One For You.
This song is included on this CD. It has Steve's distinctive blues / jazz piano, with great
contributions by the others. A diverse track, alternating between blues and jazz, and I think
largely improvised. You might conclude that this band didn't know to make a choice between
blues or jazz, but to me that's simply the strongest point in their music.
A reformed Delivery, with Richard Sinclair on bass, played a few gigs, but Steve Miller
didn't feel comfortable with his brother's musical direction. He left and was replaced with
David Sinclair. The band then changed their name to Hatfield And The North.
It's strange to see that a great album like this, which is still part of the history of a
number of well-known groups who all have their own part in musical history, could have been
forgotten. Fans of all bands linked to Delivery should get this CD, but also if you're
interested in a great combination of blues and jazz, it's a great choice. More jazz than most
progressive blues bands from the late Sixties, and bluesier, rawer, and rocking more than
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Quantum Jump - Quantum Jump
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Catalogue #:||MPVP 012 CD|
|Year of Release:||1976/1999|
Tracklist original album (36:53): Captain Boogaloo (4:19), Over Rio (4:22), The Lone
Ranger (2:55), No American Starship (4:55), Alto Loma Road (4:46), Cocobana Havana (5:10),
Constant Forest (2:17), Something At The Bottom Of The Sea [Stepping Stones (1:11), The Roving
Finger (2:01), Stepping Rocks (1:16), --- (3:41)] (8:09)
Bonus tracks (20:24): Captain Boogaloo (Mixing version) (4:40), The Lone Ranger (Mixing
and hit single version) (3:20), No American Starship (Mixing version) (4:52), Over Rio (Mixing
version) (4:22), Drift (The Lone Ranger single B-side) (3:10)
Quantum Jump - Barracuda
Tracklist original album (40:24): Don't Look Now (4:12), The Seance (3:45),
Barracuda (6:06), Starbright Park (5:46), Love Crossed (Like Vines In Our Eyes) (6:26), Blue
Mountain (3:46), Europe On A Dollar A Day (3:44), Neighbours (6:39)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Catalogue #:||MPVP 013 CD|
|Year of Release:||1977/1999|
Bonus tracks (20:49): Don't Look Now (Mixing version) (3:30), Blue Mountain (Mixing
version) (5:57), Barracuda (Mixing version) (3:38), Take Me To The Void Again (incomplete
work-in-progress mix) (3:41), Summer In The City (abandoned Lovin' Spoonful cover) (4:03)
Two strange CDs... Quantum Jump's music is very hard to label, but it's definitely
somewhere in the outskirts of progressive rock, where muscial genres blend together. And
Quantum Jump is on the crossroads of several styles.
The best-known name within the unit that was called Quantum Jump is Rupert Hine, a man
who needs no introduction. These two CDs contain all that Hine has recorded with this band: two
original albums, a single B-side, two unreleased songs, plus the re-mixes and overdubbed
versions from a compilation album called Mixing. Now that's what I call re-releasing!
Great job by Voiceprint.
The music is, like I said, hard to describe. There's a lot of jazzy guitar picking, and the
musical structures and time signatures are not the most common ones. Guitarist Mark Warner
plays a number of solos, soulful at times, but also fierce, sharp, and long. Bass player John G.
Perry and drummer Trevor Morais add so much funk to the songs, that the only reference to other
existing music that remains must be Frank Zappa. And this is further enhanced by Hine's
vocals. He sounds not unlike Zappa, and he sometimes uses vocal melodies that remind me of Zappa
very much. A song like Alto Loma Road even has some Yes influences. Very soft
verses building towards a franticly played middle section, full of... well, everything! And in
Something At The Bottom Of The Sea, the rather complex structure and playing predominates
over the funky rhythms, making a King Crimson feeling come up. But overall, it's just a
lot of Zappa.
The second album is less extreme. The music is more jazzy, with the melodies becoming more
important than the funky bass. No sudden outbursts of musical power, which was one of the
interesting parts of the first album. Songs like Starbright Park and Love Crossed
are more poppy than on the debut LP, and have something of a "happy Hawaiian"
touch... More Zappa, and therefore it seems less serious. I can appreciate Zappa at times, but
it can be too casual, too easy. The compositions are very good, but they don't do anything for
The music of Quantum Jump is, you will understand by now, not very typical prog rock.
Fortunately, we write about related styles too, and we have more and more visitors that are
interested in these as well. These discs are documents in musical history. Like Hine says,
"our humble but not insignificant contribution to English bands in the Seventies".
Thanks to Voiceprint, they are now, at last, available on CD. If you know the original albums,
you know whether to buy these CDs. To the others I'd say that if you're interested in Zappa,
then definitely listen to these CDs. I recommend the first one, since it's a more diverse album,
a bit weirder than the second.
Conclusion: 6.5 (Quantum Jump) and 6 (Barracuda) out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Chinawhite - A Dragon's Birth
|Country of Origin:||Netherlands|
|Year of Release:||1997|
Tracklist: Rock and Water (5.07), The Revolution by Night (4.15), A Dragon's Birth (0.27),
Big Money (5.03), The Lurker (4.59).
In 1989 Chinawhite evolved from two other bands (Jester's Tear & Trouwens). In 1990 they recorded
their first demo tape A Thousand Thoughts. In 1991 they contributed two songs to the
Sampler CD Southern Comfort. Another demo tape followed a year later: When Dreams Unite
(1992). The popularity of the band grew and several (acoustic)
performances on radio stations followed. The band also played regular live sets with cover
versions of work by bands like Rush, Saga, Camel, Marillion, Toto, Van Halen, Whitesnake and Queen. Their
1994 demo Sign of the Time also featured cover versions of tracks by Whitesnake,
Steppenwolf, McCartney & Ozzy Osbourne.
In May 1995 the band recorded 5 tracks in 3 days, which were mixed in one additional day. The
band was not 100% satisfied with the result and the project was put on ice for a while. In 1997,
after about 100 gigs since they were founded, the band remixed the 5 songs and finally released
them on a mini CD called A Dragon's Birth.
In 1999 DPRP started hosting their
Homepage and now, one year later, we (finally) present a review of their 1997 album.
The band consists of Peter Cox (guitars & vocals), Don Feltges (lead vocals & cover artwork),
Paul Roefs (bass), Rolf ' Fuchs' Vossen (keys) and Hans in 't Zandt (drums).
Chinawhite plays melodic heavy rock with progressive influences. Sometimes it leans more towards
AOR, but there's more than enough subtle bits and pieces in the tracks to keep the open-minded
prog fan happy. At the same time the compositions are quite accessible. At times it reminds
me of Asia, while Peter Cox's howling guitar often reminds me of Frank Usher's
work for Fish. Saga and Rush influences seem to be present as well.
The song Rock and Water first appeared on the Southern Comfort compilation. It is
a very catchy track, accessible and perhaps the best one on the album. It's got a great drive
and must be wonderful when played live.
The Revolution by Night, originally from the A Thousand Thoughts tape. The starts
reminds me a bit of the Goede Doel classic Nooduitgang (sorry for all the non-Dutch).
The track evolves in a nice rocker with interesting rhythm and mood changes and fine multi-vocals.
A Dragon's Birth is basically just a half minute instrumental with some keyboard chords
(hardly a real song) that leads into Big Money, which was also first released on the
Southern Comfort compilation. A nice rocking track with some fine multi-vocals.
Lurker is the last track on the album, and probably the one that is the least accessible.
I find it a bit harder to get into this one, compared to the more energetic other
tracks on the album. The bass and guitar solos are great though !
The ballad section in the middle of the song sounds a bit forced into the track. A bit too many
ideas in 5 minutes perhaps ?
The guitar solo's are very good. Bass and drums lay a solid rhythm, although some of the songs
contain some weird ticking percussion that gets on my nerves a bit. Keyboards play an important
supporting rather than a soloing role. Finally the vocals are okay, although Don has the
tendency to overdo it at times with some needles cries and occassional grunts. The nice CD
cover was done by Don as well.
All in all, Dragon's Birth is a fine debut CD with lots of great melodies by a band full of energy and drive. Not the most
original thing I've heard but certainly highly enjoyable. Check it out. The bands sells copies for
20 Guilders (10 US Dollars). For order details, check out their Homepage.
Since 1998 Chinawhite has been working on their new album Breathe Fire, which should
be available later this year. I'm looking forward to hear it.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10.
Vermilion Sands - Water Blue
Tracklist original album (46:33): My Lagan Love (3:10), Ashes Of The Time (12:12),
In Your Mind (7:36), Coral D - The Cloud Sculptors (5:51), Kitamoto (4:41), Living In The Shiny
Days (4:16), The Poet (7:43)
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4293.AR|
|Year of Release:||1999|
Bonus tracks (27:00): The Love In The Cage (7:03), In The Night Of Ancient Tombs
(6:15), The Love In The Cage (live) (6:20), In Your Mind (live) (7:17)
Although I had never heard of Vermilion Sands before, they have been around since 1986.
On the other hand, besides two tracks on compilation albums, they have only recorded this album,
in 1987. This Musea release is a re-issue of the original 1989 issue on Made In Japan Records.
And I am glad they did this!
It's a bit disturbing, or at least surprising, to hear a Japanese band play music in the vein
of a blend of British progressive rock that you don't hear a lot, namely Renaissance
and, even more than that, Solstice. Female singer Yoko Royama even sounds a lot like
Solstice's first female singer.
The band take their time to play a song. No keyboard powerplay or a pile of technical
show-offs, but quiet and acoustic parts with delicate vocals, alternated with longer
instrumental passages and very melodic solos. If you would not listen to the lyrics, you'd
swear you were listening to a British band! I didn't understand the lyrics right away, so,
although the titles are in English, I incorrectly assumed the lyrics were in Japanese. But it
doesn't bother me at all. The voice is very sweet, high and melodic, and does not lack any
power. It suits this kind of music perfectly. It adds to the fairytale atmosphere that the
music creates. The warm and moving guitar solos make me dream away.
Although Coral D has a slight Marillion-like intro and a middle section that
sounds like IQ, it's again Solstice that comes to mind because of the vocals and
the whistling melodies. It's like this song is a tribute to those British bands from the
Eighties! The verses of Living In The Shiny Days have a sweet Yes feel to them,
with vocals sounding like Anderson, and vocal melodies that Anderson could and maybe would do,
as well. I have never heard a Japanese band before who were influenced by British Seventies'
and Eighties' bands this way. I just love the warm, gentle and sweet atmosphere.
Although not a very original album, they don't play prog in a common way. Like I said, there
are not a lot of bands playing music like this. I hope that although the band's activities are
put on hold because of the birth of the singer's baby, they will release another album soon!
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Christian Boulé - Photo Musik
Tracklist: Elastic Minute (4:08), Photo Musik (2:44), Cristal Palace (7:27), 22 Broad
Street (4:25), Radio-Arc-En-Ciel (2:32), 5ème Océn (2:37), Aqua Deva (2:57),
Inter Galactic Cosmic Triolet (4:03), Orange Climax (7:38)
|Country of Origin:||France|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4296.AR|
|Year of Release:||1978/1999|
Bonus tracks: Comet Hotel (3:07), Estella Futur (3:56)
The name of Christian Boulé did ring a bell, but I could not remember where I had read
his name before. But when I heard this CD for the first time, it didn't take very long for me
to know where to look for his name: in the booklet of a Steve Hillage Band CD...
Boulé was part of the Steve Hillage Band in 1976 and 1977. It would be too easy
to say that because Boulé recorded this album early 1978, so right after his Hillage
experience, that Hillage was his biggest influence. Boulé had been an active guitarist
in several bands for five years, before he joined Hillage. So he had had a lot of other
influences as well. He must have been thinking (I mean playing...) along the same lines
already, or Hillage would probably not have asked Boulé to join his band in the first
Photo Musik is, however, an album that sounds very much like Hillage in his early
(solo) years (who recorded his Live Herald around this time, on which Boulé is
playing): spacey, lightly psychedelic guitar rock.
There are, of course, differences. The first and most obvious is that Boulé has a female
singer, Andy Slaten. She is American, so don't be afraid of a heavy French accent. She has a
high, almost child-like voice, and with her musical melodies she adds a rather mysterious
layer to the music, which is not too common anyway.
Overall, Boulé is not as heavy as Hillage. Boulé has an eye for detail, and adds
more acoustic guitar and piano into his songs, making them more delicate and even sweet at
times. This does not mean that Boulé does not know how to make his music fly on those
glissando guitar solos! But to my taste, he might have done that more often.
Boulé's songs are also shorter that Hillage's early work, making them more like real
"songs"; melodic tunes, but without the adventurous soloing. The emphasis is more on
the song that on the aural space trips. In the first and the last song of the original album,
he shows he actually is capable of doing so.
The two bonus tracks, recorded in 1998, are rather short, but show that Boulé is still
using that beautiful glissando guitar, making even a shorter song sound spacey. Modern
electronics have, however, found their way into Boulé's music as well.
If you like the early Hillage albums, this CD is a must. But also if you're into
Hawkwind you should hear it. Bear in mind that Boulé's music is more song-based
and not as heavy as those British godfathers of space rockers, but fortunately not as
electronic as contemporary Hawkwind either!
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Runaway Totem - Andromeda
Tracklist:Kontakt (13.03), Tempus Fungiens ? (8.44), OD OB (8.47), Kadman Neso
(10.39), Andros Medomai (8.07)
|Country of Origin:||Italy|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4299.AR|
|Year of Release:||1999|
|Info:||Runaway Totem's Eyes|
Last year Italian band Runaway Totem released the concept album Andromeda, a
complex progressive rock piece. Formed in 1988, the band has released two prior albums,
Trimegisto in 1993 and Zed in 1996. Andromeda was released by french
music label Musea last July. At the time of Andromeda's recording, Runaway Totem was a
five man band, consisting of Roberto Gottardi (guitars, vocals), Rene Modena (guitars),
Germano Morghen (drums) and Dario Gelmetti (bass), and Roberto Veronese on piano, keyboards
and synths. Modena left the band in March 1999.
On their previous albums Runaway Totem showed an interest in Greek and Egyptian mythology and
ancient history. Andromeda is again a concept album. It tells the story of an ordinary
man, Kadman Neso, and his identity in the harmonious coexistence of his micro-cosmos and the
macro-cosmos around him. In Runaway Totem's own words: "Andromeda wants to be the musical
representation of the cosmo-genesis. We can rediscover our true identity through what we
consider the ars regia: music." No catchy pop tunes or lyrics here.
This is not your typical prog music. Runaway Totem shows an original style, musically, but
especially vocally. Instrumentally it appealed most to my fondness for the early seventies
style of Pink Floyd. Roberto Gottardi's vocals shift from lyrical singing to outright
story telling and at times he brings his lines as emotional outcries. As all lyrics are either
in Italian or Latin (to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure), this may prove something of a
threshold to be taken by intrested prog fans. Actually, this album is good enough not to be
passed over by such considerations.
The first track, Kontakt, opens with mysterious synthesizer music, reminiscent of some
of movie score writer Jerry Goldsmith's work, symbolising the vastness of space, the
macrocosm. Piano, bass and drums are added, and guitar joins in as the keys shift to a Atom
Heart Mother like rhythm. This eases up before the band picks up the pace and Gottardi's
deep voice is added. Further on the beat of Diamond Head's Am I Evil is set in,
overlaid with guitar and the booming of Gottardi's voice.
In Tempus Fugiens ? piano and drums and the mesmerizing voice of Gottardi build as a
trio to a climax. Again the pace is picked up and a strong metal rhythm is taken up by the
band. Between vocal parts this is complemented by violin. Some very dark instrumental parts
are added, and as Gottardi joins in, Roberto Veronese plays heavy organs. Guitars toward the
end are again very reminiscent of Pink Floyd in their late sixties/ early seventies
Od. Ob. starts as a more standard prog rock track, but it has a very nice vocal rhythm.
It includes very good keyboards and echoing guitars. Gottardi shifts to story telling mode in
the middle of the track, then changes to a hypnotic chanting as the bass dominates the
Kadman Neso is a slow metal track with overlying keyboard rhythms. As the keys set a
more quite rhythm half way through the track Gottardi sings of Kadman Neso, as this track
alternates between quite verses and a powerful chorus. The last track, Andros Medomai,
sounds like a dark, but catchy carnaval tune. This instrumental track alternates between
The band's website, Runaway Totem's Eyes, includes
soundclips from all three albums they've released, including from this latest album parts of
Kontakt, Tempus Fugiens ? and Kadman Neso.
This self produced album catches the mysterious atmosphere of endless space with great
perfomances, especially by Gelmetti on bass and Veronese on keys. It is sure to be of interest
to those IQ fans, who don't mind a darker and heavier sound and don't mind crossing the
barrier of lyrical confusion, as it brings the same comfortable symbioses instrumentally that
is one of IQ's strong points in my view. It's not quite retro Pink Floyd, but original and
complex symphonic music, definitely worth a try.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.