Whether you actually need to have read Aldous Huxley and agree with the outcome of this record might depend on how seriously you take a concept album – after all, it is an impression not the actual work that inspired it. And really, if the album had been called Impressions On Reading George Orwell would anyone have noticed the difference. Still, after the one minute prologue with ominous organ and whistle there might be a certain dystopian feeling after hearing nearly eight minutes of the album’s first track proper, Alpha Beta Gamma Delta. It’s an odd piece, processional, rumbling low interactions between unfamiliar instruments disguised by each other. Unexpected rhythm changes, not necessarily in a Progressive sense, more like unpredictable sequences of unlikely themes over dark, sour and bleak broken machines, picked up by enthusiastic droids despite the discord.
Lenina, the next track, takes you to a desert island where a female voice holds conversation buried in the track that boasts Latin percussion and flute but somehow manages to continue to paint darkness through the piña coladas. Perhaps it’s set in Lenin’s dacha.
With Soma we travel back through the centuries of the future, simultaneously in different dimensions as the theremin/stylophone takes us into a prehistoric future or whichever synth the Germans were using in 1972 locked in the old village cave (see last post). Soma was of course a hallucinogen from Huxley’s Brave New World and Islands.
Halpais Corn Dance has us anchored off the coast of Africa as this album ships you around the world with a subtle Bond theme melody in the background, acoustics, primitive drum and local voices, as we revisit deep flutes or pipes as woodwind percussion and electronics deliver a diverse and unusual sound. It’s hard to imagine that they come from Hamburg.
The nearly 18 minute track The End sets up atmospheres of chilling winds and dramatic flute lines over a doomy saxophone bed like an ocean liner stranded on a moor. Dark wind instruments and involved melodic meanderings lead us through an unknown terrain of horns and higher squeaks that scatter like “several species of small furry animals” across the forest floor. Somewhere in this land of freaks and monsters, a kind of ancient earthly Star Wars bar, there are unknown creatures with many angled teeth, black browed sleepers, winged silent cats and beaked brown rodents with marble eyes and ivory claws. But it’s not just fantastic creatures, there’s also monks, flautists and German guitarists with flowing long hair, denim patchwork jackets and stacked heeled boots.
Ending with Epilogue and spoken word, this strange and engaging band takes you through mystical fields, into deep German Kneipen with tobacco stained teeth whilst sharing vivid visions in deep thought with fellow conceptualist partners, musicians, technicians and intellectual dreamers coming together to realize their one and only album.
– Dicky Tarrach / drums, percussion
– Lucas Lindholm / bass, bass fiddle, organ, piano
– Herb Geller / flutes, cor anglais, saxes (Alto, Soprano & Tenor), organ
– Reinhart Firchow / recorders, flutes, ocarina, stylophone, percussion, vocals
– John O’Brien-Docker / guitars, organ, percussion, vocals, wind chimes
– Esther Daniels / vocals
Thanks to Anekdoten band mate and drummer Peter Nordins for buying this record last week.