Absolute Elsewhere — In Search Of Ancient Gods
British composer Paul Fishman probably is primarily known as the keyboard player of the eighties New Wave band Re-Flex, but has contributed to over a hundred film-scores and co-produced the album Identity by Zee (featuring Rick Wright from Pink Floyd).
Before he toured the world with Re-Flex he composed and played this album In Search Of Ancient Gods almost by himself with a little help from the musicians mentioned above, Bill Bruford (formerly of Genesis, King Crimson and Yes) probably well known by fans of progressive rock.
The LP was quite lengthy, especially for a mid-seventies release, with over 50 minutes of music. In the first track we can appreciate Fishman's love for New Wave music. You can already hear the premonition of the music he would write as a member of Re-Flex. The melodies are played by synths, but in the middle section there are some pithy guitar runs by Saatchi. Moon City is almost a keyboard-only piece. Again a premonition of the synth-pop he would be playing a few years later.
Lots of Mellotron and delightful drumming by Bruford in Miracles Of The Gods, a track divided in several parts. The same melody returns in a different atmosphere with solely keyboards, followed by a piece of acoustic piano, somewhat later accompanied by Mellotron and flute, but at the end of the track, part 4, lots of keyboards join in, as well and bass and percussion, leading towards a beautiful symphonic and majestic ending.
The Gold Of The Gods is more or less an exercise on synthesizers, with some influences from Gentle Giant and a funny question / answer play. A classical piece on keyboards is proof of the classical training Fishman must have had in his younger days. A very nice but all too short gem.
The piano and keyboards open the next track The Chariots Of The Gods, a very gentle opening and the music almost like whispers in your ears. Slowly and gradually more instruments are added, also percussion, later also bass and guitar and the classically oriented music becomes louder and more powerful. The atmosphere changes from classical to more rock oriented while the same basic melody keeps on going. After several deliberate hiccups, suddenly the style changes into what I would be inclined to call jazz-rock.
The last track, Return To The Stars, is the least interesting one. The first sections consists mainly of experimentation with synthesizer sounds, sounds "from space", echoes etc., but there's no genuine melody, just noises and sound. The style Tangerine Dream began with in the very early seventies. Still there's over 40 minutes of fine symphonic music inspired by the books of Erich von Däniken worth to be discovered.
Far Out — 日本人 (Nihonjin)
Some of our readers may know the Far East Famliy Band (FEFB), perhaps mostly because of the fact world renowned electronic musician Kitaro began his career as keyboard player with the FEFB. However, the FEFB had a precursor: Far Out.
This quartet only produced a single album under this name, although the individual band members would work together in other projects later in their musical careers.
The main man in the band was Fumio Myashita. The album consists of only two lengthy tracks, musically influenced foremost by Pink Floyd and perhaps also Hawkwind. Influences range from space rock, psychedelic rock to prog-rock, and maybe even Krautrock. Whenever Ishikawa plays the sitar, the music gets a definitive eastern feel, very characteristic at the beginning of the second track, the title track Nihonjin.
The lyrics, sung in English are not too complicated and to Western ears probably sounds a little wailing and not extremely expressive. Emphasis is on the guitar solos; the sitar and the keyboards are essential but not overly present.
The next album would be The Cave, Down To The Earth, but that was already under the FEFB moniker. Maybe that's why there are seven of the eleven tracks from that album added as bonus tracks on some reissues of the Far Out album.
Mastermind Fumio Myashita proved to be the only remaining member of Far Out in the sextet known as the FEFB, with among others Masanori Takahashi aka Kitaro. The artist foremost known as Fumio would have an impressive output of over a hundred albums later on as new-age artist, primarily writing his music for healing, meditation and sleep.
日本人 is an album pioneering in what would become a rich and colourful Japanese prog-scene.
Lift — Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift was a band hailing from New Orleans (USA) and managed to record just one album in their 7-years of existence. The original album seems to have been a sort of bootleg until record label Syn-Phonic offered to release the album on CD in 1990. The Original recordings had to be made in just a couple of days. Lack of support and proper promotion prevented the band to get airplay or a lot of gigs. Moving from New Orleans to Atlanta and changes in the line up didn't result in any commercial success and although the band recorded more music, it never came to a second album or a breakthrough.
The band used to open their gigs with Watcher Of The Skies, so one source of inspiration for this 1974 album is obvious. Since Cody Kelleher used both a Rickenbacker bass as well as Taurus pedals, clearly Yes and Flash were also influences. The band made really progressive music in the vein of aforementioned bands. You can recognize the theme from the last part of Supper's Ready in the closing track Tripping Over The Rainbow there too.
In 2001, Cavern Of Your Brain was re-released as The Moment Of Hearing (reviewed here on DPRP). This release features the original album but offers also 5 additional tracks recorded in their Atlanta years, with vocalist Laura Pate. Her clear, high-pitched voice gives the music a different feel but still all the instrumental interludes are really excellent.
All compositions of the original album came from keyboard player Chip Gremillion. His epic composition Inception was recorded by The Samarai Of Prog on their double album Lost And Found. Chip also played keyboards on the album Morning Star (2017) by King Of Agogik.
Skryvania — Skryvania
These youngsters from the Parisien suburbs area were still in high school when they decided to form a band in 1975 and play music in the vein of Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and early King Crimson.
By the time they started writing their own material original keyboard player Aubin had been replaced by Bakobza.
With help of a famous local radio presenter and sound engineer the band, obviously with no money of their own, got the opportunity to record their sole album, which was released in 1978. Only 200 copies wre pressed at the time in Belgium.
Although the influences of the bands mentioned are rather obvious, they may have listened to fellow countrymen Pulsar, Mona Lisa, or even Ange when they wote the songs for their debut.
Bass player Yvorra must have had Chris Squire as biggest influence and drummer Reeves tries very hard to sound like Bill Bruford. Most surprisingly, perhaps, he succeeds in doing so.
Keyboards consist mainly of string synth and organ, but the orchestrations are sounding really great.
Guitar player Marina plays a bit rockier than Steve Hackett, and his sound is more high-pitched. He has the speed and virtuosity of guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore.
There is some singing (in French) on the first few tracks but all other tracks, including the bonus tracks on the CD release, are instrumental.
Besides the longer tracks Renaissance and an instrumental version of Le château d'Orphée, the remaining bonus tracks are a tribute to Yes with a few minutes extracts from Ritual and Close To The Edge. In the last bonus track, the band pays hommage to Genesis in Hairless heart.
The sound quality may be rather poor and most certainly not up to current standards, but I still consider Skryvania to be a lost gem. What a shame these young talented musicians didn't get a record deal and proper guidance and management. Sadly this was the fate of many groups in the late seventies when progressive rock already began to lose popularity.