söndag 7 augusti 2016

East of Eden - Mercator Projected (Heavy Progressive/Psychedelic Rock UK 1969)

240:- (24-Bit Limited Remsaster Edition. Gruppens 1:a album. Tung Heavy Progresive Rock. Släpptes som Mini LP år 2001 och är nu mycker svår att hitta.)

East of Eden's debut LP is one of the hardest rocking albums to come out of the progressive rock movement, and maybe the best non-Rolling Stones albums issued by English Decca during all of the late 1960s. It's also one of the most daring debut albums of its period, less tightly focused than, say, King Crimson's Court of the Crimson King but otherwise equally bold and maybe more challenging. The whole record is eerie -- coming from a pop culture where most psychedelic rock tended toward the light and airy -- the way the high-impact bass, drum, and guitar parts interact with the distinctly Oriental and Central/Eastern European classical influences. 

The title track is a surprise coming from any British psychedelic band of the period, opening with a pounding heavy metal beat pumped out on Steve York's bass and Dave Dufort's drums, while Dave Arbus' electric violin subs for what would normally be the rhythm guitar part and Geoff Nicholson's guitar twists a blues riff around before setting a Jimi Hendrix-like wave of tonal pyrotechnics ablaze for the finale. Though most of the rest isn't as hard rocking as that, it is still progressive rock with balls. 

"Isadora" may have a few flute flourishes too many, but it also has a beat, and "Waterways" (described on the original jacket as "Niotic Landscape in 5/4"), after a meandering opening, breaks loose in a hard-edged piece of heavy metal raga rock (with a sax part that fits in perfectly), something like what the Yardbirds might've attempted if they'd stayed together through 1969 and forsaken their pop pretensions -- and then it finishes with the kind of brooding, violin-based ballad that anticipates the 1973-era David Cross/John Wetton/Bill Bruford lineup of King Crimson. 

And "Centaur Woman" takes us back to almost a mid-1960s blues-rock mode, reminiscent of the Graham Bond Organization, except that East of Eden quickly kicks out the song structures, taking Coltrane-like sax excursions before throwing in an extended bass guitar solo. Side two of the album opens with the brooding "Bathers," perhaps the most conventional progressive cut on this album and, not coincidentally, the least interesting song here. 

"Communion," by comparison, is a composition whose inspiration was a Bartok string quartet, and is dominated by Arbus' violin. The album finishes with the high-energy "In the Stable of the Sphinx," a blazing showcase for electric guitar, violin, tenor, and alto sax that's worth the price of admission by itself and must've been amazing to hear on stage. Mercator Projected was reissued on CD in Japan in 2000 as part of the British Rock Legend Series by Universal Music Group.

01. Northern Hemisphere  05:02
02. Isadora  04:32
03. Waterways  06:49
04. Centaur Woman Vocals – Ron Caines  07:09
05. Bathers  04:57
06. Communion  04:03
07. Moth  03:54
08. In The Stable Of The Sphinx  08:30