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Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon CD (album) cover

SACRED BABOON

Yezda Urfa

 

Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 208 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars YEZDA URFA was too early or too late depending how you look at it when they arrived in 1973 with their highly charged electric progressive rock sound. Too late for the initial prog boom that lasted from roughly 1969-74 and way too early for the revival that didn't really hit big until the 90s, a similar fate for most of the American bands too late to compete with the European big boys club. Had there been a serious next phase of prog after the glam rock and punk explosion, YEZDA URFA surely would've been one of the best bands to usher in the second wave however prog had to sit dormant for well over a decade, at least in popularity's terms with only a few isolated pop infused bands like Marillion and the neo-prog scene that kept the genre alive during the 80s.

Having found no interest in their now classic demo "Boris," YEZDA URFA basically had to fund what was to be their debut album from their own pockets and although they had a bite with a small Chicago label, the whole thing fell at the last minute. Frustrated with swimming upstream when once great prog giants were either folding or jumping into the world of simplified pop and hard rock, YEZDA URFA scrapped any idea of releasing their album SACRED BABOON and in the vaults it sat until the master tapes were discovered by the Syn-Phonic label who was so blown away by the manic energy of the album that they finally brought life to the album by releasing it in 1989. The crazy thing is that the band stayed together until 1981.

SACRED BABOON picks up where "Boris" left off and tackles a unique fusion of Yes' compositional fortitude along with Gentle Giant's dexterous experimental gymnastics along with Keith Emerson's energetic virtuosic wizardry only embellished with what sounds like the eclectic folk rock ethos of Gnidrolog especially when it comes to Rick Rodenbaugh's brilliant vocal performances. YEZDA URFA may very well be one of the first examples of what is now called brutal prog. While this Indiana gang was a mere quintet, these guys were seasoned multi-instrumentalists crafting unique tapestries of tones, timbres, zigzagging manic motifs and of course incessant runs of frenetic time signature changes at hyper speed with oft sudden breaks into Baroque classical music without losing the underlying melodic gist.

While "Boris" seems to get more attention due to its outlandish display of lush prog melodies teased out into virtuosic technical wizardry, this only bonafide album release ("Boris" was a demo that didn't get an official re-release until 2004) is every bit as impressive as its demo release predecessor. In many ways SACRED BABOON is a much more focused collection of seven tracks that enjoyed a more robust production job in two different studios and has interesting material that was reworked from the "Boris" demo which keeps the connection between the two phases of the band perfectly intact. Laced with the same melodic hooks that showcase the vocal phrasing just a tad out of sync with the frenetic Yes inspired barrage of guitar, drum and bass, the keyboards often exist in their own Emerson, Lake and Palmer world.

While the entire album is over-the-top eclectic, perhaps the best is saved for last with the one-two no punches held back combo pack of "(My Doc Told Me I Had), Doggie Head)" and "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea" with all of those brutal frantic time signature barrages crafting some of the knottiest workouts outside of Gentle Giant's run of masterpieces of the early 70s. In fact YEZDA URFA shamelessly borrowed the great GG's mastery of polyphonic vocal runs only YEZDA URFA employed them much faster and upped the weirdness factor manyfold. Add to that are folky flute runs that are very much in the vein of Gnidrolog as are the lead vocals. This is jittery prog for sure with crazy hairpin turns and mind-shattering counterpoints of all the instruments sallying forth in Keith Emerson mode! THIS is the stuff right out of prog heaven no doubt! In my world SACRED BABOON is every bit as much of a masterpiece as "Boris." Oh yeah!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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