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Quintessence - Move Into The Light The Complete Island Recordings 1969 - 1971 CD (album) cover




Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

4.92 | 3 ratings

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5 stars Despite the quarter of a century gap, there are analogies between Quintessence and the later English band Kula Shaker. The music of both is distinctively imbued with Indian sounds and religious themes, but the core sound is late 60's psychedelic rock (a 'retro' character for only one of them, of course). Both bands enjoyed meteoric popularity for about three years and then vanished, sadly for good in the case of Quintessence (though Kula Shaker re-formed and I highly recommend their 'K 2.0' of 2016).

Quintessence's first album 'In Blissful Company' was released in the same year and on the same Island label as the King Crimson debut, and its producer John Barham was a collaborator on George Harrison's forthcoming 'All Things Must Pass'. Quintessence albums followed in each of the next two years, a self-titled release in 1970, and 'Dive Deep' in 1971, which reached #22 and #43 in the UK albums charts. Their association with Island Records ended unhappily due to failure to arrange a tour to the United States, and the band did not last much longer.

Esoteric Records have now released re-mastered editions of the three Island albums as a double CD. These vintage classics are seriously under-reviewed on Prog Archives, so I'll try to summarize them for anyone considering exploration, terming the albums IBC ('In Blissful Company'), Q ('Quintessence') & DD ('Dive Deep'). Each album contains tracks of diverse types, and you would need to appreciate all of them. First and best, there are absolutely spell-binding sedate and spiritual songs, clearly involving Barham's inventive touch, with superb vocals, flute, guitars and drones. Examples are 'Manco Capac', 'Midnight Mode' (IBC), 'High on Mt Kailash', 'Prisms', 'Twilight Zones' (Q), and 'Dance for the One' (DD). These are must-hear tracks for anyone. Also winners are the wild guitar-burn tracks 'Burning Bush' and 'St Pancras' (Q).

Then we have a couple of track types that are potential negatives for some tastes, and this probably accounts for the underwhelming consensus PA ratings of Quintessence albums. There are straightforward Hare Krishna-style chants, namely 'Chant' (IBC), 'Shiva's Chant' (Q) and 'Sri Ram Chant' (DD). I really like these, but admit they are not standard rock fare. Then there are 60's pop tracks written for an era fixated on chart hits, most notably 'Notting Hill Gate' (IBC) with its B-side 'Move into the Light', 'Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga' (Q) and 'Dive Deep' (DD). The above represent the musical boundaries of these Quintessence albums, but there is much interesting material occupying the spaces between.

Digressing back to Kula Shaker, I note there have been Forum discussions on whether to include this band in Prog Archives, each time reaching the wrong conclusion. The so-called Indo-Prog/Raga Rock sub-genre on Prog Archives is presently very weak and obscure (and this remark comes even from a Krautrock fan). Even Wikipedia describes Kula Shaker as a 'raga rock' band...

Verdict: recommended to Kula Shaker fans.

Einwahn | 5/5 |


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