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Arzachel - Arzachel  CD (album) cover

ARZACHEL

Arzachel

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.61 | 150 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Appropriate that the cover art to this one should include a creature from a medieval alchemical illustration, because for this album Egg (plus Steve Hillage) mysteriously transformed into Arzachel, a unit with the same lineup as the earlier Uriel and working in a similar psychedelic vein, but performing material rush-written (or improvised on the spot) for this album.

Make no mistake - the thing was originally conceived as a purely commercial entity, the small record label that funded the sessions wanting a bit of hard psych to bolster their product line. (Dave Stewart tells a hilarious story about how when playing the closing improvisation - the epic Metempsychosis - the band were all watching the studio clock intently, jamming until they had enough material to finish the album off.) And you can kind of tell from the production values - the album suffers from a slightly muffled mix in which Mont Campbell's bass is rather buried and Dave Stewart's organ tends to drown everything else out.

Still, despite the album's humble origins, it still holds up quite well. It does, of course, introduce the record-buying public to Steve Hillage's guitar skills, and the album consists mainly of Hillage and Stewart trading guitar and organ solos with occasional vocals from Steve - with Mont Campbell contributing occasional singing. (The interplay between his vocals and Steve's on Garden of Unearthly Delights contrasts their voices nicely.) The lyrics tend towards loud declarations or foreboding intonations about somewhat mystical topics - Azathoth takes its subject matter from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft (the writer, not the then-active psych band), and Clean Innocent Fun has Steve yelling some nonsense at the beginning and end to sandwich the band's improvisation in the middle. On balance, the album probably wasn't ever going to set the world on fire, but it never fails to entertain. A four star album dragged down by two-star production standards - so let's call it three.

Warthur | 3/5 |

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