Sunday, January 22, 2017

Phantom Band - 1981 - Freedom Of Speech

Phantom Band 
Freedom Of Speech

01. Freedom Of Speech 3:46
02. E. F. 1 4:15
03. Brain Police 4:08
04. No Question 2:05
05. Relax 4:07
06. Gravity 5:18
07. Trapped Again 1:00
08. Experiments 3:40
09. Dream Machine 5:33
10. Dangerous Conversation 2:12

Drums – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Dominik Von Senger
Keyboards – Helmut Zerlett
Percussion – Olek Gelba
Vocals – Sheldon Ancel

Things changed a lot for Phantom Band in less than a year. Original bassist/singer Rosko Gee left and was replaced by spoken-word artist Sheldon Ancel, remaining bass-less. This lineup change made it possible for the band to align its actual sound with its experimental leanings. The situation can be summed up by comparing the first two albums' opening tracks. The lead-in track on the group's 1980 debut LP was the Gee-penned midtempo song "You Inspired Me," clearly meant as a crowd-pleaser and potential hit single. The lead-in track on "Freedom of Speech" is the title track, a vocodered rant on how the government knows what's best for us, presented over a disquieting rhythm track. The tone is set: Freedom of Speech is a darker, edgier record. It retains the Krautrock-gone-dub feel of the first album, but drops all pretensions of charting to present a more mature, better asserted group sound wrapped in a production that has aged much better than the debut LP. Ancel is not a rapper, but a spoken-word performer: he embodies characters, and uses effects to dress up his voice. It works very well, especially on the dub-laden "Brain Police," the angry "Gravity" (a love story at its sour end), and the electro-freak "Dream Machine." Freedom of Speech is a stunning avant rock record informed by the New York no wave scene and the European reggae/dub scene, with Can's history in genre-pushing repetitive rock serving as the foundation.



  2. I was disappointed with the first Phantom Band album and never paid them any further attention. Your description of 'Freedom Of Speech' convinces me to give it a try. Many thanks.