Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ardo Dombec - 1971 - Ardo Dombec

Ardo Dombec
Ardo Dombec

01. Spectaculum (4:02)
02. Supper Time (3:19)
03. A Bit Near the Knuckle (4:32)
04. Clean-Up Sunday (6:50)
05. Downtown Paradise Lost (5:52)
06. Oh, Sorry (0:08)
07. 108 (4:36)
08. Unchangable Things?! (5:58)
09. Heavenly Rose (3:54)
10. Open The Door, Open Your Mind (2:11)
11. Young And Strong (3:15)
12. Riverside (4:15)

- Helmut Hachmann / sax, flute
- Harald Gleu / guitar and vocals
- Wolfgang Spillner / drums and vocals
- Michael Ufer / bass

Not much is known about ARDO DOMBEC except that they were an early 70's German prog band who released an album with a heavy, bluesy, and slightly jazzy feel, ending up barely sounding German at all. Often compared to COLOSSEUM, their music features a lot of saxophone, often matched by electric guitar and flute. Their arrangements are upbeat and bright, yet the lyrics are rather dark and cynical in contrast. The band consisted of Helmut Hachmann on sax and flute, Harald Gleu on guitar and vocals, Wolfgang Spillner on drums and vocals, and Michael Ufer on bass.

Their only cd, entitled simply "Ardo Dombec" (1971), collects just about everything the band has ever recorded. At times, their jazzy material flirts with pop and at other times, it sounds downright baroque. The band obviously enjoys strange and complex rhythms, SOFT MACHINE style. Although they seem to favour vocal tracks (which aren't exactly their forte), it is in the instrumental sections that they truly shine. Technically speaking, the musicianship is fairly good but the compositions may lack a little inspiration and excitement.

Ardo Dombec differs from other folk-blues-fusion-hard rock bands of the early 70's by the presence of omnipresent visceral saxophone arrangements that remain pretty structured, sometimes reminding the Dutch fusion band Solution. Because of the aforementioned subgenres, Ardo Dombec perfectly falls into the art rock category. The drums and bass are often very fast, rhythmic and complex, flirting with fusion elements, and reminding the early Camel without the keyboards. Despite their German origin, Ardo Dombec have nothing to do with the krautrock subgenre. The lyrics are sung in English. The tracks are pretty progressive for 1971. Many flute parts a la Jethro Tull, Focus and even Camel add some interesting variety; the track with the very pleasant visceral harmonica exhibition also shows how versatile the members can be. The music is quite addictive, disciplined and structured: this allows me to qualify the album as excellent. Some catchy tracks, combined with the typical lead vocals, should even slightly remind the listener a sophisticated Elvis Presley!

Not an essential album by any means but certainly worth a listen, if only for Hachmann's heavy sax grooves.

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