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Old 03-19-2009, 02:26 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Okkkay then...here's another review for the hell of it.

The Vampires of Dartmoore - Dracula's Music Cabinet (1969)


Track Listing

1. The Torture Chamber Of Dr. Sex (2:04)
2. Crime And Horror (2:48)
3. The Fire-Dragon Of Hongkong (2:38)
4. Murder In The Ohio Express (2:34)
5. Dance Of The Vampires (2:34)
6. Hallo, Mister Hitchc*ck (2:06)
7. The Executioner Of Dartmoore (2:29)
8. Killer's End (2:17)
9. The Soaked Body (2:38)
10. A Handful Of Nitro (2:08)
11. Dr. Caligaris Creeps-Cabinet (2:54)
12. Frankenstein Greets Alpha 7 (2:25)

Of the various obscure bands in my collection, stuff like this ranks among the weirdest for sure. The Vampires of Dartmoore were a short-lived psychedelic, garage-Krautrock outfit who put forth this single release before vanishing off the face of the planet soon after (1969 must not have been that great year for German rock bands = /). Unfortunately, I can't tell any of you much about the band itself: there's like, no information ANYWHERE about the members on the web, which makes this album's existence even more mysterious/dubious than normal. I mean sure, there were as many one shot bands back in those days as there were stars in the sky, but with a group like this, it just seems really odd that there's no background info...

*cough*. Anyway... as the title suggests, Dracula's Music Cabinet is something like a soundtrack to a kind of low-budget 1960's horror movie, featuring screams, evil cackling, sounds of torture and moans amidst the bass, guitar, sax, freaky sounds, industrial drumming and moody Hammond organ which all mix freely into something that sounds...novel to say the least, even 40 years after its creation. Dogs barking, the laughter of a mad scientist, the looming of an old house against the terror that a full moon brings...it all just visualizes so easily as you are drawn into record's groove, and I generally have difficulty visualizing any kind of scene when I listen to music of any sort.

Basically, the whole experience of going through this album is so strange, sleazy and different from the usual fare (and this is coming from a love of avant-garde here), that I can only consider it a masterpiece. Its left that strong an impression on me within a year.

So on a final note, I'll personally PM Dracula's Music Cabinet to anyone who is interested/brave enough to give it a try. Love it, hate it, care less for it...I can say with certainty that once your ears get a taste of it, you won't forget it. Ever.

Album Verdict: 7/7

Oh yah, here's a video some fan made with the track "Dance of the Vampires" as the background music.
This sounds excellent man, its now on the list for the next record hunt

Cheers
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:12 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Okay everyone, time for a straight-up review of one of my favorite obscure albums of all time, and one that some of you may even recognize if you've been paying attention.

Brainticket - Cottonwoodhill (1971)


Track Listing

1. Black Sand (4:05)
2. Places Of Light (4:06)
3. Brainticket (26:12)
- Pt. I (8:21)
- Pt. I Conclusion (4:36)
- Pt. II (13:14)


"After Listening to this Record, your friends may not know you anymore!"
"Only listen to this once a day. Your brain might be destroyed!"

The two above sentences were the warnings issued on the inside of the vinyl cover of Cottonwoodhill after a limited number of copies hit stores back in 1971, the debut album of a bunch of Swedes led by the very mentally unstable multi-instrumentalist Joel Vandroogenbroeck. Although other records would follow this one from him (the original lineup broke up after this work), none would be as ****ed up as this one, perhaps due in part that they all stopped doing massive amounts of LSD during recording sessions (and hence got freaked out and left after the recording session).

Personally, I am of the opinion this is a rather dangerous album (especially the title track on side 2) to anyone who does drugs of any kind. Those warnings that were on the original vinyl really were there in all seriousness: Putting this on while you aren't in the right frame of mind as some people did back then when they heard this will inevitably cause bad trips and terrible nightmares. 'Cause For every wah-wah guitar grooving solo there is dissonance and darkness, and back then even the trippiest music was positive to a point. However, there is nothing happy or positive about Cottonwoodhill. Only stark-raving madness with something sinister along its borders, and to some that is what set it apart and above from almost anything done back then.

Also, there is no singing, but only the insanely doped up Timothy Leary-esque ranting of Dawn Miur, the female "vocalist". Spoken-word sequences compliment this sort of mind-expanding music very well, and its interesting and hypnotic even if you aren't really paying attention.

As with what I said about Dracula's Music Cabinet when I reviewed it, this is yet another album not for the faint of ear. Cottonwoodhill's effects on the human mind were thought to be so damaging that it was even BANNED in France, Italy and the U.K. upon its initial release. It is, without a doubt, the best goddamn piece of psychedelic music ever committed to record, but that doesn't mean this is the best place to start if you are curious about mind-altering rock. Climbing Mt. Everest before at-least hiking around the Rockies some is sorta silly ya know?

Basically en finale, this has been on my personal top ten list of albums I have ever heard for a long time now, and there is nothing else that truly matches it in either sound nor in its insidious reputation among those who feared what would happen to people when drugs and music were paired together.

This, my friends, is a rare example of an essential album that goes beyond merely being a genre hightlight; it's aural entropy of the greatest, most elusive kind. My rating system would be destroyed trying to place a grade on it. To those who are not afraid of weird ****...GO GET THIS

Album Verdict: #$%&/7

Also, here is track 2, Places of Light, for those who want a very tame taste of what Brainticket have to offer thy ears.
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:02 PM   #53 (permalink)
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Meh; all that means is I have to revamp my grading scale some, which I'll go ahead and try out on this upcoming review.

1: Excrement
2: Trash, but there is the potential of promise in an area or two.
3: Average
4: One or two great tracks, but otherwise unexceptional.
5: Very good. Anything at this grade or higher is worthy of recommendation.
6: Classic status/exceptional. Not quite flawless, but milestones nevertheless.
7: Perfection. Transcends the genre to become something of potential universal meaning.

I'll be re-evaluating all my past reviews with this scale, and will also be posting this back on my first post.

Anyway....all that aside, I've got an album today that gives Leaf Hound's Growers of Mushroom a run for its money. Sorry Comus!! xD

T2 - It'll All Work Out In Boomland (1970)



Track Listing

1. In Circles (8:34)
2. J.L.T. (5:44)
3. No More White Horses (8:35)
4. Morning (21:14)
5. Questions And Answers (5:17)
6. CD (7:01)

T2 was a hard-rock band trio with a remarkable, if rather brief, resume to go with before the recording of their one and only record It'll All Work Out In Boomland back in 1970. Keith Cross, only 17 years old and fresh out of playing at the Isle of Wight Festival with Hendrix himself, had proven that despite his young age that he was a cunning wizard with the guitar, and together with bandmates vocalist Peter Dunton and bassist Bernard Jinks managed to land a recording session with the influential Decca Records (who, interestingly enough, own the recording studios where Wishbone Ash did most of their studio work).

The result of Keith Cross's efforts, an almagation of Cream, Hendrix and the sort of looseness you'd expect from some jazz outfit of the era, is an album that rings powerful and full of weight while still being remarkable in it's seamless ability to shift tone on a dime into acoustic psychedelia. Each track turns in on themselves a number of times, possessing the rare quality of smooth transition from one movement to the next. Take the 21 minute side-long 'Morning' for instance; it rises from an acousting dream over the first few minutes, gradually picking up the pace as the guitar's wailing shreds nicely, slows, shreds. But then, suddenly around the 10 minute mark, the drums and guitar have switched roles, with fantastic rythyms a'la Santana at the forefront of your mind while the guitar and bass morph spacily in the background. It's awesome!

An album like Boomland is interesting for several reasons. It approaches things more experimentally at times than the usual hard rock album of the late 60's, but never forgets its roots while pursuing these tendencies. It remains fun, heavy and head-banging even with longer than 4-minute songs and a 21-minute suite. T2 were a band, that even if it was only for one album, knew exactly what they were doing and what they wanted to do; they wanted to take the kind of rock n' roll Cream, Hendrix and the rest had pioneered and make it a bit more interesting.

Whether or not they succeeded, Keith Cross and company, is up to those who hear this album to decide. Could this have been among the most promising debuts of all time or a one-hit wonder that deserves it status in obscurity?

Either way, the awesomeness of Boomland is indisputable in my book, and hence I recommend it to lovers of all that is hard and rock in the years when it was done best. Thumbs up!

On a final note, here is Circles, the first track, for the curious on YouTube. Enjoy!



Album Verdict: 5.9/7
Great album this, gets regular rotation on my playlist. Never decided to review it since I couldn't tackle the review properly. And because it pisses me off so much that T2 is some random *** techno fail.

Great review though.
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Old 04-25-2009, 06:33 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Gentle Giant - Acquiring The Taste (1971)



Track Listing

1. Pantagruel's Nativity (6:50)
2. Edge Of Twilight (3:47)
3. The House, The Street, The Room (6:01)
4. Acquiring The Taste (1:36)
5. Wreck (4:36)
6. The Moon Is Down (4:45)
7. Black Cat (3:51)
8. Plain Truth (7:36)

"Acquiring the taste is the second phase of sensory pleasure. If you've gorged yourself on our first album, then relish the finer flavours (we hope) of this, our second offering. It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts on blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste."

- Gentle Giant
Linear notes from ATT


And so we begin with a pretentious proclamation and a giant tongue salivating, along with the music industry's ginormous ass sticking up towards the tongue. The year is 1971, a year often overlooked by progheads (bar Yes's Fragile) in favor of the the next few when many staples in the genre would hit shelves everywhere. Weirded out yet? Well don't be; Gentle Giant's sophomore record, Acquiring The Taste, just happens to be what the title infers...a flavour that may freak you out at first lick, but with time grows over you like moss. Strange, angry in a Bartok way, and sometimes even quirky in its medievel styling blues/jazz-rock layerings, this is high-grade stuff even when compared with the works of other bands in the same ballpark, though it is somewhat inaccessible. Still, like Demi Moore, this is the kind of stuff that gets better with...well, more listening!

In regards to the tracklist itself; Gentle Giant's musical approach has oftentime thematically borrowed ideas from French satirist Francois Rabelais, such as the character Pantagruel for "Pantagruel's Nativity", and their appreciation for that man's views shows in the music itself. The opening section is particularly awesome, as the keyboards and Moog actually sound like guitar here. You also have several meditations on melancholia and the night here in the tracks "Edge of Twlight" and "Black Cat", both wonderful; the former is thoughtful, the latter something like R&B crossed with chamber music. The title track is another high point; although real short, it manages to milk freaky keyboaring for all its worth; it'd be perfect for some Atari game soundtrack back in the arcade days. And this is only the beginning!

Overall, I am of the opnion that this is a particularly striking album and recommended to people who are looking for something less than conventional from a band already quite well known for being offbeat. Like it or not, at least you'll be impressed, if not surprised.

Album Verdict: 6/7


Pantagruel's Nativity (Opening track)
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:00 AM   #55 (permalink)
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Great review! Including the proclamation was especially nice and and GG kicks ass of course though I've yet to acquire the taste myself. I'll start acquiring soon, though.

edit :

Been acquiring a bit lately and found this to be, as you write, an excellent album Yet another good music tip from Anty! I predict this album will be played many times in my near and far futures. Many thanks!
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:49 PM   #56 (permalink)
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Grobschnitt - Rockpommel's Land (1977)



Track Listing

1. Ernie's Reise (10:56)
2. Severity Town (10:05)
3. Anywhere (4:13)
4. Rockpommel's Land (20:55)
5. Tontillon (6:15)

An obscure and weirdly childish concept album about a boy named Ernie and a giant magical red bird named Maraboo that transports him to a fantastical reality where they go on lots of adventures together, brought to you by one of Germany's most interesting bands from the 70's, a group called Grobschnit that formed out of the remains of 60's psychedelic rock group The Crew in 1970 and who as the 80's arrived would produce several mainstream New Wave/pop-rock albums for radio. Still, as of the making of this album, those evil AOR years are still far in the future, and in 1977 at the end of progressive rock's time in the spotlight, this band still had one arguablyy great work left in them.

To be honest though, this sort of stuff would normally be hard to swallow even for the most dedicated progressive rock fans if it weren't for Grobschnitt's uncanny ability to inject genuine humor into the compositions, along with some fairly memorable melodic progressions that remind me quite a bit of Yes without actually sounding like them, and a vocalist who can actually sing worth a damn in English. The humour is a particular highlight; for example, take the news broadcast interjection at the 7:04 mark in 'Ernie's Reise":

"This evening a huge bird was seen carrying a little boy on his back in a height of about 3.000 feet right above sector 0/16. The bird was carrying some beer-bottles, a bag with vegetables, was lit contrary to regulations and was smoking a pipe. We instruct all planes cruising this sector to observe this incident. Over."

Gotta hand it to Grobschnitt here; interjections like these really set them apart from their English proggy counterparts back in the day. Perhaps the genre as a whole would have probably stuck around on the charts a little longer if more bands took themselves less seriously eh?

So, for fans who are looking for Germany's best in the short-lived German progressive rock scene, look no further than this simple symphonic illustration of a boy and a giant bird's journey into wonderland. Whether you laugh at its absurdity or simply nod admiringly at this silly band's attempt at a masterwork, I guarantee there's a good time for anyone who checks out Rockpommel's Land.

Album Verdict: 6.3/7
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:57 AM   #57 (permalink)
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Ambrosia - Ambrosia (1975)



Track Listing

1. Nice, Nice, Very Nice (5:49)
2. Time Waits For No One (5:01)
3. Holdin' On To Yesterday (4:19)
4. World Leave Me Alone (3:17)
5. Make Us All Aware (4:28)
6. Lover Arrive (3:12)
7. Mama Frog (6:05)
8. Drink Of Water (6:29)


Yes, these are the same Californian douchebags that are responsible for many Top 40 hits in the late 70's and who did all that touring with The Doobie Brothers and Heart. For many they sound like the sort of band you'd want to avoid like you would Herpes and Scientologists. And yet...you would be wrong!

Go back far enough, and you'll find youself a progressive rock debut that is so infectious you'll do a double take merely by hearing it; are these really the same dudes who did "Biggest Part of Me"? Strangely enough yes, which makes the story behind this band's formation even funnier; as Crosby/Nash/Stills worshipping teenagers they heard King Crimson at a concert in San Pedro back in 1971 and in a single night their musical lives changed forever; after playing together awhile for the next four years and sending out a bunch of demo tapes, Warner Bros. went on to sign them and had Alan Parsons shipped out from the U.K. to give them the sound production they deserved.

The result? Nothing short of mindblowing. It produced two hit single songs, yet the music was complex, polyrythmic, sometimes very jazzy, and thanks to Parsons sounds dynamite even 30+ years later. Great lyrical sense and gorgeous vocals top the package off nicely, but the songs themselves are wonderfully varied as well; "Make Us All Aware" and "Mama Frog" are brilliant slices Gentle Giant-esque progressive rock with Motown sensibility, and "Holdin' On To Yesterday" is one of those rediculously gorgeous songs that can define an entire decade of music in 4 little minutes. But these are merely examples; there's not a single weak track on here, and with clocking at 38 minutes or so makes it a very good album for people being introduced to the poppier side of 1970's progressive rock.

Although they lightened up a fair amount after this self-titled debut and its immediate followup, I would highly recommend this album to anyone and everyone who appreciates what happens when a South Californian pop band begins to write songs like King Crimson, Yes or Gentle Giant would. A very fun listen from start to finish!

Album Verdict: 6.6/7

Oh, and here's a live performance of Mama Frog for you guys' enjoyment.

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Old 06-01-2009, 11:57 AM   #58 (permalink)
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Grobschnitt was really weird, I liked it but I wasn't sure if I thought the humour was just awkward or genius. I have to chew on that one a bit more, but the music certainly wasn't bad. Ambrosia, judging from your review, is something I have to get my hands on - and I'm looking forward to it already!

Great reviews!
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:55 PM   #59 (permalink)
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Lemon Jelly - Lost Horizons (2002)



Track Listing

1. Elements (8:41)
2. Space Walk (7:03)
3. Ramblin' Man (7:08)
4. Return to Patagonia (8:41)
5. Nice Weather for Ducks (6:08)
6. Experiment No. 6 (5:54)
7. Closer (7:24)
8. The Curse of Ka'Zar (9:01)

Everyone has an ideal soundtrack to doing nothing to. Maybe its folk. Maybe its Sonic Youth. Hell, there are probably weirdos out there who lay back on sunny green hills and stare at the clouds while listening to Mr. Bungle. The world is full of all kinds after all.

For me, the album to listening to while lazing about is a breezy little gem from 2002 called Lost Horizons, the work of the less-than-prolific duo Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin under the moniker of Lemon Jelly, where along with about a thousand other contributors bring to life colorful sample-littered soundscapes which cross such diverse territories as Return to Forever-eque jazz-fusion (The Curse Of Ka'Zar) to cinematic lounge-house (Experiment Number Six), and awe-inspiring dream-tred soundscapes that hurl your auditory senses through sky and space alike (Closer, Space Walk). Much of it has a sort of Eastern vibe in the drums and guitar, but nothing blatent enough to point out directly. If anything, it complements this album greatly and gives it bite compared to other records of its ilk.

In short, for an ambient album (electronic tendencies aside), this is a rather diverse offering; the tracks all exude different moods and hence there's something here for everyone. The production quality is vibrant to say the least and there's enough going on beneath the surface to reward those that pay attention. For everyone else though, a good deal of this falls into the sort of tuneage you'd play on a walk down the street, alone in a quiet place or in the midst of doing something else. You can pay attention to it, but its not necessary to enjoy it, and hence this succeeds as an album for me.

Hence, if you are seeking a laid-back yet energetic diversity in your ambient/electronica collections, Lost Horizons is something to look for. Here's two tracks for sampling purposes-



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Quote:
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You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:58 AM   #60 (permalink)
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Just thought I'd let you know that this is an exceptionally interesting thread. I've just been skimming it pretty lightly so far, but I've already seen a good bit of stuff that I'll definitely need to give a thorough checking out when I get back to my house in a couple weeks. Highlights:
Gentle Giant - Wasn't familiar with these guys, very cool track and interesting vocal style that I didn't like at all at first, but had grown on me quite a bit before the end of the track. I also enjoyed the solo, which I found to be sabbath-esque
Pazop
The Vampires of Dartmoore - Instantly loved this severely awesome track, and I think you know why
Brainticket - I'm sitting completely alone listening to this. At the beginning I'm just enjoying the organ/flute heavy funkish instrumental. 20 seconds after the vocals kick in, it momentarily scares the living **** outta me. This is amazing, to state it lightly.

Keep up the good work
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