2: Abbhama - Alam Raya
I'm a huge fan of non-Western prog, psych, and heavy rock from the 70s. Take Indonesia for example. Seriously the 1970s Jakarta scene produced some amazing acts and Abbhama is no exception. Their lone album "Alam Raya" which came out in 1978 to me is a masterful work. "Alam Raya" avoids all of the theatrical pitfalls typical of a lot of prog and goes straight for the heart. It's magnificent without being bombastic; earnest without unnecessary melodrama. The instrumentation is well thought out and demonstrates their compositional and technical prowess, again without the sonic boastfulness of bands like Genesis and Yes. They utilize synthesizers, flutes, piano and violins as often as guitars. Me like, me like a lot. The vocals come in like a lush lullaby that soothes you into the frequent proggy time signature changes. You're not jostled into these time changes; you are rocked into them. And to top it off, this album still manages to have catchy hooks! Great job band.
"Alam Raya" is often described at symphonic prog (quite so) but I also hear a lot of sweet pop and folk elements on this record. I think Abbhama invented a new genre that I'd like to call "precious prog" because it really is a touching recording. If you're feeling contemplative and looking for a dreamy soundscape to chill out to, thrown on your headphones and give "Alam Raya" a listen.
Buy it here.
1: Syrinx -Syrinx
So this is just one track off of this gorgeous album. If you like it I encourage you to go on the Web and find the rest or even better yet, buy the vinyl. Syrinx was an avant-garde, early electronic project created by John Mills-Cockell (composer, keyboardist), Doug Pringle (saxophonist), and Alan Wells (percussionist). The band, particularly John Mills-Cockell, was very active in the DIY electronic movement happening in Toronto in the early 70s. They were deeply inspired by LSD and innovations in music technology, being one of the first projects to adopt Moog synthesizers. This album is a great snapshot of musicians who were exploring the frontiers of sound in that era.
Most people that I've shared this album with say that it sounds like video game music. I can totally hear this being the soundtrack to an RPG or a whimsical side scroller video game like Little Nemo, if such things existed in 1970. "Syrinx" makes me feel like I'm at a fair, on mushrooms, sitting in a cloud chariot and all of the fair goers look like Kirby and other round delicate creatures. There is absolutely not one moment of harshness on this record. It's mellow but it takes you on a really far out journey. Drugs or no drugs, if tripping is your thing let this be your soundtrack.
I recommend this especially to folks who enjoy early Brian Eno and Terry Riley.
RVNG INTL. just reissued the entire Syrinx catalog on vinyl. If you dig this you might want to consider owning everything this band put out.
As my first blog post, I thought it would make sense for the post to relate to the album in some way. The creation of this website was inspired by my making of "Strangely Free" and it was high time for me to have a space to start displaying and archiving all of my stuff. So, here are the hand written lyrics for my EP scratched out on scrap paper. The egg descends...