Dutch Progressive Rock Page
2005 : VOLUME 8

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Twelfth Night - Live At The Target
Twelfth Night - Live At The Target
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label: GFT Cyclops
Catalogue #:CYCL 140
Year of Release:1981/2004
Time:73:12
Info: Twelfth Night
Samples: Click here

Tracklist: Für Helene [Part I] (6:56), After The Eclipse (7:43), East To West (10:55), Sequences (20:10), Afghan Red (12:16), Freddie Hepburn (8:45), Encore Une Fois (6:46)

Owning a copy of Twelfth Night's Live At the Target is a definite must for any collector of progressive rock. Until now this has only been available on vinyl, but now thanks to the successful collaboration between Twelfth Night (TN) and Cyclops Records, this classic album is now available on CD, with bonus tracks!

Before delving into the music present on this album, one should mention the history behind Live At The Target. The late seventies and early eighties were the years when bands would record their early material on cassettes and release them in very limited amounts. The next natural step would then be to record a fully fledged album on vinyl, though few were those bands who managed to go this far. Following the release of two official cassette releases (First Tape and Twelfth Night also known as Early Material) the band decided to move on to the recording and release of their debut vinyl album. Interestingly, the three bonus tracks on the album are taken from these cassette releases. At this time, the band were still a quintet, but their vocalist Elektra McLoed seemed to have developed a habit of not turning up to gigs resulting in the band playing instrumental concerts. As a consequence Elektra was kicked out of TN and the remaining quartet decided to record 2 live concerts at the Target Club in Reading, a place where they knew they had a strong fan base mainly because all were students at Reading University.

Thus in mid-January the band played the Target Club charging punters £1.00 for a ticket which would allow them a £1.00 discount on the resultant live release. TN consisted of Brian Devoil (drums and percussion), Rick Battersby (keyboards), Andy Revell (lead guitar), and Clive Mitten (6-string bass guitar). The band would play a four song set, all of which was committed to tape for use in the live album, the resultant Live At The Target. The album opens with Für Helene which after its marching beat intro settles down into the sound which is so characteristic of TN. Basically one could describe this band as being a cross between the psychedelic edge and air feeling of bands such as Ozric Tentacles and Steve Hillage combined with the mastery and musicianship of the more traditionally progressive bands such as Genesis.

That swirling keyboard sound with arpeggios coming and going is a true characteristic of the TN sound and After The Eclipse showcases this point in particular. Funnily enough, the keyboard sound really gives the game away when dating this release because the whole keyboard sound is really eighties and one is immediately transported to the sounds of bands like Marillion and IQ. However, TN did not just sit back and dish out the complex lengthy pieces, this live concert demonstrates that they really could kick ass and rock. East To West features more of that swirling keyboard sound which at times reminds me of Alan Parsons Project though one should mention that the other members of the band contribute largely and it is not just the keyboards which take centre stage.

The album's principal track is Sequences, a piece which took up one whole side of the vinyl album and was considered the band's epic. Such was its allure that the band utilised Sequences as the backing track via which to recruit a vocalist in Geoff Mann who in turn recorded his version which found inclusion on Collector's Item. In fact the Mann version does tend to surpass the instrumental part, though it still remains one of progressive rock classic pieces possessing a variety of moods and styles ranging form the hard rock to Floyd-like guitar solos.

As mentioned earlier the three bonus tracks on the album came form earlier recordings made by the band as the Target recordings only featured the above-mentioned tracks due to financial constraints. Afghan Red was recorded at Arny's Shack in Bournemouth and featured on the Early Material cassette. (Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn was originally released on The First Tape Album, as was Encore Un Fois, and its title suggests that the band had a certain affinity to Pink Floyd (Hat's Off To Roy Harper). Encore Un Fois is a loose jam-like piece that the band used originally as an encore piece that eventually made it to the main set.

Describing an instrumental album can be somewhat difficult especially with a band like TN whose overall approach was somewhat similar, at least on this live album. However Live At The Target remains one of those classic albums pertaining to that period in progressive rock whereby the genre witnessed a popular revival in the music industry. some bands such as Marillion managed to hit it big time whilst others like Twelfth Night achieved cult status though they deserved much more. Live At The Target is definitely one of the classic albums that must be part of any (neo) progressive rock collection.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

NIGEL CAMILLERI



Steve Unruh - Songs To The Sky
Steve Unruh - Songs To The Sky
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2005
Time:61:51
Info: Steve Unruh
Samples: Click here

Tracklist: 1 a.m. On A Tuesday (10:47), Song To The Sky (22:26), Daydream (3:33), Scratching The Black (4:42), Supernova (7:12), Distilling The Mystery (2:34), Lotus Victorious (8:13), Learn To Love Rain (2:16)

Steve Unruh continues his solo musical odyssey with latest album Songs To The Sky. Being only a relatively new comer to Steve's music, it was with anticipation that I played his new album to see what delights were in store this time round. Opener 1 a.m. On A Tuesday is a relatively gentle acoustic number that reminds me instantly of the kind of material that 1980s prog stalwart Rog Patterson did so well. Blending folkish elements with somewhat more angrier sections the track is a fine opener culminating with a couple of rousing choruses split by a more subdued rap (for want of a better word) underpinned by a great bass line.

The ending acoustic guitar flows neatly into the opening title track, which takes up over a third of the album's running time. Fortunately, it is not wasted as from the word go Steve manages to grab the attention and leads you through the entire 22 minutes without ever losing your attention. The classical guitar opening is ended by a forceful rhythmic intrusion overlaid with a folkish violin that has hints of the east, particularly around the brief pizzicato section. The piece continues with a reflective vocal section before the classical guitar once again precedes a more upbeat drums and violin extravaganza. So far so interesting and still only half way through the song! Previously explored themes (some from other songs) are reintroduced next leading to the introduction of some percussive elements and a flute that blends right in, particularly the stereo phasing effect. There are some similarities that can be drawn with classic Jethro Tull (which I hope is not too lazy a comparison). A short break of bird song and waves on a shore plus a spoken reflection that "Nature sings the melody of love" leads into the closing section that sums up all that has gone before. All in all, a great piece of work.

The album contains two other lengthier songs. The dominant flute on Supernova gives it quite a laid back feel and the flamenco-like guitar summons up languid summer Mediterranean evenings. This is emphasised by the Latin drums and congas in the middle, which perhaps go on for a bit too long. Lotus Victorious has melodies floating in and out combined with some interesting stereo phasing (listen with headphones to fully appreciate the balance and effects).

More waves introduce Daydream, a simple song that I think may have benefited from remaining purely acoustic guitar and vocals without the drums in the middle, although they don't disrupt too much. Scratching The Black is more of a 'story song' with the emphasis being on the lyrics. Similar in style to James Varda, this is a song whose impact will strengthen with greater familiarity. Of the other two shorter tracks on the album, Distilling The Mystery starts acapella before the guitar and treated violin carry the very pleasant tune forward, a modern folk song if there ever was one, and Learn To Love Rain closes the album in a gentle manner with a stringed instrument that is played so that is sounds almost like a glockenspiel.

The musical vision of Mr Unruh is amply displayed in his arrangements throughout the album. His excellent acoustic guitar and violin blending harmoniously throughout, but particularly so on Lotus Victorious. Anyone familiar with Steve Unruh knows that he is a very competent musician who is not limited to one style. However, his music effortlessly combines progressive rock, folk and a multitude of other influences into one glorious mixture. As I stated in a previous review, it is hard to reconcile the fact that what one hears on each CD, the writing, arranging, recording and most of the playing is by one man. A worthy recommended album.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Stereokimono - Prismosfera
Stereokimono - Prismosfera
Country of Origin:Italy
Format:CD
Record Label: Immaginifica
Catalogue #:QQ1001
Year of Release:2004
Time:54:26
Info: Stereokimono
Samples: Click here

Tracklist: Onda Beta (8:39), Rosso Di Luna (8:08), Bahnhofstrasse (5:40), Xetrov 5 (6:02), L’Uomo Nuvola (9:26), Salamandra (4:33), La Soffitta Volante (7:20),
Bonus Track: Hommage Au Temps Perdu (4:35)

I must begin this review with apologies to Stereokimono for the delay in featuring their CD on our site. It appears that Prismosfera was originally released (a demo?) back in 2003, but we only received our promo copy in July 2004. Unfortunately, due to one of our reviewers leaving, the review has been further delayed. I want to apologise to you the readers as well, as Prismosfera is well worth your attention, and you could have been discovering it much much sooner.

Stereokimono are an Italian trio featuring Antonio Severi (guitars, keyboards and percussion), Alessandro Vittorio (bass, keyboards, theremin, didjeridoo) and Christina Atzori (drums and percussion). They playfully give their music the label Psychophonic Oblique Rock, and to my ears that seems to translate as lively Instrumental Prog/Psych/Fusion with multifarious influences including Gong, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and many others. The end results produce a sound that is uniquely their own and which positively fizzes and crackles with inventive touches, constantly surprising and delighting as each track takes the listener on a aural mystery tour, with various sonic detours along the way.

The opening track Onda Beta serves as a prime example of the multifaceted treats in store, beginning atypically in spacey explorative fashion, similar to early Tangerine Dream (Alpha Centauri, Zeit) or Pink Floyd’s cosmic psych classics, but this is somewhat misleading as the track quickly veers off into an effervescent, funky slice of exhilarating fusion, sharing much in common with 80’s King Crimson – like Elephant Talk – minus the “talk” i.e. vocals.

This KC influences crop up a few times throughout the disc, but there are plenty of other styles and textures popping up unexpectedly – L’Uomo Nuvola even manages to throw in a bit of bluegrass towards its end. There really is something for everyone on this CD, from biting guitar solos, swirling layers of keyboards, spacey textures and intense throbbing bass a la Tony Levin to the aforementioned bluegrass snippet, many a winning melody and various electronic bleeps, bloops and wooshes.

Bahnofstrasse is another particularly strong track, with a simulated cello sound driving the early stages of the piece before mutating into a vigorous rock workout with an edgy guitar riff snaking its way over a bedrock of tense percussion. That King Crimson sound reappears at the close of the track.

Xetrov 5 has a slow spacey beginning, with eerie scraping sounds and a spoken word insert before exploding into a rhythmic, tension building section, again peppered with burbling electronics.

Salamandra is a real smoker, with a fiery funk edge in the bass department, scorching, anthemic guitar and manic, weird percussive effects. Wow! I was reminded of the funk-Zeuhl sound of French outfit Xaal and their minor classic En Chemin

Although undoubtedly influenced by the big-hitters already mentioned, this frothy fusion of styles perhaps has more in common with instrumental combos such as Djam Karet or Dutch obscurities Bonfire. For all their sense of adventure and exploration, the tunes all have strong melodic structures and the melodic ideas are given enough room for development without ever outstaying their welcome

The disc concludes with the hidden bonus track Hommage Au Temps Perdu, which is a cleverly constructed sound collage consisting of fragments taken from classic prog albums of the 1970’s and is more of a “spot the sample” exercise than a piece of music. It’s a lot of fun nevertheless, and I have spotted bits of Genesis, Yes, Tangerine Dream, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd and Gong so far. It’s guaranteed to keep the prog anoraks amongst us occupied for quite some time.

Overall, this is a great instrumental prog album which should have wide appeal, being adventurous and accessible at the same time. It’s a shame I didn’t discover this sooner, but perhaps that will mean we won’t have to wait too long for another helping from Stereokimmono. I look forward to that, and have no qualms in recommending this one.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

DAVE SISSONS



Reuter & Boddy - Pure
Reuter & Boddy - Pure
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:DiN
Catalogue #:DiN17
Year of Release:2004
Time:55:34
Info:DiN
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Presence (3:48), History (3:53), This Life (4:30), Glisten (3:46), Immersion (6:07), Clearing (6:06), The Source (3:49), The Level (8:40), Breathe (3:30), Fragments (5:05), Pure (5:53)

I make no bones about it (and not wanting to repeat myself yet again), but when reviewing in the area of Ambient or Electronic music that my knowledge is somewhat limited and therefore it is difficult for me to give a comparative appraisal. Add to this that I also did not embrace the early analogue exponents in this field, I am always somewhat guarded in my comments. However having once more delved into the mysterious world of Ambient music it might be, for the first time, that I can hear a difference. A difference that places Reuter & Boddy's Pure a cut above the rest.

Now don't get me wrong, since joining DPRP I have now listened to, and reviewed many a disc within the Ambient and or Electronic field and I now appreciate that there is as much variation here as is there is within any musical genre. And when I say that Pure is a cut above the others, this is not to denegrate the previous albums I have encountered, it is just that I found this particular work consistant throughout.

But before we move on to the music perhaps a little background on our two collaborators. Pure is the second studio offering from Markus Reuter (Warr touch guitars, voice & vocoded textures) and Ian Boddy (synth pads constructed using Atmosphere & sampled Mellotron, and percussion programming) - following up on their Distant Hills debut from 1999. Reuter has also performed on albums by Centrozoons, the Europa String Choir and No-Man vocalist Tim Bowness. Boddy himself has numerous solo and collaborative albums to his name having been a "veteran of the European electronic music scene since the late 1970's". A visit to the DiN site will give a greater insight.

So what makes Pure a "cut above the rest"? Perhaps as good a place to start would be with the longest track from the album, The Level. A personal favourite, opening with angelic soothing atmospheres before the lower end bass provides a hypnotic drive to the music - this ever developing, uncomfortable rhythm, is both infectious and subtle at the same time. Reuter's Warr guitar parts supplying movement and a nimble dancing quality to the melody. The multiple layers of keyboards, percussive drive and crafted guitar parts gradually build to make this a fascinating piece.

I suppose one of the strengths of Pure is that it nicely mixes up those gently meandering and dreamy tracks (Presence, Glisten & The Source) with the more rhythmic pieces (This Life & Fragments), all of which stops the album from drifting aimlessly. I have to say there is nothing within the music that is jarring or unpleasantly dissonant, on the contrary the floating, drifting atmospheres and subtle melodies gently carress and absorb the listener. Pure had a certain charm even on the first listening and one that certainly compelled another run through, in fact several listenings were required (as to my shame I often drifted from a totally relaxed listening state into the dreamland of Morpheus). This is not intended as a criticism, on the contrary, for the album serves not only as a truly relaxing experience, but also in a more atuned listening frame of mind I began to appreciate the subtle nuances and the "human touch" that make this music inspired.

Now I should mention Ian Boddy's array of sounds - sampled Mellotron (but please don't strain your ears for the distinctive Watcher Of The Skies sound), for although the Mellotron is there (as in Immersion) you have to delve deeper into the music and listen for the "softened" timbres to surface - more subtle choirs and strings. As for the analogue department, well perhaps another little vist to the DiN site to see the "Emersonian Wall". And whilst dealing with the sounds a few words also on Markus Reuter's contribution through his Warr 8 string touch guitar - engaging, interesting, textured, technical, understated, melodic. precise, fluid...

A great part of me wanted to give Messrs Reuter & Boddy a thumbs up, DPRP Recommended for Pure. The only reason it doesn't carry this "label" is that by definition it would be recommended to all, and although this is a splendid album, I am sure the word Ambient will probably be enough to turn off many of our readers. Now I have to admit that under normal circumstances I would be in this category - however Pure has opened my ears. I shall return to this album when something less "note dense" and soothing is required. Well worth checking out (try the MP3 edit of The Level for starters).

Conclusion: 8- out of 10

BOB MULVEY



A Perfect Circle - Emotive
A Perfect Circle - Emotive
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label: Virgin Records
Catalogue #:7243 8 66688 2 0
Year of Release:2004
Time:48:18
Info: A Perfect Circle
Samples: Click here

Tracklist: Annihilation (2:13), Imagine (4:48), Peace Love And Understanding (5:03), What's Going On (4:53), Passive (4:10), Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (2:10), People Are People (3:43), Freedom Of Choice (2:59), Let's Have A War (3:28), Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of Live War Drums (5:36), When The Levee Breaks (5:55), Fiddle And The Drum (3:08)

If there was one thing that this US Presidential election gave us (apart from a re-confirmation of Bush as President!), this was a unified front from many members of the rock scene who either wrote albums based on the current political climate in the USA or else toured to give Kerry the vote. Surprisingly, they failed, though one can argue that they have left a legacy of music that has crossed musical barriers running from alternative country (Steve Earle and his The Revolution Starts Here) to prog-metal with this album from A Perfect Circle (APC). However, unlike most of the albums related to this election, this album was released on the day of the election thus allowing one to conclude that the aim of APC was not to sway the electoral vote but rather to give an outlook through their music and how they perceive the current political climate.

APC already released one of the albums of the year with Thirteenth Step though Maynard James Keenan (also known from his work with Tool) and his APC mates felt compelled to release an album that was "a collection of songs about war, peace, love and greed." Thus what we get is a collection of cover versions of protest songs ranging from the seventies up till today. Normally, my first reaction to an album of cover versions is one of gross indifference not to say disdain. However, I decided to go along with purchasing this album mainly based on the assumption that if Keenan was involved, there would be something different involved - and boy was I surprised! APC literally tear apart the original tracks and represent them as totally new pieces with barely enough hints of the original present to allow the listener to be able to refer to the original.

The album opens with Annihilation which originally was by punk band Crucifix immediately setting the tone for what is to be a dark and disturbing album. On most tracks, the tempo seems to be slowed down allowing further emphasis on the lyrics. Even John Lennon's Imagine is haunting while Nick Lowe's (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love And Understanding has Billy Howerdel taking vocal duties and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On is almost unrecognisable. Peace Love And Understanding is given a modern day Depeche Mode make over with some evocative keyboards and strings whilst the Depeche Mode track People Are People is hauntingly beautiful in its arranged simplicity.

Black Flag's Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie is contrastingly brutal while Fear's Let's Have A War though interesting, never seems to actually take off unlike Devo's Freedom of Choice which is turned around into a great rocking piece.

Emotive features two pieces which are original APC tracks and these are Passive and Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums. Passive is in a similar vein to much of what APC have previously released whereby the band balances a heavy guitar sound with a distinctive keyboard sound. On the other hand Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums is not exactly a new piece as it is a remix of the track Pet from their last album. On should mention that the original version of Passive was written way back in 1999 under the title of Vacant by Trent Reznor, Charlie Clouser and Danny Lohner. (The trio work under the moniker of Tapeworm)

Together with Imagine, the masterpieces on Emotive are the two tracks that close the album, When The Levee Breaks and Fiddle And The Drum. When The Levee Breaks, a Memphis Minnie piece made famous by Led Zeppelin on IV, features airy keyboards with very little of the original actually distinguishable. The album comes to a close with Joni Mitchell's Fiddle And The Drum which in contrast to the rest of the album, simply features vocals sung out in harmony sounding like a faint glimmer of hope in what is otherwise a very dark album.

Emotive is not an easy album to listen to, even though most of the original tracks are well known and ear-friendly. APC have done what few artists manage to do when creating covers albums, and that is deconstructing the very tracks they are covering and creating a whole new body of work. Emotive ranks as one of the more interesting of albums I have heard in 2004 though it is definitely not for the faint hearted!

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

NIGEL CAMILLERI



Alexl - Triz
Alexl - Triz
Country of Origin:Brazil
Format:CD
Record Label:Rock Symphony
Catalogue #:RSLN101
Year of Release:2004
Time:55:49
Info: Alexl
Samples: Click here

Tracklist: Todo o Tempo do Mundo (2:46), Transado por Dentro (6:29), Limites (6:15), Por Enquanto… (3:45), Circulos (7:57), Vozes…Vozes (6:51), Porem…Quanto? (3:41), Nos (6:58), Relatividade (4:49), Passatempo (3:21), A Prece (6:57), Enfim… (0:07)

Brazilian artist Alexl (Alexandre Loureiro to his parents) is a multi-talented musician and song-writer, and is clearly not one to settle on just a singular musical style, if Triz, his solo debut, is anything to go by. Even just a cursory listen picks out influences ranging from symphonic rock and 70’s prog, through traditional Brazilian folk music via fusion and some off-the-wall Zappa-style experimentation. To create this diverse album Alexl has utilised a wide range of instrumentation, with the standard guitars and bass set-up being joined by piano, glockenspiel, violin, cello, flute, trumpet and trombone. The use of genuine instrumentation rather than their synthesised equivalent certainly adds extra flavour to the songs; the only shame is that a drum machine appears to have been used rather than real percussion.

Similarly, the vocals (delivered in Portuguese) are handled by a variety of singers; whilst Alexl himself handles the lion’s share, and has an appealing voice, he’s astute enough to know his own limitations, and employs additional vocalists who operate in a number of different ranges. Particularly noteworthy is female vocalist Vani Ribeiro, who takes the lead on Vozes…Vozes…, her soulful delivery perfectly matching this breezy, mid-tempo track. The use of singers operating in different ranges also results in some excellent harmony work, whilst the likes of Trancado por Dentro and Circulos feature the a’cappella, polyphonic vocal style made famous by the likes of Spock’s Beard and Gentle Giant.

Its difficult to pick out highlights here, as the album works best as a whole, with many tracks featuring so many different styles and tempo/ mood changes that they end up at a completely different destination than they initially appear to be heading in. Particularly noteworthy tracks include Trancado por Dentro which starts off as an up-tempo folk number, with some particularly energetic fiddle playing leading the way, before it morphs into more of a Yes>-style prog track. Limites and A Prece are more pastoral and restrained, with the former containing echoes of Genesis’ mid-70’s ballad Entangled. Por Enquanto… and Porem…Quanto?, in contrast, are occasionally chaotic instrumentals which sees Alexl’s obvious Zappa influences running riot.

Given the number of different musical styles on offer, it’s a credit to Alexl’s ability as a songwriter that, in the main, the album holds together as a piece very well. My main criticisms of the album would be that a lot of tracks do tend to tail off and lose their way, and that there is sometimes too much going on, leading to a feeling that next time around Alexl needs to concentrate a little more on tighter song structures and more concise arrangements. As it stands however, this is an enjoyable release, and given its diverse range of influences, an accessible one that has the potential to appeal to a number of different audiences.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



Census Of Hallucinations - Nine Lives
Census Of Hallucinations - Nine Lives
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Stone Premonitions
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2004
Time:71:00
Info:Census Of
Hallucinations
Samples:-

Tracklist: Nine Lives (1:47), The Green Manalishi/Oh Well (3:36), Mock Honesty (3:10), Brain Drain (2:54), The Charlatan Express [Cajun Version] (3:28), Integration II (6:18), Into the Light [Take My Hand] (3:10), Magna Mater (7:28), One Day at a Time (2:56), In An Old Folk’s Home (2:43), The Mental Minstrels (10:22), Now I Know (3:56), Standing in Doorways To Synaptic Gaps (1:51), The Glodblug (1:38), My God, It’s Full of Stars (7:09), Loose Translation (3:20), Sensible People (1:43), Freedom Fighter (3:37)

Nine Lives is a hippie album, and I mean that in both a good way and a bad way. Okay, mostly in a bad way. The eighteen songs on this hour-plus CD range from what sound vaguely like homages to Nursery Cryme-era Genesis to mini-dramas more extravagant than those found on the first Marillion albums to ambient “soundscape” pieces that might remind you distantly of Eno. It’s probably useful to know at the outset that this is the band’s ninth album (hence its title) – and that all nine albums have been made since 2000! You should also know that the band belongs to a music cooperative called Stone Premonitions, and we’re told on the band’s website that “every penny we make goes back into running the cooperative.” Well, it beats EMI, I guess.

The band advertises itself as “psychedelic,” and that term will give you an idea of their general sound. One oddity is singer Tim Jones’s voice, which will remind you at times of Peter Gabriel’s and in times of emphasis of – I’m not making this up – that of Lemmy (yes, Lemmy from Motorhead). If you assume that it then follows that fans of either Genesis or Motorhead or both will like this band, you’re assuming too much, though – I know, because I’m a fan of both. The band’s sound is too varied to appeal to fans of a particular kind of music, and, while I’d often use that very sentence as a compliment, I don’t think it’s a compliment in this case. The album makes it seem as though the two principals, Terri-B (“alias Tiger Woman”) and Tim Jones, have a wide range of influences and that they allow themselves to indulge all of them more or less indiscriminately, sometimes in the same song.

“Indulge” is the word I just used, and in its compound “self-indulgent” it pretty much describes many of the songs on this disc. Some of the best songs are not coincidentally also the shortest, such as their very non-Fleetwood-Mac (and extremely non-Judas-Priest)-like cover of The Green Manalishi, in which the vocals are mixed high over a bed of what sounds like muted repetitive synthesizer mush – but the repetitiveness suits their version of the song, in an odd way. On the very pretty Now I Know, actual acoustic instruments (the exception on this disc) and a very nice song-length electric guitar solo create a moody instrumental piece that might put you in mind of a laid-back Santana song. And the other pretty good kind of songs here are the more-or-less ambient instrumentals like Integration II and My God, It’s Full Of Stars – though even in those pieces (most annoyingly in Integration II), the band can’t resist including far-away-sounding half-acted vocals.

But then there are frankly unlistenable pieces like Standing in Doorways to Synaptic Gaps – processed spoken vocals sounding like the “All change!” voice in Supper’s Ready over top of aimless synthesizer noodling. And I defy you not to grind your teeth during In An Old Folk’s Home (“Hello, my name is Mr. Blankey / Mr. Blankey is my name,” sung in the same “All change!” voice, which seems to be one of Jones’s histrionic staples), a rhymed, half-sung bit of doggerel accompanied by picked and strummed guitar mixed way back. Too many of the eighteen songs (and eighteen is too many to begin with) are in the “unlistenable” category to make the few good ones worth searching for, I’m afraid.

“I am mad officially / I’m off my fucking rocker,” Jones and Terri- B sing in The Charlatan Express, and you get the sense that they mean that in a nice way, as if it’s at least partly a good thing. This whole album is clearly meant to appeal to kindred spirits, people who share their ethos, and it may well so appeal. A sticker that accompanied the CD features a picture of Terri B rigged out in red and black PVC clothing and carries the advice “It is essential to be YOURSELF in a world where you are expected to be just the same as everyone else.” Well, despite the nods to other bands that I’ve noted, Census of Hallucinations excels at being itself. In their effort not to be the same as everyone else, though, Terri-B and Tim Jones have gone too far, in my opinion, and by sounding like nobody else will probably severely restrict their audience. My guess, though, is that they won’t mind, and the next few years will likely see eight or nine more albums of this sort from the idiosyncratic duo.

Conclusion: 5.5 out of 10

GERALD WANDIO



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