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Arkham - Arkham CD (album) cover





3.18 | 28 ratings

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3 stars Arkham was a very important early organ-prog group out of Brussels and though this record may not be an essential or pristine document, the band was key in the development of European progressive rock. Formed by keyboardist Jean-Luc Manderlier and drummer Daniel Denis (founder of Univers Zero) in 1970, they were joined by bass player Patrick Cogneux in October of that year. The band were local favorites in Belgium and eventually opened at Magma's first live appearance on September 4, 1971. During their final days, Arkham added trumpet player Claude Deron (co-founder of Univers Zero) and went through a string of bassists.

Brooding and macabre, Arkham was doing gothic before it was hip but sported a classical sensibility in Manderlier's dark organ dirge and Canterbury-style lines. This CD is a hodge-podge of old studio and live cuts ['70 thru '72] and starts with the excellent 'Upstairs in the Granary', a solid hunk of Prog, still a child as a musical format, with great playing and the classical-meets-jazz feel these early proggers produced. 'Eve's Eventful Day' is equally good with top notch syncopation and nice melodies. The eight-minute 'Monolithic Progression with Anticipated Rapture' is aptly named, slows down a bit and allows a better look at this accomplished outfit with a Doors homage and some freakout jazz. 'Brussels Shortly After' is a muddy affair of little note, and 'Bleriot: Visibility Poor' plays out like some ancient B&W horror flick. An early form of minimal rock fusion is also heard here, as it is throughout the music on this historic retrospective. The driving 'With Asays of Bias' (featuring a tremendous live drum solo from Daniel Denis) continues the twirling neo-classical workout and surprisingly tight kinetics-- at over 10 minutes, it is this collection's epic. Part 3 of 'Eve' is spectacular quasi-symphonic rock, 'Riff 14' is a remarkable, lovely warble a la Steve Reich, and 'Tight Trousers' finishes with some terrific carousel jazz rock. Crucial in the context of Prog history and a great band regardless, Arkham is highly recommended to those seekers of a beloved music when it was an unsteady but determined toddler, ready to walk on its own and take on the world.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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