Monday, September 21, 2015

Atlantis Philharmonic - 1974 - Atlantis Philharmonic

Atlantis Philharmonic
Atlantis Philharmonic

01. Atlantis (5:15)
02. Woodsman (7:36)
03. Death man (5:27)
04. Fly-the-night (4:36)
05. My friend (3:59)
06. Atlas (8:15)

- Joe DiFazio / organ, piano, electronic piano, harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, guitar, bass, foot bass pedals, lead - and backing vocals
- Royce Gibson / drums, tympani, bass drum, gong, ratchet, concert snare and backing vocals

This USA duo formed in Cleveland during the early/mid 70's by Royce Gibson on drums and the multi instrumentalist Joe DiFazio on everything else. Their style is mostly the blending of Symphonic influences like CAMEL, ELP, etc with some Fusion and a bit of the sound of the MOODY BLUES and Hard Rock by moments.

Their first and only LP is the 1974 self titled album released by the label "Deutsche Harmonia Mundi". the eclectic sound of this album has very characteristic features like the excellent vocals close to a blend of Psyche and Pop plus a hard edged guitar that reminds of Early ELP or THE NICE with a touch of CAMEL.

But this isn't all, in tracks as "Friends" we can finds some heavy rock influence similar to URIAH HEEP or DEEP PURPLE, others closer to ATOMIC ROOSTER like "Atlantis", plus atmospheric touches like in the incredible "Woodsman" that also blends some Jazzy leanings, strange but this last track reminds me a bit of the KING CRIMSON's masterpiece In the Court of the Crimson King"

The lush keyboard arrangements including piano, organ and mellotron and the varied mixture of sounds and styles are perfect for the taste of the most demanding Progressive Rock fans

This eclectic album with a clear classical orientation (As their name clearly isuggest) is considered one of the earliest examples of USA Progressive rock and deserves to be listened by progheads.

This is a decent album from yet another of the scores of forgotten seventies regional prog bands whose legacies today are not much more than a few website mentions and often stripped-down CD reissues of their old music. The region in this case was Cleveland, Ohio, which had more of a hard rock and R&B scene in the days Atlantis Philharmonic were active; and the group was really just a duo. The regional influences are somewhat reflected in the band’s music, which while unquestionably influenced by ELP and possibly Yes, but also weren’t afraid to crank up the amps and throw down some heavy guitar riffs as well (check out “Death Man” and “Atlas” for good examples of this).

This album also deviates from the ‘classic’ symphonic rock sound with its rather extensive use of vocals, something that certainly Yes were known for but in general tended to be deemphasized with the more pompous symph prog bands of that day.

The music here is certainly not particularly original or groundbreaking, but the two musicians have to be acknowledged for the way they were able to leverage multiple studio tracks to lay down a very ‘full’ symphonic sound with only two sets of hands. Drummer Royce Gibson handles all the percussion including gongs, bells and the like, while keyboardist Joe DiFazio also lays down the guitar and bass tracks. Both men sing on every song, although DiFazio tends to be the lead voice with Gibson offering backing harmonies or in some cases simple wordless vocal contrasts.

DiFazio had a wide range of keyboards at his disposal for the album including a mellotron, which unfortunately he doesn’t use to the extent I personally would have liked for a mid- seventies prog album. Over-the-top and pretentious was en vogue at the time, and by laying off DiFazio leaves the band appearing to be just a tad underachieving.

Otherwise this is a decent record, but again – nothing earth-shattering. A little brief as well, clocking it at around thirty-five minutes. The band seems to have had a modest amount of success with touring engagements and scattered mentions in trade magazines from the 1974-1975 timeframe. I’m not sure exactly when they broke up, but I do know there was another album recorded with a third band member that was not released at the time (I’ve read it is available on CD today but haven’t seen it personally).

1 comment: