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Morgan - Nova Solis CD (album) cover

NOVA SOLIS

Morgan

 

Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 32 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

Morgan Fisher is a genius.

There, I said it. I mean, how else could he make some of the most inventive and interesting prog rock on the planet and end up in his late 50s writing music for commercials in Japan, and getting a pretty penny for it I would hope. Sounds like a good gig to me, and a good life lived for this king of B-list prog, master of the sideshow and winner of countless Best Music No One Really Cares About awards. I don't know, maybe Fisher's playfulness appeals to me (something usually missing from today's prog). Or maybe his truly impressive musical range and compositional gifts are just too hard to ignore despite the funhouse feeling on this debut from 1972. And then there's the spectacle. All I know is Nova Solis is spilling over with atmosphere and imagery, and the fact is that Morgan Fisher gave more on his records than many of the bigger names of the time. It's an album wherein, as John Lennon said of Mr. Kite; "You should be able to smell the peanuts".

Solis is an extravaganza of what had become possible with the rock format, a parade of idea after idea passing like giant floats, each eagerly waiting in line to be revealed. This is prog when things were closer to the wild west, with as many snakeoil salesmen and roaming criminals as reliable merchants and ranchers. But among the scoundrels, Morgan Fisher and songwriting partner Tim Staffell were legit. Simply put, this LP was the sh*t-- the absolutely real thing, authentic, strong as aged goat cheese and stinking of a far off place where no good things were happening. It's what the guys who have heard it all and know classic era prog inside & out quietly listen to when no one else is around. Every aging, coffee-swilling cigarette smoker with a bad hankerin' for prog and a tragically steady paycheck who's collection from Britain between 1969 and 1979 is larger than that thing they launched the space shuttle from will deny to their death this is the godsmack of second tier symphonic prog. But it is and they know it.

Similarities are hard to peg for these guys, it was such an original group. Certainly the brilliant descriptive and incidental work of Raymond Scott is apparent in Fisher's material, as well as Syd Barrett's sense of adventure, the circuses of Dave Greenslade and maybe a whiff of Zappa. 'Samarkhand the Golden' is wonderful vintage stuff enhanced liberally by Fisher's VCS 3 synth, Hohner & DK 1, Mo Bacon's eager drums and bassist Rob Sapsed doing a heroic job enhancing Fisher and Staffell's arrangement. Derivative 'Alone' is a miss but 'War Games' rocks, Bacon tearing up his drums, Staffell's vaguely biblical lyric and giddy vocal, and Fisher terrific on all number of keys from a Steinway Grand to a Hammond to a Spinet as he knits up the background, always sure to never let a good moment go to waste. Holst's 'Jupiter' from The Planets starts the second half, the nine part title piece. It's not long before things start melting apart into sound effects and space sickness but Morgan picks it up and pumps out the prog; mean organ flurries, unexpected jazzplay, piano lines merging into squealing synths, descriptive mood-setting, carousels, calliopes, histrionic dramaturgy, and more Holst at the end.

A one of a kind release by a band that epitomised the working prog musician and what a few inspired guys could do with some good equipment. Someday along your listening journey, Morgan Fisher's work deserves your attention. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life.

Atavachron | 4/5 |

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