Sunday, May 20, 2018

JAN DUKES De GREY – Mice And Rats In The Loft (Transatlantic Records / LP-1971)

Label: Transatlantic Records – TRA 234
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1971
Style: Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, Acoustic, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Tangerine Studios, London, 1971.
Design [Sleeve] – Caroline Browne
Photography By – Keith Morris
Engineer – Robin Sylvester
Producer – Stuart Taylor
Written-By – D. Noy
1st Original UK Pressing
Matrix / Runout (runout stamped A): TRA 234 A - 1U
Matrix / Runout (runout stamped B): TRA 234 B - 2U

A  -  Sun Symphonica .......................................................................................... 18:58
B1 - Call Of The Wild ........................................................................................... 12:48
B2 - Mice And Rats In The Loft ............................................................................. 8:19

Michael Bairstow – flute, clarinet, saxophonebass, organ
Derek Noy – guitar [acoustic/electric], trumpet, trombone, strings [zelda chord]vocals
Denis Conlan – drums, percussion

JAN DUKES DE GREY is one of the most underrated progressive bands of our time, and only released two albums in their short life span. JAN DUKES DE GREY formed in Leeds, UK in 1969 and were one of the very last prog rock bands to be signed to Decca's prog label. They originally started out as a duo.
Their first album, "Sorcerers" was a typical acid folk album, not particularly adventerous but showcased Derek Noy's and Michael Bairstow's multi-instrumental talents... 
But their greatest work was to come, with the addition of drummer Denis Conlan they recorded their masterpiece "Mice And Rats In The Loft" in 1971. Consisting of three lengthy, psych drenched tracks, It was a lot more free form than their last and had much more progressive leaning. Mindblowing use of a huge assortment of instruments, even utilizing an orchestra.
Sadly the album made little impact, and JAN DUKES DE GREY disbanded after its release. A brilliant recording that never recieved its proper praise. Highly recommended!

_1    This obscure gem of an album could well be considered as a folky version of Van Der Graaf Generator !! Jan Dukes De Grey are unique in every way - from the diverse instrumentation handled by only 3 musicians, the way they utilise strange chords, key changes and varying tempos, to the very personal style of vocal expression. Consisting of 3 lengthy pieces ; Side 1 is taken up by 'Sun Symphonica', a near 19 minute excursion through a variety of moods, textures and colour. Heavily dominated by acoustic instruments, its initial melody suggests a cheerful, sunny vibe, with heavy drums, and some great saxophone. Quickly comes a most unpredictable change of pace, almost psychotic - the drummer starts up a manic beat, and this is built upon by dischordant acoustic guitar and wild sax playing. The singer sounds very shakey in his delivery, but never actually tumbles over the edge. After this section, a lighter movement starts with an orchestral backing, this part is absolutely beautiful. The flute playing adds a quite peaceful and rustic feel to the music. This then merges into a darker part, the core sound of guitar/sax/drums and orchestral strings is embellished by hand percussion, with the singer getting a chance to let loose a bit. The last section features an awesome riff, with weird sounds, horn squawks and off-key harmonica insertions. A vibraphone tinkles away as the song comes to a stop. This is just a basic run-down of this really amazing piece of music actually, there's just so much going on in between. Side 2 track 1 - 'Call Of The Wild' (12.48) starts out very folky, with multi-part vocals, flute and strummed acoustic, quite reminiscent of the Incredible String Band, as is often cited. The tune moves along with stunning guitar play for some minutes, showing off the considerable skills of Derek Noy. He is always playing something different so it never ceases to amaze the listener. A full band sound is achieved when the drums, sax and bass (which is reputed to be a 'cello played like a bass') kick in with some energetic jamming, from which the song is brought to a close with a guitar/sax combination. Title-track 'Mice And Rats In The Loft' (8.19) is a relentless piece of music, driven along by acidic wah-wah guitar and an incessant beat. This one doesn't change much, but doesn't outstay its welcome, either. This is an album which will undoubtedly take a few listens to appreciate and follow, but it is quite a masterpiece within the whole Progressive Folk category - few albums I've heard within this sub-genre reach the inspired heights and creativity of this, special album.       (Review by Tom Ozric / Prog Reviewer)

_2    Wowh! I love this record, first because of his reputation, his style (acid folk), his artwork and it's magical appeal it had on me. Second, after three spins I realised I could never again rate an other album five stars before comparing it to this masterpiece of all masterpieces!
Jan Dukes's sound can be discribed as eclectic prog with lot's of folk and psychedelics. The overall vibe isn't comparable to Jethro Tull, for this is way more real folk. It's more acoustic, it has great use of many many instruments played just by three people. One can hear acoustic and electric guitars, violins, bass, drums, harmonica, organ, trumpet, flute, a lot's of percussion, clarinet and saxophone. Though the band consisted of just three members the album sounds like it's a complete orchestra. The acoustic guitars are played very very aggressively! The vocals of Derek Noy are beautiful and confronting, the lyrics are very dark. The rhythms are or and intelligent interpretation of the folk tradition or inspired by trippy rock music like the Can would play (up-tempo psycho beat). Such an awkward combination, but still a winning formula.
Sun Symphonica is a 19 minute epic that has it all. Some melodic intro-parts with optimistic vocals, some almost gothic-like folk parts (the bombastic, intensive sound is hard to discribe), trippy acid rhythms, orchestral string sections playing accents, vocals as if screaming from the highest mountain and a part with a lot of different solo's on different instruments. This is one my all-time favourite epics.
Call of the Wild continues the atmospheres of side one but this track has particularly aggressive acoustic guitar playing alongside gentle folk parts. The solo guitar parts are very powerful.
Mice and Rats in the Loft has a different vibe. The guitar are electric and the song is heavier and more trippy then the others. This is the true acid part of the album. Really psychedelic!
Conclusion. No need for a conclusion. Everyone should own this, not matter what genre's you prefer. Five stars. One of the best record ever recorded!
(Review by friso / Prog Reviewer)

If you find it, buy this album!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

BRAVE NEW WORLD – Impressions On Reading Aldous Huxley (LP-1972)

Label: Vertigo – 6360 606
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Krautrock, Experimental, Free Improvisation, Prog Rock
Recorded in Studio Maschen on May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 14th and June 9th, 11th.
Mixed on June 11th,24th and 26th.
Engineer [Sound Engineer] – Thomas Kukuck
Producer – John O'Brien-Docker
Published By – Team Musikverlag
Lacquer Cut At – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft Pressing Plant
Pressed By – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft Pressing Plant
Released in a laminated fold-out cover on a ''swirl'' Vertigo label.
Matrix / Runout (Side A runout, stamped): 10 AA6360606 1Y 320 B 1
Matrix / Runout (Side B runout, stamped): 10 AA6360606 2Y 320 B 1 1

A1 - Prologue  (J. O'Brien-Docker, R. Firchow) .......................................................... 1:01
A2 - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon...Ford  (J. O'Brien-Docker) ....................... 7:38
A3 - Lenina  (H. Geller, J. O'Brien-Docker) ................................................................ 4:21
A4 - Soma  (H. Geller, J. O'Brien-Docker) .................................................................. 5:18
A5 - Malpais Corn Dance  (J. O'Brien-Docker) ........................................................... 3:24
B1 - The End  (J. O'Brien-Docker, R. Firchow) ......................................................... 17:42
B2 - Epilogue  (J. O'Brien-Docker, R. Firchow) .......................................................... 1:28

Arranged By – Herb Geller (track: A3), John O'Brien-Docker (tracks: A1, A2, A4 to B2)

John O'Brien-Docker   acoustic & electric guitars, organ, percussion, wind chimes, vocals
Herb Geller   flutes [C / bass], alto flute, cor Anglais, alto/soprano/tenor saxes, organ
Reinhart Firchow   recorders, flutes [bamboo, lotus, reed], ocarina , stylophone, percussion
Lucas Lindholm    bass, double bass [bass fiddle], organ, piano
Dicky Tarrach   drums, percussion
Esther Daniels (voice [spoken] on A3)

Reissued on vinyl on Austria Record Finder ‎– ARF 099 (Unofficial Release, 2009. / Limited to 500 copies), but ______Out Of Stock__

A short-lived Hamburg based project, featuring Irishman John O'Brien-Docker (formerly of City Preachers and Marcel) and jazzer Herb Geller, along with a few top local rock musicians. An unlikely "supergroup", and remarkably the music they created was unprecedented and original. On their LP, Brave New World blended styles, in such an unlikely manner, hinting at the music later created by the likes of Art Zoyd or Univers Zero. Virtually instrumental, blending medieval musics, electronics, jazz and rock in a dazzlingly complex fusion, a big step beyond early Between, with the Krautrock feel of Annexus Quam, Achim Reichel, Tomorrow's Gift, et al.

Exceptional psych-electronic rock experimentations by an one obscure 70's band from Germany. This album is said to be inspired by Aldous Huxley's famous, enchanting writings & mystical philosophy. It's clear that the entirety of the album is assured by a vast arsenal of weird incantations and deep hallucinogenic effects. The content is very colourful, luminous, eclectic and perfectly orchestrated. Nothing is linear or boring and the psych grooves work like magic. It's not easy to understand in one listening the complexity of this release. In some aspects it tends to be near to kraut-experimentations but without the sinister vibe, the ambiences provided are rather optimistic and enthusiastic. The prologue is based on dreamy like flute lines and tranced out organic drones. "Alpha Beta Gamma" is an epic, progressive spacey rock composition dominated by soft, floating sounding improvisations. "Lenina" is an enigmatic, fragile, celestial song for the flute, moody bass lines, a beautiful air. "Soma" is a really stoned, kraut, outer space experience, featuring a lot of intergalactic electronic sounds and a massive rocking energy! "The end" is the central piece here, a majestic "cosmic" rock essay with lot of guitars, sax, dreamy flutes and weird effects. Epilogue is a recitation. A mesmeric, highly inspired psychedelic album. A great classic, I dare say a masterpiece!

(Review by philippe /

If you find it, buy this album!

Monday, May 7, 2018

TIMOTHY LEARY and ASH RA TEMPEL – Seven Up (Die Kosmischen Kuriere / Ohr – KK 58.001 / LP-1973)

Label: Die Kosmischen Kuriere/Ohr – KK 58.001 / (KK 58 001)
(Catalogue number variations are: KK 58.001 on record labels, KK 58001 on cover)
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1973
Style: Krautrock, Psychedelic
Recorded: August 1972, at Sinus-Studio, Berne / Switzerland.
Design [Cover] – Peter Geitner
Painting [Cover Paintings] – Walter Wegmüller
Recorded By – Dieter Dierks
Recorded By [Sinus-studio] – Kurt Zimmermann
Directed By – Timothy Leary
Lyrics By – Brian Barritt, Timothy Leary
Music By – Ash Ra Tempel
Arranged By – Brian Barritt
Matrix / Runout (Side A runout, stamped): 0664 258 = 2 S 1 58 001 A ℗ 1973 320
Matrix / Runout (Side B runout, stamped): 0664 258 = 2 S 2 58 001 B ℗ 1973 320

SPACE .............................................................................................................. 16:03
        A.a - Downtown
        A.b - Power Drive
        A.c - Right Hand Lover
        A.d - Velvet Genes
TIME ................................................................................................................. 21:15
        B.a - Timeship
        B.b - Neuron
        B.c - SHe

Timothy Leary  /  voice
Manuel Göttsching  /  guitar, electronics
Hartmut Enke  /  bass, guitar, synthesizer [electronics]
Portia Nkomo  /  voice
Michael Duwe  /  voice, flute
Steve Schroyder  /  organ, [electronics] synthesizer
Dietmar Burmeister  /  drums
Tommy Engel  /  drums
Klaus D. Mueller  /  performer (no role specified / tambourine ?)
Dieter Dierks  /  synthesizer, other [radio downtown]
Brian Barritt, Liz Elliot, Bettina Hohls  /  voices

Seven Up is the third studio album by German krautrock band Ash Ra Tempel and their only album recorded in collaboration with American psychologist/drug advocate Timothy Leary. It was first released in 1973.
Seven Up was mainly recorded at the Sinus Studio in Bern, Switzerland in August 1972. Some tracks, like the vocals on "Downtown" by Portia Nkomo and Michael Duwe, were recorded later at Studio Dieter Dierks near Cologne, Germany.
Timothy Leary was living in exile in Switzerland at the time, having escaped from prison in San Luis Obispo, California in September 1970.
The name "Seven Up" was thought up by lyricist Brian Barritt, after the group were given a bottle of the lemonade drink 7 Up that had been spiked with LSD.

Last call for Ash Ra Tempel, in this form, during the 70s, is Seven Up, an album that rewards the creativity of the gesture with the quality and the sheer introspective madness that lies within the music and within its krautrock definitions, ones that seems rarely pushed to such extents in Ash Ra Tempel. The whole album is a very pretentious an eccentric thing, on one hand we have the incredible group of guests that Manuel Gottsching invited in order to compose and to create Seven Up's musicianship (yet somehow Klaus Schulze's again out of the picture); on another hand we have, once again, two compositions that by the looks seem serious business and important matter to be exposed, the long parts format of music being no doubt the definitory way for qualitative krautrock (I don't know any such piece that doesn't have at least a hint of magic, and that's pretty normal if you think about it, given the space and the time in which you can elaborate the descriptive musical act); and finally we have the essence of the music and the moment of listening to the repertoire, which in whatever shape the first impression will come, it'll reflect a well-done composition in a situation of high regards. To be as short and concise as I can in these first words addressed to the album: Seven Upis probably the second best reflection of Ash Ra Tempel, behind the debut smashing material, or at least in a position "conflict" with Join Inn, another valuable, yet not perfect "enough" creation. An album strikes the impression of good and accomplished, as I've already said, even from the beginning, an album that offers the picture of a voyage into the brand and into the dream of the brand.

Personally some problems and some moments make up a damage sketch within the strong solid kraut construction, still that can be very subjective, because of two things. One, as a personal Schulze fan, these Ash Ra Tempel albums without him seem to be a new different leaf of perspective and make up at least a place for details and issues; Two - related to the first one, but generalized - I am just at my first experiences with the Ash Ra Tempel albums, so I myself can be the one momentarily missing the specific details and issues. Plus, concerning every album, you never know how many listens are necessary to have a final and minute portrait of the album. Perhaps an instant one, perhaps two, perhaps ten.perhaps ultimately none. Yet to be honest and to bring up the presumable negative side of Seven Up as well, it seems to make out some incomplete assets along the way or inserted into the artistical script. It's not something like Schwingungen, who disappointed through misconceived act, it's a thing of short fragments and acute feelings or reactions. Anyway, that's hardly general material for a devalorization, so everything concludes with what I've said: good and important album.

Two cosmogonic entities brought up in a fashionable manner of music (which, maybe not here, maybe rarely encountered, but generally is for me a universal thing). Space and time find roots of expression within a krautrock prolific emblem and representation. The first piece receives an open, dynamics, sharp and direct pulse, made in a special way of chaotic maneuvers, driven into a cosmos furnal essence, making the move towards a rigorous familiarization that to an impression spark. It is something provocative, communicative, expressive to the meaning of a clear circle drawn in an even clearer context. Powerful, energic and vital substance is how Space is portrait. In contrast with that (some, needless to say, more than welcomed) comes the interpretation of Time, which is clustered in its space (or should I use special commas for the word space?), of a slumber refined profile, of a cosmic deluviant message that goes very charming. My favorite piece, but not the only criteria. It has a complexity given by the style and an outlined sphere of subtle emotions given by the approach. It reflects something mysterious, something quiet in its form, but dangerous in its power, going poetic, going voiled, going very decisive on a slow succumbed essence. With other words the time of Ash Ra Tempel here has gravity and has a pronounce dark feverish sensation. Great piece is all I can say in an end of vision. A touch not so common, even if the actual maneuver is a krautrock constant delicatessen.

So my review pretty much indicates an album that has said its word and has outlined its context more than enough. Everything looks good, all that's left is the receiver and the receiver's mood for an epic demonstration of force. Ash Ra Tempel ultimately look as one of krautrock's finest, though I can hardly be the critic to make such a generalization. And Seven Up is ready to prove in every single way. Not masterliness, not ground-shaking, but invigorating as quality and as the uniqueness fragment it shares.deep inside.

(Review by Ricochet /

If you find it, buy this album!