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Absolute Elsewhere - In Search Of Ancient Gods CD (album) cover


Absolute Elsewhere


Eclectic Prog

2.96 | 89 ratings

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5 stars Keyboardist and flautist Paul Fishman's 1976 work `In Search of Ancient Gods', under the project name Absolute Elsewhere, is something of a minor classic of both spacey and symphonic instrumental progressive rock of the vintage era. Based on the pseudo-science/alternative history books inspired by the theories of author Erik von Daniken, `...Ancient Gods' enjoys something of a raised profile due to the drumming contributions of King Crimson/Yes member Bill Bruford, yet it still remains fairly obscure and something of a kept secret! Swamped in dreamy and lavish keyboards, the album houses everything from extravagant symphonic multi-part suites, drifting space-music electronics, shorter Rick Wakeman-esque fanfare interludes and experimental psychedelic fragments.

There's spacey whirring synths and glorious dreamy Mellotron-glossed themes aplenty throughout nine-minute opener `Earthbound', laced with a chilled-out Seventies coolness (some of it sounding like a template that French band Air would employ on their classic full-length debut `Moon Safari' in 1998, though it's likely a coincidence) that even calls to mind the fuzzy dreaminess of Bo Hansson's `Attic Thoughts', some laid-back drumming and drifting flute giving the piece a soft pattering of jazzy flavours, and a final run of electric guitar fire bringing a smouldering groove. Trickling subtle sequencer beats pan left and right throughout `Moon City's bleeding deep-space drones, and the near twelve-minute five-part suite `Miracle of the Gods' darts through everything from nightmarish electronic twitches and reprising soaring Mellotron/Moog themes in the manner of Pink Floyd, Novalis, Camel and Pulsar, delicately moving towards ethereal ambient paths and pristine piano ruminations in crucial little diversions.

The second side opens with two shorter interludes, `The Gold of the Gods' and `Tokleta', the first a whimsical and slightly kitsch synth fanfare, the latter a mysterious and softly melancholic Moog reflection. Two ten minute workouts close the album, first `Chariots of the Gods' opens as a subdued and melancholic Rick Wright-like piano reflection before revealing relaxed jazz/funk grooves, and `Return to the Stars' is a slowly revealing Tangerine Dream-like expansive distortion-laced ebbing electronic drone that is completely seductive, enveloping and deeply immersive.

Although there's some conflicting little passages and a few questionable production choices here and there (the pretend `stuck vinyl' fade-out halfway through `Chariots of the Gods' is a bit of a cop-out, and the little pieces that open the second side are somewhat out-of-place distractions!), `In Search of Ancient Gods' is mostly full of exquisite and grand instrumental symphonic music crossed with experimental and atmospheric electronics, with several truly jaw-dropping moments for lovers of lengthier keyboard and Mellotron-drenched grandiosity. This successful fusion of styles makes for an album that is so close to being an absolutely classic symphonic/chill-out/electronic crossover work, one well deserving of renewed attention for its own merits far beyond the contribution of a legendary drummer alone.

Four and a half stars.

(Thanks for Bruce Jenkins of the superb music blog Vinyl Connection for hooking me up with an LP copy!)

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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