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Arzachel - Arzachel  CD (album) cover

ARZACHEL

Arzachel

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.61 | 150 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars An excellent lineup of musicians released in 1969 an album that's a junction between the 60s psychedelia and what the Canterbury subgenre was about to become. The first track, "Garden of Earthly Delights", is evocative for the first half of the song, when it's bewteen the harmonies of Beatles and Caravan, driven by organ and voice. Then we have a psychedelic section on which bass and drums support the electric guitar giving the track a Floydian sound.

"Azatoth" is the "Idiot and blind God" of the HP Lovecraft's mythology (the writer, not the band). The church organ creates a pseudo-religious environment on which Steve Hillage sings a hymn to "the Almighty center of confusion". The hymn part and its chaotic counterpart which follows are probably the best interpretation ever made in music of the HP Lovecraft's horror. It's scary and bizarre, that's exactly how the writer described it.

The organ comes back to Earth on the following psychedelic track "Queen St. Gang" that has elements coming from the 60s blues-revival and has the mood of some hippy movies of the era. I think it has something to do with a BBC show but I don't remember which one.

"Leg" is a rock-blues that reminds to Colosseum. The bad production adds a "bootleg" flavour that enhances the sense of psychedelia. The guitar solo is a typical blues solo, nothing exceptional but enjoyable. While until now we have had organ based music, so very Canterbury oriented, it's like this song comes from before as it's a product of the 60s also with its chaotic final.

"Clean Innocent Fun" is another dark blues. Guitar and voice play the same melody on a loudy blues base to whom the organ gives its psychedelic effort. Put Janis Joplin's band (Big Brother) and the early Pink Floyd together and you'll have an idea of how this track sounds. I could define it "cannabis oriented". Also on this track the sound quality is not good, but it's part of the package and doesn't disturb so much. A cleaner sound would have likely been less drug-oriented. 10 minutes of classic noisy psychedelia.

"Metempsychosis" is the epic track. 16 minutes that open with noise very similar to the central section of "Saucerful of Secrets" (in the Pompeii version). When the guitar plays bass rhythmic notes, followed by drums, it's very similar to "Astronomy domine". I think this is one of the songs closer to Syd Barrett's music that I've ever heard out of Pink Floyd. The guitar solo plays over the repetitive bass and drums base, with the organ acting as Rick Wright on the noisy part of Echoes (Pompeii again). Hillage's guitar is more close to Barrett than to Gilmour, instead. After about 7 minutes it calms down. The organ plays discordant notes on which Hillage sings scary vocalisms. If you liked Ummagumma, this track is for you. Also the bass that introduces a rocky section after 9 minutes is in the style of Interstellar Overdrive. Let's remind that "Metempsychosis" is the word which indicates the transmigration of souls (KA) from one body to another in the reincarnation process. This is what the music is trying to represent. There's also room for a short bass solo by Mont Campbell followed by the last 4 minutes of heavy psychedelic music. A masterpiece for fans of the genre.

"Azatoth" and "Metempsychosis" are enough to rate this album 4 stars.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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