December 30, 2010

"The hydrogen Raga": another old interview with Glen Sweeney (1988).


One of the first Italian interview with the Thirds was made in 1988, just after the first tour (Bergamo and Umbertide). It was pubblished by the rock magazine "Rockerilla" (issue 99, November 1988).
With a biographical, full of commonplaces and quite boring stuff written by Italian journalist Vittore Baroni (title: "The hydrogen Raga"), came this interview with Glen Sweeney made by myself (under the name of my wife Elena Blasi). Another little contribution to set up the knotty puzzle of TEB's history.

EB: "First of all: how do you feel about the reaction of audience at the Bergamo and Perugia gigs?"
GS: "Well, twenty years ago drugs conditioned the concerts, today the approach is quite different. Anyway, the fact is that in Bergamo the audience was really well-disposed with us and surprisingly open to our music; promoter Luigi Bresciani has done a great work, making the things worked on. Instead, at the Perugia gig people came just for listening to very different groups and everything was just a guys drinking and eating all the time... It dipends, you know, by the way the people 'feel' our music: we're not cold and unfeeling machines made to entertain the listeners... We play with soul, yes, with soul and spirit..."

EB: "If I'm not wrong, "Spirits" is just the title of a your new composition..."
GS: "Yes, right, even if the track will be titled "Ghosts" on the new record... Spirits, in this case, as misterious,  supernatural higher entity. The essence of material life...".

EB: "So, you'll produce a new album, after about fifteen years from the "Macbeth" soundtrack!".
GS: "Yes, it'll be one of the many things involving the new Third Ear Band... Maybe it's too soon to talk about, but Materiali Sonori is agreed to produce a record, as like for a live album that will be published first, until this year..."

EB: "A live record...?"
GS: "Yes, it's been an idea of Luca Ferrari, our manager, that in agreement with the Bergamo gig's promoter decided to record professionally the concert... It came a great thing, really exiciting... So, at the end of the concert, listening to the reels, we decided to realise it..."

EB: "What about the other things you was talking about?"
GS: "Just after the two gigs we've formed The Ear Management, not a pretentious thing, you know, just a practical way to coordinate better the things. On December we'll managing a new tour, maybe with more dates. And we have an idea to create a sort of fan club, a thing that personally I consider ridiculous, insomuch as we've thought to call it The Ear Lodge because it'll born here, in Italy, the quintessential country of Mafia...".

EB: "But why in England indie's are not interested into producing your music?"
GS: "In London, if you haven't got an hit in the charts you doesn't exist, believe me, and as you can easily understand we cannot have any 'song' in the charts. Our music didn't have any chance to be played live in England because the so-called "underground" is that Sixties 'archeological' kind of music, just interested into the past on a discographical level. Just to make moneys... In this sense, a real English "underground"  doesn't exist now, because every expression is conditioned by the big record companies".

EB: "What did you do before this unexpected reunion?"
GS: "Nothing of interesting. Everyone of us had a normal job. All over those years, me and Paul Minns was experimenting, playing Indian music...".

EB: "What's happenend just after "Macbeth", your last record produced by E.M.I.?"
GS: ""Macbeth" is been our best commercial opportunity. At the same time it's been our definitive 'debacle'. The Polansky's film, our potential vehicle, basically had a very bad promotion and it was a disaster. Now the soundtrack is a rarity for collectors, by now deleted. After the album, we played some gigs, but we had lost our self-assourance and in Blackhill, so we decided to split up the band".

EB: "What's happened to the other TEB musicians?"
GS: "Well, as you can see, me and Paul have been in contact for all those years... About Ursula Smith, I know she is married and she has got some children: I think she plays now country & western music somewhere... About Richard Coff, I've lost track of him... probably he came back to America. Just after "Macbeth", he tried to form an acoustic band with Ursula, a band called Cosmic Overdose, but nothing happened, just few performaces in London Hyde Park".

EB: "Where have you met the new Thirds?"
GS: "Violin player Allen Samuel is a Dave Tomlin's  pupil, a great friend of mine. He has had academic training playing at the Albert Hall. Mick Carter, the guitar player, is an old friend of mine since the Hydrogen Jukebox, the band I formed about 1974, after "Macbeth"".

EB: "Did you record anything with that band?"
GS: "The main idea was to change our music, composing proper pop songs, and at the end we made a master for a record never realised. At the moment Luca Ferrari has got it and we are planning to realised it at the right time. Maybe now it's the right time, considering the new interest for the Sixties, but I don't know... We will see...".

EB: "Can you tell more about the Hydrogen Jukebox?"
GS: "What can I say... It's very different from TEB music, it's just another thing! Maybe listening to the record you'll think to the Doors, even if is not the best comparation. Most of all, the lyrics are really interesting: they talk about political and social situation of England at that time, that to be honest it's not too changed... Something of those lyrics, anyway, will be published on a book Luca is going  to write next year...".

EB: "A very lot of things for a band reported as dead!"
GS: "Yes, it's really incredible to think... These are the oddities of this world! It took not much to resurrect us, and it's been a real surprise to discover all this interest in Italy. On December I hope we'll  come back here, I really love your country...".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 25, 2010

The Cambodian Embassy rehearsals tape!


Just before the first Italian tour (September 1988), as documented in another file of this archive (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2010/02/third-ear-band-rehearsaled-at-occupied.html), TEB rehearsaled at the London Cambodian Embassy some new instrumental tracks.
The line-up, the same of the first tour: Sweeney - hand drums; Minns - oboe; Carter - electric guitar and electric/electronic effects; Samuel - violin.


Around the end of August 1988, Glen sent me a demo tape just to understand what kind of music they was playing at that time: three long instrumental tracks for about 27 minutes of really wonderful music, almost the same of that  erratic,  poignantly bold improvised sound they recorded later for "Live Ghosts" album.

 

It's possible the CD titled "Radio Session" (Voiceprint VPR017, 1994), played by the same line-up, is taken from these same sessions, but even if the music is quite similar we cannot be totally sure...
Anyway, you can now download and listen to this distillation of 100% pure ('80's) TEB's music at: http://rapidshare.com/files/438412797/Cambodian_Embassy_Rehearsals.mp3

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 21, 2010

Christmas greetings, Glen and me...


For years, just few days before the Christmas Day, I used to receive a little card from Glen and Carolyn with their warm greetings... 
You can see below a sequence of them, those left in my archive.

A musical card with Christmas melodies...
 
 

The point is that I'm a professed atheist - Glen knew it - and I know he wasn't a Christian catholic, but a persuaded Buddhist...
So I'm asking now why I've received so many cards of this kind from him and I never have asked him the reason of it...
Anyway, this is just a pretext to send my Christmas greetings to everyone of you, whatever you believe into.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 14, 2010

"Solstice Song", an unrealised live track from the Gorizia 1989 gig.


As stated in a recent file (read at 
http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2010/12/live-ghosts-at-all-frontiers-beautiful.html), the Gorizia 1989 concert was one of the finest ever played by the TEB in Italy. You can listen to it on two (semi-legal) CD edited on  1996 ("Live", Voiceprint VP157CD) and 2001 ("Hymn to the Sphynx", Mooncrest Records B00005CC25 ). 
Quite strangely on both editions has been omitted a track, placed just in the middle of the set: "Solstice Song" (a track composed by the Sweeney, Carter, Black and Dobson and recorded at the Alchemical Studios  for the album "Magic Music", 7:03 long), a really wonderful tune .
Because Glen sent me a cassette of the concert, you can listen now to this rare live tune just download it at  
 https://soundcloud.com/ghetto-raga-1/solstice-song-live-gorizia-it


The tape sent by Glen handwritten by him.
ABOUT THE TRACK:
title: "Solstice Song"(15:16)
composed by: G. Sweeney, M. Carter, L. Dobson, N. Black
recorded by: Claudio Zanin
performed by:
Glen Sweeney - hand drums
Mick Carter - synth guitar
Lyn Dobson - flute, soprano, vocals
Neil Black - electric violin

As you can note, the original titles selected by Glen Sweeney for the gig was different from that published on the CDs. A typical way of the percussionist to joke with meanings and ideas of compositions... For example, when he introduced the track "Behind the Pyramids" he used to dedicate it to someone telling: "... but we don't know what he's doing behind it..."!

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 10, 2010

"The return of the third ear's mistery". A rare 1989 interview with Paul Minns...


Just after the first TEB concert in Italy (Bergamo, September  8th, 1988), musician and journalist (now filmaker) Francesco Paladino (The Doubling Raiders’ founder) met Paul Minns and Glen Sweeney for a brief interview.
This is a rare occasion to read some considerations from Paul, hardly ever involved by the press.
This interview has been published by the Italian magazine "Hi, Folks!" (issue 48) at the beginning of 1989 with the title of "The return of the third ear's mistery".

TEB on stage in Bergamo, September 1988.

FP: “Which is the reason you’ve decided to reform the band?”
PM: “It’s been the great interest of the fans: they carried on to contact us from Italy just to get some news from us, so we seriously decided to make the reunion. In ’68 everyone was interested to the Rock culture. We tried to change our approach to that kind of audience introducing the vocals in our compositions. But it turned up to  be difficult for the same nature of our music, so then we played just instrumental tunes and the TEB was born. We’re really surprised by the interest of people in our music. Our challenge is to propose us with the same old feeling”.

FP: “I know you’ve recorded a demo…”
PM: “The band’s reunion has been very quick and experimental. Even now improvisation is our basic element.  The past has taught us much.”

FP: “In your old records there’s a great amount of esoteric references: is still this element in your music?”
PM: “Glen has always been involved in this kind of  area and he was him to give this musical and “visual” direction to the band. He has titled all the band’s albums and tunes. He has studied really much the esoteric science, as Zen and Buddhism, and Egyptian philosophy. People used  to understand that. In Woodstock and Hyde Park (with the Rolling Stones) we understood people was “available to understand””.

Original handmade flyer for the Bergamo concert.

FP: “What do you think about contemporary esoteric groups as like Psychic TV?”
GS: “There’s a new generation now that has learned to think about things and doesn’t take drugs. I’ve to thank Luca Ferrari because he has resurrected “the ancient word”…”.

FP: “Which collaborations have you done in all these years?”.
GS: “Mainly we’ve played just for ourself, deepening the approach to the music. Mick Carter has got a recording studio where he played experimental music with guitars and electronic machines. Samuel has done academic musical studies”.
PM: “… Glen has studied Indian music and he has played with Dave Tomlin”.

HF: “Which are the most important aspects of your music you’d like people understand?”
GS: “Freedom of music, not the free jazz: the pragmatic approach, the self-discipline. The inner adhesion that brings you to improvisation”.

The "Hi, Folks!" 1989  interview.

HF: “Why your second and third album have never been reissued?”
GS: “It’s been an EMI’s fault, the men with tie decided it”.

HF: “But you didn’t answer about your new demo…”.
GS: “It’s fantastic. It talks about the spiritistic world, ghosts and witches. The title is top secret because the power of this music is telepathic and I wouldn’t others can steal our title”.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 06, 2010

"Live Ghosts" at "All Frontiers", a beautiful Italian festival...


The important involvement at the great "All Frontiers" festival in Gorizia happened on November 24th, 1989, during the third Italian tour. Big TEB fan Tullio Angelini managed the festival through More Music, his cultural association - for him just a dream that became reality.
Gorizia is a sinister beautiful smalltown placed in the North-East of Italy, just at the border with ex-Yugoslavia. I remember that surreal mood in the hotel, watching with Glen  from the window to the soldiers marching at the border in that icy Autumn...

 The concert, in the wonderful Borgo Castello museum, was one of the best they played in Italy, thus Materiali Sonori decided to include in the celebrative CD of the festival ("All Frontiers", the title, edited as MASO CD 90026 in 1991) a very good rendition of "Live Ghosts". In that occasion, "Auditorium" magazine took an interview with Sweeney (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2010/10/third-ear-band-old-time-alchemy.html).

ABOUT THE TRACK:
title: "Live Ghosts"(15:44)
composed by: G. Sweeney, M. Carter, P. Minns
recorded by: Claudio Zanin
performed by:
Glen Sweeney - hand drums
Mick Carter - synth guitar
Lyn Dobson - flute, soprano, vocals
Neil Black - electric violin

One of the few photos taken at the concert (by "Auditorium" magazine, 1990).

So if you don't want to buy the original record (http://www.matson.it/html/cat2000.asp) also with tunes by After Dinner, Art Molou, Harold Budd among the others, you can now download it at
http://rapidshare.com/files/434861765/Live_Ghosts_1989_Gorizia.mp3

[Note that the Gorizia concert was published later in two different editions ("Live", 1996, and on the second disc of "Hymn to the Sphynx", 2001) and a track from the gig ("Third Ear Raga") appeared as a bonus-track on "Magic Music" CD edition]. 

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 03, 2010

Another little gem for TEB's aficionados: "Old Man Kangaroo pt.2" (1991).


During the period TEB was in Italy for the third tour (concerts in Rome, Rieti, Milan, Florence...), on February 6th, 1990, Glen Sweeney was invited by Italian avant-garde composer Fabio Capanni (leader of group called Nazca - go to http://www.myspace.com/fabiocapanni) to record in a studio in Florence, just before the gig that evening the band played at "Auditorium Flog".

With him and Glen at hand drums, also the great Amon Duul's co-founder Chris Karrer.
The track recorded, titled "Old Man Kangaroo pt. 2", it'd be been included  in a special MaSo CD titled "The Greetings Compact vol. 2" (Materiali Sonori MASO 90014) distributed in 1991.

ABOUT THE TRACK
Title: "Old Man Kangaroo pt. 2"
Composer: Fabio Capanni
Musicians:
Fabio Capanni - electric keyboards, synthesizer
Glen Sweeney - hand drums & bells
Chris Karrer - saxophone
Recorded in Florence (Italy) on February 6th, 1990.

A great track, indeed, that you can download now at:
http://rapidshare.com/files/432271287/Old_Man_Kangaroo_pt._2__1991_.mp3 

Anyway, for the best sound quality you can buy the original CD at http://www.matson.it/html/cat2000.asp

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 30, 2010

An interview with Glen Sweeney on an Italian book published in 2004.


Italian musician and journalist Pierluigi Castellano has dedicated to the Third Ear Band an interview in a book edited in 2004 by publisher DeriveApprodi (http://www.deriveapprodi.org/estesa.php?id=157) titled "Le sorgenti del suono. Trenta incontri con musicisti straordinari" ("The sources of sound. 30 meetings with extraordinary musicians" - pages 192, € 13.00). 
Among the others, original interviews with 'monsters' as Terry Riley, John Cage, Philip Glass, Uri Cane, Alice Coltrane... to investigate the origins of their sound.
As the editor states in the preface, the aim of this book is "to detect the freedom of choice inside and against the limits imposed by present conditions. Suggesting an idea of musical expression deprived of gerarchies, with processes of contamination taken even from scientific disciplines, and restating the power of collision between subversive power of art and his reduction to the logic of a controlled communication".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 25, 2010

Elektric Third Ear Band: "Raga of the Wind" (1991).


"Sonora" is been a very interesting magazine edited by Materiali Sonori during the '90's: interviews, essays, photos about "intelligent music", as the label defined it. With great musicians as Frank Zappa, Erik Satie, Michael Nyman, Philip Glass an obvious space was dedicated to the Third Ear Band, just in those days one of the groups produced by MaSo.

An exclusive aspect of the magazine was the CD included, with music of groups managed by the label and other underground bands. On issue 2, distributed at the beginning of 1991, on the CD was published "Raga of the Wind", recorded by the Elektric Third Ear Band - a new Glen Sweeney's project involved Mick Carter, Neil Black and old friend Barry Pilcher (from the Hydrogen Jukebox).

Pilcher and Sweeney in that period.
After "Magic Music", Glen intended to record a new album for Materiali Sonori with this line-up but then never happened and the new album (titled "Brain Waves" and published by MaSo in 1993) was recorded with Lyn Dobson in place of Pilcher.
This is the only one unrealised track officially recorded with that line-up (another track, "Song of Gaia" is still unrealised) - not one of my favourite ever, indeed - but an important document of that particular phase of TEB's history.

Original flyer made by Glen Sweeney
ABOUT THE TRACK
title: "Raga of the Wind" (5:55)
composed by Glen Sweeney
produced by Mick Carter
performed by:
Glen Sweeney - percussions, 
customised mrdangas
Mick Carter - Ibanez midi guitar
Neil Black - Zeta midi electric violin
Barry Pilcher - Yamaha WX7 midi wind synthesizer
recorded by Mick Carter at Alchemical Studios (London).

Now you can download  and listen to this track at:

Anyway, you can buy the magazine (in Italian/English, with the CD included) at: http://www.matson.it/html/specialeditions.asp

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 20, 2010

Feeding the starving: the "Magic" never realised demo of the Thirds (1989)...


Just after the second Italian tour (documented with the wonderful "New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac" live recording), from March to May 1989, TEB (Sweeney - hand drums; Carter - electric guitars & effects; Dobson - soprano sax & flutes; Smith - violin), came into Alchemical Studios to record a new album announced as "Magic". A demo tape of that sessions was recorded in few takes.

TEB in Bergamo,  January 1989.

On next July, when the band come to Italy for a concert in Vinci (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2010/02/third-ear-band-last-photo-session-vinci.html), due to her job as a teacher in the school, Smith was replaced by Allen Samuel.
Anyway, the new line-up never went into a studio and the original "Magic" demo was shelved and never realised (infact the album, published later as "Magic Music" by Materiali Sonori, was recorded by the new TEB line-up with Neil Black, some new different titles and a bonus live track). 

The original tape written by Glen Sweeney.
Actually this rare studio recording, just circulated in the TEB entourage as a demo  tape (Glen gave me a copy of it just to listen to...), is an incredible document of the potential power of (original 3/4) TEB 19 years later, as a semi-acoustic group.
Listen to these rough incredible tracks being indulgent about technical quality and try to imagine which kind of music this fabulous line-up could play!

"Magic" demo tape
1. "Reading the runes" (7:.09)
2. "Exorcism" (8:51)
3. "Behind the pyramids" (7:42)
4. "New Age Raga" (12:06)
5. "Witches Dance" (7:15)

note:
1. same title on "Magic Music", just longer (on the album is 5:48)
2. titled "Necromancy"(8:52) on "Magic Music"
3. same title on "Magic Music", but shorter (7:16)
4. titled "Sun Ra Raga" (12:01) on "Magic Music"
5. titled "Solstice Song" (7:03) on "Magic Music"


no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 17, 2010

Ursula Pank (nee Smith) played also on an old rare Peter Bellamy's composition...

Peter Bellamy

In the wide Peter Bellamy's (1944-1991) discography, a little peculiar place has the "Maritime England Suite", a 40 minutes composition based on songs of the sea from the Saxons to the 19th century, Kipling, traditionals and anon/Bellamy
It was produced in 1982 for the BBC  for a proposed radio broadcast titled ‘We have fed our Sea’ and performed by a trio comprising the same Bellamy on voice, Dolly Collins on piano and our Ursula Pank (nee Smith) on cello. 
The composition, never realised as a proper album, existed as a private cassette-only edition with a photocopied cover. As TEB's fan-&-musician Sedayne states, who recommends us this gem, "copies of which are scarce (and those extant are fading fast...) but the music is of a perfect and golden charm". 

"This is a basic transfer of a very old unbranded cassette copy as sold by Peter Bellamy at his gigs. No attempt has been made to clean it up at source (no Dolby certainly!) or otherwise enhance it on the computer other than to fix a patricularly messy edit & fade it out at the end of Part Two which cuts out on the cassette. One hopes the masters are extant and that plans are afoot to release them officially, but as life is generally too short for the awaiting of such miracles, enjoy this in all its lo-fi glory".

Note that in 1999 three tracks have been included on a 3CDs Bellamy's 57 tracks anthology titled "Wake the Vaulted Echoes", edited by Free Reed Records (http://www.free-reed.co.uk/frtcd14), now out of stock.

The tracklist:

(Part One)
1. "Song of the Red War Boat" (Kipling)
2. "Sir Patrick Spens" (Trad)
3. "Sir Andrew Barton" (Anon)
4. "The Spanish Armada" (Anon)
5. "The Zealous Puritan" (Anon)
6. "The Dutch in the Medway" (Kipling)

(Part Two)
1. "We Have Fed Our Sea For a Thousand Years" (Kipling)
2. "Andrew Rose & the Cruel Ship's Captain" (trad.)
3. "The Death of Nelson" (trad.)
4. "The British Man of War" (trad.)
5. "The China Clipper" (Tardiff)

All settings by Peter Bellamy. Arranged by Dolly Collins.

So, waiting for an official full-lenght edition (?!), you can download this pleasant suite at:

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 12, 2010

COB's 1971 first album (with Ursula Smith on cello) available in the Net for free download....


About the few collaborations of  Ursula Smith, one of the best known is that with the C.O.B. (Clives' Original Band) first album published in 1971 as "Spirit of Love" (CBS 69010) where she played cello on three tracks ("When he came home" - listen to it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3409H0xFfg, "Sweet Slavery" and  "Serpent's Kiss").

"It's no surprise that this album can be recommended to Incredible String fans, as it features singer-guitarist Clive Palmer, who was part of the ISB on their debut LP", writes Richie Unterberger. "It's less expected, however, that the album can also be recommended to British folk-rock fans who might not necessarily be enamored of the Incredible String Band. It's low-key, almost to the point of being subdued, and melodic British folk with that quasi-psychedelic mystical tinge characteristic of ISB. Yet the vocals are more tuneful and soothing - if, undeniably, less adventurous. The arrangements are nicely varied, too, something else that sets this apart from the standard British folk record. The embellishments from John Bidwell's dulcitar, Indian hand organ, and recorder - as well as occasional cello, haunting vocal harmonies, and the clever a cappella trio vocals of "Wade in the Water" - play a large part in the record's modest triumph".
 
Personnel:
Clive Palmer - banjo, vocals, arranger, guitar (12 string), guitar
Ursula Smith - cello
Mickey "Tickey" Bennett - organ, percussion, voices, vocals, arranger, washboard
Michael Bennett - percussion, keyboards, vocals
Gillian McPherson - voices
John Bidwell - organ, banjo, keyboards, arranger, vocals, voices, Indian organ, dulcitone, recorder
Steve Bonnett - bass, guitar
Ralph McTell - guitar, drums, producer

Tracks:
1. "Spirit Of Love"  2. "Music Of The Ages" 3. "Soft Touches Of Love" 4. "Banjo Land" 5. "Scranky Black Farmer" 6. "Evening Air" 7. "Serpent's Kiss" 8. "Sweet Slavery" 9. "When He Came Home"

COB original line-up

The record,  reissued on CD by Lady Eleanore label (catalog # 100LE 201),  is also available for  free download at http://rapidshare.com/#!download|306l35|92423185|COB_Spirit_of_Love.zip|6216.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

November 09, 2010

Shipping forecast.


Ladies & Gentlemen, 
two new sections in this Archive for Third Ear Band's (lazy) addicts. 
On the column at right you can find a section with TEB rare tracks ("Raga n. 1", "Raga in D", "Ghoo"...) for a more rapid free downloading. 
Below of it, you can find another new section (titled "The Raga bums") with rare Indian ragas (in MP3 format) for free downloading - great executions by monsters as Lalgudy G. Jayaraman, Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ali Akbar Kan or Ustad Zakir Hussain...


So enjoy the great Indian tradition that inspired the Thirds in a period when the Indian music in Western was just the sitar  played in a Beatles' album...

no©2010 Luca Ferrari


November 05, 2010

A "TEB" magical formula... for the here & now (?!).

“Cooking and distillation takes place in the cauldron; below, blazes the roaming flame. Afore goes the White Tiger leading the way; following comes the Grey Dragon.
The fluttering Chu-niao [Scarlet Bird] flies the five colours. Encountering ensnaring nets, it is helplessly and immovably pressed down, and cries with pathos like a child after its mother.
Willy-nilly it is put into the cauldron of hot fluid to the detriment of its feathers. Before half of time has passed, Dragons appear with rapidity and in great number.
The five dazzling colours change incessantly. Turbulently boils the fluid in the ting [furnace]. One after another they appear to form an array as irregular as dog’s teeth. Stalagmites which are like midwinter icicles are spat out horizontally and vertically. Rocky heights of no apparent regularity make their appearance, supporting one another.
When yin [negativeness] and yang [positiveness] are properly matched, tranquility prevails.”

This is a magical formula taken from the old Tsan-tung-chi, a Chinese alchemical text written in about the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. (it is quoted in the famous "Alchemy" by E. G. Holmyard, published in 1957) as a description of the embroidered pattern on a mandarin's robe.

A more recent quotation of it is included on another alchemical book edited by Neil Powell (titled "Alchemy, the Ancient Science", printed in 1976). He  explaines: "One of the main differences was that, in place of the four elements defined by Aristotle, the Chinese designated five: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. In addition, they recognized the principles of yang and yin instead of Jabir's theory of sulfur and mercury. According to the Book of Tao, written by the sage Lao-tzu about 550 B.C., all the energy of the Universe can be divided into the two forms of yang - which is active, masculine, fiery - and yin - which is passive, feminine, and watery. Immortality is a masculine quality, and gold and jade, which are almost pure yang, preserve bodies from corruption. "If there is gold and jade in the nine apertures of the corpse, it will preserve the body from putrefaction," wrote the alchemist Ko Hung in the 4th century A.D. Princes and lords were buried with boxes of jade for this reason. The Chinese also related the Macrocosm of the Universe to the human body in the Microcosm of the world. For example, they identified the heart with the essence of fire, the liver with the essence of wood, the lungs with the essence of metal, the stomach with the essence of earth, and the kidneys with the essence of water. Like Western alchemy, Chinese alchemy is filled with symbols" (you can get a free download of this book in the Net at http://ebooksx.com/Alchemy-The-Ancient-Science-Neil-Powell_94844.html).

 
The same formula is printed on a beautiful TEB poster for the legendary concert played at the Purcell Room (London) on April 21th, 1969 by the great line-up with Glen Sweeney, Paul Minns, Ben Cartland and Richard Coff with some of the tracks of the forthcoming "Alchemy" album. Interesting to note the time scheduled for the playing (7.30-10.30 p.m., three hours of "alchemical" music...?!).


Maybe anyone has got a recording of the concert...?

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

October 30, 2010

5 TEB fans can't be wrong! At last here's the unrealised "Raga in D"!


The rare & never realised track here is from a tape that was found with no title by the great late Paul Minns in his attic and goes back to the  "Alchemy" sessions (end 1968/beginning 1969), recorded in the Abbey Road studios by Glen Sweeney (hand drums), Paul Minns (oboe), Richard Coff (violin) and Ben Cartland (viola) – the first TEB acoustic line-up.

TEB 1968: Minns, Cartland, Sweeney and Coff.
In a rare occasion (a letter sent to me in 1996) Minns talked about the origin of this track:
"I nearly cried when I heard this. It was like the return of an old friend. This raga is called In D and was the nucleus for ragas such as "Area Three" and  "Ghetto Raga", both in the "Alchemy" album. This track should have been on as well as it was recorded at the start of that session but Cartland announced after two tracks that he wanted to play keyboards instead the viola. As this was totally unexpected and unacceptable he quit. He tended to be volatile and very hippy. The replacement was Mel Davis on cello who excelled and who I now realise was an inspired player and the best I have ever played with. His slide bagpipes (rubber inner tubes) on "Dragon Lines" was marvellous. The session at Abbey Road went like a dream and took over under a week."

Just as Minns would have wanted, I've decided to call the track just "Raga In D", and it really emanates the fascinating mystery of the "Alchemy" recordings – an overall atmosphere that has miraculously been preserved for all these years, offers us an extraordinarily beautiful out-take, played live by harmonious musicians, determined in creating a well thought out sound project rooted in the classic Indian tradition.

So, the 5 Third Ear Band fans cant' be wrong! This is the purest distillation of the TEBand's music!
Download, listen & be touched by the raga at http://rapidshare.com/files/427945468/Raga_in_D.mp3

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

October 22, 2010

"New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac" available again on the Net for free downloading.


For years deleted, you could get again the rare recording of "New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac", a limited edition official tape (not a bootleg!) produced in Italy by A.D.N. Records of Milan in 1989: it is the complete concert TEB played at Teatro Impavidi of Sarzana (SP) on January 11th, 1989 during the second Italian tour - "The Peanuts Tour" as Sweeney loved to call it because the scarce moneys gotten. That concert, done in a beautiful tiny theatre by a great line-up (Sweeney, Carter, Dobson and Smith), was managed by a young and kind TEB fan, Luca Iani: you can see here the pretty original concert poster (in Italian: "The return of a legend"...).

A.D.N. promo ad
This is the concert track-list:
 1. "Egyptian Book of the Dead" (10.05)
2. "Third Ear Raga" (14.05)
3. "Live Ghosts" (12.50)
4. "Witches Dance" (10.00)
It was mine the idea to use a Mario Balestrieri's work for the cover. Balestrieri is an old artist, he's living in Cremona, my smalltown (the famous Stradivari's town). 
During that second tour the band stayed here for few days, having a day off concert in a small club in Piacenza ("Tuxedo Club", a videotape of it does exist...). 
This is the link (thanks to Simon!) to download the beautiful concert: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=RTQKHA6Z.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari