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Centipede - Septober Energy CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.32 | 68 ratings

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3 stars Half is out there...the other half some innovative jazzy-funky music.

Probably not going to be on any child's Christmas list, this album stands as a testament to the freedom artists were given by record companies in the early 70s (as noted by other reviewers) and to the heady utopian visions of hippy artists and musicians of the era. Parts 1 and 3 (which take up sides 1 and 3 of the vinyl album, respectively) must be among the least commercial music ever recorded, while parts 2 and 4 on the other hand, do contain some really innovative jazzy music. The brainchild of the Tippets (Keith on piano, and Julie on vocals), this album is the equivalent of performance art for music, or perhaps something akin to the modern architecture or sculpture being made at the time, in which old ways of doing art (writing music) are discarded in favour of a completely new form based on a heady vision. The vision for this album takes places over four very different roughly-20 minute pieces. Part 1, and a couple of sections of part 3, are structured (or rather improvised) around droning vocals and strings that build up to something over top of found-percussion sounds and high-pitched vocalizations, only to be interrupted by noisy chaos by the horns. A big chunk of part 3 involves a crazed improvised march that builds/evolves (or rather, devolves) into crazed vocalizations. Listening to these two sides, you can visualize a modernist ballet or high-art mime performance, or, on part 3, an opposite-day fantasy-land parade. But generally this is not music you will likely want to put on to often, except, perhaps, to freak out a more-mainstream partner. While there is some definite musicality on these sides, and I really like the crazed march, I don't like when the flow is interrupted and fragmented, and some of the noises are simply annoying (Robert Fripp produced this, so one might think he would have tried to maintain the flow, but perhaps he was just as enraptured by the avant-garde concept. To be honest, one doesn't get any sense of his input at all). Sides 2 and 4, on the other hand, will appeal to anyone who likes the kind of innovative improvised instrumental music found on sides 1 and 4 of Soft Machine's 'Third', Mile Davis' early 70s improvs, or perhaps even fans of Afrobeat or other horns-based funk-jazz jams from the early 70s. This is music that builds over a groove, with angular quirky horn parts and some excellent solos (in this case, particularly by the Soft Machine's Elton Dean). Interestingly, this is an album that features both Robert Wyatt and John Marshall playing simultaneously - two Soft Machine drummers that never played together in the context of that band, and two drummers whose style in a way defines two different eras of the Softs. So, having them play together (one in each ear) is a bit of a treat for Softs fans (although they do not let loose, so you might not know who is playing what). Part 2 (side 2 of the vinyl album) is definitely the best, a side-long groovy jazz improvisation in roughly two parts, with great solos, including not only the horns but nice guitar work from Brian Godding (who I have never of before). Part 4 begins with some really nice solo piano by Tippet, but then slowly gets jazzy too and builds up to crescendo with all the horns in. There is also a choir that sings on parts 2 and 4, mainly a repeated phrase speaking of freedom and liberation, in tandem with the brass lines, lending some power to the compositions. These two sides are great, and together make up roughly 40 minutes of music, so the album is definitely worth getting. Taking the album as a whole, with all four sides, thins out the quality somewhat though, and there is definitely some 'difficult listening' on this one. But the gutsiness of the vision here can't be denied. Overall, I give this 7.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Walkscore | 3/5 |


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