Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Morton Subotnick - 1967 - Silver Apples On The Moon

Morton Subotnick
Silver Apples On The Moon


01. Part A 16:33
02. Part B 14:52

Morton Subotnick - Liner Notes, Primary Artist
Bradford Ellis - Digital Restoration, Mastering, Remixing
Michael Hoenig - Mastering, Remixing
H.J. Kropp - Cover Design
Tony Martin - Illustrations

Upon discharge from the U.S. Army at the end of the Korean War, the young experimental composer Morton Subotnick attended graduate school in Oakland at Mills College alongside fellow students Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros and other young music students striving to break with conventional means in their art by incorporating into their works elements of dance, theatre and visuals. During Subotnick’s tenure as Music Director of the Ann Halprin Dance Company, one of these ‘mixed media happenings’ found Subotnick in live performance accompanied by a modern dance ensemble and back-projected films while on another occasion, he manually edited tape recordings in his garage/studio from the sounds he fashioning from playing close-miked streetcar coils, water-filled gas tanks, automotive parts and other junkyard items.

A collaboration between Subotnick, electronic music equipment designer Don Buchla and composer Ramon Sender yielded the first major compact synthesizer module in 1961, which Subotnick dubbed the ‘Buchla,’ and it was on this first finished Buchla 100 prototype he began work at the aforementioned San Francisco Tape Music Center at the San Francisco Conservatory, established by Subotnick and Sender to meet the needs of a small group of composers attending nearby Mills College. Industriously splitting his time between duties at the Tape Center, teaching at Mills College as well as writing electronic scores for the Actors’ Workshop, Subotnick’s career was about to take a quantum leap forward when The Actors’ Workshop established a Repertory Theater at the newly opened Lincoln Center in New York City, offering him the position of musical director. He accepted and upon his relocation to New York City in 1966, gained a residency at New York University’s School of the Arts. And it was here at NYU that he would create the Intermedia Program, a music curriculum within the confines of a small studio located on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.

It was around this time that Subotnick received a visit by a representative from Nonesuch Records (a recently formed offshoot label of Elektra specialising in classical and ethnic field recordings) who offered him a record contract and advance. Having no previous knowledge of either him or the label he claimed to represent, Subotnick was wary and refused; only to discover later that day a Bach album in his own collection on the very same label. Fortunately, the representative returned the following day with the advance doubled and a thirteen-month deadline for a finished album. This time Subotnick accepted, and set about working on compositions that would soon coalesce into his debut album, “Silver Apples of the Moon.” It would wind up reflecting Subotnick’s interests in both music and technology, as well as a chance to realise his own McLuhan-informed dream of twentieth century chamber music or audio environment that people could experience within their own four walls. He envisioned one day that every living room would possess a synthesizer but in 1967, they’d have the next best thing and available on the far more affordable medium of a pre-programmed long playing 33 1/3 rpm stereophonic phonographic record containing one composition per side, performed exclusively on the Buchla and housed in a tantalising psychedelic light show sleeve.

The album runs a range of random interference, grouped clusters of modulated sounds, primitive sequenced rhythms and intermittent clicks and hisses. Side one’s opening “Part I” is about 16 and a half minutes in length and contains about as many months’ worth of ideas as it’s a dense trawl through moody lagoons and as yet uncharted electronic corridors. Opening mid-comet shower with treated flute trills against a backdrop of electronic ricochets, hisses and burbles, the pace established at once is unhurried and about as sparse and keenly balanced as a Calder mobile. It continues its slow evolution until the first huge whoosh sweeps upwards, promptly zapping out into a tape-spliced linkage that always brings to mind both the aural equivalent of the collage work of Zappa’s graphic artist-in-residence Cal Schenkel (with its composite source material turn-of-the-century machinery and gears assembled into yet another Mother of All Dynamos) as well as Frank’s own cut and paste techniques of the late sixties (specifically, the beginning of side 2 of “We’re Only In It For The Money” but minus the surf 45 and Clapton’s blathering.) After the electro-lurch imbroglio clears the bubbling continues with quick, intermittent hisses and a profusion of other alien soup sounds. A rhythm emerges, as do a brace of high-pitched melodies as the underlying noise continues its eccentric paces against a shimmering, high-pitched twinkling and chirping that minimally and patiently starts gaining ground even though all elements are content to merely burble at random. After ten minutes or so of roaming exploration and electronic conversations, a reprise of the previous huge whoosh upwards shoots geyser-like amid a wild explosion of hisses, sustained bell tones with an approximation of tape-splicing thrown in for good measure -- here rendered by The Buchla’s pre-programmable sequencers that send off sparks and alight to every corner. This massive power surges sends all the tiny tone denizens scurrying off under cover of the muddied ocean bed caused by Big Daddy Whoosh’s undertow cause dammit he’s had it with all their aleatory chatter, so he roars out: SILENCE and by the way can you PLEASE make yourself useful and get down to the task at hand and establish at LEAST a rhythm, for cryin’ out loud? The now red-faced tiny particulars hurriedly sweep together a loose rhythm and adorn it with quickly buffed ornamentals accenting and even trim it with fragments of melody that hang unconnected in the background. Quick edits and stabbing rhythm wander in, commingle and then tear apart like a single cell splitting into two nuclei in some microscopic rite of spring as in the moist air above, fireflies with wetted down wings spiral in echoed coves. Clusters reemerge, but hanging onto the edges of silence while ghostly echoes rebound in the background against a simmering, high-pitched twinkling. You could use this as the perfect soundtrack for watching a tankful of tropical fish and it would never be anything less than in total sync. The coda of “Part I” reduces itself to quietude reduced to a pair of low and slow bass tones that sheepishly converse to each other under the covers in hushed tones, winding up trailing off to sleep mid-sentence.

“Part II” is far more action packed, containing an ever building and crazy-making crescendo that is probably comparable to listening to an exploded view of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on acid. It all starts simply enough building with two separate, pre-programmed rhythms and a miscellany of crosstalk patterning that starts building and connecting like crazy. A measured bass rhythm sequence akin to oil derricks bobbing up and down enters with a consistent, pre-determined rhythmic pressure against the tapestry of abstractions that jump cut into the fray to rend the fabric of the rhythmic pulsations by the slightest of degrees. And set behind all this is an ever-rising whirring that increases subtly in pitch and amplitude against a flurry of tiny sound storms that flash subliminally in and out of the sonic picture. The pitter-pattering and a continuing series of blips, whooshes and electronic dingbats all assemble and sound off, only appearing to be random but in reality are a carefully constructed polyrhythmic mosaic multi-dimensionally pulsating in its diagrammatic placements. The whirring has now grown into a darkening swarm that hovers behind the din, frozen to the distant horizon as the electronic pistons below pump and glide like a universal dynamo all firing up into a ring of sequenced events dancing impishly on the very brink of shuddering apart into molecular components and exploding into space. The rhythm, once the centre held by the fixed counterpoint of the sequenced rhythms, cannot hold any longer, cuts out and soon all is swallowed up by momentary stillness.

Within the weightless fissures of silence, all has now become silvery and glistens -- jiggling quietly like splitting pools of quicksilver in spoons’ curving beaming under moonlight. The becalmed come down is simmering and soothing and twinkling in the darkness like distant supernovas transmitting their final moments light years after the fact before folding quietly back into the void. But it gently takes its time before sliding off into silence as signals still rise to the surface of the now deepening calm that has been threatening to envelop it all along. And yet, as the twittering of cosmic crickets diminishes, it gives rise to a signal of rare contentment within that huge, sightless universe -- at once unfixed and ultimately, unmoving in eternal silence.

Mike Heron - 1971 - Smiling Men With Bad Reputations

Mike Heron 
Smiling Men With Bad Reputations

01. Call Me Diamond   
02. Flowers Of The Forest   
03. Audrey   
04. Brindaban   
05. Feast Of Stephen   
06. Spirit Beautiful   
07. Warm Heart Pastry   
08. Beautiful Stranger   
09. No Turning Back

Bass – Dave Pegg (tracks: A1), John Cale (tracks: A3, A5)
Drums – Gerry Conway (tracks: A5, B3)
Guitar – Simon Nicol (tracks: A1, A5)
Harmonium – John Cale (tracks: A3)
Instrumentation By – Tommy And The Bijoux (tracks: B2)
Viola – John Cale (tracks: B2)
Vocals – Mike Heron

The air may have started to smell funny inside the ISB walls around 1971; despite their success as one of the most cherished Prog Folk Bands of the turn of the decade, its two  songwriters seem to have felt the need to open some news windows as each one released his 1st solo effort , Williamson “Myrrh” and Heron “Smiling Men…”; the latter is not only one of the weirdest mixtures of styles I’ve heard in one album, as it transmits a very positive feel – according to producer Joe Boyd, it was one of his most pleasant studio experiences -. On the other hand, and with a couple of exceptions, it sounds much more professional (not necessarily a good thing, I know) than anything I know by the ISB, and although I’d hesitate to call it a more interesting or cultural enriching experience than anything by that band, it surely is much more entertaining.

Heron played acoustic guitar and sang in every track and counted with an extended “Help from his friends”, as no two tracks present similar line-ups and that contributed to add to the colorful overall ambient  of the album.
I feel tempted to roughly divide its tracks in three categories, the quiet and introspective with touches of experimentalism and that I can imagine in an ISB album, the extrovert and lively that reflect Heron’s experiences in Rock groups and those who could establish him as a Radio friendly singer songwriter and eventually Top Charts candidate, but these may be too reducing categories as the boundaries are porous and leakage occurs.

The 1st category includes the almost erotic “Audrey” in duo with John Cale with two distinct parts, the 1st verse with almost unison single notes of harmonium and fingerpicked guitar, before it turns to delicate arpeggios and a warm swelling harmonium supported by a sensitive bass; “Spirit Beautiful” bathed in Indian mysticism with veena and tamboura drones and licks and percussions with the tabla and jewish harp “cousins” mridangam and moorsing, all seemingly played by India naturals, plus the vocal support of Dr.Strangely Strange in a Raga feel Mike adapts very well to, and “Turning Back” a totally solo piece and the album’s weakest spot, where Mike reveals his limitations with the guitar and doesn’t seem to have spent long looking for a good vocal take.

The 2nd category includes the Rocking “Warm Heart Pastry” which opens with Pete Townshend distinctive wind-mill chords, is powered by Keith Moon thundering drumming and Ronnie Lane’s full  bass, Mike modulating with a real Daltrey spirit(believe me!) , supported by a trio of Female vocalists and spiced with slide guitar glissandos and Cale’s dark viola in a track that could easily fit in a Who album, the storming opener “Call me a Diamond”, a brass filled Soulful R&B fest with a screaming alto sax solo and arrangements courtesy of Dudu Pukwana and Mike in his best (and shouting, which is where he delivers the goods) vocal register with reminiscences of  Van Morrison’s “Into the Music”; also in this spirit are the bonus tracks included in the 2003 reissue, “Make no Mistake” in a Small Faces or early Humble Pie register, with the Dave’s (Pegg and Mattacks) bass and drums rhythm section, Elton John solid piano, Gordon Huntley’s lilting lap steel guitar and Mike on a few mouth harp blows, and the Power Pop of “Lady Wonder” with the same rhythm section, maestro Jimmy Page slashing chords, screaming leads and slide fills and Mike’s frenzied strumming and again raspy but feeling natural vocal timbre.

On the 3rd group are the powerful “Feast of Stephen” which for many listeners, me included, was, the introduction to ”SMWBR” , via its inclusion on the “El Pea” sampler, with a striking John Cale arrangement – plus piano, guitar, bass and viola duties – the Fairport’s Simon Nicol on additional guitar and Gerry Conway’s  powerful drumming  and delicious rolls, and the Female vocal trio brightening  the “Hey Jude” evoking ending;  ”Flowers of the Forest” which flows with slightly changing moods like a stream through a meandering river bed, in a Folk Rock vein reminiscent of Fotheringay , with Mike scrubbing his strings with feel,  Mattacks  sensitively hitting his drums and cymbals, Richard Thompson trademark guitar fills and runs and  a delicious story behind ISB member Rose Simpson who learned so well her  1st  ever bass part, that Steve Winwood (who adds a very discreet organ) wanted to hire her for his projects (she wisely refused), and “Brindaban” which is just Mike and a quirky orchestral arrangement  with Oriental references and call and responses between the cellos and the violins, violas and woodwinds in a tasteful mix of ISB and Nick Drake ambiances;

And then there’s the VCS3 storm and chirpy sound effects and lo-fi guitar introduced “Beautiful Stanger”, a mini-epic that rests on changes of intensity and colors, a timid but effective experimental edge, diversely arranged parts, either with solitary guitar, prepared piano, harmonium or synth (Cale or Tony Cox) or fuelled swollen drums and bass (Conway and Pat Donaldson) plus brass arrangements and vocal harmonies in an ear catching repeated refrain..

All in all an odd batch of songs which coupled with a voice that is very much an acquired taste, may not easily be an instant pleaser, but with such variety, that many tracks risk to be real growers.

Michaelangelo - 1971 - One Voice Many

One Voice Many

01. West - 2:49
02. Come to Me - 1:56
03. This Bird - 3:19
04. Son - We've Kept the Room Just the Way You Left It - 4:25
05. Medley: Take It Bach/Michaelangelo - 5:30
06. It's Crying Outside - 3:53
07. 300 Watt Music Box - 2:39
08. Okay - 2:00
09. Half a Top - 3:05
10.One Voice Many - 7:10

All songs written by Angel Petersen

*Robert Gorman - Bass
*Michael John Hackett  - Drums
*Angel Petersen - Electric Autoharp, Vocals
*Steve Bohn - Guitars

 When was the last time you heard or saw an autoharp? Perhaps it was when your 80 year old kindergarten teacher busted one out for sing along time. Or maybe you come across one now and again at your local second hand store. It is indeed rare to see an autoharp as a focal instrument in any form of musical display much less as the primary instrument of a psychedelic rock group. Yet this in fact was the case with the New York City based group Michaelangelo.

Primary composer and group member Angel Autoharp (surname Peterson) blended the unique ring of the autoharp with psychedelic and progressive rock elements with the help of guitarist Steve Bohn and the fantastic rhythm section of Robert Gorman on bass and Michael John Hackett on drums.

The group's sole release strikes one as supremely unique even for the psychedelic times in which it was released. Not because it was outlandishly bizarre, but because it was such a very pure musical vision. This album does not succumb to any radio friendly formulas yet it does not attempt to be overtly far out cither. Angel best describes it in her own words. "I played music because I loved it. and I wanted everyone to hear the autoharp".

Angel began playing music in grade school and always had an inclination for composing her own material. "I had violin lessons for three or four years and I was pretty bored with playing the classics and one time I came into my violin instructor's class and showed mm a piece I had written for the violin and he rapped me on my knuckles with his little baton and said. 'You don't write for the violin you play the classics. You are trying to make the violin a fiddle.' And so I dropped the violin."

But Angel was not deterred. Shortly after she taught herself how to play the piano and when it came time to go to college and moving into smaller places she decided to take up the more portable autoharp. "I bought an autoharp and learned how to play it in my bathtub in my dorm room1 I put it up to my ear and played it upnght and absolutely fell in love with the sound and started writing for it and my whole goal was to nave people hear just how wonderful the autoharp sounded."

Angel started playing the local Greenwich Village coffee house circuit and had a chance encounter with The Lovin Spoonfj s John Sebastian, who was also an autoharp enthusiast. "He did something really amazing Angel recalls, he had it amplified and he had actually worked with someone and designen a pick-up that picked up all 36 strings". Angel was thrilled at the prospect of amplification which would make it all the more plausible for her to share her love of the auto harp with mere people so she quickly installed a pick up and sought out the perfect amplifier.

"I went through a bunch of amplifiers and the only one that really sounded good was called a Magnatone and it had a pseudo Leslie effect so it could sound like an organ . Angel was set to share the magical sounds of the auto harp with all of those who wandered in Greenwich Village and she hit the scene with fervor. "I played for four years en McDougal Street, doing nothing but instrumental - just me and my Magnatone."

Meantime in midtown Manhattan there was a young musician by the name of Bob Goanan who had come down to Greenwch Village and was taken by the young harpist and recalls. "She played such fascinating songs". The two quickly hit it off and formed a duo playing local gigs as an instrumental act. when they caught the attention of a young copywriter by the name of Earl Carter who happened to work at Columbia records. Carter was intrigued by the duo's unique sound and knew of another duo who might feel the same way.

This duo were electronic classical music producers Rachel Elkind and Wendy Carlos who had recently had immense success with a classical album that utilized the moog synthesizer to it's full capacity called Switched On Bach. Elkind and Carlos liked the group and thought it would be a fantastic project for them to work on, and they in turn took it to Columbia records. Angel and Bob quickly formed a band, as Bob recalls. "I worked at a music store in midtown and my co-worker Steve became the guitar player, and then we got a drummer.

Angel had lyrics but we never sang any of them in our act and so we all arranged the songs". Angel adds, "Every song was basically written as an instrumental and then I added vocals to some of it, I didn't have a lot of confidence as a singer, but when we added other people we started singing." Michaelangelo was what Angel had called her autoharp and that in turn became the name of the band.

Angel's compositions now flourished into full psychedelic folk-rock songs while maintaining the integrity of the auto harp that was so very important to her. With guitarist Steve Bohn and herself trading lead vocals, Angel also proved that she was a wonderful lyricist: "I had written poetry since grade school, so I wrote all the lyrics for the songs".

The pairing of this very unique band who featured a unique instrument as their focal point with the production team of Rachel Elkind and Wendy Carlos who were pioneering the electronic music movement were a match made in heaven. Yet as the story goes with all those who are slightly ahead of their time, the world may not have been quite ready for it and Angel adds with profound insight. "Every time you play something that's a little out of the norm or a little different, people are very suspicious, when they go to listen to music they want to hear things they've heard before, then they can compare you to other people.

If you do something new it's greeted with silence, and I've had that all my life". Yet if anyone were to be able to understand this creative and distinct music it would be Rachel Elkind and Wendy Carlos. Rachel Elkind for starters was unique, based on the fact that she was a woman working as a music producer alone, but in addition to that working alongside her partner Wendy Carlos the two explored new musical horizons using electronic instruments like the relatively new Moog Synthesizer.

Wendy Carlos was born Walter Carlos until she had a sex change operation in 1972. She studied music and physics at Brown University and earned her masters in composition at Columbia Univeristy. She had become friends with the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer, Robert Moog, and was one of the first composers to buy one of his creations.

Elkind and Carlos would famously go on to work with Stanley Kubrick on his films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining utilizing the unique electronic tonalities and compositional techniques they had developed. Michaelangelo started recording at the Record Plant in New York City. However the vocals, overdubs and one of the tracks, "Take It Bach", were recorded and mixed at Rachel and Wendy's infamous home studio in a brownstone on the upper west side.

Bob Gorman also notes, "Wendy had an affinity for the natural sound quality in the circular staircase in the house, so all of Angel's vocals were recorded in there." But as much as the band were blessed by being able to work with some ot the most progressive and talented producers the industry had to offer it may have also been a curse. Bob Gorman recalls. "Clive Davis was the president of Columbia Records and politically he was not fond of Rachel and Wendy because of the fact that Switched On Bach was so successful and he didn't have his hands in the pie, because it was independently produced by Rachel and Wendy's production company.

And so he never totally got behind us". Angel also offers some insight. "Rachel was the first independent producer who wasn't a staff producer for Columbia Records. Also she was a woman and her and Clive Davis just had it out all the time. He could not stand the fact that she was calling the shots. Rachel was a very strong willed independent woman and back then you just didn't do that. There weren't women in the music business back then unless you were a fine singer or Janis Joplin or something."

Due to the turmoil within the label Michaelangelo's debut failed to get the proper attention from the label needed to help reach audiences. Angel recalls. "He [Clive Davis] only pressed about two or three thousand albums, he refused to put them in stores. He was trying to get back at Rachel is what it was. for political reasons everything was squashed". Bob Gorman recalls. "The single was released from the album and it got Gavin Pick Of The Week, so it started to take off with its own wings.

But then it was squashed by the courtesy of Clive Davis because he thought it would start taking off on its own and he - being president of Columbia Records and pretty much being at odds with Rachel and Wendy - said. This is not going any farther, this is it. this is not my production and whatever you want to call it - jealousy or spite - he pretty much made it go away."

Michaelangelo continued to play promotional college tours but because the album was not readily available to audiences the group were not making any money and this eventually took its toll on the band. Angel recalls. "The band dissolved because you know all our wonderful expectations, nobody got paid, they all went their own ways. I ended up marrying my road manager and moved to Florida.' Bob Gorman fulfilled his dream of moving west to California, which is what the opening track "West" so vividly depicts.

While the band was short lived Angel continued to play music in Florida, but was disheartened by the experience. "Because it was the south anytime I'd play one of my classical instrumentals. they would not know what to do and people were yelling 'Play Jimmy Buffet'". Well, that's enough to make anyone retire! Angel opened a business and continues to live in Florida. The songs on this album somehow reflect the true essence of the term "outsider art". Angel Peterson was a young artistic soul who was exploring music on her own terms and following her heart.

While the group's career path may have been tragically flawed it certainly does not take away from the validity and wonderful charm of this work. From the classically inspired songs like the beautiful "Take It Bach" to the story of a day in the life of a young person striking out on his own 'Son (We've Kept the Room Just the Way You Left It)" this album is sure to strike a chord in your heart - just like it has done mine - and we are certainly happy to be sharing it with you.
by Tiffany Anders

Lift - 1974 - Caverns Of Your Brain

Caverns Of Your Brain

01. Simplicity   
02. Caverns   
03. Buttercup Boogie   
04. Trippin' Over The Rainbow   

- Chip Gremillion / Hammond B-3, Mellotron 400, electric & acoustic pianos, Moog Sonic Six, ARP Odyssey
- Cody Kelleher / Rickenbacker bass and Taurus bass pedals
- Chip Grevemberg / Rodgers drums, chimes, gongs, bells, percussion
- Richard Huxen / lead guitar, electric & acoustic guitars, steel slide guitar
- Courtenay Hilton-Green / lead vocals, flute

From the USA came Lift, an enthusiastic and talented progressive ensemble that released their debut album "Caverns of Your Brain" during the second half of the 70s, although their repertoire at the time was older ,as well as more abundant than the one finally container in the original release. What we have here is a combination of vibrating melodic symphonic prog (pre-Howe Yes, Flash), the energy of "Remember the Future"- era Nektar and the eerie ambiances of Floydian inspiration, generally for the softer parts of the material. Hilton-Green's vocal timber helps the band to keep their Yessian tendencies well alive. The musical ideas are more focused on dynamics than on solidity, which makes them stand closer to their compatriots Quill and The Load and less closer to Kansas and Babylon (just to name other compatriots): the musicians of Lift are more into deepening the potentials of their musical ideas and transform them into robust jamming in an ordered fashion, yet revealing wide space for freedom in the culmination of their sonic expression. Given the special role assumed by orchestrations, leads and ornaments on his instrumental array, keyboardsman Chip Gremillion manages to become the band's musical leader, although this factor shouldn't stop the listener from noticing the fluidity of the rhythm section's input. The bass player takes his Squire influences into a solid territory of his own, while the drummer provides a very interesting swing to his performances. This recording kicks off with 'Simplicity', a pretty joyful number that expands itself in combining tempos of 4/4 and 7/8 in order to exploit the catchiness of the main motif. It is a simplistic yet effective motif, indeed. 'Cavers' portrays a more solemn mood built on a slow rhythm pace. There is plenty of room for the elaboration of mesmeric synthesizer and mellotron layers, which set a majestic pace for the appearance of ethereal guitar leads (perhaps a steel guitar?). Very Floydian in essence, although it patently bears a sense of pomposity that leans them closer to the Yes Thing. 'Buttercup Boogie' is a boogie rock built on a bluesy organ motif that is displayed in a very frantic tempo. This is the catchiest tune in the album, but not without its old fashioned progressive complexity - that is, here you will find well crafted guitar and keyboard solos, as well as the crucial momentary bass guitar adornments, while the drummer keeps himself busy and concentrated on maintaining a perfect precision while things keep going on. The last 11 minutes are occupied by the album's highlight, the epic 'Trippin' over the Rainbow', which comprises the most complex articulation of various musical motifs. The alternation between the most serene and the rockiest passages is very well balanced, and again, Gremillion's predominant role on keyboards (especially mellotron and synthesizers) proves essential for the preservation and consistent enhancement of the song's orchestral feel all the way through. While not being a groundbreaking album per se, this Lift effort is a real progressive lost gem that is awaiting a proper recognition from prog collectors. "Caverns of Your Brain" should be a valuable item for genuine symphonic prog lovers.

Jerry Hahn - 1973 - Moses

Jerry Hahn

01. Moses
02. Prime Time
03. Slick & Sharp
04. Blues Suite
05. Full Moon And Empty Arms
06. Sunshine Superman
07. Joy Spring
08. All Blues
09. Honey Suite

Bass – Mel Graves
Drums – George Marsh
Organ, Synthesizer – Merl Saunders
Guitar – Jerry Hahn

Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, Cal. January 8, 9, 10, and 11, 1973

Jerry Hahn's second album is a fairly definitive effort by the talented but greatly underrated guitarist. Best known as an educator and an alumnus of Gary Burton's group, Hahn shows a lot of potential on this quartet set with organist Merl Saunders, bassist Mel Graves, and drummer George Marsh. In addition to his diverse originals, Hahn performs swinging versions of "All Blues" and Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring." It is a double pity that this LP has yet to appear on CD and that Hahn was not more extensively recorded in the 1970s.

I'm not going to even make an attempt to review this album... I will only say that it shares the number one spot as favorite guitar album ever with the Supersession of Kooper, Bloomfield and Stills, they don't sound alike but I tend to think of them together as a pair because of Seasons of the Witch / Sunshine Superman... go figure why... but really... just download it, play it loud. become a fan...

Jerry Hahn - 1970 - The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood

Jerry Hahn 
The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood

01. Martha's Madman
02. Early Bird Cafe
03. One Man Woman
04. Ramblin'
05. Dippin' Snuff
06. Time's Caught Up With You
07. Thursday Thing
08. What I Gave Away
09. Comin' Down
10. Captain Bobby Stout

Bass – Clyde Graves
Drums – George Marsh
Guitar, Banjo – Jerry Hahn
Organ, Piano, Harmonica – Mike Finnigan
Vocals – Jerry Hahn, Mike Finnigan

The other day a song popped into my head, just a few up-tempo instrumental phrases — guitar, bass, drums and a Hammond B3 organ. I knew instantly what it was, though I hadn’t heard it in at least 20 years. It was a passing moment from “Martha’s Madman,” the first song on the first side of an LP called “The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood.” I bought the record when it was released in 1970. I was a freshman at Berkeley.

It would have been easy to see the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood performing that year, though I never did. Its lone record was a sunny mixture of straight-up jazz with a blues spine, a music that wants the latter-day word “fusion,” though that word does so little good. Above all, it was a reminder of the eclecticism of the time. Audiences that would soon diverge found themselves packed in a hall together all night long, like one October weekend at Fillmore West when the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood shared the bill with Van Morrison and Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band.

I heard “Martha’s Madman” in my head, and I did what I usually do. I went to the iTunes Music Store. Nothing. Same at Amazon. So I walked down to the barn, where all my old albums are stored, and dug out my vinyl copy of “The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood,” which is now sitting on my desk. I no longer have the equipment to play it. Nearly every album in those boxes in the barn was converted to CD long ago — some of them several times over. But not “The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood.”

We live, of course, in an age of accelerating digital replication. Before long, it seems, every recording of every kind in existence, along with all the outtakes, will have been turned into a CD or a DVD or a digital file for download over the Internet. But some things get left behind.

Digital conversion seems almost effortless, a virtual transcription of the world as we know it. But there is a financial friction to it nonetheless. These days it’s no longer necessary to produce an actual physical CD to sell in record stores. Downloadable files will do — no packaging required — but even making these has its costs.

What it takes to push a work from analog to digital is a marketing opportunity. The death, for instance, of Johnny Cash and a movie based on his life was a wonderful chance, as one industry spokesperson put it, to revisit his inventory, which, as it happens, is partly on Columbia, a company now owned by Sony BMG.

There will probably never be a movie based on the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, no commercial incentive to remaster and rerelease this album. The story of the band is a good one but all too familiar — the inevitable clash between the artistic and business sides of the recording industry. The band fell apart disputing the honesty of its manager.

What’s left is an orphaned vinyl LP. The inner sleeve, a space for record company promotion, says, “If It’s in Recorded Form, You Know It’ll Be Available on Records.” Well, I wish it were available on CD.

I talked to Jerry Hahn the other day. He teaches jazz guitar in Wichita, his hometown. He’ll be 66 in September, with grandkids. He sounds good. “You should have heard us,” he said. He also said that the master tapes of “The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood” are stored somewhere in New York State. The man who produced the record has retired to Hawaii, where he and his wife own several restaurants. I haven’t been able to track down the manager. I’d like to hear his side of the story.

And as for hearing “The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood,” one fan has posted the whole album in MP3 form — ripped from the vinyl — on the Web. I downloaded it the other day. It’s a digitally compressed version of an analog recording that was, according to Hahn, too compressed to begin with.

Even through the mist you can still hear the brightness of the music. But someone needs to find those master tapes, breathe some air into them, and do this minor masterpiece (and all the outtakes) justice at last. I’d buy a copy, especially if I thought that some of the purchase price might make its way to the artists.

Published: August 19, 2006
The New York Times

The Jerry Hahn Quintet - 1967 - Ara-Be-In

The Jerry Hahn Quintet

01. Ara-Be-In   
02. In The Breeze   
03. My Love   
04. Ragahantar   
05. Dippin' Snuff   

Bass – Ron McClure
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Guitar – Jerry Hahn
Saxophone, Flute – Noel Jewkes
Violin – Mike White

Guitarist Jerry Hahn was at the time of these recordings (1967) working with saxophonist John Handy. At the urging of Arhoolie's boss, Chris Strachwitz, Jerry Hahn assembled this all-star quintet to record some of his compositions (except "My Love" written by Noel Jewkes). Today, after years as a successful leader and side man, Jerry Hahn is teaching and living in Portland, Oregon.

Jazz critic Phil Elwood wrote the original liner notes and updates them by saying the music 'remains after three decades, free and airy ‚ as distinctive and interesting in the 1990's as it was in the 60's.' White shines on 'In the Breeze' with a hard swinging line that melds perfectly to the reed of Noel Jewkes. 'My Love' started out as just another Latin spin, but the rhythm was so subtle from Ron McClure bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums that it probelled this heady guitar work from Hahn and then built into what then was an envelope pushing Latin conclusion. 'Dippin Snuff' is a boppish airy dash with flute and guitar almost in a novelty mood and again envelope pushing. Great fun. 'Ragahanter' invokes the sitar fad of the 60's in the Bay Area with very unusual sitar sounding solo guitar against a blues mood. 'Ara-Be-In' is the Arabic version with the Jewkes tenor pushing edges in lyrical fashion, big bass rumbling below, light tabla tapping like drums and then a building quartet fervor. Extremely interesting reissue will surprise you.

Review from The Heights (Number 8, November 1967)
 A case in point is the recently released album Ara-Be-In (Arhoolie—Changes Records 7001) by the Jerry Hahn Quintet. Jerry Hahn is a guitar player who is best known for his work with jazz musician John Handy. The other members of his group are Mike White, a violinist who was with Hahn in Handy's group of a year and a half ago, Ron McClure and Jack Dc Johnette, bassman and drummer respectively for Charles Lloyd, and Noel Jewkes, a San Francisco jazz musician (tenor and flute) who sounds very much like Charles Lloyd. In other words, Hahn's group is basically a West Coast jazz group. Their album, however, contains two tracks ("Ara-Be-In" and "Ragahantar") which are as much like the highly inventive rock of the Grateful Dead and the Cream, for example, as they are like jazz. "Ragahantar" is Hahn solo. It is formally based on the raga but it is as close to Indian classical music as most Indian derived rock is; i.e., not very close. It is its own thing, just like Country Joe's instrumentals and the Doors' "The End" are unique though influenced by Eastern tonalities. Hahn's guitar is in an open tuning (reminiscent of Sandy Bull) and several strings act as sympathetic strings, setting up a

drone or root nole over which Hahn solos. "Ara-Be-In" is more interesting if only for the fact that the rest of the quintet is included on this track. The same guitar figure opens "Ara-Be-In" and the structure of the piece is the same for each soloist—a rhythm-free improvisation in which the rest of the band establishes and augments the drone followed by a quick tempoed rhythmic improvisation once more over the drone. White's violin solo is the most effective because his instrument (like the guitar) is most readily adaptable to this style of music. The piece ends with a unison improvisation and finally a return to the theme. "Ara-Be-In" is impressive from any musical point of view, but it is especially interesting in that Hahn's group is clearly thinking along the same lines as, for example, Jerry Garcia's group. As the instrumental quality of rock keeps improving, we feel that the music will end up in the area that Jerry Hahn's music encompasses — a musical area that defies labels because it is eclectic and is unashamed of its roots. Some rock groups — the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish — are already there. Whether or not they will be listened to is another question. THIS IS THE END.

Jazz Q - 1991 - Live (1974-75)

Jazz Q 
Live (1974-75)

01. Watch Out (4:56)
02. My Mother me porodila v strouze (8:13)
03. We All Had a Real Good Time (3:12)
04. Sanctuary (6:24)
05. Giving Up (4:41)
06. Freedom Jazz Dance (8:42)
07. Lonesome (7:51)
08. Living for the City (6:21)
09. Co dum dal (5:26)

Tracks 1-3 (St. Plzenec Jul. 28. 1974)
- Martin Kratochvíl / electric piano
- Frantisek Francl / guitar
- Joan Duggan / vocals
- Jirí Tomek / percussion, vocals
- Michal Vrbovec / drums
- Alexandr Riha? / bass

Tracks 4-9 (Bratislava Jan. 13. & Feb. 2. 1975):
- Martin Kratochvíl / electric piano
- Frantisek Francl / guitar
- Joan Duggan / vocals
- Jirí Tomek / percussion
- Premysl Faukner / bass
- Libor Laun / drums
- Jan Martinec / violin

Live albums are for the most part interesting. At least they can be. I rarely go for live albums. I find them to be of lesser interest than the studio output. Sometimes the live renditions can be really invigorating, as in the case of Rainbow's Live in Munich (which I reviewed the other day). In most cases though they are almost always there to complete a band's discography, if you're an avid fan.

Jazz Q is in part at puzzling band. I got to know them by way of Modry Efekt (a band I cannot stop praising) on the album Coniunctio. After that free form jazz-rock experiment they went into Pozoravatelna, which was another fusion-oriented jazz-rock album of some great worth. After that they went headlong into proper jazz-rock with all guns blazing on Symbiosis. A great album, void of the slick, sometimes noodling fusion to come on later albums. And then there's this live album. A pure, for the most part anyway, bluesy affair. Sort of weird but at the same time extremely interesting turn of events, especially when viewed hindsight.

This album has very, very little to do with prog. Actually it is not, I'd say. Well, there are jazzy playing alright and "Freedom jazz dance" is jazz-rock but for the most part, as I've stated, it is a blues album played in front of a live audience. Actually, as live albums go it's not bad. Not bad at all. The sound quality is not for audiophiles, a thing that actually increases the album's worth. It gives it that extra edge.

The performance is lively and raucious, well played and groovy in that bluesy, jazz-rock kind of way. The cover of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the city" is quite nice and "Sanctuary" is another pleasant tune. Personally I enjoy the first three tracks the most. They are kicking and lively and puts a smile on my face.

Live albums are seldom essential. Sometimes they are an excellent addition to one's collection but mostly they are not. In this case I'd say it is for collectors only BUT i still think it shows the bands attitude towards music and jazz-rock in general. As such it is interesting and in retrospect it shows a band able to cross the boundaries between jazz, rock, blues and beyond in a very competent and able manner. Not prog but still an interesting piece of musical history.

Jazz Q - 1976 - Elegie

Jazz Q

01. Slunovrat
02. Nadeje
03. Citadela
04. Tanec
05. Létavice
06. Toledo
07. Zravá Dáma
08. Vestba

Acoustic Guitar - Lenka Filipová (tracks: B4)
Acoustic Guitar, Triangle - Frantisek Francl (tracks: A3)
Bass - Premysl Faukner
Blues Harp - Ondrej Konrád (tracks: B1)
Cello - Frantisek Lhotka (tracks: B4) , Zdenek Prouza (tracks: B4)
Claves - Tomás Procházka (tracks: B3)
Congas - Jirí Tomek (tracks: A2, A4, B2)
Cowbell - Michal Vrbovec (tracks: B3)
Drums - Libor Laun
Electric Piano, Synthesizer [Moog], Composed By - Martin Kratochvíl
Guiro - Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: B3)
Guitar - Frantisek Francl
Maracas - Michal Gera (tracks: B3)
Organ - Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: A1, B1)
Percussion - Tomás Procházka (tracks: A3)
Piano - Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: A3, B4)
Synthesizer - Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: A1 to A4)
Trumpet - Michal Gera (tracks: A2)
Violin - Jan Hrubý (tracks: A2, A3, B4)
Vocals - Frantisek Francl (tracks: A2) , Jirí Cerha (tracks: A2) , Ladislav Kantor (tracks: A2) , Lenka Filipová (tracks: B1)

Fourth full Jazz Q studio album (OK, this time under the name "Jazz Q Martina Kratochvila") is a great one. And different one from their previous works as well.

The band started some years ago, released common album with another great Czech jazz-rock band Blue Effect. So, their debut in studio was an eclectic mix of heavy guitar based jazz-rock and some free-jazz elements. Later in their own albums they changed many musicians, playing often guitar based jazz fusion, with some vocals.

This album (released under "Jazz Q Martina Kratochvila" name, what shows that this founder and keyboardist took a full control under the band's sound) is complex, mostly electric keys based sound. Yes, there still is enough space for electric guitar and even some vocals as well, but in whole main influence obviously is Herbie Hancock albums from early 70-s. Plenty of progressive compositions, a bit spacey sound, funk influence as well. In some moments you just can imagine them as European Headhunters!

From another hand, they have enough own ground under feet. Still melodic Eastern European roots are everywhere. Very interesting combination, and played with excellence!

Possibly most matured Jazz Q album, must have for each Eastern European jazz fusion researcher! Excellent album for every lover of keyboards-led progressive jazz fusion in Headhunters/Hancock's Trilogy key.

Jazz Q - 1974 - Symbiosis

Jazz Q

01. From Dark to Light
02. Lost Soul
03. Starbird
04. The Wizard
05. Epilogue
06. Predzvest

Backing Vocals - Jir Rotter , Leek Semelka , Pavel Dydovic , Vladimr Mik
Bass - Vladimr Padrunek
Clarinet - Jan Kubk
Congas - Jir Tomek
Double Bass - Alexander Cihar
Drums - Michal Vrbovec
Electric Piano, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Leader - Martin Kratochvl
Guitar - Frantiek Francl
Lead Vocals - Joan Duggan
Trumpet - Radek Poboril

Second full Jazz Q studio album is their top release. It's interesting to notice how fast jazz band, founded in mid-60s became free jazz/experimental band in late 60s and turned to bluesy jazz- rock in early 70-s.

If you ever heard Jazz Q split album with Blue Effect (where they are more free jazz part, balanced with bluesy jazz rock by Blue Effect ), you will be surprised from very first sounds of this album. First of all, band have female vocalist now ( Joan Duggan), and then they play totally different music there.

Joan's vocals are in the key of Nico, with similar timbres, just stronger. Music on this album is keyboards-dominated jazz rock, influenced by Brian Auger, with often jazzy drumming and great Frantiek Francl guitar solos over it. Music is very bluesy, far not so complex and experimental as on band's split debut.

Excellent jazzy musicianship in combination with light psychodelia of Joan's vocals and perfect guitar work bring this album on forefront of similar albums ( in fact this release could be placed at the same level with best Auger/Driscoll releases).

Best album of one of the best Czech jazz fusion bands from early 70-s. Very recommended!

Jazz Q Praha - 1973 - Pozorovatelna

Jazz Q Praha

01. Pori 72
02. Pozorovatelna
03. Trifid
04. Klobasove hody
05. Kartago
06. Walter L.*
07. Pozorovatelna II*
08. Kartago II * (Lubos Andrst)
09. Percenta pro hnizdovku*
(* - bonus tracks)

- Martin Kratochvíl / organ, piano
- Lubos Andrst / guitar
- Vladimír Padrunek / bass
- Michal Vrbovec / drums

guest musicians:
- Joan Duggan / vocals (3)
- Rudolf Chalupský / violin (5)

 Pozorovatelna is first Czech jazz fusion band's Jazz Q Praha full studio release. But still in 1970 they participated as band-collaborator on another great Czech fusion band Blue Effect studio release Coniunctio. Three years is gone, and the difference in their music is very big.

If there, on their first ever work in studio, Jazz Q Praha bring huge doze of free-jazz into common sound ( and Blue Effect with excellent guitarist Radim Hladik were mostly responsible for blues/jazz-rock part of common sound), there, on their real debut, Jazz Q is much more comfortable jazz-fusion band, with very jazz-rock guitar solos, compositions with strong structure and quite pleasant, almost polished sound.

It's difficult for me to say now, what was the reason of such changes, but in fact Jazz Q missed some their experimental rebellion, without officering something adequately impressive.

They play very competent jazz fusion there, with good guitar line ( according to moment's fashion), and it will be not correct at all to say they are boring or non-professional. In fact, they play good fusion, but play it ... safe. Even with some jazzy r'n'b female vocals.

Still good album for classic guitar fusion lovers.

Jazz Q Praha + Modrý Efekt - 1970 - Coniunctio

Jazz Q Praha + Modrý Efekt 

01. Coniunctio I (19:15)
02. Návsteva u tety Markéty, vypití šálku caje / A visit to aunty Margaret for a cup of tea (6:00)
03. Asi pujdem se psem ven / Perhaps we'll probably take the dog out (7:15)
04. Coniunctio II (7:15)

Blue Effect / Modrý Efekt
- Vlado Cech / drums
- Radim Hladík / guitar, file, siren
- Jirí Kozel / bass, bells

+ Jazz Q Praha.
- Martin Kratochvil / piano, organ, trumpet-bassoon
- Jirí Pellant / bass
- Jirí Stivín / flute, piccolo, alto saxophone, chain, siren, pristofon, wood blocks, Hawaiian guitar
- Milan Vitoch / drums, harness bells

JAZZ Q was formed in 1964 by Martin Kratochvil (piano) and Jiri Stivin (woodwinds). In their early years, they were inspired by the late 50s free jazz happening in America. By the late 60s though, after becoming familiar with the English rock scene, Kratochvil decided to go in a more electric and groove-based direction. Jiri Stivin wasn't keen on playing this style and left shortly after recording their debut LP from 1970 "Coniunctio", which was a collaboration with a severed line-up of Blue Effect, and stylistically was a mish-mash of rock, fusion and free jazz. Kratochvil completely revamped the line-up with guitarist Lubos Andrst (Framus 5, Energit), bassist Vladimir Pudranek (Energit, ETC) and drummer Michal Vrbovec. In this line-up they recorded what may be their best known album "Watchtower". Frantisek Francl replaced Andrst and the band also worked with the English singer Joan Duggan on their next LP, "Symbiosis" from 1974.

Amongst the scores of sound-alike jazz-rock bands present at the time, JAZZ Q really found their own voice, although it could be argued that later stuff was more stylistically definable. JAZZ Q was also one of the few long-lasting Czech fusion bands, being active from 1964 till 1984. In 2004 they have regrouped in a classic lineup, although Francl is substituted by Zdenek Fiser, another jazz-rock veteran from the IMPULS fame.
antastic early jazz-rock album, combining two greatest Czech bands - Blue Effect and Jazz Q Praha. Second and last studio release still released by Blue Effect under such English name ( later under Socialist Czech government pressure they changed name for Modry Effekt, or just M Effekt).

Just four compositions, but what a bright, fresh and energetic free-jazz chaos they play there! Blue Effect, being a power trio with blues-rock roots, brings heavy electric guitar (by excellent guitarist Radim Hladik) and very energetic rock-jamming atmosphere. Jazz Q Praha is jazz quartet at his very early step mixing free jazz improvisation with jazz-rock knocking on the door ( the year is 1970). Their participation gave excellent flute, organ, acoustic piano and very free atmosphere as great addition to Blue Effect's power trio better structurized sound. (By the way, Jazz Q Praha flautist Jirí Stivín will participate on later Blue Effect albums).

Unique combination of two great components - free-jazz quartet and blues-rock based jamming power trio, both on their very early steps to fresh-born jazz fusion - gave very informal musicianship and have some pros against both band's later, more matured albums.

Absolute must have recordings for everyone interested in Eastern European jazz fusion roots. Originally released as LP in Czechoslovakia only, now it is available as Sony CD re-release.

Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band - 1973 - One

Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band

01. One 
02. Eastern Lunarterranium
03. Autumnal Equinox Harvest Dance
04. Soon After The Beginning
05. Amerizenitation
06. Birds Return To Hollywood
07. Shimmering 4

Lee Charlton
Richard Walter
Tom Doldinger

Although the Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band (GAEB) started in 1967 they remain one of the long lost and underestimated groups that explored the areas of sound sculpture, improvisation, experimental music and free jazz. The group have their roots in playing in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, and finally recorded their first LP in Los Angeles. Free jazz drummer Lee Charlton seemlessly shifs the moods from jazzy phrasing into the far more abstracted ideas of the world of sound sculpure. It is this abstract world where the GAEB mostly reside, using the invented instruments of multi-media artist Richard Waters, many of whose percussive and bowed instruments incorporate water filled resonators to bend and tune the sound. Although many other improvisors at the time like AMM, MEV, Sonde and Taj Mahal Travellers all made extensive use of home made and adapted instruments, the GAEB are a very different concern with their own unmistakeable identity. Their first LP “One” appeared in 1973 on Nocturne Records, a small Californian label. It was the first of their 2 LPs, the second appearing some 8 years later. This CD edition is a reissue of the first LP from the master tapes and also contains some 15 minutes of extra material from the time.


It's pretty amazing, that the Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band have been making music since 1967, and we hadn't even heard of them until about a week ago. Part of the reason might be that their first lp, released in 1973, was an ultra limited pressing on a tiny label. And that the second, in 1981, was equally hard to come by. Which is a shame as thisis some seriously Aquarius type stuff.

But better late than never, and boy are we digging this stuff like crazy. The whole concept and sound of GAEB was based around sculptor / musician Richard Waters and his hand made instruments, essentially sound making sculptures, many of which incorporated water filled resonators used to bend and tweak and twist the sounds. So cool. Just check out the list of instruments: diatonic sound generator, bazooki, pipe drums, Aeolian space horn, synthesizer, waterphones, mytar, saws, bass violin, horizontal and upright phoniums, birdcalls, microtonal revolving sound generator, sgourd (?), superball mallets, water gong drums, log drums, springs, keyboards, assorted gourds, Princess oil can and more. Phew. From the list you can pretty much deduce that the sound of One is mainly percussive, but calling this a percussion record would be way too reductive. Instead, this is a sprawling exploration of ambient sound, very reminiscent of GAEB's sonic compatriots Taj Mahal Travellers and AMM. The Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band take percussive sounds and spread them way out, letting the overtones and reverberations shimmer and merge, so while these are still distinctly rhythmic arrangements, with plenty of tolling and chiming and ringing peppered with random bits of clatter and clang, the various sounds and their after affects create soft billows of background burble, muted melodic murmurs and all manner of sweetly sonorous and slow shifting soundscapes, each track a lush sonic explorartion of bowed metals and vibrating strings, of objects both struck and stroked, a potential cacophony smoothed into lengthy dreamlike shimmers. So completely mesmerizing.

You can of course hear traces of modern outfits like Avarus, No Neck, Sunburned Hand and the like, bands who obviously owe quite a debt to groups like The Taj Mahal Travellers and GAEB, but the sounds on One manage to sound completely unique, perhaps because of the time period, or maybe the music making process, or even the instruments themselves, hand made and impossible to duplicate, most likely all of those things. Whatever the reasons, One is fantastic, a simply gorgeous, an intimate collection of improvised ambient beauty. (Aquarius)

Originally released in 1973 as a private press LP, 'One' is the first document of GAEB, a mysterious sextet of Californian improvisors. Formed in the late 60's by artist Richard Waters and jazz drummer Lee Charlton, the group made music using Waters's kinetic sculptures. His most important creation was the waterphone, a sort of acoustic synthesizer which used water in its resonators to produce warbling, tone bending vibrations similar to th edeep sea harmonies of humpback whales. Together with this extraordinary instrument, the group assembled a complex line-up which included musical saws, log drums, assorted gourds, bird calls and an Aeolian space horn, incorporating them all into elaborate, jazz-inflected space jams.

Their music was completely improvised, with sounds randomly thrown into the mix with the aim of creating a "free music atmosphere". As worthy as these intensions may have been, however, the music soon becomes a tangle of half-realised ideas centred more on the ingenuity of Waters's handmade instruments than the sounds they actually generated.

The extended version of the title track is the most convincing thing here, a bubbling jazz ramble firmly anchored by sturdy bass violin playing and kaleidoscopic drum patterns. As the track develops, however, the solid instrumental framework that holds the piece together slowly dismantles, as waves of ambient abstraction aimlessly crash into the composition and gradually pull it down.

While trace elements of the music of instrument builder Harry Bertoia, percussionist Christopher Tree's 'Spontaneous Sound' and Sun Ra's 'Strange Strings' occasionally flash to the surface on 'One' and the remaining tracks, the majority of the record is too loosely strung and ill-conceived to deliver the head charge that the cover's psychedelic drawing suggest is waiting inside. Edwin Pouncey (I have had to make some factual corrections to this underwhelming review - cheers mate) --- The Wire

Unlikely reissue from this legendary/lost free music ensemble in the vein of East Bionic Symphonia/AMM/Group Ongaku/MEV/Taj Mahal Travellers etc. Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band were active on the west coast of the USA from 1967 and recorded two hard-to-find albums, of which this CD reissues the first, originally issued on Nocturne Records in 1973, bundled with 15 minutes of extra, unreleased material from the time. Their sound is based around the use of invented instruments made by multi-media artist Richard Waters, bowed and plunked instruments that used water-filled resonators to amplify and warp the sound. The sound is a little like a free jazz orchestra playing no-mind hymns specifically attuned to the floating architectures of Harry Bertoia, with a ton of that endlessly refracted bowed drone sound of Takehisa Kosugi's early Taj Mahal work. Great to see this back in print: a mind-blower of the highest order and a beautifully unexpected (tho you hadda figure someone in that time/place would've tuned-in on the notion of the communal brain-erasing effect of mass cultic drone/jazz waveforms) piece of the puzzle. Highly recommended.--- Volcanic Tonque

I was just made aware that the album has been re-released and is available here: Bandcamp
So if you enjoyed it as much as I did... go buy it!

Gotic - 1978 - Escenes



01. Escenes de La Terra en Festa I de La Mar en Calma (4:02)
02. Imprompt I (5:53)
03. Jocs d' Ocells (3:33)
04. La Revolucio (4:08)
05. Danca d'Estiu (3:30)
06. I Tu Que Ho Veies Tot Tan Facil (5:39)
07. Historia d' una Gota d' Aigua (10:14)

- Rafael Escoté / bass, gong, claps
- Jordi Martí / drums, percussion, claps
- Jep Nuix / flute, piccolo, claps
- Jordi Vilaprinyó / keyboards, synthesizers

- Jordi Codina / classical guitar (7)
- Josep Albert Cubero / acoustic & electric guitars (2, 6, 7)
- Jordi Vidal / effects

The first thing I expected when I heard the name GOTIC mixed with Spain was a dark form of Flamenco, probably oriented towards the late Medieval period mixed with Spanish Inquisition, but it was just the opposite, GOTIC is light, optimistic and high quality music that gently combines the warm and relaxing sound of CAMEL with early PFM and roots in Spanish ethnic sounds from Cataluña, a great exponent of Spanish Symphonic.

The band was formed in the late 70's by the famous Rafael Escote in the bass, Jep Nuix (Flute and Piccolo), Jordi Vilaprinyo (Keyboards) and Jordi Marti in the drums and percussion.

As I said before the main influences of their only album Escenes released in 1978 are Camel and PFM, but there are some other easy to identify Prog references to Gentle Giant and some form of Fusion that reminds me of the Jazz-Symphonic sound of Chick Corea's keyboard in his RETURN TO FOREVER era.

The best track of the album is the 10:15 minutes Epic "Historia d'una Gota d'Aigua" (History of a Drop of Water) with the dramatic change between the relaxing introp and the breathtaking closing section.

Sadly they didn't had the chance to evolve because the debut album was more than promissory but as a consolation Rafael Escote has a very prolific career as member of the Fusion band Pegasus and as a soloist.

Gary Higgins - 1973 - Red Hash

Gary Higgins
Red Hash


01. Thicker Than a Smokey
02. It Didn't Take Too Long
03. Windy Child
04. Telegraph Tower
05. I Can't Sleep At Night
06. Cuckoo
07. I Pick Notes from the Sky
08. Stable the Spuds
09. Down On the Farm
10. Unable To Fly
11. Looking for June

Born in Sharon, Connecticut, Gary Higgins cut his musical teeth in 1960s New York, first in the psychedelic group Random Concept (which included Silver Apples founder Simeon Coxe) and later with avant-folkies Wooden Wheel.

In 1972, Higgins was caught up in a drug sting and faced serious charges. While awaiting sentence in early 1973, he realised that he might never again have the opportunity to make a record. Spurred by this sense of urgency, he recorded an album in a single forty-hour session with members of his two previous groups: Jake Bell (guitar, vocals), Maureen Wells (cello, vocals), Terry Fenton (piano, organ), Dave Beaujon (bass), and Paul Tierney (mandolin, flute, vocals). Besides singing and playing guitar, Higgins also played drums on a few cuts. Higgins was jailed soon after recording was completed, so final mixing and production was left to a dedicated group of supporters. The album was titled Red Hash (after a nickname given to the redheaded Higgins during his time in custody; this title was not chosen by Higgins) and self-released on the tiny Nufusmoon label. Although it received some airplay, Red Hash suffered from limited promotion and no live support, and failed to sell out its modest printing of a few thousand copies.

After serving thirteen months in prison, Higgins held down a series of jobs in the Connecticut/New York area, eventually marrying and raising a son. He performed with a number of local groups and continued to write and record music, but he did not seek to release any of this material commercially and quickly faded into obscurity.

During the 1990s-2000s, a small cult of devotion bloomed around Red Hash, a cult that included Ben Chasny (of Six Organs of Admittance) and Sub Pop staffer Zach Cowie. Together they spent nearly two years attempting to locate Higgins before Cowie (by then at Drag City) finally managed to track him down in late 2004. Cowie then signed Higgins to Drag City and oversaw the first official re-release of Red Hash in July 2005. Soon after, Higgins played his first ever solo show, supported by members of Random Concept and his guitarist son, Graham.

Higgins's second album, aptly titled Seconds, was released in September 2009. Higgins was once again backed by the Random Concept, now featuring guitarists Graham Higgins and Dave VandeBogart alongside his lifelong friends Dave Beaujon and Terry Fenton.

We've always marveled over the way popular success works ... While a certain amount of talent is necessary, frequently success seems to be largely a result of fate and dumb luck. Take a guy like Connecticut's Dave Higgins. Basically a folkie, he's every bit as talented as someone like Michael Murphy, or Dan Fogelberg. Unlike Murphy and Fogelberg, Higgins never enjoyed anything even remotely akin to popular success. How come?

The early-'70s found Higgins imprisoned in a Connecticut jail. With help from States Attorney Francis McDonald (thanked for her assistance in the liner notes), in 1973 he cut an album for the small Nufusmoon label. (We're not sure whether he was still imprisoned, or whether he cut the album after getting out of jail.) Co-produced by Higgins and Chico Cardillo, "Red Hash" was surprisingly accomplished. Material such as "Telegraph Tower", "I Pick Notes from the Sky" and "Unable To Fly" was largely acoustic folk in nature, though "It Didn't Take Too Long" and a couple of other songs featured a full band. For his part Higgins' had a great voice, played great acoustic guitar, injecting most of the set with an engaging "real person" edge (to check out those credentials be sure to check out the dark and disturbing "Cuckoo" and the mystifying "Down On the Farm"). Interestingly, a number of references compare the album to Merrell Fankhauser and Mu. The comparison is certainly there. Tracks such as "Thicker Than a Smokey", "Windy Child" and "I Can't Sleep At Night" have the same drifty, pseudo-psych feel that makes the Mu records so cool. While many hyped micro-presses are simply shit*y, this one's an exception and is well worth the asking price. (In case you care, this one's also listed in Han's Pokara's 3,001 Record Collector's Dreams.)

Fontessa - 1978 - Fontessa 2 (Heavy Days Are Here Again)

Fontessa 2 (Heavy Days Are Here Again)

01. Hip Shakin' Daddy
02. Gotta Look Up Under Your Hood
03. I Only Know My Name
04. Going Down Slow
05. Will You Be There Tomorrow
06. Lonely Wind
07. You Got Me Doing Things
08. One of These Days

Frank Vanden Kloot: Electric and acoustic guitar, vocals
Shel Schellekens: Drums, vocals
Jan Vermeulen: Bass guitar
Okkie Huysdens: Keyboards, vocals
Jan Rietman: Keyboards

Frank Van Der Kloot - 1976 - Fontessa

Frank Van Der Kloot 

01. Old Friends    
02. In The Cool Of The Night I    
03. In The Cool Of The Night II    
04. Take It Easy    
05. Finale    
06. Dedicated To......    
07. Stress    
08. Heaven Is Across The Street I    
09. Heaven Is Across The Street II    
10. Heaven Is Across The Street III    

Frank Van Der Kloot — electric & acoustic guitar
Paul Heppener — bass
Otto Cooymans — Fender piano, organ, synthesizer
James Batton — vocals, synthesizer, Fender piano
Paul Van Wageningen — drums

And in this second 1976 outing, the progressiveness is quite to the fore, mostly instrumentals which remind us of Finch and Focus, sometimes the one, sometimes the other, in almost alternating tracks recalling one or other of the F'ey influences here, occasionally smooth, by turns harder edged, all of it on a slick and gorgeous guitar (a Les Paul?) evocatively flying the melodies, almost anthropomorphic in the bent notes and tender slides and bluesy flats that sing so closely to us, so directly into our hearts.  Perhaps many will agree with me, the greatest invention in patented musical apparati in the history of man / woman (do they agree though?) is the electric guitar, with coming a close second or tie the electric piano, in particular, the Rhodes sound. 

A very enjoyable album you will see, not too complex at all to tax the frontal lobes, but of course our tired lives cannot withstand too much of the atonal difficulties, we yearn for something more approachable after a day's listening to Zig Zag or somesuch similar and dealing with idiots in accounts receivable or collections agencies...

I particularly adore the 'long track' chopped in subsections called "Heaven is across the street."  Surely this deserves to be transformed fully into a work of poetry, as it aspires to be.

Fontessa - 1973 - Fontessa


01. What Is Man
02. Victum Of The Past
03. I’ll Never Let You Down
04. Necernomicon
05. Friends
06. Epilog

Frank Van Der Kloot — guitars, vocals (03), producer
Shel Schellekens — drums (01 — 05), acoustic guitar (03), bass (03), producer
Ritchie Hamilton — voice (01, 02)
Jan Visser — bass (01 — 03, 05)
Peter Vink — bass (04)
Eric Tagg — Fender piano (05)

 Frank van der Kloot started his musical career in a band called Bobby's Children. He played with them from 1971 until 1972. He then formed the band Drama with whom he recorded an album.

In 1973 he formed his own band Fontessa, together with the Drama drummer Shel Schellekens. In 1974 they recorded an album and a year later a single was released, A look in your eyes/Where have you been.

After the decline of Fontessa Van de Kloot recorded a solo album, in 1976, also titled Fontessa.

Then, in 1978, a second solo album is released. He is currently the owner of a guitar shop in the Hague.