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Egg - The Polite Force CD (album) cover

THE POLITE FORCE

Egg

 

Canterbury Scene

4.15 | 363 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Luqueasaur
5 stars A distorted cover to a distorted music played by distorted minds: 9/10

EGG's debut had indications of the band's leaning to progressive rock, although their music was at best some sort of daringly uncommon psychedelic rock. It wasn't until THE POLICE FORCE that they decided to exploit the boundaries of their imagination and create dazzlingly complex pieces merged with strange, avant-garde experiences (such as the vile outro of Long Piece No. 3 Pt. Three), focusing mostly on a rehearsed instrumental madness. Their psychedelic tendencies were still present, blatantly visible in the distorted album cover, the track Boilk, and songs' lyrics, sometimes mundane and anecdotal, sometimes mysteriously symbolic.

While in many times this tendency is materialistically translated in distorted synthesizers and guitars, their exploratory - and therefore not exclusively psychedelic - pretensions are dominant. Sure, the tracks sound objectively "Canterbury Scene" (actually, the Moog reminds me of Tarkus' on many occasions) with its typical mixture of experimentation, jazz and psychedelic rock, but EGG makes sure to live up to its title of progressive rock, attempting at every moment to craft creative and unforeseen blends of instruments and synthesizer tunes. Be aware that 90% of the instrumental section is occupied by a variety of keyboards and Moog moods, more often than not accompanied by wicked guitars or, exceptionally at Contrasong, frenetic brass instruments.

The first track, Visit to Newport Hospital, features a haunting proto-metal Moog intro that abruptly transitions to a much smoother and jazzier performance, presenting Mont Campbell's disappointed vocals and a terrific multilayered midsection. The melancholic atmosphere of the track is a reflection of its saddened nature:

Now looking back it seemed to be a happy time [...]

It was a freedom that we'd never felt before

And now we're doing this instead

Shortly after it ends, the very first notes of Contrasong indicate a rise in dynamism, but it isn't until the intricate vocals kick in that the complexity increases exponentially. The experimental tendencies are demonstrated through the oddly played 9/8 main verse with its confusing arrangement of overlapped brasses, piano, guitar and drums; the latter's rhythm pattern is particularly perplexing but also really catchy. If Visit to Newport Hospital is calm, Contrasong is deranged. Even Campbell's voice transitions from its previous moroseness to conformism, as it contemplates Contrasong's lunatic environment with an unnatural calmness, perhaps of a sedated maniac. Its highly cryptic lyrics crystallize the song's enigmatic nature:

Gazing quite vacantly into space one day

sitting up in my bed surrounded by

a few Sunday papers and their colour supplements

all of them superficially interesting

happily unaware that somewhere somebody was aware

that somewhere somebody was awake and well

undisturbed

living on

If you didn't capture EGG's disorderly nature heretofore, they strike it like a brick to your head on Boilk, a strange track strangely reprised from their strange last album. An experimental track featuring a wiiiide array of really, really crazy electronic noises. Moonchild is but a baby compared to this.

Lastly, Long Piece No. 3 is an entirely instrumental song with stratospheric ambitions and a solid performance. Sometimes sweet, sometimes vicious; sometimes distorted, sometimes straightforward; sometimes jazzy, sometimes psychedelic; always unruly, unpredictable, challenging.

THE POLITE FORCE takes the pretension of experimentalism on prog rock to its utmost extremes (at least for 1971) without in any moment losing approachability. A spectacular Canterbury Scene release and an imperative listen to anyone willing to check avant-prog before prog was even a thing.

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |

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