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Khan - Space Shanty CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.27 | 635 ratings

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5 stars Canterbury Progressive Rock album that you should not miss!

What prog music would look like if Khan is still alive? That's really a very tough question to answer because as we know it later that the band is actually a "one album" band and short lived. The history of the band is centered around Steve Hillage (guitar player, vocals, and songwriter / composer), Canterbury alumnae who invited Nick Greenwood (bass, vocals co-writer of one song "Mixed Up man of The Mountain"), Pip Pyle (drums) and Dick Henningham (organ). Pip Pyle then decided to join GONG and was later replaced by Eric Peachey. Just before the band entered studio to record the first album (that it turned out to be the only one), organist Henningham left the band. Hillage summoned his old mate Dave Stewart and asked him to play on the album, which Stewart of course did on the spot. That's why there is a special note on the back cover of the LP that says: "Our special thanks to DAVE STEWART who fitted in our sessions in between commitments with his band Egg". As a matter of fact we knew it later that Dave Stewart plays wonderful organ work in this album that has become his sound trademark. No one would argue with it if s/he listens to this record!

The term "Canterbury" has made an automatic reference to a heavy jazz-influence music, while the music of KHAN was composed in the structure of rock music actually (my view). That's why I categorized KHAN music as Canterbury Progressive Rock. Sounds weird, doesn't it? But, look at its structure and compositions, you might agree with me. Historically, I knew the band in its early year of release, 1972, through two songs only "Space Shanty" and "Mixed Up Man of The Mountain". The songs were recorded at the leftover space of C60 cassette of Uriah Heep "Demons and Wizards". But at the time I knew nothing about jazz or Canterbury, therefore I associate KHAN music as typical hard rock music (in the vein of Heep, Purple, etc) with some flavors of improvisation. It's in the direction of bands like Hatfield and The North, National Health, Egg. Only couple years later, I knew the full album of the band from friend's LP. I was amazed by the wonderful composition and performance of the band through this debut album.

Let's have a look at track level .

Space Shanty (Hillage)

The song starts with a music that sounds like an ending part of a song but it continues with a quieter passage when the vocal sings "I need you and you need me ." in a punctuated, low register notes style. It's a very classic rock style and memorable. The intertwining work of organ and guitar at approx min 1:27 (not exact, as I'm refering it through an LP) is really fantastic here - after the opening vocal line. The bassline is also wonderful. The music then enters a smooth transition that later brings the music into a faster tempo style demonstrating great organ solo augmented with stunning guitar solo and dynamic bass line. The drum helps accentuate the song especially in filling in the in between spots. It turns then to a beautiful guitar solo that serves as a transition to next style of organ work that later brings the music back to the original tagline melody. I observe the bass guitar has gone really crazy in this part as it sounds very dynamic in forming the solid composition. The vocal returns back to the music at the ending part - in quieter mood, augmented with soft organ, guitar fills and great bassline and drumming. I'm fully satisfied with this superb track!

Stranded (Hillage)

It opens with a simple acoustic guitar rhythm with a soft background of organ. The vocal line enters in a slow tempo style. Again, I observe an excellent bass guitar and powerful voice quality. At approx min 2:55 the music turns louder and quieter again to let the organ enters for a short solo. The bassline plays important role during transition and set the atmosphere for double guitar solo work followed with acoustic guitar solo. The vocal returns back to the music with the same opening melody. It's a nice mellow track, packed with an excellent music. It ends up with a transition piece in atmospheric mood to set the tone for next beautiful track.

Mixed Up Man of The Mountain (Hillage, Greenwood)

The opening nuances of this song is really fantastic: a repeated guitar fills with wonderful organ played softly and great singing. The music then enters in its full swing in medium tempo with an obvious dynamic bass guitar. At approx min 2:00 the music turns quieter that features voice line and soft organ and guitar work. At the end of singing, the music turns into faster tempo with improvisation works of bass, guitar, and organ. It's a wonderful interlude, I would say! This is the part where the influence of jazz is so obvious. The vocal choir is also excellent. The guitar solo during the ending passage is stunning!

Driving to Amsterdam (Hillage)

The opening part of this track is truly a Canterbury outfit with great organ work augmented with guitar fills. Sometimes the two instruments play together with the same notes. Fantastic opening! The vocal line then enters to the music and makes an excellent composition harmony. "We look ahead for miles down our avenues of lights ." is a very nice lyrical passage that brings me to a full enjoyment listening to this track. Again, guitar and organ harmony augmented with dynamic bass guitar has made an excellent music passage. Another lyrical passage that I used to emulate is "Staring at the ground for I knew not what to do .." Uuughhh .. Mannnn ..!!! That's really wonderful passage that is very hard to forget. It's damn memorable! (especially if you also observe the soft organ work that plays at background).

Stargazers (Hillage)

It starts Canterbury style with a complex composition combining organ work, drumming, bass and guitar that turns quieter when the vocal sings "Open your eyes if you dare ..". Yes, I can sell a heavy influence of jazz music in this song, but its' not any typical kind of jazz you may encounter in the market. It's probably the kind like Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health, etc. I like the music has a very strong punctuation in many segments of the album.

Hollow Stone (Hillage)

It a mellow track with a nice vocal line. Instead of jazz and rock influence, I can smell the influence of blues as well. This time the guitar and organ are played in a soft way but still maintain wonderful solos. It's a great track to conclude this masterpiece album.

OVERALL: Highly Recommended!

This is a true masterpiece of prog rock album that you should not miss. Oh by the way, I forget to mention that all songs in this album have a very nice and strong melody on top of tight musical composition and immaculate performance by the four members of the band. As I'm aware the standard CD version is currently out of print. If you are lucky, there is a replica version printed in Japan. The enhanced CD version is currently being released internationally. You may check your local store or internet shop. But seriously, this is a great album. After release of this album, the band tried to make an effort for the follow-up record but it failed to do so and ended up with a Steve Hillage solo album "Fish Rising". Keep on Progging!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |


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