Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ariel - 1985 - Perspective


01. Another Time, Another Place
02. Banana Blues
03. Moment of Weakness
04. Folk Dance
05. Ugh Huh
06. Jupiter Whale
07. The Ballad of Kid Rock

Marchrist Jansen: Guitars
Tony Kampick: Keyboards
Bob Sheldon: Drums, Percusion

This was recently reviewed on the now-defunct cdrwl in the following terms, sadly one of the concluding posts there:

I've had a few people ask me about this title in the last couple of months, and honestly I had no idea what it was. There's an aural copy on Youtube, so I finally got around to hearing it, and I was immediately intrigued. I was about to report on the album here, when I found an original going for a reasonable price. I snapped it up, and heard the LP last night for the first time. This is a great one folks - I'm very impressed by it. Definitely an album from the 80s though, so if you're a dyed-in-the-wool 70s addict (which I can sometimes be myself), then this may not be your cup of tea. All the same, the fiery psych oriented guitar alone might sell you.  While awaiting for the LP to arrive, I found someone who knew the band, and it's been confirmed they are from the Chicago area. There's no info on the LP regarding their origin...

Release details: Very obscure album that is just now being discovered. Album is housed in a typical American single sleeve thick white cover that lends itself easily to ring wear. Comes with an insert that contains no data. Interesting to note that mine is on blue paper, and the photo above is orange. Not sure how many colors were utilized. This album would benefit greatly from a CD reissue, and I just added to the CDRWL today as well. The sound is good but can be improved upon.

Notes: From the far south Chicago suburbs, comes the super obscure Ariel, an album that is just now making its sound heard worldwide. Early 80s Rush is the most obvious first influence, but there's more here than meets the ear as it were. All instrumental guitar, keys, and drums are the core components, and the compositions are complex and tight - with a strong fusion influence. No escaping the King Crimson sound from the era either, but also (surprisingly) Doldinger's Passport, minus the sax (imagine the sequencer heavy Moog lines for example). If we were to really deep dive here, I would compare Ariel to fellow Chicagoan's Proteus, mixed with the UK group Red (on Jigsaw). While Side 1 is impressive enough, the final three tracks do nothing short of wow the listener. And they close with their peak composition, always a hallmark of a great album. Ariel does not belie its mid 80s sound (despite the somewhat psych influenced guitar tone), and yet compared with the normal dreck from the era, the band proves the middle 80s were not a total wasteland (heavy metal genre exempted of course). This one deserves the buzz its currently receiving in the underground.

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