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Seventh Wave - Psi-fi CD (album) cover

PSI-FI

Seventh Wave

 

Crossover Prog

3.53 | 28 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The British band Seventh Wave made only two albums, Things to Come (1974) and Psi-Fi (1975), but their history goes far beyond that. In their teenage years in the mid-60's, keyboardist-vocalist Ken Elliott and drummer Kieran O'Connor founded SECOND HAND, an innovative and highly original psychedelic proto-prog act whose keyboard centred music was bizarre, complex and rather hard to digest. For their third album, after some line-up changes, the group name was changed to Chillum (an eponymous album in 1971 before disbanding) . When the two met again in a south London pub, O'Connor said they should do a synth & drums album without any band or touring. Things to Come was the result. (The name Seventh Wave refers to "Papillon", in which the seventh, biggest wave of the ocean is hoped to sweep the prisoner away.)

For this second album the two chose to invite several guest musicians, the best known of them being undoubtedly Van der Graaf Generator's organist Hugh Banton. As a fuller band work Psi-Fi comes a bit closer to "conventional" progressive ROCK than the preceding album, but still there's a certain unconventional vibe to it all. A unique mix of commercial flavour and an adventurous, at times almost other-worldly approach emphasized on synths. My introduction to Seventh Wave was the very adventure-spirited final track of this album, 'Star Palace of the Sombre Warrior', on a prog compilation box, and it impressed me quite a lot with its massive,multi-layered synth sounds and the emotionally effective nature of the song itself. Years later I purchased the 2-cd set including both SW albums, but frankly I've listened to it extremely rarely. One could use the sad word disappointment.

First, I don't like Elliott's sticky voice, which strangely didn't really bother me in that mentioned song. He sounds a bit like a bad version of Todd Rundgren. The opening song is a catchy rocker with an electronic music flavour. 'Roads to Rome' is slightly more elegant composition. Often this album reminds me of the hilarious art/glam-rock of early ROXY MUSIC, only with lots more synths. On fast-paced 'Manifestations' the female backing vocals of Pepi Lemer improve the Roxy-like atmosphere. The synthy instrumental tail of the song almost feels like a brief individual piece.

'Loved by You' is an openly commercial-styled song, a sort of a parody, not so far from what Rundgren has made. The 8-minute 'Only the Beginning' has a funk flavour and it grows into a hypnotic, spacey groove. Several of the following tracks are among highlights too (although some songs are not that good), reaching the climax in 'Star Palace...'. In fact, now I find much more to enjoy in this album than I thought there to be.

This may be a case of love and hate, starting from the vocals. There's surely both in my own reception. If you like Todd Rundgren and early Roxy Music and are fond of adventurous synth work, give it a try!

Matti | 3/5 |

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