Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wurtemberg - 1980 - Rock Fantasia Opus 9

Rock Fantasia Opus 9

01. Rock-opus 7 (5:39)
02. Sous-Titre (2:10)
03. Berceuse Gratinee (2:24)
04. Prefixe et Danse (3:32)
05. Allemandes (2:21)
06. Concerto Pour un Minot (5:37)
07. Invitation (3:04)
08. Rock-opus 1 (7:13)
09. Cantate 147 (3:54)
10. Extrait (1:51)

- Alain Carbonaire / organs & piano, acoustic guitar, lyre, bass-tenor psaltery
- Bernard Maitre / synthesizers, dulcimer, xylophone
- Gilles Michault-Bonnet / flute & saxophone
- Michel Richard / electric guitar, soprano psaltery
- Alain Demeusy / bass (of Iris)
- Jean-Pierre Garbin / drums (ex-Ange)
- Jean-Marie Hausser / drums

WURTEMBERG is the musical project of instrument-maker Alain CARBONARE. If you don't know this name, he is best known internationally for the making and playing of his own "traditional" style instruments, the dulcimer, psaltery, lyre, among others. The group places a heavy emphasis on sophisticated arrangements, as nice parts on acoustic guitar and authentic medieval stringed instruments.

The music on "Rock Fantasia Opus 9", only CD of this French band, is totally instrumental fusing classical, renaissance music, French folk and progressive rock. The music is calm and breezy, with a lot of air between the strings and piano. For fans of bands such as CLEARLIGHT, GRYPHON, early AFTER CRYING, MALICORNE, and MINIMUM VITAL. An essential addition to any collection of French symphonic music. GOOD STUFF, so don't miss it!

Wurtemberg is basically a rock band trying to make a middle age, acoustic folk music and the result is very astonishing and perfectly relevant. The leader of this French musical "tribe", Alain Carbonaire is a multi -instrumentalist who successes here to make us sensitive to a large range of acoustic, traditional instruments of the middle age, renaissance period. Each composition offers a very pleasant mood, alternating different musical evocations from the past. However in spite of bringing so many acoustic elements the work is dominated by a rather basic rock structure (sometimes old dated) just as if the enchanting, dancing flute lines try to raise the music to a higher level. The omnipresence of the piano gives a "neo classical", "symphonic" touch to the ensemble. Not bad at all!! A real must for lovers of Malicorne and others.

Tibet - 1978 - Tibet


01. Fight Back (4:59)
02. City By The Sea (4:24)
03. White Ships And Icebergs (6:15)
04. Seaside Evening (4:13)
05. Take What's Yours (7:23)
06. Eagles (6:05)
07. No More Time (5:30)

- Kalus Werthmann / lead vocals
- Deff Ballin / keyboards, percussion
- Dieter Kumpakischkis / keyboards
- Karl Heinz Hamann / bass, percussion
- Fred Teske / drums
- Jürgen Grutzsch / guitars, percussion

Jürgen Krutszch formed TIBET in 1972, having been inspired by the Eastern experimentation of groups such as the BEATLES and THIRD EAR BAND. Krutszch had spent the latter part of the sixties in cover bands (FINE ART, NOSTRADAMUS), and was interested in putting together a group that played native Tibetan instruments such as the tabla, violin, zither, and flute. He quickly abandoned this idea after recruiting former band mates Karl-Heinz Hamann (FINE ART, TESKE) and Dieter Kumpakischkis (NOSTRADAMUS), as well as drummer Fred Teske and vocalist Kalus Werthmann, but the band did retain a certain pseudo-mystic feel to their music during their nine year existence.

The band toured extensively throughout the seventies, opening occasionally for fellow countrymen and friends of the band KRAAN, but managed to release only a single album, their self-titled 1979 studio release. The tracks for the album were recorded in three separate sessions dating from December 1976 to September 1978,
The band's sound was a complex fusion of astral rock, jazz, classical music and Tibetan sounds, heavily keyboard-driven (Hammond, mellotron) and compared to the likes of ELOY, AMENOPHIS, and even URIAH HEEP, although most of their studio release consists of tracks that are similar in style but more reserved than any of those bands. Lyrics (when present) were primarily in sung English, but the band was known to play longer instrumentals in concert, and three such tracks appear on their studio release.

As an interesting side-note, Garden of Delight Records released a series of sampler recordings of early psychedelic and symphonic bands around the turn of this century, and volume 5 of that collection features two songs credited to TIBET. While the core membership of the band is the same as that one their 1979 studio release, the singer is listed as a 16 year-old girl known simply as Maggie. These tracks were believed to have been recorded by the band very early in their career, and prior to signing Werthmann as their permanent singer. Nothing else is known of the girl.

Having failed to make a commercial impression with their one record, TIBET decided to call it quits and disbanded following their final concert appearance on March 22, 1980.

TIBET deserves recognition for having been a small part of the progressive music scene with their extensive live performance history throughout the seventies, and for the eclectic and ambitious style of music for which they were known by their small but persistent fan base.

Diamond in the rough, lost gem, obscure record, oddity or criminally underrated; pick one you like it all means the same.

Tibet kicks ass with a high level of musicianship, quirky melodies and a really weird (but likeable) art cover. To be frank, once again it's the cover that brought me to that record. And the cover is telling you pretty accurately what you can expect: fantasy. Is it me or the Egyptian art is perfectly fit for progressive rock? K2 and Ash Ra Tempel find it too I heard.

If you find this record, pick it now. You'll get your money's worth. It's easy to get into and to hum later. The mood is well set for smoke machines (or other instruments) and trippy lights. The vocals are not the strongest part, but many bands like Ramses have the same problem without ruining the mood.The singer has a RPI tremolo, even in english, weird as it seems. On the very plus side, you have a ton load of good keyboard (Peter Bardens style), guitar and bass (a la Eloy). I can easily spot Pink Floyd and Camel here and there, but the Eloy factor is tangible even more. Good news!!

A pleasant surprise that could become one of your favorites fast.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hybride - 1977 - Ca n'a Pas D'Importance

Ca n'a Pas D'Importance

01. À mes amis inconnus
02. Réponse à moi-même
03. Golf E 330
04. Ménage
05. Trouble
06. Un désir
07. 20000 ° réveil
08. Mon Pégaze

Robert Defer [aka Robby]: guitar
Bernard Heck [aka Barney]: vocals
Michel Arnold [aka Doudou]: guitar
Joseph Dato: bass
Jean-Jacques Martinez: drums

Obscure pearl coming from France, the group Hybride has little known history, being active in the second half of the 70s, when it launched its unique and rare album. The guitarist was Robert Defer, who joined Ange in the early 80s and other small local groups.
The disc "Ça n'a pas d'importance", 1977, is divided in 8 short tracks of typical hard rock of the late 70s, with a few doses of prog and other ballads. Lyrics in French and good work on guitars, with some fuzz moments, and heavy drums mark the sound. Emphasis on "À mes amis inconnus", "Trouble" and "Mon Pégaze", but the sound is quite competent, with several good moments.

Hard rock band HYBRIDE created in Belfort (Franche-Comte), where hailed her guitarist Robert Defer and much better known prog simfo-rock group ANGE. Apparently following the example of his famous countrymen HYBRIDE  too soon began to execute Progressive Rock and even with the prefix Heavy.

Gnadenloser Paarungstrieb - 1978 - Gnadenloser Paarungstrieb

Gnadenloser Paarungstrieb 
Gnadenloser Paarungstrieb

01. Erwin The Funky Refrigerator(6:17)
02. Mindsurfer’s Serenade(14:35)
03. Gnadenloser Paarungstrieb(8:55)
04. R.R.S. Blues(8:53)

Captain Ilor/guitar,bass
Swara Samrat/vocals,bass,flute,moog
Karl Deter/drums,percussion

This is one of a number of Coloured Rain LP releases issued in generic customised sleeves. Although the front cover states "FOR RADIO USE ONLY" at the top right, and "Coloured Rain promo" at the bottom, these were never promo items but were on general sale at inflated prices from the label's mail-order service. Some copies came with an extra voting card, which explains the "Coloured Rain Charts" pretend promo copy series.

Two pressings exist...
Pressing 1: printed orange labels
Pressing 2: black labels (some written on with wax marker)

Standard series sleeve (written on with wax coloured marker) with insert.
The insert credits the album as: Interpreted by Captain Ilor, Swar Samrat and Friends.

Lots of screaming guitars, bubble basses, hammond sounds and weird stories about a funky refrigerator named Erwin and other psychonautic events.Only 100 copies (audiophile 180-gram) of this megascarce prog/psychrock highlight were manufactured in handlettered laminated promo covers with insert. This testpressing was produced because the planned cover painting by cartoonist GERD BAUER did not get ready and the musicians could not wait any longer, but were not satisfied with other design concepts. We’re still waiting for the comic cover!

The video is from Captain Ilor's 1982 album

Cochise - 1972 - So Far

So Far

01. Cajun Girl 3:20
02. Blind Love 4:20
03. Dance, Dance, Dance 3:52
04. Many Times 3:10
05. Diamonds 3:20
06. Thunder In The Crib 3:52
07. Up And Down 5:30
08. Wishing Well 2:55
09. Midnight Moonshine 5:25

Stewart Brown - Vocals, Guitar
B.J. Cole - Steel Guitar
Mick Grabham - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Rick Wills - Bass, Vocals
John Willie Wilson - Drums
Steve Marriott - Piano, Vocals
Roy O'Temro - Drums

In my opinion, there are basically two sides to Cochise - when they played country-rock, they played mellow, laid-back, quiet and pleasant (but very talented and well-written!) country-tinged songs that were uniquely theirs and unlike any other band.  I don't think a comparison with, say, Creedence Clearwater Revival would do them justice - the two bands were nothing alike.  Where John Fogerty would belt out his lyrics, Cochise would take it nice an' easy, as if inviting you to sit down on a sunny day and sip on a glass of lemonade...  Where they (Cochise) actually rocked, their country tinge would disappear and they would sound more like a great 70s blues-rock band, not unlike Free or Bad Company!   B.J.'s pedal steel was still very much present in the mix, and it was weird to hear this essentially made-for-country instrument on such decidedly non-country numbers, but at the same time it all somehow worked!

Cochise - 1971 - Swallow Tales

Swallow Tales

01. Love's Made A Fool Of You (02:51)
02. Jed Collder (03:18)
03. Down Country Girls (01:49)
04. Home Again (03:41)
05. Lost Hearts (03:25)
06. Strange Images (02:03)
07. Where I Sing The Blues (04:09)
08. Another Day (05:16)
09. Axiom Of Maria (07:02)
10. Can I Break Your Heart (05:03)
11. O Come All Ye Faithful (01:20)

– John Gilbert – lead vocals
– Mick Grabham – acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
– B.J. Cole (Brian John Cole) – pedal steel guitar, dobro
– Ricky Wills – bass, percussion, vocals
– John “Willie” Wilson – drums, percussion, vocals
– Tim Renwick, Cal Batchelor – solo guitar (08)
– Caleb Quaye – piano (04,06,10)
– Steve Marriott – piano & backing vocals (07)
– Nigel Olsson – harmony vocals (06)
– Dick Taylor – producer

Cochise was largely the brainchild of former Plastic Penny lead guitarist Mick Grabham.  When Plastic Penny folded Grabham started recruiting for a new band,  Formed in 1969 the original Cochise lineup featured the talents of former Bluesology singer Stewart Brown, pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole, ex-Taste drummer John 'Willie' Wilson, and former Jokers Wild bassist Ricky Wills  Having played the college and club circuit, they found a backer in the form of Andrew Lauder who helped get them a contract with United Artists.
Following a personnel shakeup that saw original vocalist Steven Brown replaced by former Might Joe Young singer John Gilbert (Brown decided to retire from music and head off for a life in the Mediterranean), the band returned with their sophomore release - 1971's "Swallow Tales".  Self-produced the album found  B.J. Cole and Mick Grabham picking up all of the writing duties which meant the band's overall sound remained largely unaltered with another heavy country-rock feel to the bulk of these eleven tracks.  If you were into early 1970's country-rock/Americana groups like The Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, etc., then tracks like 'Jed Collder' and 'Another Day' were probably going to be right up your aural alley.  I certainly didn't have a problem with those efforts, but I'll readily admit that I was partial to the group's more commercial (read rock) oriented songs like 'Home Again' and 'Why I Sing the Blues'.  That said, even on their best efforts these guys lacked a certain originality that would have served to segregate them from the tidal wave of competitors.

- If their 'toughened up' cover of Buddy Holly's 'Love's Made a Fool of You' served as your introduction to the band, you probably weren't going to be all that impressed.  The performance itself wasn't bad, but simply didn't have enough going for it to make you forget the original (or the score of other cover versions).  Not the smartest choice of a US single
- Penned by Grabham, 'Jed Collder' was a straight-ahead country-rocker that's always reminded me a bit of what The Band might have sounded like had they decided to record a truly commercial album.  
- Kicked along by Cole's pedal steel guitar, 'Down Country Girls' had an even stronger country-rock influence.  With an up-tempo melody it was one of the tracks that actually grew on me the more I heard it.
- 'Home Again' was a pretty pop ballad that also served as one of the album's most commercial offerings.  While the track served to showcase Gilbert's voice (he had a nifty haunting edge in his delivery), the secret weapon on this one was actually Rick Willis' dynamic bass.
- Largely because it found them stepping away from country-rock, 'Lost Hearts' was a welcome change of pace.  Musically this one had an interesting Spanish influence.  Wilson's pounding drums and Grabham's acoustic guitar solo actually gave the song what was almost a Flamenco feel to it.  Very nice !!!      
- Kind of a bluesy ballad, 'Strange Images' was okay, but never really kicked into gear.
- Dropping the country-rock influences for another straight ahead rocker, 'Why I Sing the Blues' was side one's best performance.  Once again, the rock genre served to showcase Gilbert's likeable voice and while the song wasn't the most original offering you've every heard, if sounded surprisingly rugged and pounding.  Maybe it's just my ears, but I think you could hear the late Steve Marriott's ragged voice on backing vocals.
- 'Another Day' started side two with the album's prettiest melody and the song that was actually best suited for commercial airplay (which probably explains why United Artists ignored it).  Imagine a really good Rusty Young and Poco song and you'll get a feel for this one.  
- I've never been sure what to make of 'Axiom of Maria'.  The song started out with a weird instrumental segment and then drifted into a odd country-tinged number that never really found a groove to settle into.  The church bell closing didn't do a great deal for me other, though I will admit that Grabham turned in the album's best solo on this one.
- 'Can I Break Your Heart' was another country-rock number, but this one had a great melody, showcasing the band's tight knit harmony vocals.
- Arranged by Cole and clearly intended to showcase his pedal steel guitar, the album ended on a pretty instrumental version of 'O Come All Ye Faithful'.

Cochise - 1970 - Cochise


1. Velvet Mountain (Mick Grabham) - 3:26
2. China (Grabham)-3:55
3. Trafalgar Day (B. J. Cole) - 5:08
4. Moment And The End (Cole) - 5:58
5. Watch This Space (Stewart Brown) - 3:56
6. 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (Paul Simon) - 3:39
7. Past Loves (Brown) - 3:38
8. Painted Lady (Grabham) - 7:03
9. Black Is The Colour (Traditional) - 0:56

*Stewart Brown - Guitar, Vocals
*B.J. Cole - Dobro, Guitar, Pedal Steel, Cello, Steel Guitar
*Mick Grabham - Organ, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
*Rick Wills - Bass, Vocals
*John Sly Wilson - Percussion, Drums, Vocals

 There was a lot of talent involved in the making of Cochise's debut album. Guitarist Mick Grabham went on to play in Procol Harum; bassist Rick Wills would later join Foreigner; B.J. Cole would be an in-demand pedal steel player on many sessions over the next few decades; drummer Willie Wilson would play with Pink Floyd; Dick Taylor, who'd just left the Pretty Things, produced; and Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis (famous for working on Pink Floyd LP covers) designed a striking and, for the period, daring cover of a woman's unadorned breasts.

The credits on a resume don't always guarantee an outstanding album, however, and Cochise is one of those '60s-turning-into-'70s records that treads an uneasy line between eclectic diversity and a lack of direction. It's so-so period 1970 British rock, distinguished just slightly by a more country-ish flavor than the norm, courtesy of Cole's pedal steel. It's not country-rock, however, and some of the songs in fact owe little or nothing to the form.

Numbers like "Painted Lady" and "Moment and the End" are tense, meandering hard rock tunes; the latter cut, in fact (as well as sections of some others, like "Velvet Mountain") sounds kind of like late-'60s/early-'70s Guess Who LP filler. There's a wistful rural feel to parts of the material that suggests some promise, but that mood's shattered by an unnecessary, pedestrian heavy rock cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song."

Catharsis - 1977 - Et S'Aimer... Et Mourir

Et S'Aimer... Et Mourir

01. Dis oui (4:01)
02. Et s'aimer (2:36)
03. Dza (4:17)
04. Vie (5:51)
05. Tia (5:23)
06. Et mourir (11:08)

- Yves Deroubaix / guitar, vocals
- Roland Bocquet / keyboards, vocals
- Charles Eddie / percussion, piano, bass
- Charlotte / vocals
- Patrick Moulia / vocals

Catharsis - 1976 - Le Bolero du Veau des Dames

Le Bolero du Veau des Dames

01. Palace (5:39)
02. Tango (2:45)
03. Docteur Pleu (6:02)
04. Styx (3:07)
05. Melba (5:10)
06. Le Bolero du Veau des Dames (10:31)

- Roland Bocquet / organ, piano, vocal
- Carles Eddie / percussions, vibraphone
- Claude / guitar, sitar
- Michel / bass

Le Bolero Du Veau Des Dames (76) is the first album of new material for Catharsis since Pop Poèmes of 73, because the following two releases (32 Mars and Illuminations were both recorded in 71 along Masq, their debut album. This album stands a bit apart in Catharsis' discography as there are only of the four usual members (the other reappearing for the following year's S'Aimer Et Mourrir. Replaced by members Claude and Michel (no last names given), the quartet probably signed their most symphonic oeuvre (although I've not heard half their albums) and arguably sounded the least like Floyd, although there are still some strong hints. BTW, don't be fooled by the vol 5 on the Spalax Cd reissue, this is their seventh album.

Although an organ-dominated sound, Catharsis' music sounds a tad different, as Bocquet's organ is a Farsifa, rather than the usual Hammond. Right from the first notes of Falace' you'll see easily that you are in a very different kind of musical realm. Some tracks like Melba still have a Floydian streak, but most include a fair bit of very tasteful brand of symphonic rock between Camel and Genesis. As with all Catharsis albums LBDVDD is hardly clocking around the 30 minutes mark.

The best track of the album is clearly the 10-mins title track, which spends all its duration throughout, changing through a myriad of moods and ambiances much like a better version of Camel (and even sometimes close to Caravan and Genesis) and French compatriots Carpe Diem. Also among the better tracks is Docteur Pleu, which has some delightful spacey sounds as well as some near-orgasmic breathing over a not-so steady beat, before breaking into a very Genesis-type of close. The weaker track would be Tango, with its staccato rhythm, but even then this is a stretch call it bad.

Catharsis might just stand as one of France most singular groups, this album is probably their proggiest (in the light of symphonic prog) and it seems that Catharsis has forgotten a bit their psych roots and developed a stronger symphonic sound. .

Catharsis - 1975 - Illuminations


01. Aube (3:43)
02. La mort des amants (3:06)
03. Ballade des pendus (3:49)
04. En revenant de la noce (2:00)
05. Mignonne allons voir si la rose... (1:58)
06. Le canard blanc (2:31)
07. Illuminations (3:11)
08. Poèmes du 17e siècle (2:13)
09. Alchimie du verbe (2e partie) (7:35)

- Patrik Moulia / guitars, percussion
- Charlie Eddi / drums, percussion
- Yves de Roubaix / bass, guitar
- Roland Bocquet / keyboards
- Allain Geoffroy / piano, charango
- Charlotte / vocals, percussion

This is a unique sounding record where soprano female vocal melodies with acoustic guitar and drums dominate the sound. This is mellow, atmospheric and often dark sounding music with no lyrics. Not a lot of variation although synths, piano, percussion and bass are used as well. Her vocals remind me of Synne from IN THE WOODS... although the music here doesn't come close to what IN THE WOODS... brings to the table.

"Aube" opens with the birds singing as synths, vocal melodies and percussion arrive and contine throughout. Lots of atmosphere. "La Mort Des Amants" opens with strummed guitar as percussion, synths and vocal melodies rise to the surface. "Ballade Des Pendus" has a steady drum beat as organ and affects come and go. Vocal melodies arrive after 2 minutes. Cool song. "En Revent De La Noce" has an almost circus-like melody slowed down, with vocal melodies over top.

"Mignonne Allons Voir Si La Rose..." features keys with vocal melodies. She laughs a couple of times during this one. "Le Canard Blanc" has these light sounding keys, almost classical-like with more vocal melodies. "Illuminations" opens with organ and vocal melodies as heavy drums come in. "Poemes Du 17e Siecle" is a brighter more uptempo track as she uses her vocals in unique ways like she's having sex. She laughs out loud at one point. "Alchime Du Vertbe(2e Partie)" features piano, strummed guitar and the birds are back.

Catharsis - 1973 - 32 mars

32 mars

01. 32 mars (11:08)
02. Masq (4:16)
03. Les Chevrons (4:59)
04. 32 mars (3:07)

- Yves de Roubaix / bass, guitar, vocals
- Charlie Eddi / drums, percussion
- Roland Bocquet / keyboards, vocals
- Patrick Mouila / vocals, guitar, percussion

Want a groovy and psychedelic sounding album? One that is a bit peculiar yet fun? Well then this might just well satisfy your needs. Starting with a cool organ playing a catchy tune, this grows to a full spectacle of psychedelic and experimental showmanship. From the entire band playing in a full fledged lineup to the solo piano playing and then to tribal percussion and other instruments (such as a wacky style sax), this opening piece has the full gamut of what this band was capable of - not only in terms of playing and instrumentation but also in being able to create varied psychedelic textures and soundscapes. This track alone is such great fun to listen to; it's a great ride made up of smaller segments that make it up a varied whole. The goofiness shown in some parts of the tracks balances the more psychedelic and spacey parts but does not ruin them at all; on the contrary, it adds distinction to their sound. The whole album flows very naturally from one track to the other, linked by the common sound and style, the organ and the occasional humorous additions. The drumming here is very good, as it gives the great flow of the album and the excellent rhythm that the album has. The organ gives it a somewhat transcendental aspect, and is balanced out by the other instruments and the way the music is arranged. I find the tunes to be very well organized. "Les Chevrons" for example starts out with the organ dominating it but ends up with the whole band joining in a beautiful harmony and a gorgeous vocal line. This album is well worth checking out!

Too bad it is so short an album! Once it's over, you'll want to listen to it again.

Catharsis - 1972 - Les Chevrons

Les Chevrons

01. Ouverture (2:17)
02. Rien (5:17)
03. Solstice (3:06)
04. Les Chevrons (4:30)
05. Sirius (6:33)
06. Chelum (6:56)

- Yves de Roubaix / bass, guitar, vocals
- Charlie Eddi / drums, percussion
- Roland Bocquet / keyboards, vocals
- Patrick Mouila / vocals, guitar, percussion

By 1972 the line-up of Catharsis was shortened to a quartet, which would carry the band until its demise.Niles Brown, Charlotte and Allain Geoffroy were all gone and the style of the band was limited to a typical bass/guitar/organ/drums format.The remaining members Roland Bocquet, Yves de Roubaix, Charles Eddie and Patrick Moulia recorded the next album at the Studio Davout in Paris.The single ''Les chevrons'' was quite succesful and the album was finally released on Saravah under the title of ''Vol.2-Les chevrons''.

The non-presence of an extended core worked well for Catharsis and the hypnotic, sinister sound of their incosistent debut was replaced by a much more energetic approach, which was still rooted in Psychedelic Rock, but bursts strong amounts of passion and dynamics.In fact they added in their style a certain and pronounced Classical flavor, always in dark and haunting realms, often getting into serious drama with the presence of obscure chants.The music remains in the hands of Roland Bocquet, who drives Catharsis' ideas through his long organ fanfares to symphonic, psychedelic and intense textures, which can be both relaxed and bombastic.Moreover the band now holds some similarities to ANGE's debut album, having a muddy production surrounded by captivating Classical influences.A very short offering by Catharsis again, clocking at only 30 minutes, ''Les chevrons'' suffers a bit from some needed variety, as the whole album seems to be covered by Bocquet's organ moves with little space for guitar-driven textures or any other activity far from the lush keyboard arrangements.

This is a certain improvement over ''Masq''.Organ-based Psychedelic Rock with obvious symphonic vibes, played with power and passion.Recommended.

Catharsis - 1971 - Masq


01. Masq (6:16)
02. 4 art 6 (8:44)
03. Cantique (6:59)
04. Tunnel exatique (7:19)

- Roland Bocquet / organ, piano, glock, vocal
- Niles Brown / guitar, violin, clochettes, vocal
- Charlotte / vocal, violin, crecelle, clochettes, grelots
- Yves de Roubaix / guitar, vocal, crecelle
- Charles Eddie / percussion, tarabocca
- Allain Geoffroy / charango, piano, moulinette, vocal
- Patrick Moulia / guitar, tambourin, scie, guimbarde, crecelle, harmonica, vocal

A French band with a very distinctive sound centered around Roland Bocquet's ghostly Farfisa organ. Their first album (recorded March 1971 at Studio ETA) was a mixture of easily accessible tunes, strange wordless chanting, high hippie spirits, Arabian elements, strong percussion and a few avant-garde excursions. Their music had a very spontaneous feeling, as if the group was assembled for some kind of occult ritual using music to reach a higher consciousness. Arguably they had some common ground with the early Pink Floyd and Amon Düül philosophically, but it lead to other conclusions musically. Masq is also notable for its surrealistic cover design.

Three members quit the group before Les Chevrons (recorded December 1971) but their sound didn't change much. There were more tracks and they were more compressed (giving way to more melodies), but this didn't spoil the characteristic spontaneous feel of their charming music.

Quite a lot more material was recorded in 1971, but not released until 1975. 32 Mars contained the title track in a long (11:30) and short (3:06) format, in addition to the tracks "Masq" (a hit single in France) and "Les Chevrons" in alternate versions. Clocking in at just 23 minutes it was short even for French albums of the time.

Illuminations contained recordings from June and November 1971 featuring Charlotte's distinctive chanting on many tracks. Her academic vocal training shines through (the members were former music academy students), sometimes close to Donella Del Monaco in Opus Avantra. The musical variety was greater than before, ranging from the trancendental "Aube" via uncommon treatments of music from the 17th and 18th Century, to the childish "Mignonne Allons Voir". Among these short pieces are some of Catharsis' finest recordings. For the next two albums, Catharsis reduced themselves to background musicians for Bernard Verley's spoken, sung and sometimes bellowed recitations of verses by Rimbaud. However, the albums are good in their own right.

After a break, Roland Boquet introduced a revamped Catharsis line-up in 1975. Lei Boléro Du Veau Des Dames was a more down-to-earth effort containing rather ordinary instrumental music similar to the better movie soundtracks. This was nice background music but lacking a bit in intensity.

Catharsis' last album Et S'Aimer El Mourir was remote from their early albums, even if it reunited many old members. Their approach was now more jazzy, perhaps comparable to late seventies Camel or even Schicke, Fuhrs & Fröhling minus their mellotrons. After this, Roland Bocquet recorded a great solo album.

Four long tracks on this debut album from a group that had their own distinctive sound, even though they were obviously Floyd-inspired, but with some more symphonic touches than Pink had. Indeed outside the strange ethereal female vocals, courtesy from Charlotte, but the groups was a septet. Through a percussive and gradual start, the track develops into an interesting psych rock, over which Charlotte's vocals (sometimes joined by the others) are soaring, then bizarre effects and percussion derail the progression of the title track and render its outcome unpredictable. We are going thru a few Bolero (Ravel) measures, than joined scats vocals, then an uncertain landing. Rising from that shaky ground and with baffling percussions and effects, 4 Art 6 develops slowly, remaining a bit irritatingly on low dynamics that when they finally come to acceptable level, there are some very weird (even a bit objectionable) vocals.

Actually the main interest of this album is also its flaw, because the scat vocals are over-used throughout the duration of the album. And starting the flipside, Cantique is not about to change that with Charlotte's scats taking on a mystical or liturgical note and if the male pagan chants coming just after, then superposed to Charlotte's. tunnel Extatique is hust more of the same that youy'fe so far abnd even induce a slight boredom or irritation.

By the time they would be recording their second album in December, Catharsis was only a quartet, having lost Charlotte, one keyboardist (Geoffroy) and a guitarist (Brown) along the way. Reputedly their best album, Masq is certainly a charming album that does bear the era that saw it born, a rather enjoyable piece of symphonic psychedelia, but repeated listening could prove somewhat difficult if one is not entirely comfortable with Charlotte's aerial scats.

Cano - 1979 - Rendez Vous

Rendez Vous

01. Rebound
02. Entente
03. Clown Alley
04. Sometimes The Blues
05. Other Highways
06. L'autobus de la pluie
07. Floridarity Forever
08. Mime Artist

ANDRE PAIEMENT / vocals, acoustic guitar
RACHEL PAIEMENT / vocals, acoustic guitar
DAVID BURT / acoustic guitar, electric guitar
JOHN DOERR / electric bass, trombone, programming
WASYL KOHUT / electric violin,mandolin
MICHAEL KENDEL / grand piano, electric piano, synthesizer, vocals
MARCEL AYMAR / vocals, acoustic guitar
MICHEL DASTI / drums, percussion

With this effort, disaster struck! Obviously their label A&M saw their talents and wanted them to achieve national success by breaking them in the Western provinces, so they brought in Jim Valence (the man behind the yet-unknown Bryan Adams, who appears in one track doing back-up vocals) who had certain ideas on how to achieve success - he would certainly do with his protégé. So he forced his ideas on the now-septet (André Paiement is conspicuously absent from this album >> related?), introduced them to a new concept of presentation including new artwork. If the album title hints at a wink at bilingual policies, the ugly artwork is typical of what was being done in the late 70's in Mid-West Canada: this looks like a Streetheart album artwork.

Right from the upbeat funky-folk-jazz into rock Rebound and Clown Alley, the shorter more straightforward rock music sound disastrous (as if Cano is only going through the motions) and Valence is obviously unable to get them to correct their unconvincing English singing to par. This is plainly obvious on the atrocious Floridarity Forever.

However not everything is bad on this album as Other Highways gives us a good wink of the old days and Autobus is a semi-jig sung in French, light years better than the rest of the tracks. The longest track is the finale (clocking at a meagre 5:30) is also worthy of a positive note. Little more to raise the proghead's enthusiasm, though.

Cano - 1978 - Eclipse


01. Soleil mon chef
02. Earthly Mother
03. Cercles de la nuit
04. Rumrunner's Runaway
05. Moon Lament
06. Ça roule
07. Bienvenue 1984

ANDRE PAIEMENT / vocals, acoustic guitar
RACHEL PAIEMENT / vocals, acoustic guitar
DAVID BURT / acoustic guitar, electric guitar
JOHN DOERR / electric bass, trombone, programming
WASYL KOHUT / electric violin,mandolin
MICHAEL KENDEL / grand piano, electric piano, synthesizer, vocals
MARCEL AYMAR / vocals, acoustic guitar
MICHEL DASTI / drums, percussion

With their third album (yet to be re-issued on CD), Cano kept their high standards. Graced with an impressive photo-montage, this album appears to be at least thematic (if not conceptual) about the planet and space movements and time cycles. While the Northern-life preoccupations that were prevalent in their first two opuses are absent, they chose another pleasant direction for their musical wanderings.

From the first moments of Soleil Mon Chef's intro (and its weird funny-scruffy dialogue taken from a theatre play) to the lengthy finale, Cano is still out to please the most demanding ears. Not that the album is without flaws, most notably that they tried to appeal to an English public (right from the first album onwards, all their lyrics where translated more or less successfully to the other language), it is clear that Cano is not at ease singing in English, no matter which member is singing. The first side of the album is really of to an excellent start as the superb lead-off track gives way to a delightful semi-instrumental Mère De Ma Terre, which sounds like the best Renaissance albums around. Follows the very pleasant Cercle De La Nuit and the unconvincing Rumrunner Runway for the afore-mentioned English singing.

Same thing can be said of the second-side opening Moon Lament: here by comparing the French and English texts, one would wish that they had asked for a more artistic translator, because the English version (which is used for the vocals) is simply catastrophic and downright amateur. The folky Ca Roule brings us back to Cano's folk roots (always present even if often mixed in with rock and jazz) while the slow- developing Orwellian finale Bienvenue 84 starts as if uninspired (anything but, really), soon finds it demented groove, abruptly stops only to pick up acoustically with the piano and bongos. The track ends beautifully and ends in apotheosis. Rachel and André Paiement's vocals are always tasteful and Aymar sings on his own tracks.

Although not flawless this third album is still very worthy of the great CANO, but by the next album it will become clear, that to survive, the group would have to conquer the English Canada and their following (severely flawed) album would try to achieve this, but the only result is Cano losing their identity. Still definitely worth your investigation and your investment, Eclipse is the last classic Cano album.

Cano - 1977 - Au Nord De Notre Vie

Au Nord De Notre Vie

01. Che zeebe (3:40)
02. Automne (4:41)
03. À la poursuite du nord - suite: (11:10)
   a) Au nord de notre vie
   b) En mouvement
   c) Viens suivre
04. La première fois (4:43)
05. Mon pays (12:18)
06. Frère Jacques (3:17)
07. Spirit of the north (6:08)

- Marcel Aymar / voice, acoustic guitar, percussion
- David C. Burt / electric guitars, voice
- Michel Dasti / drums, percussion
- John Doerr / bass, synthesizer
- Michel Kendel / grand piano, electric piano, synthesizer, voice
- Wasyl Kohut / acoustic & electric violins
- Rachel Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar, percussion
- André Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar, percussion

Guest musicians:
- Kim Deschamps / Dobroe guitar
- Monique Paiement / voice, flute
- Mat Zimbel / congas, percussion
- Alison Reynolds / cello

While the debut had scored some attention in French-speaking Canada, Cano decided to bring up Rachel Paiement's delicious voice more upfront. Her voice timbre is halfway between Haslam (Renaissance) or Christina (Curved air) and Monique Fauteux (Harmonium) or Christiane Robichaux (Contraction). While still remaining a primarily folk spirit, this album is slightly rockier (and sometimes more fusion) than the debut. Needless to say this album struck the same chord in this writer's soul (and his pack of friends also) and provided a healthy alternative (or counterbalance) to our hard rock leanings (Zep, Priest, Rush) and calmer nights around the campfire when the parents had not unknowingly left us the houses to organize our wild house-parties.

Again as the French title hints, the album is again centered around their Acadian roots, the rough Northern climates and their sheer generous (and hippy) idealism. The artwork is again representative of the (sometimes hostile) nature around them, also. Opening track is a visit to an old Amerindian spirit of the river (Che-Zeebe), and Rachel's superb aerial voice is a pure joy, while the group is developing a great prog rock behind her. With a worthy (but unremarkable dure to the great surrounding tracks) Automne gone by, we find the 11-min mini-suite A La Poursuite Du Nord (from which suite the album title is taken from) and anyone living in mid-Canada, cannot help but experiencing chills down their spine. Rachel's voice with Kendel's piano reminds us the greatest moments of Renaissance (Haslam and Tout), but the track soon evolves in much more than the British group ever had to offer (remember we are dealing with an octet in Cano) into a wild soul-search of the spirit of the north. In New Orleans, this would be equivalent to emotive blues sung by cotton-field workers. Kohut's violin, never very fast (preferring every slow meander it can possibly find) while staying concise, is reminding of JL Ponty's albums of the same years.

The B side of the album starts with the stunning 12-min Mon Pays, which could almost be regarded as an updated version of Gilles Vigneault's timeless anthemic Mon Pays (C'est L' Hiver). After a delicious debut and a more fusion-like follow-up, the middle section almost stops to have the bass sing out with the birds and it slowly brings the track to an almost jazz-rock feeling (again, strangely, Renaissance springs up to mind but the first version of it with Cennamo on bass) with a delicious multi solo section and without warning popping back into the track into a superb finale. Another updated timeless classic is the nursery rhyme Frère Jacques in a stunning rearrangement! Du grand art , Monsieur! Such an album could not close away on anything else than a stunning instrumental, resuming the spirit of the album, and believe this writer, this is one hell of an exit. This 6-min is as delightful as a sunset over a lake in the mid-north, a brew in your hand and the partner in the other.

A stunning but grossly overlooked album (only yelling for the proghead's attention to repair this huge and blatant injustice), clearly Cano had come of age, and their next step would be to start gaining more attention of the English part of Canada with their following Eclipse (which never got a Cd release as did none of their later albums. This album ranks among the very best of the country in the late-70's and there was solid competition. Warmly recommended, especially if you long for Canada.

Cano - 1976 - Tous Dans L'Meme Bateau

Tous Dans L'Meme Bateau

01. Viens nous voir (8:37)
02. Dimanche après-midi (3:40)
03. Pluie estivale (2:51)
04. Le vieux Médéric (3:00)
05. Les rues d'Ottawa (3:45)
06. En plein hiver (9:25)
07. Chanson pour Suzie (1:00)
08. Baie St. Marie (9:12)

- Marcel Aymar / voice, acoustic guitar,Turkish cymbals
- David C. Burt / electric guitars, harmonica
- Michel Dasti / drums, percussion
- John Doerr / bass, synthesizer, trombone, electric piano
- Michel Kendel / grand piano, bass, electric piano
- Wasyl Kohut / violin, mandolin & Seagulls
- Rachel Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar, percussion
- André Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians:
- Merv Doerr / trombone
- Nick Ayouh / clarinet
- Jimmy Tanaka / congas
- Luc Cousineau / percussion

This French-Canadian group (but not Quebecois), is from the Northern-Ontario province where almost half the population is francophone. CANO stands for Cooperative Artistes du Nouvel Ontario and they were based in the city of Sudbury. Formed as far back as 71, and from an ideal semi-hippy-pastoral commune and developing into theater, poetry, writers, and a whole bunch of artisans/craftsmen and a 320 acres Buffalo ranch. This commune attracted people from all over Northern Ontario, Quebec, Acadians from Eastern Canada. One of the branches became the musical group, and recorded in late 75 their debut album after being together for over three years.
Their music exemplifies best the Northern Canadian Pioneering spirit, and lyrically, the songs often make reference to the harsh condition they and their ancestor endured: the voyageurs, the portage from one lake to another, the fur-trading, the wars between the colonizing powers, the life with the Indians etc.. An octet, their music sounds like a folkier and more challenging Renaissance (Haslam-era), but they have clearly their own sound too. Their albums are a mix of mainly acoustic (but hardly excusively so) rock with some powerful atmospheres, and the first two albums are essential listening to Canadian folk rock. Their albums became increasingly electric and more "commercial" and they eventually folded by the mid-80's after some six albums. Their first three albums have been re-issued on CD a few years back and should still be available.
An interesting anecdote is that the Franco-Ontarians have yet another group, Nathan Mahl, but they chose not to sing in their native French: another proof of Ontario losing its roots.

Debut album from this combo emanating from a communal art association in Northern Ontario, and quite a pleasant surprise for the proghead looking for progressive folk music. Heavily laced with the rude weather and rough wildlife mixed with a superbly generous hippydom, Cano's music shines in this writer's memories of a happy "teendom". Memories of campfire with girls (and condoms;-), beers (and doobies;-) and guitars (and bongos;-) on a lakeside beach (called Creemore Dirtywater Upheaval;-) with the stereo blasting Harmonium or Rush certainly, but also of Cano. The album came with a superb artwork evocating the old Pioneering days with Fur traders, Canoes and portages, which represent one facet on CANO.

Cano's music certainly reflects the calm pastoral life of the mid-Northern Ontario, where French and English speakers lived alongside with few problems (in later albums Cano will also sing tracks in English), but as mentioned above, the rough conditions. Apart of the stunning 8-min opener (Viens Nous Voir inviting you to jump in their wonderful world), most of the first side is relatively short folk rock (trad folk as main inspiration but with a clear Acadian flavor) tracks, depicting crazy old fools (Mederic - a jig), to boring Sunday Afternoons and getting lost in the big cities (Rues D'Ottawa). The piano playing is sometimes reminding me of the one in Skynyrd's Freebird.

The second side of the album was made of two lengthy stunners with a short interlude separating them. En Plein Hiver, depicting the winter "blah" (Ontarians will appreciate) with this especially beautiful spirit that Harmonium managed on their debut and the Cinquième Saison. As will be usual, Cano start slowly and calmly, taking their time in building a sweet but implacable crescendo, to culminate superbly, and then ending in a short recap of the intro. In some way, if people asked how rush could make so much "noise" being just a trio, one of the most intriguing antithesis of that is how could an octet such as Cano be so delicate? The closing Baie St-Marie (written by Marcel Aymar who also had done the opening salvo) is probably a better tourist postcard than any possible picture could probably: as cymbals, seagulls, creaking wooden boats will gradually lead into an acoustic strumming guitar doubled by an electric piano, bongos, a swinging funky electric guitar, then drums and a superb violin (remember this was an octet), the track is now into a delightful groove with Kohut's violin twirling, swirling, twiddling, circling, flying from one ear to the other. Believe me, you'll want to visit the place that inspired such a great musical moment. In the middle section, the track slows back down to allow a sleepy trumpet answers the seagulls and the dramatic violin underlining the sea-lost father (Acadian hardships are never really far away from the superb lyrics) and a solemn end.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sharkmove - 1970 - Ghede Chokra's

Ghede Chokra's 

01. My Life
02. Butterfly
03. Harga
04. Evil War
05. Bingung
06. Insan
07. Madat

- Benny Soebardja / vocals, lead guitar, sings on "My Life" and "Butterfly"
- Soman Loebis / vocals, keyboards, piano, percussion, sings on "Bingung"
- Janto Diablo / vocals, bass, flute, sings on "Harga", "Madat", "My Life", "Butterfly"
- Sammy Zakaria / drums, sings on "Insan"
- Bhagu Ramchand / promotion, sings on "Evil War"

Sharkmove was established in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia in 1970 by Benny Soebardja (lead guitarist and vocals) who also wrote songs titled "My Life", "Butterfly", "Evil War", and "Insan". Benny, at that time was

registered as student at the Faculty of Agriculture, Padjadjaran University. He invited his best friend, Soman Loebis, a student at ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology) to join Sharkmove as keyboard player as well as percussion. He then contributed writing one song "Bingung" for the band's debut and only album "Ghede Chokra's".

They then recruited one of the best bassists in Bandung, Janto and also drummer: Sammy. Janto wrote two songs: "Harga" and "Madat". The music of the band was then recorded in the Musica Studio, one of the well-known label in Indonesia until today, and sponsored by Bhagu Ramchand, an Indian with Indonesian nationality. The contribution of Bhagu was significant as he contributed financial support as well as ideas to make the one and only album of Sharkmove "Ghede Chokra's" became a reality. The band was considered as pioneer in Indonesian rock scene by combining rock music with traditional harmonies and progressive sounds.

Some songs in the album were written using English lyrics while at that time most of Indonesian played sweet music and Indonesian lyrics. It was considered as "experimental" in the way the album was made. Right after the release of this album in 1970, the band performed frequent gigs in Indonesian big cities like Bandung, Jakarta (capital city), Palembang, and others.

At the end of 1970, a tragic event occurred when Soman Loebis passed away due to traffic accident in Jakarta and Benny Soebardja decided to stop the band and all of its related activities because at that time it was quite difficult to find Soman's replacement who could play keyboards as good as him.

My Life (9:04) starts mellow in ambient mood with traditional texture through the sound of flute played by Janto Diablo. Benny's vocal line enters beautifully in catchy and memorable notes. The song moves beautifully with excellent melody through vocal line and it then flows in crescendo as drum work by Sammy Zakaria enters. Beny's vocal quality is crispy and powerful and it reminds me to the vocal of David Byron (whom later formed a band called Uriah Heep). This song is to me very emotional because the overall tagline melody is very catchy, memorable, and it touches my emotion - deeply. Composition-wise, this is a masterpiece symphonic progressive rock offering which successfully blends excellent melody with challenging arrangement, especially knowing that it was written those days in 1970 when music was not that complicated and challenging in nature. (This is not to undermine a great album by King Crimson "In the court of The Crimson King" which is really masterpiece with its "21st Century of Schizoid Man").

"My Life" also moves dynamically through its passages with changing styles and tempo from a mellow one at opening part and to heavy part with music riffs and vocal shouting (beautifully) by Benny Soebardja. One thing peculiar is the way Sammy played his drum (at approx. minute 2:01) which then being followed by Guruh Gipsy through its "Indonesia Mahardhikka" composition. Guitar work by Benny is stunning especially when it's augmented by Soman Loebis' hovering organ work that represents truly the 70s sound! The guitar solo during interlude that starts at 3:13 is really top notch! For sure, this is a masterpiece song that all of you, prog warriors, would definitely enjoy! AT the later part of the song, when the song in mellow passage, flute work makes its mark beautifully.

Butterfly (4:28) cools down the music a bit through an ambient organ sound played by Soman Loebis. This song can be considered pop with some progressive touches like Procol Harum even though there is no such thing similar, musically, between the two. Throughout the song, Benny sings nicely, backed by organ sound that characterizes this song, augmented by acoustic guitar rhythm section. Again, this song is strong in melody-line and it's enjoyable for many ears, I believe.

Harga (2:51) is a mellow track with acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section followed by organ in jazzy mood, augmented beautifully by flutework. This song features Janto Diablo on vocal as well as maintaining his role as flute player. The interlude part offers nice flute passages with acoustic guitar as rhythm section. This song is simple but it has a nice composition that makes it enjoyable listening to it.

Evil War (5:42) is another beautifully crafted song that features Bhagu Rhamchand on vocal. The unique characteristic of this song is its energy cast by Bhagu's vocal line combined with its composition that comprises classic rock style of music plus some musical jamming (well, at least it sounds like "jamming"). From the start of the song, Janto has demonstrated his virtuosity in playing bass guitar which serves as main rhythm section throughout the song. The most challenging part of this song is during the jam session part that starts at minute 1:43 where Janto gives his bass guitar solo augmented by Sammy's drum for approximately 1 minute, followed by Benny's stunning guitar solo.

The remaining three songs are basically ballad with unique texture through flute work. "Bingung" starts with piano followed with guitar fills to accompany vocal by Soman Loebis. "Insan" features Sammy on vocal while Benny focuses on guitar and Janto provides nice flute work. "Madat" starts with nice piano work followed by vocal line performed by Janto Diablo. The lyrics contain social protest and the heroic spirit to fight against its enemies.


Overall, this is an excellent vintage progressive rock - classic rock music that successfully blended the elements of progressive music, traditional harmonies and nice melodies throughout the songs it offers. One thing I need to mention here is that this album is quite original in musical ideas as you can see from the music. It's not totally a prog album as some songs are just ballads but the prog elements are quite significant. This album was a landmark and foundation of Indonesian progressive rock scene. It's truly a gem. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Benny Soebardja & Lizard - 1978 - Night Train

Benny Soebardja & Lizard
Night Train 

01. Wise World
02. Night Train
03. In 1973
04. Stroll-On
05. 18 Years Old II
06. Woman of Desire
07. Talked About My Girl
08. Struggle for Life
09. Calls Himself a Rider
10. Looking for Peace & Freedom
11. A Signal From Outer Space

Recorded in 1978, Night Train may very well be the rarest thing that Benny Soebardja ever laid down. Cassette copies of this creature fetch an upwards of three figures on the Indonesian market! The first track, “Wise World”, is a testament in itself; it’s also a track that paves the way for the rest of the album, preparing you for some amazing fuzz as well as other trippy musical dealings. Laced in classic Benny Soebardja psychedelic style, Night Train stands out as one of his most crowning achievements. Thanks to Strawberry Rain, this “Benny at his best” title has finally seen a proper vinyl pressing, although it is limited to 500 copies and is getting harder and harder to track down nowadays.

Benny Soebardja & Lizard - 1976 - Gimme a Piece of Gut Rock

Benny Soebardja & Lizard
Gimme a Piece of Gut Rock 

01. The Advantage of Music for Me
02. End of the World
03. Pensive
04. Circle of Love
05. Gut Rock
06. Young Widow

Ah, Gimmie a Piece of Gut Rock. Just the title alone is far out! Recorded in just 30 days — rumor has it that Benny was given unlimited studio time — the sound you get off Gimmie… is layered, at times complex, and not necessarily what one would expect coming off of Benny Soebardja & Lizard…but it works! It works so well in fact, that some collectors argue this to be his finest hour. While I personally don’t adhere to that opinion, it is nonetheless an epic ride and one definitely worth buying a ticket for. Hey, speaking of Lizard, guess who backed-up the noise on this effort? You got it! But what most people don’t know is that Benny also had help from some even older pals on this one, with Giant Step filling the gaps.

Benny Soebardja & Lizard - 1975 - Benny Soebardja & Lizard

Benny Soebardja & Lizard 
Benny Soebardja & Lizard 

01. 18 Years Old
02. Come Closer
03. Crime
04. In 1965
05. Sunny Day
06. Junky & How to Live
07. Cynthia
08. Candle Light
09. Loosing Time

Due in great part to the compilation release of Those Shocking, Shaking Days (Now Again, 2010), the exposure and subsequent interest in unknown and/or long forgotten Indonesian psych/hard rock groups of the late 1960s to early-mid 1970s has been growing in recent years. A virtual treasure-trove of lost tracks and obscure bands, one can only wonder why these Indo treasures weren’t excavated sooner. One of the stand-out tracks on …Shaking Days is undoubtedly Shark Move’s “Evil War”, an incredibly eerie, psychedelia drenched gem that just oozes monster tones and thumping bass. Lest we forget, during the early 1970s, Southeast Asia was very much in turmoil and littered with devastating violence. “Evil War”, a song written in the very backyard of that seemingly never ending conflict, speaks volumes about the people who endured so much, yet who persevered in spirit, as evidenced in their their music. And so, in 1973, against the backdrop of war, Shark Move laid down their one and only album, Ghede Chokra’s.

One of the members of Shark Move, a cat by the name of Benny Soebardja, would go on to work with another well-known Indonesian band of the period, Giant Step. It was with Giant Step that Benny almost caught his “big break”, when they came painfully close to signing with Virgin Records (UK). However, as with most Indo acts of the time, this was not to be; the world just didn’t seem ready. Eventually, Giant Step ran its course in relative ambiguity, being contained, and ultimately lost, within the confines of mid-70s Indonesia. Refusing to lay down his pen, however, as well as his guitar, Benny would go on to crank out some of the most phenomenal solo music the Indonesian music market has ever been hit with. Much like his earlier work with Shark Move and Giant Step, Benny’s seminal solo recordings of the 1970s were released without label support, making them essentially private pressings. Between 1975 and 1980, Benny recorded five albums, all of which have never seen any official vinyl issuing…until now. Thanks to the salvage divers over at Strawberry Rain, Benny’s first three solo albums, Benny Soebardja & Lizard(1975), Gimmie a Piece of Gut Rock (1977), and Night Train (1978), have been released on vinyl for the first time ever.

Where to begin? Well, for starters, this was Benny’s first “official” solo release. And, with no label backing this sucker, the creative freedom was flowing — and man, can you hear it. Hell, you can feelit! Backed by Lizard (a group made up of essentially mystery musicians, although I personally suspect some Sharkmovers are present), what you hear on this album is beyond amazing. Standout tracks include “18 Years Old” and “Cynthia”; “Cynthia” will leave you wondering if you’ve ever really heard a love song before. Upon its original release (if you can even call it a release), Benny Soebardja & Lizard appeared on cassette only, in sudo-bootleg form, and was ultimately absorbed by the sands of time. Enter Strawberry Rain records! This reissue has everything going for it. One, it’s a limited edition pressing of 250 copies (however, the Indonesian market had reserved 50% of those pressings, leaving only 125 copies available worldwide). Two, the sleeve on this LP sports the original banned artwork. And three, the album (as well as the other two re-releases) is housed in a vintage tip-on style jacket! How cool is that?

Kelompok Kampungan - 1977 - Mencari Tuhan

Kelompok Kampungan
Mencari Tuhan

01. Bung Karno
02. Mereka Mencari Tuhan
03. Ratna
04. Hidup Ini Seperti Drama
05. Aku Mendengar Suara

Bujel (flute, gong), Edi Haryono (percussion), Innisisri (drums, percussion), Sawung Jabo (guitar, percussion, vocals), Kelik (guitar, percussion), Bram Makahekum (bandleader, guitar, vocals), Agus Murtono (musical director, percussion, violin), Doddy Precil (percussion, vocals), Agus Salim (cello, gamelan), Rudra Setiabudi (flute, guitar, oboe, percussion), Joko Surendro (gamelan, guitar, violin), Areng Widodo (bass, gamelan)

One of the true gems of the Indonesian scene, this album stands to be one of the best, and also one of the most unique albums to come from the region. Banned by the Shuko government soon after release, it remains somewhat obscure to most collectors up until now. An album created by Bram Makahekum (who had no musical experience or training at all) Kelompok Kumpangan had multiple members by trying to recreate the sounds of nature, even using original handmade instruments invented by the band themselves. The end result is nothing short of brilliant, one of our personal favourites from the region. There isn’t much to compare this to, maybe the Indonesian equivalent of a Paebiru or Genesis from Columbia at times, but it’s very unique and stands on its own. Wonderful progressive folk of the highest caliber interweaving flutes, violins, acoustic guitars, Indonesian percussion and other instrumentation. We can’t stand behind this one enough, it’s truly brilliant. 700 copies housed in paste on covers, includes insert with photos and history written by Indonesian music journalist Denny Sakrie. One time limited edition, CD limited to 1000 copies and has 4 songs not on the LP version that were never released on vinyl before.

Harry Roesli and The Philosophy Gang 1971 Philosophy Gang: The Gang of Harry Roesli

Harry Roesli and The Philosophy Gang 
Philosophy Gang: The Gang of Harry Roesli 

01. Peackock Dog
02. Roda Again
03. Don't Talk About Freedom
04. Borobudur
05. Imagine (Blind)
06. Malaria
07. Roses

Harry Roesli (RIP) has been a well known artist in Indonesia who pioneered contemporary music with consistent delivery of social and humanity critics in a straight forward and transparent way. He was born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia on September 10, 1951 an passed away on Saturday, December 11, 2004 at 19:55, Rumah Sakit Harapan Kita, Jakarta, Indonesia. He is a grand son of Marah Roesli - a well known literature writer in Indonesia.

During early 70s, Harry formed a band called Gang of Harry Roesli with his friends: Albert Warnerin, Indra Rivai, and Iwan A Rachman. Five years later the group was disbanded. Harry also established Ken Arok theatrical group in 1973 where they did a series of performances including Ken Arok Opera at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), August 1975. Harry was then granted a scholarship by Cultuur, Recreatie en Maatschapelijk Werk (CRM), to study in Rotterdam Conservatorium, Netherland. To support his life while studying and expressing his musical talent, he played piano at Indonesian restaurants.

He achieved PhD in Music (1981) and he then lectured at the department of music at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI) Bandung and Universitas pasundan Bandung despite his activities to compose music for films.

Harry Roesli also actively participated in the development of street performers and the poor where he dedicated his house at Jl WR Supratman 57, Bandung as meeting point. Everyday the discussion was conducted with all street performers and the poor to get better in life through music. He established Depot Kreasi Seni Bandung (DKSB) in an attempt to educate them. From this house, he and DKSB made a series of activities and programs which focus on social critics for the betterment of the government. His song Jangan Menangis Indonesia (Don't Cry Indonesia) taken from LTO album has been a heroic song that accompanied his social protest to the government. During Indonesia Reform, his creation which was planned to consume 24 hours was almost to be banned by the government.

Guruh Gypsy - 1977 - Guruh Gypsy

Guruh Gypsy
Guruh Gypsy

01. Indonesia Maharddika (15:43)
02. Chopin Larung (7:19)
03. Barong Gundah (6:57)
04. Janger 1897 Saka (8:53)
05. Geger Gelgel (12:04)
06. Smaradhana (2:26)
07. Sekar Ginotan (6:38) - Bali Trad. Music

- Keenan Nasution / drums,vocal
- Chrisye / bass,vocal
- Abadi Soesman / mini-moog
- Roni Harahap / all piano+organ
- Odink Nasution / guitars
- Guruh Soekarno /all gamelan,all lyrics
Plus guest players :
- Trisuci Kamal / piano
- Gauri Nasution / guitar
- Hutauruk Sisters / Female back up singers
- I Gusti Kompyang Raka / Gamelan +Balinese Singers
- Orkestra RRI / orchestra section
Releases information

Recorded at TRI ANGKASA Music Laboratory, Jakarta, Indonesia (July 1976 - November 1977); distributed by Pramaqua in 1977.
Released in luxury cassette tape edition with complete Booklet detailing the project.

Guruh Gipsy is basically a collaborative effort between Guruh Soekarno Putro - the fifth child of Indonesia's first President, Soekarno - and Gipsy. Guruh was born in Jakarta, 13 January 1953 and since his childhood his mother (Fatmawati) reckoned that he had strong passion for art and strong sense of accomplishment. Unlike his sister, Megawati, whom later became Indonesia's President, he pursued his dreams in art including music and choreography. He later established his own dance and music group called "Swaramaharddika" which was very famous in the 70s and 80s.

While Gipsy was basically a music group which its members are Nasution brothers: Gaury, Keenan, Odink, and Deby. It was previously established in 1966 under the name of Sabda Nada with members: Ponco Sutowo, Gaury Nasution, Joe-Am, Eddy, Edit, Roland and Keenan Nasution. They were very familiar with Balinese music and they ever did a gig at Bank Indonesia combining western with Balinese music with gamelan group led by Wayan Suparta Wijaya. In 1969 the band renamed themselves as Gipsy and the new line-up was established: Onan, Chrisye, Gaury, Tammy, dan Atut Harahap. They did cover for 70s groups like Procol Harum, King Crimson, ELP, Genesis and Blood, Sweat & Tears. In 1971 the line-up changed again: Keenan, Chrisye, Gaury, Rully Djohan, Aji Bandi, and Lulu. With this line-up the band played a gig in New York, USA.

This collaborative effort called GURUH - GIPSY was made possible due to Guruh strong passion for combining ethnic music of Bali based on pentatonic notes and western music which is based on diatonic notes. The effort took such a long time as it required sixteen (16) months of recording time. The elapsed time was used by Guruh for various complex activities, i.e. financing the project, scheduling with the only studio available at that time with 16-track system (Tri Angkasa), composing the music with Keenan Nasution (drums), Odink Nasution (guitar), Abadi Soesman (keyboards), Roni Harahap (piano/organ), and Chrisye (vocal). Actually, total studio days was 52 days.

The recording session was started in July 1975 and finished in November 1976. The long duration and difficulties faced during recording were due to many personnel involved during the session. It was not just Gipsy band members but it included violin players (Suryati Sumpilin, Suseno, and Fauzan), cello players (Sudarmadi Bambang Purwadi), contra bass (Amin Katamsi), flute (Suparlan), clarinet /hobo (Yudianto), and a group of Bali musicians. In addition to these there were backing vocals: Rugun and Bornok Hutauruk.

Music arrangement combining western music and Bali traditional gamelan required tight precision as the two had different spectrum in terms of notes and chords. For this purpose, Guruh spent a lot of time outside the studio to learn the subtleties of western music as well as Bali traditional music. He strived to find the best harmony that blended symphonic progressive rock with Bali tradional gamelan music.

His efforts paid off because the result was a brilliant album that was totally splendid!! It's masterpiece of symphonic progressive rock album with experimental music.

 Indonesia Maharddika (15:43)

This opening track really blew me away the first time I spun the cassette. It was complex for me at first but with multiple spins I finally got into music subtleties of this wonderfully composed music. The intro part reminds me to the music of ELP / The Nice with some influences of Yes. There is no similarity in chords and/or melody with those supergroups but the music is in similar vein. But hold on, there is a distinctive difference with other western bands whereby this track contains moog synthesizer melody which is truly based on Indonesia traditional music of Bali. It's very rich in texture and I bet you have never heard this kind of melody - unless you have ever visited Bali - the beautiful island in Indonesia archipelago.

After a long stunning symphonic progressive rock music (approximately 3 minutes) and powerful vocal by Keenan Nasution with ethnics music, in then enters into a stunning and long sustain keyboard / synthesizer sounds in the vein of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (of Pink Floyd) followed with powerful verses sung by Chrisye: "Aku dengar deru jiwa .." with really beautiful Balinese style pentatonic music with gamelan and synthesizer. Oh what a great part here! Chrisye bass lines are also excellent. The music flows into moog solo backed-up with traditional gamelan Bali music. Oh man .. I'm totally nggeblak! (my mind was totally paralyzed for a while, enjoying the beauty of notes played by this segment).

The next segments comprise a great combination of guitar solo, female choirs, keyboards and moog synthesizer solo. The ending part of this track is really killing and there is virtually nothing traditional music but the melody still maintains the Bali nuance. It's truly a memorable track that requires numerous spinning.

Chopin Larung (7:19)

As the name implies, this second track is the band's interpretation of Chopin and the condition that surrounds Bali Island as a continuous effort to preserve Bali traditions and culture. "Yen Chopin maring ing Bali .." (If Chopin comes to Bali ..) is a powerful and memorable verse that Chrisye sings beautifully in this track. This track has strong and memorable melody that I'm sure that human beings might experience mbrebes mili (having watery eyes) due to the melody subtleties produced by this track. This track includes great combination of piano, gamelan Bali and orchestra. The piano solo is very classical in nature. Oh man, you have to experience yourself with this track and am sure that you will be touched enjoying the melody and the composition!

Barong Gundah (6:57) (instrumental)

This track starts with a gamelan solo backed with an ambient nuance. You might hear something strange here because it's based on pentatonic notes unlike standard western instruments which are based on diatonic notes. After quite a while single gamelan solo it flows with gong sounds, continued with drum sounds and bass guitar work. This is really wonderful. It's then followed with guitar solo intertwined with moog solo and gamelan solo. Oh my God . this is amazing! It seems like I'm in different worlds but listening each world in one music. The gamelan solo is really nice - it sounds like jazz music when keyboard enters the scene.

Janger 1897 Saka (8:53)

This is where The Balinese Orchestra comes into play. This track combines Chrisye and Keenan Nasution vocal lines, female choirs and traditional choir with orchestral arrangement. The melody of the song is touchy, blended with excellent composition on orchestra part of this tune. There are many types of instruments used at this track which is based on traditional melody. I Gusti Kompyang Raka plays important role here. The sounds of gamelan and gong have enriched the texture of this music. They make the music quite dense with multi instruments. It sounds very colossal.

Geger Gelgel (12:04)

This track is a perfect example on how hard rock music and traditional instruments were blended nicely. The result is a truly progressive rock music. I think Keenan does vocal job here. It starts with the sounds of kendang (traditional percussion) followed with the dynamics of gamelan Bali sounds. It sounds so rocking to my ears especially when piano enters the music followed with keyboards, bass guitar and drums that make the music is rich in texture. The vocal enters right after long sustain keyboard / synthesizer sounds :"Dulu di Gelgel pernah geger .." is a powerful opening verse sung by Keenan. There are many symphonic part during this track, combined perfectly with gamelan and vocal line. Traditional choirs still exist to strengthen the music. Piano interjects in between breaks. The music riffs are unique as they combine western and traditional music. It's the track that you should not miss at all. Enjoy the interlude part which provides gamelan solo (instead of guitar / keyboard) which makes this track stands out differently with any prog music available on planet earth!

Smaradhana (2:26)

It's basically a love song performed by Chrisye (vocal) backed with Bali traditional orchestra which includes also a series of gamelan and rindik. This song was later popular in Indonesia as Chrisye launched it in pop music under his solo album. It's powerful in melody, I would say.

Sekar Ginotan (6:38) - Bonus

This bonus track would bring your exploration of pure Bali traditional music. It shows its dynamic in energy and drive, even before it's combined with modern and western music instruments like drums, guitar, synthesizers. So, you can hear that original traditional music has in itself energy, enthusiasm and drive which match perfectly with rock music.


Well, first off, don't consider me as Indonesian! I'm a citizen of Progressive Rock Music Community in the World. My nationality is Progressive Music. My major is Symphonic Progressive Rock. If you can imagine me this way, believe me . this is a masterpiece of progressive music! I dare to say that this album is at par excellent with Genesis "Selling England By The Pound" or Yes "Close To The Edge" or Pink Floyd "Dark Side of The Moon" or name other masterpiece prog albums! This album by Guruh Gipsy must be counted in. Unfortunately there has been no significant effort to preserve this record as it was only recorded in the form of cassette tape. My version is a CDR drirectly mastered from the original cassette tape. One should remaster this record and distribute globally. Keep on proggin' ..!

God Spell - 1972 - God Spell

God Spell
God Spell

01. Jalan Iblis
02. Pengharapan
03. Gadis Telaga
04. Cinta Dalam Syair
05. Discotheque
06. Kenangan Indah
07. Pusara
08. Cinta Dalam Syair

Here's another rarity. It's the 1972 promo for radio record from Heavy Metal/Prog-rock band God Spell. Extremely rare this one, seen it go on Ebay for well over 200 Euros.... Nice record and it was never released, a few metal bangers, some ballads, this is a pretty good record and it surprises me they never put this out..

Giant Step - 1977 - Kukuh Nan Teguh

Giant Step
Kukuh Nan Teguh

01. Kukuh Nan Teguh (5:44)
02. Hampa (4:27)
03. Mekar (5:48)
04. Untaian Warna (3:48)
05. Dialog Tanya (4:04)
06. Manusia (4:57)
07. Yang T'lah Lalu (4:38)
08. Dialog Jawab (2:33)
09. Perih (4:13)
10. Alam Bebas (4:42)
11. Senandung Malam (3:04)

• Benny Soebardja (vocals, guitar) - middle right
• Adhy Sibolangit (bass) - back
• Haddy Arief (drums) - middle left
• Triawan (keyboards) - front
• Albert Warnerin (guitar) - middle

Where are they now (the facts) :
• Triawan Munaf - owner of one of the biggest advertising agency/mass communication in Indonesia, father-producer-manager of his own daughter Indonesian talented young singer, Sherrina.
• Albert Warnerin - running his own business.
• Haddy Arief - executive banker.
• Benny Soebardja - running his own furniture and interior design business.
• Adhy Sibolangit - unknown