Monday, November 17, 2014

Björgvin Gíslason - 1977 - Öræfarokk

Björgvin Gíslason

01. Day
02. Og Svo Framvegis
03. Remain The Same
04. Doll In A Dream
05. Ef þu Getur
06. Could It Be Found
07. Hear Me
08. Öræfarokk
09. Ambrosia
10. Don't Ever Go Down
11. It Makes Me Wonder

Bass – Sigurður Árnason
Drums, Percussion – Ásgeir Óskarsson
Guitar, Vocals, Piano – Björgvin Gíslason
Keyboards – Pétur Hjastested
Vocals – Albert Icefield, Finnur Johannsson, Jóhann G. Jóhannsson, Jóhann Helgason, Pétur Kristjánsson

This album is am absolute masterpiece (to me) of progressive songwriting with that typical nordic touch of melancholy, along the lines of the earlier Frank Robson that I recently posted.

First of all notice the man's discography and presence in famous icelandic groups Náttúra, and Pelican.  (Not that I'm crazy at all about the latter group, but Nattura did make a progressive masterpiece that everyone should be familiar with here.)  In his solo works, clearly he decided to go for FM radio hits with just enough progressiveness to make me (and hopefully others) delighted.

Birigwa - 1972 - Birigwa


01. Okusosola Mukuleke
02. Uganda
03. Kanemu-Kanabili
04. Lule Lule
05. Njabala
06. Obugumba
07. Yelewa

Birigwa: Vocals, Violin, Guitar
Arthur Brooks: Flugelhorn
Mait Edey: Percussion, Congas, Piano
Vinnie Johnson: Drums
Phil Morrison: Bass
Stan Strickland: Flute, Sax

Birigwa was a group formed in the U.S. in the early '70s by Ugandan musician and singer Birigwa. The project lasted a short time, but left an album recorded in 1972, reissued just in 2011.
The eponymous album features 7 short tracks, totaling less than 30 minutes. The sound is pretty hard to be rated, through jazz, folk, rock, funk and African music, there is the use of various instruments: guitar and drums, acoustic guitar, flute, sax, congas, piano and flugelhorn, each with several good moments. The lyrics are all in the native language. Beautiful songs and arrangements are present, taking turns between melodics and more dancing moments, with deep roots in the music of the region (Uganda).

When this album was re-released and I also heard a few fragments through the net, I immediately realised this must be a rather unique creative expression of music with certain independent African flavours, so I checked this out, and I surely did not regret.

At the time when Ugandan born Birigwa was studying at the New England Conservatory, he recorded this album with the help of some friends, which included the Stark Reality member, bass player Phil Morrison (Stark Reality was a weird jazz/funk combo who recorded a great album at around 1970), and jazz flutist Stan Strickland. On the liner notes Birigwa himself says “what we did was to follow certain patterns retaining characteristics of African music -call and response, falsetto, pentatonic scales in places.”… “This is not really African music, simply good music made possible by these beautiful people..” Mait Edey at that time labelled it “as a good mix of African and jazz and not like any other such mix.” But in fact, except for the last track, one should forget the jazz connection as a prominent influence, because, it is not that when there are musicians involved with such connections, that the music directs even with references to jazz, or even Afro-jazz at all, although the underlying strength to do so is there, they keep the real Afro-jazz improvisation for the last track, gently built up to it with a former longer improvisation on the track before. The core is in fact singer-songwriter music with beautiful acoustic guitar, in a mostly African styled picking guitar, played skilfully on a nylon guitar, perhaps even on 12 string?, in an original and professional style which alone is also worth noticing.

Three of the songs are in fact folk songs from the Baganda Tribe. Three other tracks were self-penned, while the last free improvisation was by Stan Strickland, using Birigwa’s lyrics and perhaps also fused Afro-jazz styled ideas. Several tracks are only voice and guitar, with interesting pickings, while some others have also exotic, almost Latin-flavoured percussion, (by Yusef Crowder on diverse percussion and most often the shiko drum -which sounds like a high pitched conga-, and by Mpelelezo on conga), and some flute improvisations (by the already mentioned Stan Strickland). It leaves no doubt that most songs are sung with a beautiful warm voice, in a nicely sounding local African language. Its emotions are rich and recognisable. Especially “Kanemu-Kanabilli” I have to lift out for its beautiful, slowly phrased, emotional singing, while on “Lule Lule” his voice suddenly changes to a Ferre Gruignard-flavour, as if in a theatrical way changing pitch to express a different character. On “Njabala” we have another voice coming in, as if imitating some discontented wife, who is rhythmically complaining with her high toned voice ; this is musically brilliantly combined with the rhythm and flute theme improvisations. On the end of “Obugumba” the song evolves to a nice outro improvisation of increasing energy, and includes also splendid drumming (by Vinnie Johnson), with Afro-flavours. The last track continues with more full arrangements, with slightly Latin-jazz flavoured flugelhorn (Arthur Brooks) & sax (Strickland) and interesting afro-combinations of rhythms, and more vocal responses (one voice doing a bit weird, another, again with a different colour or personality, as if complaining with words). A brilliant album which has its own personal richness and is once more a perfect example of the so neglected different qualities to be found in independent African music.

PS. Shortly after the record came out Birigwa disappeared. Some think he went back to Africa.

Pythagoras - 1982 - After the Silence a Symphonic Poem by Pythagoras

After the Silence a Symphonic Poem by Pythagoras

01. 1st Movement: Introduction
02. 2nd Movement: Opus I Diabolus In Musica
03. 2nd Movement: Opus II Étude For Flying V
04. 2nd Movement: Opus III Scherzo
05. 3rd Movement: Endless Hymn
06. 4th Movement: Opus I Turn
07. 4th Movement: Opus II Return
08. 5th Movement: Opus I Caprice
09. 5th Movement: Opus II Interludium
10. 5th Movement: Opus III Reprice
11. 6th Movement: Scherzo Reprice
12. 7th Movement: Grand Finale

- René de Haan / synthesizers, strings, Mellotron, church organ, choir arrangements
- Bob de Jong / drums, bass pedals, electric piano, Sony TCS 310

Guest musicians:
- Nick Blaser / violin
- Martin Knaap / bass
- Carolien Krul / flute
- Arjen Lucassen / guitar, bass pedals
- Michel van Wassem / Novotron (4a)

Recorded between September and December 1981.

The aftermath of ''Journey to the vast unknown'' was so strong a few thousand copies were additionally pressed to fullfill the needs of the requesting market.Towards a second album the duo of Rene de Haan and Bob de Jong worked in a more professional way.Guest musicians were recruited so the project could sound like a normal band, among them a young Arjen Anthony Lucassen on guitars and bass pedals and Plackband's keyboardist Michel van Wassem on Novotron (a variation of the Mellotron).Also Nick Blaser paricipated on violin, Martin Knaap on bass and Carolien Krul on flute.''After the silence'' was recorded between September and December 1981, released in 1982 and distributed by WEA in a clear move towards a better selling result.

The new Pythagoras album was split in seven movements, the first three capturing the first side of the LP.Unlike the expectations the production remains quite muddy, typical of an underground than a professional album, and the music is grounded in the field of Electronic Prog with obvious tendencies towards more symphonic textures.De Haan's spacey synthesizers are still the driving and undoubtful force, but the strong use of dual keyboard soundscapes like the Mellotron/synth combination and the intelligent use of downtempo guitars now remind a lot of PINK FLOYD or even compatriots FOCUS with a bit of KING CRIMSON in the more orchestral passages.The second side is more balanced and propably slightly better than the first.The fourth movement is a grandiose Electronic Prog opus, like the synths of KLAUS SCHULZE meet the ethereal Mellotron of TONY BANKS, while the fifth is characterized by the mournful opening violin work of Blaser, followed by an intense Orchestral Prog with guitars, keyboards and bass in the forefront, before the powerful, cinematic outro covers it all with de Haan's unbelievable work on Mellotron and synthesizers.The short sixth part is highlighted by Lucassen's melodic CAMEL-esque solo, giving birth to the peak of the album, the 6-min. long ''Grand finale''.Excellent balance between keyboards and guitars follow the flute-driven intro in a depressing movement, also including pessimistic violin tunes, but the result is absolutely wonderful.

To call this better than Pythagoras' debut is propably excessive, sure thing is ''After the silence'' is certainly a nice little pearl of Electronic/Symphonic Rock with an old-fasioned, irritating style.Warmly recommended.

Pythagoras - 1980 - Journey To The Vast Unknown

Journey To The Vast Unknown

01. Journey to the vast unknown Part 1 (6.28)
02. Journey to the vast unknown Part II (4.30)
03. Journey to the vast unknown Part III (6.56)
04. Journey to the vast unknown Part IV (4.29)
05. In to the in (9.58)
06. When it comes (9.28)

- Bob de Jong / drums and percussion
- Rene de Haan / synthesizers, sequencer, Mellotron

Engineer – John Groen
Producer – Bob De Jong

Recorded between Sept and Dec 1980 at Soundsschool Studios Holland.

The Dutch formation Pythagoras was rooted in a Dutch record shop named Moonlight Records in The Hague in the late Seventies. The owner was drummer Bob De Jong, he had played in bands like Key, Pine-Apple and he also was a studio-drummer for the Dutch label Phongram. One of the frequent visitors of Moonlight Records was keyboardplayer Rene De Haan who told enthousiasticly about his plans to make synthesizer music. His room in the house of his parents was loaded with musical equipment like the Korg MS 20 and Trilogy synthesizer, a digital Roland piano, a Solina string-ensemble and a Firstman 1024 digital sequencer. The 'musical veteran' Bob was positive about 19 year old Rene his ideas and this led to the release of the album Journey To The Vast Unknown in 1981, a private pressing of 500 copies. Bob send a few promo LP's to some known DJ's like Wim Van Putten (famous LP-Show, great for progrock freaks!), Skip Voogd and Frits Spits. Within a very short time Bob the post box in his record ship was flooded with letters from synthesizer freaks, hundreds from all over the country! They had reacted on the contact-adress that the DJ's had mentioned in their radio programms. The album was re-released a few times and eventually it sold at about 5000 copies, an incredible result for a private pressing by an unknown Dutch duo playing synthesizer music!

In 1982 Pythagoras released their second LP entitled After The Silence, the music is more close to symphonic prog, due to the use of a Mellotron by Rene and the contributions by a wide range of guest musicians Nick Blaser (violin), Martin Knaap (bass), Carolien Krul (flute) and especially Arjen Lucassen (known from Ayreon) on guitar/bass pedals and Michel van Wassem (from Dutch Genesis-inspired group Plackband) on the Novotron. The label WEA arranged the distribution and soon the 500 copies were sold out and WEA asked for an option to make a third Pythagoras LP. Unfortunately this never happened although Pythagoras performed a few times on stage, along with synthesizer player Pieter Koerts. The Pythagoras disbanded and Bob and Rene went their own way. Rene played with Cloud Nine and then went to the Art Academy, he succeeded to become painter and graphic designer (he designed the covers for Dutch band Sjako). Between 1991 and 196 he joined the band The Blue Man Can.

The two albums by Pythagoras sound totally different and a bit simple but very tasteful: the first is cosmic oriented synthesizer music and their second is a wonderful blend of some spacey synthesizer - and classical music with bombastic symphonic rock featuring Arjen Lucassen (who later got fame with his Ayreon project) delivering a Gilmourian guitar solo and Michel Van Wassem (who recently plays in the new Plackband line-up) with some majestic Mellotron eruptions. Both albums are still not available on CD.

That music on Journey To The Vast Unknown is very melodic, often compelling and hypnotizing featuring slow rhythms with a warm string-ensemble sound, pleasant synthesizer flights and slow but powerful drum beats, it reminds me of Klaus Schulze his early work like Moondawn and Timewind. Some tracks deliver nice work on sequencers, choir-Mellotron and deep bass sounds evoking 74-77 Tangerine Dream. If you like cosmic oriented synthesizer music, this LP (I hope it will be released on CD) is worth to check out.

Abus Dangereux - 1980 - Le Quatrieme Mouvement

Abus Dangereux 
Le Quatrieme Mouvement

01. Le roy est mort, vive le roy (7:40)
02. Le Quatrieme Mouvement (5:15)
03. Interlude (1:00)
04. Funk au Chateau (2:55)
05. Theme D'Hiver (3:00)
06. Ballade Courte (9:10)
07. Danse du Paques (5:57)

- Pierrejean Gaucher / guitars
- Eric Bono / piano, keyboards
- Laurent Kzrewina / saxophones
- Alain Mourey / drums
- Pascal Gaillard / bass
- Sylvie VoiseE / vocal
- Caitriona Walsia / vocal
- Dan Ken / vibes
- Arnaud Jarlan / percussion
- Nigel Warren Green / cello

Abus Dangereux is the brainchild of Pierre Jean Gaucher, the guitarist of the band. His love for music began at age 10 when he received for his birthday the single Let It Be by The Beatles. It made him continue to explore this music and got Deep Purple and Pink Floyd albums. This lead him to listen to prog - Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and from there he got to know fusion and jazz based prog bands such as Soft Machine, Gong, Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra. However it would take several more years until he became aware of modern jazz. He also started playing a guitar alone in his room at this time.

At the age of 18 (1977) he started Abus Dangereux. The name was chosen as a reference to a health warning on cigarette packets (the first bassist was a heavy smoker). As he recalls the first album, Le Quatrieme Mouvement, was a band effort in that everyone did their part in composing the tracks. So the heavy fusion and Zeuhl influences are not solely Gaucher's "fault". Looking back or rather listening back, he gives much credit to the keyboardist Eric Bono. However the lineup for the first album was temporary and hired for the studio recording. Only Eric Bono and Laurent Krewina played before with Abus Dangereux. The album itself was recoreded in London at Rockstar studio in December 1979. They had to trim the music from 2 hours to around 40 minutes for the recording.
This album contains, as Gaucher said in an interview, all the music influences he absorbed until then, which explains the trimming down that was needed. He also states this is an immature album, and finds his guitar playing horrible. And still, he is proud of this album. And he should. This thrilling release has exciting fusion based tracks with Zeuhl references which can be heard in the drumming and bass.

Between this first album and the next, Gaucher went for six months to Berklee (Boston) to study music where he discovered modern jazz and it inspired him to start composing more jazz-oriented music. In accordance with this, the next albums were more jazz-rock in nature. In the meantime the band dissolved and the only remaining member was Alain Mourey the drummer.

Abus' instruments included vibes and marimba and in January 1981 Benoit Moerlen joined the group for several shows before the temporary break. However this was to end with the Live album (1985) when the Gaucher shortened the name to Abus (1986) and started using computers and programming in his music.

 This band and this album in particular are regarded by many as Zeuhl and for good reason. The bass work, the drums and saxophones, the female chanting and slightly theatrical style give the music its Zeuhl characteristics and quality but when I asked Pierrejean Gaucher how to tag his band, he preferred jazz-rock since he was looking at the entire discography and not just one album. So I look at this album as a fusion/zeuhl (not unrelated styles obviously) with each sound being the dominant in each specific tune and even within the tracks there is alternation between those two, one giving way to the other. The combined effect is captivating and thrilling as can be heard on the opening track. With the title track, the zeuhl fans will probably feel at home and love the bass work and chanting. There are also touches of "avant-garde-ness" in certain points - Le Roy est Mort, Vive le Roy around 6:00 for instance; and in Ballade Courte brings in more of that avant-garde spirit again, with a dynamic repetitive and stressed bass line and the improvisation by the saxes and at the end comes in again the Zeuhl with the chanting and bass and slightly disharmonic melody. The second track, "Le Quatrieme Mouvement" as it starts makes me think of Eskaton - the bass, wacky chanting and jazz rhythm. Funk au Chateau is another fine example of the combined efforts to mix and intertwine those two related sounds. Groovy rhythm and a wandering bass start this piece which at some point goes for a stroll in the weird sound department with the guitar and keyboard and then the sax taking over, improvising at will around the theme the bass and guitar play. It is indeed a funky tune.

The music is bumpy, mostly on the happier side of things and with great rhythms, funky at times. The bass is doing great work going about either supporting the melody or in its own independent line. The keyboards too provide an important supporting element, sometimes giving extra ornaments to the music. The drumming and percussion give excellent rhythm and at times a more exotic sounding flavour to the music.

This is one of those albums that brings a smile to my face while listening to them, mainly due to the groovy rhythms, but not least because of the bass playing which I love to follow as it goes about, at times seeming oblivious to anything around it. Whether you're looking for a jazz-rock or a zeuhl album, with an experimental edge I think this will be a great album to get, although if you do not like the Magma-type zeuhl, I would first listen to samples if possible (try the title track, as it would be the highest level of it played here). I think this is an excellent album to add to your collection, and while it may be as immature as Mr. Gaucher says, it doesn't mean it's bad; au contraire. It is a good-spirited album, that will make you feel good and make you want to move to the music in those groovy parts!

Didier Bocquet - 1983 - Pictures of Life

Didier Bocquet 
Pictures of Life

01. Don't Turn Back (4:05)
02. A Crystal Beat (4:48)
03. A Friend is Dying (4:23)
04. The City (2:21)
05. This Way (5:25)
06. Extravagant Vision (4:02)
07. Steel Brain (3:27)
08. So Long (4:13)

- Didier Bocquet / Synthesizer, vocals
- Pierre Jean Gaucher / guitar

A nice bit of synth prog instrumental for a change. Didier Bocquet made four albums between 1977 and 1983, all worth a visit, but his final album Pictures Of Life is my favourite. He used Heldon legend Richard Pinhas's studio/ equipment and the Moog textures and white noise percussion are at times very close to Pinhas' sound. Compositionally though Bocquet was individual, creating clever interweaving sequences and placing just enough analogue washes around them to add interest but never to overwhelm. A Crystal Beat has an utterly crazy but gorgeous mathematical minor key sequence revolving around a simple Pinhas like Moog bassline washed over by glacial strings and white noise spikes. Just tremendous.                

Didier Bocquet - 1981 - Sequences

Didier Bocquet 

01. Through The Past
02. Short Winding
03. Without Apparent Limits (Part 1)
04. Garden Of Shadows
05. Like Magic
06. Himalayas
07. Nostalgia
08. Without Apparent Limits (Part 2)

- Didier Bocquet / keyboards

Didier Bocquet leaves behind the cosmic dreaminess of his previous album in favor of a much more robotic and mechanical flavor on Sequences. Instead of a long voyage of eclectic synth textures that float beautifully like an aurora, this album focuses more on shorter bursts of post-industrial synth textures that sound similar to Kraftwerk albeit a bit more emotionally involved. The strongest Kraftwerk comparisons can be made in "Short Winding", which is a short but strongly mechanically driven powerhouse that features robotic vocalizations, and "Without Apparent Limits (Part 1)", a murky industrialized track that also features a short section of robotic vocalization but mainly gives off an atmosphere similar to that of Resident Evil 0 soundtrack.

Although less pleasantly (or happily) dreamy, Sequences is still plenty as eclectic as its predecessor while maintaining the industrialized atmosphere, which surprises me considering that I previously thought industrial tones to be very limited in versatility. "Garden of Shadows" is indeed a very shadowy and nearly ambient piece that continuously swells and bears down atonally over a consuming groan. In opposition to the supreme darkness of the majority of this album, "Himalayas" is a very beautiful and uplifting, almost symphonic track that really does give off the triumphant feeling of standing atop a mountain and viewing snowy hills below.

The only qualm I have about Sequences is the final track, "Without Apparent Limits (Part 2)", which seems almost randomly put together and features a very tinny keyboard that sounds very cheap, and kind of breaks down the wonderful atmosphere that each previous track has established.

All in all, Sequences is a very pleasing album and a very welcome change in sound in Bocquet's discography. If you're a fan of Berlin school and electronic industrial music of any sort, you'll most likely enjoy this album. This is the Bocquet album that I'd recommend before any others..

Didier Bocquet - 1979 - Voyage Cérébral

Didier Bocquet 
Voyage Cérébral

01. Interface
02. Rencontre psychique
03. Eloignement
04. Cosmorythme
05. Prelude
06. Eveil sidérale
07. Anérissage
08. Voyage Terre

- Didier Bocquet / synth & electronics

I have spent many a nights watching the glistening star blanket up among the galaxies listening to electronic music. If the feel is there and the music hits me in the right way - the darkened skies suddenly echo oceans and great big fluid surfaces moving about in whatever bobbing rhythmic sequence - lulling me into a beautiful stark black sea voyage.

YES - come on boy!!! We've heard that crap before!!! - I hear you yelling in the back. I often turn to the sea and watery images, whenever I try relegating electronic pieces of music, and especially the Berlin school of sound conjures up these endless pictures of running water. There's a hidden connection there, and even if I mention it a lot, it still doesn't quite put into focus just how seductive and entrancing the music can be, if it's done right. But hey for the purpose of sounding hip, let's just say that it feels like sparkly lemonade or fresh slushing milk...

Whereas the Germans were the main deliverers of said style of music with acts like Manuel Göttsching, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, - the French had sculpted a sound and a feel completely in accordance with their own temper. You got the scary zeuhlish theatrics from Igor Wakhevitch, the dangerously sharp and edgy Heldon and then the avant garde antics of Phillipe Besombes. Strange to think that a man like Didier Bocquet then sounded far more German than any of his fellow electronic countrymen. Sure, that may well have something to do with his late debut onto the scene back in 1977 with the self-produced album Eclipse - opening up to hypothesis of him being no more than a mere Berlin school copycat, but to these ears there is far more happening for that to be true. This album is more like a refined wine - something that had to sit awhile before it could be bottled.

Cerebral voyage is the name of the thing, and I couldn't imagine a better name, even if I had a thousand years and my thinking cap on. Much like the early krautrockers did - Bocquet focuses on long psychedelic pieces that slowly but carefully open up like sonic apple blossoms. From brilliantly shimmering synthesisers looping infinitely in ever changing patterns to the more menacing outbreaks - this record more than adequately responds to the ripples once uttered by the old German pioneers - and then some! I find this album closely related to the krautrock scene itself actually - mostly because of its ongoing flirtations with loose instant composition, but even more so because of its incessant trippy soundscapes that quite literally scoops you up - throws you in a starfighter and sends you out into the vastness of space. It's a psychedelic journey that keeps reverberating in your head. It does so while you listen to it, but also when you leave the comfort of your home. One day you'll find yourself staring at a puddle of rain experiencing a strange musical deja vu with echoing churning slices of music. This is down to the memorable characteristic of Voyage Cérébral. Now I am not talking about 'melodies' here, no no no - like I said the mood is one of constantly shape-shifting reverberations and psychedelic fuelled synthesisers, - no I am talking about the memorable shifts. The way a deep bellowing sound cycle suddenly intervenes during the first side - coming off like a controlled aircraft carrier foghorn that shakes the very ground with its buzzing yearning calls. Or maybe the cathartic turnover right at the very end will better explain to you the sheer power of this album - the power of music without a program. This is the soundtrack of huge things - love serenades for giants and Cyclops - an electronic kiss from a killer robot a thousand feet tall.

You won't find much in the way of hooks and solos on this outing, but if you wish to venture out beyond the confines of our little blue planet without ever having to leave your favourite rocking chair, then Voyage Cérébral is a safe bet. I feel like an amorous jellyfish listening to this - like one of those neon beams from 2001: A Space Odyssey - I feel like a submarine in warm waters, - utterly comfortable and bizarrely different from my normal self. The constant bombardment of these enchanting electronic cycles that swirl and sway like huge sonic rings, cradles you and at the same time allures you into a false security. You are not a submarine, and you can't fly, - but you do however have the opportunity to dress up with this little beauty.

Didier Bocquet - 1977 - Eclipse

Didier Bocquet 

01. 1984
02. Le Chemin Du Silence Part 1
03. Eclipse
04. Le Chemin Du Silence Part 2

Didier Bocquet / All instruments
Releases information

One of the rarest EM albums with only 100 copies pressed in 1977 & privately distributed through friends and mail only.
Original sleeves hand written each one being slightly different.

Didier Bocquet's very limited debut release shows the talent that would become more obvious on his later albums, but still comes off as sounding amateurish.

Eclipse isn't a bad album, but it does sound very aimless. The opening track, "1984", is very generic and overly repetitive, sounding exactly like the first composition on an unsure artist's debut album. The rhythm is nearly identical to the generic krautrock style 4/4 on Organization's (pre-Kraftwerk) debut album and really doesn't explore the the rhythmic or textural possibilities, rending its 13 minute runtime unjustifiable.

The title track is a similar situation, being overly repetitive but not in a krautrock type of way. This track is much closer to the cosmic cerebral sound on Voyage Cerebral but has very limited development. Essentially, it sounds like someone took a 2 minute selection from any one of Klaus Schulze's lesser tracks and repeated it over and over again for nearly 10 minutes (the first 3 minutes are simple electronic resonances against a droning background).

Though Eclipse isn't a high point in Didier Bocquet's career, it is an honest display of where he came from and what his influences are. Anyone looking for something at all interesting, however, might better look to his later releases.

Patrick Godfrey - 1979 - Ancient Ships

Patrick Godfrey 
Ancient Ships

01. All Along 3:50
02. Clocks 3:30
03. Papillons 4:55
04. For Gail 7:35
05. Summer Rain 3:35
06. The Stone 8:30
07. Ancient Ships 14:15

Piano, Harpsichord, Harmonium, Marimba, Bells, Voice, Composed By, Producer – Patrick Godfrey

Recorded January 1979 Toronto

Who is Patrick Godfrey?   Evidently a very talented keyboardist from Toronto, Canada.  Musically this reminds me a lot of Sandy Owen but given its release in the seventies, it's highly imbued with the spirit of experimentation and progressive ideas that was so magically a part of those long ago days.  (There's even a purely percussive track.)  His later record from 1982 doesn't look quite as interesting but someday when I have a surplus in the account I will check it out to make sure.  Even a comparison of the covers indicates the deterioration in inspiration as we stepped over that evil lintel from seventies to eighties.

Victor Brady - 1970 - Brown Rain

Victor Brady
Brown Rain

01. Glass House (7:35)
02. Hallucinodream (2:52)
03. Soul Fungi (2:26)
04. Once Upon a Candle (6:39)
05. Brown Rain (11:30)
06. It's a Good World Outside (6:51)

- Murray Gordon / bass
- Gary Reams / drums
- Peter Psarianos / guitars
- Victor Brady / vocals, steel drums

Victor BRADY hails from St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. He moved to mainland USA sometime in the 60's, and established himself as a popular and influential performer of the steel drum, performing in Central Park on a regular basis. Brady himself doesn't quite like the notion of coining his instrument of choice a steel drum - for him that is a cruder instrument consisting of a large 55 gallon steel barrel. Brady prefers to call the more refined instrument he plays a steel piano.

Anyhow, his steel drum performances were popular, and he soon became something of a tutor of the instrument - many performers of steel drums today can thank Brady or one of his students from the 60's and 70's for their skills in performing on the instrument.

Although mostly performing live outdoors or in special events, Brady got the chance to see his work issued on albums as well. In the late 60's he played on Scott Fagan's album South Atlantic Blues, and at about that time a talent scout from Polydor was suitably impressed by Brady's performance to offer him a record deal. The result was the album "Brown Rain", released in 1970. On this effort his steel piano was blended with a psychedelic form of heavy progressive rock, a stylisitc expression popular at the time.

In 1976 he would release another album, this time on New Your based Inner City Records. This sophomore effort, "Classic Soul", will be less interesting for those with an interest in progressive rock. But those with more than a passing interest in the steel drum as an instrument should find Brady's take on the classical works covered on this album to be a fascinating sonic experience.

In 1977 Brady gave a one-man lecture/demonstration on the Steel Piano at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., simply named "Lecture on the Steel Piano, 1977". The lecture is still available from the Smithsonian Institute for those who'd like to know more about this artist or this version of the steel drum.

And while not recording any more solo albums Victor Brady kept going as an active performer of the steel drums, with a strong reputation among fans and performers of this instrument. He is still around and doing well.

This one seems to evoke some pretty strong reactions from those who hear it. Upon first listen, my good buddy (who is not a particularly big fan of prog.) literally begged me to get rid of it, so strong was his dislike. I, on the other hand (a big fan of prog) found it quite interesting, if not very different than virtually every other prog/hard rock album out there. According to the liner notes on the back cover, Brady, an accomplished steel drum player, travelled from his native St. Croix to NYC. Once there, he attempted to form a rock band showcasing his talents on the steel drum, but succeeded only in "annoying" the local music scene.

Dissolving his band, he began performing in Central Park, where he caught the ear of the president of Polydor records. Intrigued, he signed Brady on the spot. A studio band was assembled, and an album recorded. It features fairly hard prog rock, with heavy guitar and lots of Brady's steel drum, and even some fuzz at various points. There is a mix of light and heavy material. The 11:30 min. title track was the best to my ears, which I rate very good. Three of the remaining five tracks garner a solid "good" rating as well. If your open to new and unusual sounds when it comes to your rock 'n roll, this may be worth investigating.

I just love this album... It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and never fails to make me happy. so I thought it would be a great one for post 1500!