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Arzachel - Arzachel CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.65 | 212 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed by the reunited members of Uriel (a seminal band from the Canterbury scene), and while the trio Egg was already working, Arzachel recorded their sole album during a one-day recording session. The result was awesome, and you can tell that these guys had refreshing ideas, genuine enthusiasm, and a 20/20 capability to read each other's minds while cooking and jamming all the way through. What this album brings is an explosive mixture of psychedelic fireworks and jazz-oriented jam rock, with some notable touches of symphonic rock (much in the vein of the rough approach that was still around). This is no Egg, indeed, so don't expect that sense of stylish delicacy that Stewart, Campbell and Brooks delivered on their albums; Arzachel's sonic orientation is closer to the cosmic jamming punctuated with aggressive interactions that soon will make the best of Khan (a band led by Hillage a few years later), although Arzachel wins in this comparison regarding roughness and excitation. There is much influence from vintage Pink Floyd's harder facet, the Hendrix prototype and primitive hard rock. The talents of Hillage and Stewart at creating compelling musical excursions is infinite at this early stage of their respective careers, while the rhythmic foundation set by Campbell and Brooks is perfectly solid. The opener 'Garden of Earthly Delights' is a playful, gleeful piece that very much pursues the beat swing: I wish the fade-out didn't arrive so soon, since the lead guitar feels really mean. The Gothic, almost sinister vibe of 'Azathoth' states a very effective symphonic approach, and so does the melancholic 'Queen St. Gang': both pieces give Stewart enough room to display his gusto for academic insertions in a jazz-rock context, and they can in fact be described as a midway between early Procol Harum and the Egg factotum. Things shift toward the bluesy side of things abundantly in 'Leg' and 'Clean Innocent Fun': the former brings a heavy prog approach to the standards of Cream and early Led Zeppelin (well, back then for these guys they were fresh and contemporary), while the latter is crucially expanded through a Storm und Drag of psychedelic tension powerfully driven by the guitar phrases and the explosive organ chops. The album's culmination is displayed in the 17 minute 'Metempsychosis', a monster exercise on spacey jams that seem to set the world on fire while indulging on fiery sonic expansions where the disturbing and the mesmerizing collide and fuse into one musical force. The use of tribal cadences in many passages of the drummer's delivery helps to state a bumping dynamics to the jam's core. The vibe that grows and develops with the ongoing improvisation is the ultimate example of Arzachel as a unit - this album is a must for any serious prog collector, more so if you're a Canterbury freak and/or a space-rock hopeless fanatic. 4 1/3 stars for this one!
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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