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Ache - Green Man CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.30 | 54 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Green Man' - Ache (61/100)

Say what you will about the notion of a 'rock ballet'; Ache were onto something interesting and - dare I say - unique with their debut LP, De Homine Urbano. Though decidedly less successful or promising than its operatic counterpart, Ache innovated the rock ballet, and a Danish ballet company even staged the nineteen minute piece; from what I've read, the performances were great. Moreso than that, Ache had a firm grip of symphonic prog at least a year before the style hits its peak. The bottom line is that, in spite of the debut's issues (of which there were several), Ache had a promising foundation from which to explore and develop their sound.

...and what do they go off and do? With Green Man later in 1970, we hear Ache receding to a far more conventional and period-appropriate heavy psych rock. The band's second album solves my biggest concern with the debut (an uneven structure) but it's come at the cost of their unique edge. In the end, the albums roughly equal one another in terms of quality, although that quality is derived from fairly different avenues.

While De Homine Urbano was impressive for its scope and ambition, Green Man offers a less problematic set of songs- quite a far cry from the pseudo-classical compositions from before. Instead, it sounds like Ache are trying to sample a range of other artists' styles, most notably Procol Harum, The Nice, Yes and Deep Purple, even The Beatles at times. Though the time between the release of this and De Homine Urbano was only months, the quality of their execution has increased notably. Green Man enjoys a fine blend of heavy organ and guitars, much like the first pair of Yes records.

For what it lacks in identity or cohesion, Green Man does offer an engaging variety of material. "Equatorial Rain" is a great piece of heavy psych that lays the atmosphere on heavily from the start. "Sweet Jolly Joyce" is a surprisingly prurient tune with catchy riffs and upbeat hooks enough to explicitly distance this album from the debut. "The Invasion" and "Acheron" are slight returns to form, bringing the focus back on the organs. "Green Man" (the song) is steeped in 60's pop. Closing off the album, Ache offer a cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out". Although this wouldn't be the first time Ache tipped their hat to the Fantastic Four, it's a great example of how a song can be reimagined successfully. Instead of taking the song at face value, Ache make "We Can Work It Out" their own, taking the skeletal frame and chorus and fusing it into a Hammond organ jam that nearly kisses the nine minute mark.

Even if it feels like a disappointing step backwards in many respects, Ache's second album is still pretty good. In abandoning the possibility of further exploring their organ-rich longform compositions, they went for something different. For what it is, Green Man feels more realized as an album, and the songs have benefitted from the sort of improved musicianship that only comes with time. Still, there's no denying the sort of missed opportunity entailed with this album. In my eYes, originality is still miles more important than polish or finesse. Green Man sounds like it could have been done by a hundred other psych and progressive bands from 1970; what more is there to say?

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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