August 20, 2019

A review about "Alchemy" on "Let It Rock".



Web site "Let It Rock" reviewed "Alchemy" in July 2019 with interesting and acute words by Dmitry M. Epstein...


"Tribal brewing from British combo with alien tones were rooted in traditional tunes – refined and expanded for further focus.

They may have played in Hyde Park on the same bill as THE STONES and KING CRIMSON in 1969 and shared the stage with THE WHO at the Isle of White festival a little later, yet in terms of intensity THIRD EAR BAND seemed totally opposed to their more prominent and longer lasting contemporaries. While others rolled on, dwelling on a single note or two for a protracted period of time – where time could take on very irregular signatures – was typical for the English quartet whose relation to rock had always been tenuous. Nevertheless, in the climate of the day, the ensemble entered progressive stream and got ahead of the curve by confessing minimalism much earlier than many an avant-garde-minded artist, and their debut still affects the listener’s psyche fifty years on.

Although the foursome ascribed their efforts to a raga tradition, what they did had a lot in common with traditional Celtic drone, rather than with Indian lore, but the album’s opener “Mosaic” oozes exotica once plucked cello has met the bow and ushered pipes in, for the resulting mesmeric miasma to be spiced up by hand drums without leaving its chimes-laden chamber soundscape. Still, if pieces such as shamanic, yet static, “Druid One” (also present on this double-CD reissue in a lengthier, albeit less abstract, take from the band’s BBC session and in a fantastic rendition from the group’s next line-up) suggest claustrophobia, the multidimensional, momentum-gaining expanse of a 10-minute “Ghetto Raga” – which Glen Sweeney’s tabla and Paul Minns’ oboe and recorders drive towards delirium – is as exposed to elements as it gets for the players who participated in pagan rituals at Glastonbury Tor.

It’s whence that the strangely jubilant “Stone Circle” emerged to wrap heartbeat in the thick, but breathing, web of woodwind, while the strings-drenched “Egyptian Book Of The Dead” plunges into modal play, simultaneously plumbing low frequencies and scaling high notes to an increasingly horrific effect which is dispelled when the Eastern sonics of “Area Three” blow up and expire to leave cosmic conscience cleansed. Whereas the many incidental parallels in “Dragon Lines” render this piece cinematic, “Lark Rise” offers a simple folk motif and reveals the inspiration behind most of the album’s tunes, yet two takes on “Hyde Park Raga” – one laid down at Abbey Road, the other delivered for the Beeb – reflect the most perfect blend of so disparate, sources, and it’s a pity the track didn’t make the LP cut.

Neither did the three melodies the ensemble recorded early on, in 1968, even though the humbler-in-scope “Devil’s Weed” and “Cosmic Trip” feel as mind-boggling as the album’s material, but 1969’s “Unity” is given sparse grandeur of symphonic sort, with specters of Ravel and Ligeti lurking in penumbral agitation, and “The Sea” anticipates electronic escapades of the nearest future. For TEB the future would hold music to Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” – their most memorable work – yet “Alchemy” remains as magical as it was supposed to be."


no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

August 13, 2019

Steve Pank announces new Ursula Smith's live concert in London!


"Hi Luca.
It is great to see so much new material on the Ghettoraga website.
Ursie is playing another concert in Hampstead, and anyone who remembers the Third Ear Band and who likes classical music, would enjoy this concert, I have attached a flyer.
Good wishes,
Steve."

no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

July 28, 2019

A review on "Alchemy" on Facebook...



Esoteric according the G-man, on his Facebook page, reviewed here  "Alchemy"...

Sometimes, I wonder why I do this to myself.........after the “Elements” album being quite, shall we say, “challenging”, I was consumed with curiosity, bearing in mind I'd never heard any of their albums before now, to see what happened next........
…..to which the answer is........things got “less challenging”..... you can see this review is really gonna help, can't you.......
With a whole CD and a bit of previously unreleased tracks, let's start with the “Alchemy” album itself. The whole package is instrumental – get that out of the way first – and the main album is a whole lot more cohesive and structured than what came before, or it certainly sounds that way. For the first track, against a shuffling tabla rhythm, the violin, or viola, interweaves with the oboe and the effect is both mesmerising and hypnotic as the instruments kind of stride along with the textures counteracting and creating an almost melodic feel to the density. The 10+ minute “Ghetto Raga” that follows, is, however, the first time for this band, that my ears (lol) pricked up and something really grabbed me, coz this track is an absolute gem. Again, with tabla rhythms to the fore, the viola and oboe continue to weave, soar, drone, stride and fly over the ever gathering rhythmic clouds and something akin to Terry Riley meets Indian, unfolds in all its glory to remarkable degree and itr's this track that makes you think “thank the heavens I bought this album” as, despite what comes next, you somehow manage the resist the urge to loop this and make it last about 10 hours, never mind 10 minutes. There follows a couple of 3+ minute tracks that are more sedate, as the tabla rhythms calm, the strings plink and pluck and drone their way to infinity while the oboe continues to whirl and swirl, the whole thing achieving that Philip Glass/Terry Riley kind of cyclical nirvana, but injected with greater texture, less intensity and more melody.
“The 8+ minutes of “Egyptian Book Of The Dead” (kinda gives it away, really) starts more of a wail before the slow tabla beats begin, the dervish like dance of the oboe begins and it all gets rather rhythmic in a quite unexpected but delightful way, as the cello unfolds a mournful meandering underneath, and you can just picture the boat with the body on it, floating down the Nile, as the mood darkens, the strings shimmer eerily and the beats keep beating.
From there on in, things swing to and fro from slowly sailing to wickedly dervish swirling and most points in between, the whole album a huge step up from the first and, although I never thought I'd say this, something I'll be listening to again when the mood is right (you know, funerals, bad news, your girlfriend's dumped you – that sort of mood). As a bonus there are two 6 minute tracks froma 1969 “Top Gear”session which continue the mood of the album, only here in a “live” situation, the viola and cello sound incredibly Cale-esque (that's John, not JJ) while the oboe is just sensational sounding with the tablas as the heartbeat that keeps it all alive – superb stuff and a thoroughly excellent CD.
The extra bonus CD consists of all previously unreleased tracks from recordings made in 1968 (back to “challenging” although not quite as harsh) plus tracks recorded at Abbey Road studios in 1969 which are more varied yet consistent with the moods of the main album, but I won't go into detail as (a) you'll be bored, and (b) life's too short. Suffice to say, the main album is a stunner so give this a go and if you only ever own and love one Third Ear Band album, this is definitely going to be the one.

no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

July 23, 2019

"The Magus" vinyl edition out now!


As announced, the vinyl 180-gr vinyl edition of "The Magus" (TB0006430), the so-called TEB's lost fourth album, is out now thanks to a London label Tiger Bay (https://tiger-bay-records.com/).

As you can see here, the album is a traditional cardboard coloured gatefold cover record with black vinyl. It has spare notes on the back and a sober label.
The quality of sound is good, better than the CD edition published in 2004 by Angel Air and for any record vinyl addicts, it's worth to have it.
About the music (composition, lyrics and playing), you know what I think about, but it's just a question of personal opinions and I know that many TEB fans are enthusiastic about this album...
So get it and enjoy, all in all, it's a brand new Third Ear Band record for your collection! 





no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

July 16, 2019

"ALCHEMY" ON VINYL!!!


"Alchemy" is being released on vinyl on 27th September for Esoteric Records in a limited edition to 1000 copies. The album is an exact facsimile of the original 1969 Harvest LP release. Also, this new edition is in a gatefold sleeve and on 180-gram vinyl.
It was cut at Abbey Road Studios.
  
no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

July 14, 2019

Italian band Marsala quotes the Third Ear Band...



Marsala is Andrea J. Marsala electro-acoustic solo project, his first album recorded with synth, keyboards, bass/drum machine, loop stations, samplers, harmonica, xaphoon and vocals.

"Psychedelia, industrial, ambient, folk, blues and noise music are
 the coordinates in which the voodoo scenario of Marsala's debut album moves: if you love Tangerine Dream, Third Ear Band, Goblin, Dead Can Dance and Foetus, you have found your own thing.
(from Wallace Records press release)

As always, listen to the album (HERE) and check the music... and if you like to share your opinions please write here!
no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

June 29, 2019

Celebrating the TEB 'curious story' on PROG magazine...


"It's the same the world over", as they said. English rock magazines are generally better than the Italians, but anyway we are very far from the famous legendary Oscar Wilde's statement about the critic being as an artist...
This long tribute to the TEB's saga under the title "Dragon Lines. The curious story of the Third Ear Band" written by Malcolm Dome for PROG magazine (#99, July 2019) is cheap of revelations and shows some little errors (the  worst  of all is stating Richard Coff is dead!), with well-known opinions by Blackhill's managers (the same old things about Glen being a trickster and a good PR man of the band...) and a arguable assertion by Denim Bridges on the mystic nature of TEB's identity.

Dome: "Celtic, raga, Chinese, Indian and Native American daubs abound throughout Alchemy. And there were rumours the band were actively involved in mysticism. But guitarist Denim 'Denny' Bridges, who joined in 1970, has his own views on this."

Bridges: "I believe Glen was very knowledgeable about the subject. But he was certainly also prepared to use it to get interest in the band. If he felt that using alchemy and magick imagery would get us attention, then he would exploit the side as much as possible".

As often happened on English magazines or books, also for Dome the TEB's Italian reunion is quite irrelevant, and THE MOTHER OF ALL QUESTIONS seems to be that there are still some mysteries around that have to be solved. "For instance, did Sweeney actually fight in World War II?"

So, apart from some well-known pictures, the very scarce informations about the recent three Cherry Red's reissues (!!!), no elements to the readers for understanding the great musical intuitions of the band, no references to the huge work made by this Archive in the last ten years... this is an important stuff because can let many young Prog fans to know the intriguing underground story of the Thirds.


no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

June 19, 2019

"The Magus" new vinyl edition out soon!



Tiger Bay will release on June 21th, 2019 a brand new edition of TEB's  1972 album "The Magus" in a gatefold vinyl edition (as TB0006430) for € 27.00
This is the label press release:

"Recorded in 1972, but not released til' 30 years later, this magnificent 'missing album' by the free-thinking UK psych-prog band is now available on 180-GRAM VINYL, packaged in a gatefold sleeve. Sounding like an east-meets-west kind of affair, this spiritual work includes early electronic experiments and vocals."

Tiger Bay is "a label specialised in luxury and limited edition releases on vinyl. Focusing on progressive, experimental, psychedelic and jazz-rock, TIGER BAY’s releases include both out-of-print reissues and rare or unreleased material works by artists that contribute to expanding these genres through the years. TIGER BAY works closely with artists and labels to realise high-quality licensed vinyl, with re-mastered sound, and finely designed artworks."

no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

June 17, 2019

Denim Bridges' lyrics for "Hyde Park"!


Our friend Denny Bridges sent me the original lyrics used for "Hyde Park" singing. 
He wrote me this: "Here are the lyrics to my song "In A Man" that we're used for "Hyde Park". Subject to the comments below you can reprint them as long as you clearly credit "Lyrics by Denny Bridges". 
It is clear from my garbled vocal performances of "Hyde Park" that I didn't know the lyrics that well, but in my defense the original idea was for there to be no words just sounds. I couldn't manage that so I had to use words. You will also notice extra lyrics that I have put into parenthesis (). 
In the original song there was a chromatic chord change into that section and TEB didn't do chromatic chord changes, so that section was cut. It is noticeable in both recordings that I forgot that and went for the change and no one else did. Oh well."


In A Man

We can live without fear
We can look to make our peace
(Given time so we can know
How to be certain as we grow)
Like a child's sign of truth in a man


All our fortunes can be real
If our handling of them seem
(Starting wrong. But in the end
Firm resolve that still can bend)
Like a child's sign of strength in a man


Can't deny we know the way
But the few still lead astray
(The masses following as one
But some lone voices sound alarms)
Like a child's sign of love in a man


There's a story, it's always told
About today but still it's old
(It relates what we have done
Nothing learned from what was shown)
Of a child's sign of love in a man
 
(lyrics by Denim Bridges)

no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

June 06, 2019

A review about "Alchemy" remastered edition on Italian magazine "Rumore".


A very short review is published on the last issue of Italian magazine "Rumore" (#329, June 2019), a great effort of imagination (!): "An esoteric acoustic trance music that does not give space-time grips, marked by tablas and circumscribed by the oboe, violin and cello."


No©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

June 01, 2019

A Denim Bridges' solo LP discography.


Who knows Denny Bridges was a sound engineer in Brian Eno's "Here come the warm jets"? Or in Jeff Beck's "Blow By Blow" produced by Sir George Martin?

Just after the involvement with the Third Ear Band, thanks to a tied friendship with Paul Buckmaster, Denny had the chance to work at the London Air Studios as a sound engineer.

He told to me: "I was closer to Paul Buckmaster than any of the other members. He was always a mentor to me. He was responsible for introducing me to most of the music that was to influence me within the scope of The Third Ear Band and he encouraged me greatly. We also got on very well on a personal level and occasionally saw each other outside of the band. Post TEB I had the opportunity to engineer sessions at Air Studios for him when, for example, he had arranged for the orchestra. I was always thrilled to work with him again in that different capacity."

Here below you have the full Denim Bridges' solo album discography penned by himself (with some integrations by me) in chronological order:

1972
Carly Simon - "No Secrets" (Elektra) sound engineer  
T. Rex - "The Slider" (T. REX) assistant sound engineer

1973
Paul McCartney & Wings - "Band on the run" (Apple) sound engineer 
The Electric Light Orchestra - "ELO 2" (Harvest) sound engineer 
Brian Ferry - "These foolish things" (Island) sound engineer
Kiki Dee - "Loving & Free" (The Rocket Record Company) assistant sound engineer
Roxy Music - "For your pleasure" (Island) assistant sound engineer
Roxy Music - "Stranded" (Island) assistant sound engineer
T. Rex - "Tanx" (T. REX) assistant sound engineer
John Williams - "My Heights Below" (Cube Records) assistant sound engineer

1974
The Electric Light Orchestra - "Eldorado" (Warner Bros) sound engineer 
Sparks - "Kimono my house" (Island) assistant sound engineer
Roxy Music - "Country Life" (Island) assistant sound engineer
Badfinger - "Badfinger" (Warner Bros) assistant sound engineer
ELP - "Welcome back my friends" (Manticore) assistant sound engineer

1975
Jeff Beck - "Blow by blow" (Epic) sound engineer 
Birth Control - "Plastic People" (CBS) sound engineer
Fripp & Eno - "Evening Star" (Island)  sound engineer
Bobby Vince Paunetto - "Bottle the Edge" co-producer

1976
Quantum Jump - "Quantum Jump" (The Electric Record Company) mixing 
Jeff Beck - "Wired" (Epic) sound engineer
Stackridge - "Mr Mick" (The Rocket Record Company) sound engineer
Joe Cocker - "Live in   L.A." (Cube Records) sound engineer
Cleo Laine - "Born in a Friday" (RCA Victor) sound engineer
Philip Goodhand-Tait - "Oceans Away" (Crysalis) recording engineer

1977
Elkie Brooks - "Two Days Away" (A&M Records) recording engineer

1978
The Strawbs - "Deadlines" (Arista) sound engineer

1983
Rick Wakeman - "G'olè!" (Charisma)  sound engineer & producer 

1985
Ryudogumi - "Gaia" (Epic) sound engineer

1988
Shakin' Stevens - "A Whole Lotta Shaky" (Epic) sound engineer
TM Network-Tetsuya Komuro - "Seven Days War" (Epic) recorded and mixed

1989
Annie Haslam - "Annie Haslam" (Epic) sound engineer & mixing

1991
Soul Engines - "Ghost on a Landscape" (Not on Label) producer
Band of Blutus - "Tiny" (???) co-producer

1994
Annie Haslam's Renaissance - "Blessing in disguise" (One Way Records) sound engineer& backing vocals on one track

1995
Bar Scott - "Confession" (JSR) co-producer

1997
Annie Haslam - "Live under Brazilian skies" (Transatlantic) sound engineer and producer

2005
Bobby Vince Painetto - "Composer in public" (RSVP) co-producer

2010
Annie Haslam - "Live in Philadelphia 1997" (Floating World) sound engineer


Other artists Bridges worked with include

Apple Mosaic - Beat - Wild Swans - P.P.(Pat) Arnold - Harry Nilsson - Paul Young - Aztec Camera - The Babys - Orange Juice - Gene Pitney - Julia Downes - Rod Edwards - Rupert Hine - Pamela Moore - Babylon Sound - Livingston Taylor - Matt Sevier - Tom Rush - David Wilcox - Poker Face.

Denny today posing with his guitar.

no©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

May 19, 2019

"How important are cultural mash-ups?" An old very interesting review about TEB's second album.


An interesting review about the TEB's second album is available in the Web at https://www.lottavo.it/2017/11/third-ear-band-quanto-sono-importanti-le-fusioni-culturali/ where Francesco Cerica wrote in 2017 some clever considerations about the syncretic soul of TEB's peculiar sound.
The text, written in Italian, is a good example as a journalist (or just a fan) can write something of really interesting about the musical forms and the meaning of some unique experiences in the popular music... 
"L'Ottavo" is a digital magazine of Literature linked to a publisher in Viterbo, "Edizioni Sette Città". 

No©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

May 18, 2019

Found in a book the xilography by Mario Balestreri.





Found in a book a few days ago, this is a postcard reproducing the original Mario Balestreri's xylography I used for the cover of "New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac", released in 1989 by A.D.N. of Milan.
Born in 1918 and passed away in 2006, Balestreri was a well-known artist in my town, Cremona, as a painter, incisor and writer.
Here below you can see two works by him and a picture of him in his studio:

 







From 1989 the original xilography, along with Balestreri's other ones, is hanging on my kitchen.



No©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

A long review in the Net on "Alchemy".




On the curious Web site "We are Cult", C.J. Newman ("CJ Newman combines a lifelong love of music, science fiction and cult movies with his alter-ego, as an academic writer on space exploration. He can be found on twitter as @kosmickris") writes a very long review about the remastered and expanded "Alchemy" full of positive opinions on the Esoteric's edition:


“Alike or Unlike as Trees”: Third Ear Band – ‘Alchemy’
“Alchemy constantly challenges the listener and demands both constant attention and interpretation. There is a free-form, improvised feel across the piece.”

One of the great joys of dipping into the progressive music of the late sixties and early seventies is the sheer eclecticism of some of the collectives. The progressive movement drew in creative artists from folk, rock, blues and jazz traditions. The release, by the always excellent Esoteric Records of Alchemy, the debut album by Third Ear Band, provides an exemplar of the fruits of such inclusive collaborations and the difficulties of trying to categorise work from this period. 

Third Ear Band has its roots firmly located within the underground creative scene of mid-1960s London. Founder Glen Sweeney took part in free-form jazz sessions at the almost mythical UFO club where he jammed with a wide range of artists. Although these collaborations were short-lived, the seeds of these relationships bore longer term fruit. In 1968, oboe and recorder player, Paul Mimms, and violinist Richard Coff coalesced around Sweeney to form Third Ear Band. This first incarnation of the band (like so many collectives of the time, membership was somewhat fluid) also saw Mel Davis (from The People Band) join in on Celle and Dave Tomlin violin play with the band on his own track Lark Rise.
 

Of course, this potted summary does not do the origin of the Third Ear Band any real justice. The true musical journey is captured in a wonderfully illustrated booklet contained within this special edition CD. One of the consistently wonderful aspects of releases by Esoteric is the provision of these detailed and insightful essays. As well as the comprehensive booklet, this release has the debut album, 24-bit digitally remastered, and ten bonus tracks which comprise unreleased recordings and John Peel BBC ‘Top Gear’ sessions. (Peel was a fierce advocate and supporter of the band, promoting the debut album and even contributing on the Jaw Harp for one of the album tracks, Area Three).

As a breakthrough piece for Third Ear Band, Alchemy truly lives up to the promise of its title. The instrumental sound of cello, violin, reed and percussion provides a unique and stark tapestry of sound with Eastern themes set against the obvious psychedelic influences of the time. Uncoupled from conventional approaches and rooted in the improvised tradition of the underground scene, the album provides an often discordant and unsettling journey into a very British mysticism interwoven with an Indian raga sound.
 
This release by Esoteric Records, as well as being beautifully packaged, is wonderfully remastered. Each instrument has a penetrating clarity and the recording now sounds crystal clear. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the first track, Mosaic, which provides an uncompromising opening. Coff’s harsh, staccato violin plays alongside the oboe of Paul Minns to provide a stark primer for the forthcoming tracks. All the while, the drumming of Glen Sweeney gives the piece a primal and dangerous feel. This is an overture filled with portent and a clear statement of intent: this is not a casual listen or a disposable moment.
 
Indeed, the whole album is not a musical safe space; Alchemy constantly challenges the listener and demands both constant attention and interpretation. There is a free-form, improvised feel across the piece. If any part of the work can be called accessible, it is the second track Ghetto Raga in which the tabla playing of Sweeney provides a clearly Eastern influence underneath the almost hypnotic violin rhythms and exotic sounding wind instruments. Stone Circle similarly provides a bucolic yet slightly forbidding undercurrent. The sound is evocative of ancient rituals and one can almost smell the wild garlic and pungent incense of a pagan rite as the unnatural and slightly discordant recorder ratchets up the tension.
 
When asked about the album, Sweeney once replied that the songs are ‘as alike or unlike as trees’ and that captures the essence of the work perfectly. The natural, organic feel to the music produces unpredictable and not always pleasing results. “If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck”, so goes the famous abductive reasoning test. Yet it is almost impossible to say fully what this album is, and no amount of inference can assist in categorising Alchemy. It is experimental, it is innovative and not immediately accessible: the work has a harsh edge to it. There are clear nods to chamber music, and this is a truly distinctive piece of work that rewards the persistent listener. The starkness of the music and the simplicity of the instrumentation means that the work has an ageless quality.
 
As an album, therefore, Alchemy is both the perfect period piece and a template for the future of the band. It is, above all else, a perfect illustration of the way in which a collective of musicians, each rooted in their own distinct tradition, can come together and produce something of rare interest and significance. Sometimes, the need to engage in a logical categorisation of music must yield to the art itself. Alchemy defies categorisation and provides a beautiful, chaotic and discordant introduction to one of the great experimental collectives of the progressive era."

(Read the digital version here)

No©2019 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)