Friday, August 21, 2015

Het Pandorra Ensemble - 1978 - III

Het Pandorra Ensemble

01 Door mekaar (10:33)
02 Kanon pittoresk (11:11)
03 Ritme 7000 (2:35)
04 Drei (4:58)
05 Karotten (15:27)
06 Improv 'Stille Willie' (6:41)
07 Kanonjam-pedaal kwijt (2:04)
08 Improv 'Rockin' Rollie' (8:19)
09 Kaas! (12:00)
10 Oude & Spaanse Kaas (1:30)
11 Karrottentokkel (2:42)
12 Die Sterveloze Melodie (1:33)

Gert-Jan Blom (bass)
Roland Brunt (flute)
Jean Eble (drums)
Dolf Planteijdt [aka Dolf] (guitar)
Wouter Planteijdt (guitar)
Wilfrid Snellens (drums)

This album was recorded in 1978, Released in 1979, and in 1980 copies were given away with the political magazine "Gramschap" (10th edition)

Tracks 1 - 6: Original Album, Mixed By Dolf and Wouter Planteijdt & Sasa Tozzi, Exterveen 1978.
Tracks 6 - 8: Unreleased Outtakes, Mixed By Dolf and Wouter Planteijdt, Amsterdam 2011.
Tracks 9 - 12: Recorded live on September 30, 1978, in Alpha, Beverwijk on 2-track 1/4" reel-to-reel. Restored by Dolf Planteijdt. Amsterdam 2011.

It's a bit hard to believe this music is from 1978. Where the album lands is somewhere between progressive rock(with some mild jazz influence and avant-garde sympathy) and post-punk. There're some problems with consistency, since the middle section has some shorter stuff(also mellower) that should've been shorter(pun-intended). My favorite off this unusual album is the first track.

From the openings chords i can hear clear Canterbury influences, reminiscent of National Health's albums from the same year. These moments are abruptly disrupted in a manner which almost remind me of unplugging a cable. What ensues are like the existential hesitations of the likes of Joy Division, with the melancholic melody on the back while the bass-line keeps soloing away; creating an atmosphere of anxious preoccupation that lasts quite a while; until it eventually ends with a King Crimson'like guitar wail that sounds like smashing a mirror. They've contrasted the melodic aspect of post-punk/jazz with King Crimson's fuzzed paranoia(two guitarists btw), and this combination is working like a charm - abandoning the old prog redundancy - the band is already embracing the future. There's material for you math-rock geeks as well. Check out the crazy, jazzy section and the end of the second track, all of these strange stops-accelerations and often dissonant, distorted chords coalesced with their melodic counterpart. Excellent production as well - their great bass player is always audible in the mix and the dynamic drum fills are even better. I'm very surprised to hear such a strong mix from an obscure band.

A very interesting album for that year, give them a shot if you'd like to have a vague idea how a progressive Robert Fripp would've sounded in 78'. The reissue has some great bonus material as well.

This CD reissue on Modulus (USA) is a beautifully packaged gatefold mini-LP, with incredible sound, tons of bonus material, a history, photos, etc... A stunning package - as gorgeous as any Japanese mini-LP. It's worth noting that the original is a single sleeve, so this is an improvement in that category as well.

What's even more amazing, is the bonus tracks are even better! Same style of improvised melodic dissonance (how's that for an oxymoron), but perhaps a bit more focused than the album proper. Rare is the case where the bonus tracks exceed the original product.

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