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Ivory - Sad Cypress CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.35 | 63 ratings

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4 stars A German prog band, late comers to the scene in 1979, founded by father and son Ulrich and Thomas Sommerlatte, the former of which was, at the time, 65 years old with 43 years conducting orchestras in the classical music scene before discovering the progressive rock scene. The "romanticization" of the "classic" prog music bands and albums was being born and launched nowhere with so much vigor as here, in Germany, by bands like Eloy, Neuschwanstein, and Anyone's Daughter, but there may have been no artist so eminently capable to sponsor this trend--both compositionally as well as through reputation previously earned--as Ulrich Sommerlatte; though imitative of bands like Genesis, The Strawbs, ELP, and even England, the maturity and sophistication in these compositions, their instrumental arrangements, and their sound engineering are most likely far beyond what you will hear from any other debut album.

1. "At This Very Moment" (3:57) GENESIS styled with a Peter Gabriel like vocal, this is a gorgeously constructed and textured song with equally stunning sound engineering. (And the vocals are not as bad as other reviewers are saying!) (9/10)

2. "In Hora Ultima" (7:12) with lyrics sung in Latin! Impeccable sound and arrangement. Could be Hogarth-era MARILLION! (13.25/15)

3. "Sad Cypress" (8:34) this instrumental opens like a classical composition that has been transposed for rock/prog instrumentation. There is a drastic shift at the end of the third minute which leads to a Gabriel-era GENESIS song. (17/20)

4. "Time Traveller" (4:15) jumps out straight into the S-bahn with clavinet, organ, and Moog supplying the feature instruments with the (now) usual stellar sound engineering. A slower section takes over in the second minute in which "Stagnation"/"Entangled"-like synth is in the lead. Interestingly, the supporting instruments shift and trade for a bit before a tempo shift leads to an ALLMAN BROTHERS-like theme. (9.25/10)

5. "My Brother" (13:52) A Foxtrot-era GENESIS epic complete with Gabriel-esque theatrics. Good but it feels as if its's been done before. (26/30)

BONUS TRACKS (from the 1992 CD release):

6. "The Great Tower" (9:44) opens with an excellent church organ intro section. Vocal sounds more like STRAWBS' Dave Cousins. As a matter of fact, the entire song has a much more STRAWBS-like sound and feel to it than the pre- established Genesis influence. (19/20)

7. "Incantation" (4:42) the most bouncy poppy prog song on the album. Again, this is so much more STRAWBS-like than Genesis. (I even hear a little ENGLAND in there!) (8.25/10)

8. "Construction N° 2" (2:29) an organ étude employing "pan pipes," "accordeon," and "nylon string guitar" sounds before finishing with a SynthAxe-like sound in the lead. (4.5/5)

9. "Barbara" (13:45) opens as a piano and flute duet until 0"49 when "strings" and voice enters.At 1:38 shift to a still, slow and spacious section until 3:50 when bass pedals thrum into the soundscape. At 6:15 a "zither"-supported "flute" solos. At 7:00 the music intensifies. The DAVE COUSINS vocal sound is so strong! The music softens again in the ninth minute before an instrumental section with church organ takes the lead. At 10:35 everything falls away with an electric piano filling the space as if it's doing a classical concerto! Very cool! This is such a powerfully emotional song (sad and nostalgic)! The writer/composer obviously loved this person very deeply. (29.5/30)

Total Time: 68:30

It is my typical habit of reviewing an album that was originally released on vinyl based upon its original track number, but there are the rare occasions, such as this, in which I have deemed the "bonus" material to be appropriate to include. The four bonus songs here have the unexpected distinction of being both obviously contemporary to the original tracks and being perhaps superior to the ones included in the original edit.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of neo-progressive rock music and an album not to be missed for it's finely crafted, richly textured, well-produced songs.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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