Friday, August 17, 2007
Formed in the late seventies in Phoenix, Arizona, this long-lost RIO band originally went under the name Knebnagäuje (and indeed released their first demo tape as such) and unfortunately never managed to garner much in the way of attention at the time. Little did the world know what they were missing; namely some of the most intense, creative, densely composed RIO ever made.They released two demo tapes, one near the start of their career (Knebnagäuje, 1979) and the other towards the end (Pocket Orchestra, 1984). This end, incidentally, was sadly brought about by the group’s lead guitarist and originator, Tim Parr, suffering an early death that same year. Had this not occurred, it is quite possible that Pocket Orchestra would have become much better-known and respected within the RIO community.Pocket Orchestra clearly played RIO for the love of RIO, and they used every trick in the book to maximum effect – complex time signatures and jerky rhythms, expanded instrumentation that included clarinet, saxophone and cello, playful humour, discordant harmonies coupled with surprisingly catchy melodies and hooks. Their sound was one that will hold instant appeal for any self-respecting RIO fan and will instantly repel just about everyone else. If I had to name names I suppose their closest stylistic cousins would be the SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA family tree (Pocket Orchestra’s hard-edged qualities make them more akin to the Zamla era albums than the earlier, lighter Samla ones, though). Other influences include HENRY COW and UNIVERS ZERO. All the usual suspects, really. However, I must stress, Pocket Orchestra has a sound utterly distinct from all these influences.The two tapes the band managed to record during their active years were compiled in 2005 onto one CD (with amazingly high sound quality too!) by MIO records, coupled with heartfelt liner notes from the band’s friend and fellow RIO musician Scott Brazieal of Cartoon. It serves as a fitting testament to the band’s exemplary skill, creativity and sheer gusto. (Progarchives.com)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Two, Too... was released in 1976. It is perhaps most famous for its cover which depicts all of the members of the band dressed up as (you guessed it), ballerinas. Now you all get it. Anyway, one single was released off of this album. It was the cover of the song "Desiree". The b-side to this single was the song "Carrollon". This is a relatively rare single. This album had Stephen Galfas as the producer and featured strings and a Eumir Deodato arrangement on the last track. Although not often given as high a praise in the music community as the first album, it rewards repeated listenings (http://www.fortunecity.com/)
This is one of the gems from the USA progrock history. The band featured Jim Como (lead vocals, drums, percussion), Bryan Howe (Hammond – and pipe organ, celeste and vocals), Ryche Chlanda (electric – and acoustic guitars, electronic devices and vocals), Frak Petto (piano, electric piano, ARP 2600 synthesizer, Mellotron, electronic strings, Oberheim DS-2 digital sequencer and vocals) and Martyn Biling (bass, 12-string guitar, Moog Taurus bass pedals). Their first album “Night on Bald Mountain” was released in ’75 and produced by Ian McDonald (KING CRIMSON). It sounds like a very tasteful progrock stew with elements from GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT and YES. The very disappointing second LP (’76) is entitled “Two, two ... “, no surprise that it turned out to be their swansong. The album debut-album “Night on Bald Mountain” from 1975 is a bit unknown beauty, other USA prog rock bands NETHERWORLD and LIFT got far more attention from the prog fans all over the world. The twelve compositions (including seven bonus tracks, “All Killers, No Fillers” would Greg Walker from Syn-Phonic say) contain alternating and captivating music with strong echoes from early GENESIS and also GENTLE GIANT and YES. But many twists and turns give the music an original approach, including exciting arrangements from classic composers (MUSSORGSKY and DEBUSSY). The singer sounds powerful and has a wide range, the ‘vintage’ keyboards are very lush with spectacular synthesizer solos and the guitar work has a beautiful, 24-carat symphonic tradition. Highlight on this splendid CD is the epic title track (almost 20 minutes): wonderful changes of climate, great breaks, impressive pipe organ (evoking “Close to the Edge” from YES) and beautiful HACKETT-like guitar work. Also worth mentioning is Ian McDonald’s contribution to this album, he plays flute on two tracks and saxophone on two tracks, his sound is very distinctive. Highly recommended! (progarchives).
A great disc for all lovers of good music. An immense class, genius, romance, great performance, a short drive that makes crazy!!!