October 10, 2011

TEB quoted on the wonderful Rob Young's essay on English folk 'visionary' music.

On the wonderful monumental "Electric Eden. Unearthing Britain's visionary music" (Faber & Faber, London 2010), an essay on folk music written by Rob Young, editor of famous English magazine "The Wire", a little place is dedicated to the Third Ear Band (with a generous quotation of this archive).

Here's the excerpt:
"(...) Harvest was also the home to the Third Ear Band, who pursued a rarefied version of Pink Floyd's abstract music of this period. They were a loose conglomerate of occult-minded instrumentalists that had its origins in The Giant Sun  Trolley, one of the many acts  appearing at the  14 Hour Technicolour Dream. Percussionist Glen Sweeney, the group's one constant member, began his career by seizing the bandstand in London's Hyde Park with several freaky friends, and playing even after the police informed  them that music was banned from the park. (They politely asked wheather  the rule applied to the birds.) After Sweeney and oboist Paul Minns took part in a December 1968 multimedia event  at the Royal Albert Hall called The Alchemical Wedding - at which John Lennon and Yoko Ono conducted a forty-five minutes bag in - The Third Ear Band sculpted an esoteric chamber music from acoustic elements; their first album was duly  titled Alchemy.  With track titles such as 'Druid One', "Stone Circle', 'Dragon Lines' and 'Egyptian Book of the Dead', these were incantational songs-without-words, a ritualistic consort music whose atonal tinctures sometimes recalled the European  folk-chamber music of Béla Bartok and the terse reductionism of Anton Webern, sometimes the free play of John Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble.  John Peel even turned up  to play Jew's harp on 'Area Three'. 'I call the music alchemical  because it was produced by repetition', explained Sweeney, whose muted battery of hand drums shaped hypnotic hymns to the fearful symmetry of the elements and the heavenly rotations. This was not cultish window dressing, though: the group made connections with Druid orders and accompanied their dawn solstice ceremonies.  Third Ear Band (1970), often referred to as Elements because its four lenghty improvisations 'Air', 'Earth', 'Fire' and 'Water', found the group - now a quartet with the addition of Ursula Smith (cello) and Richard Coff (violin, viola) - propagating a fungal acoustic music with spores of pan-European folk, Early Music and oriental drone dynamics. Their meditational medievalism found its way  into two film soundtracks they created in 1970 and 1971: for a German television  film about Abelard and Heloise, and for Roman Polanski's dark-age rendering of Macbeth. The  Third Ear Band's arcane, absorbing music stands as one of several unexplored lanes leading away from the psychedelic garden that remains neglected and 0vergrown".
(Rob Young, "Electric Garden", pages 472-473)

Read the synopsis of the book at the Faber & Faber Web site:
Visit Rob Young's  blog on folk music at http://www.electriceden.net

 no©2011 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

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