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Secret Oyster - Straight To The Krankenhaus CD (album) cover


Secret Oyster


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.18 | 72 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Before discovering Prog Archives I didn't think there was anyone else alive with a copy of this obscure 1976 LP. So it was a pleasant surprise to find at least two other vinyl pack rats here, not only familiar with the album but actually knowing something about the band as well. Which is more than I can brag of.

All I can tell you is that SECRET OYSTER (love the absurd name) was a quintet of scruffy looking Danes, at least judged by the group portrait on the back cover, which makes them look like gutter alcoholics or Copenhagen hustlers on a bad wardrobe day, take your pick. And I know this also: the album was too good to get rid of, even at the height of my once too frequent and totally misguided cycles of vinyl attrition.

The music is quintessential post-MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA instrumental fusion, emphasizing the melodies as much as the groove. The sound is firmly rooted in the soil of classic mid-'70s Jazz Rock, but it's clearly more rock than jazz, with the electric guitars and mini-Moog solos (in that familiar pitch-bending style made popular by the likes of Jan Hammer) almost dominating the excellent horn work (the sax player is the primary composer here), and with a subtle glaze of cool string synthesizers laying an almost Space Rock sheen over the top.

And these guys could play, too. There's an exhilarating energy in the introductory "Lindance" and throughout the rollicking title track, with its odd but not inappropriate flourishes of Brazilian percussion (is that a cuíca I hear?). And the escalating, nerve-wracking tension of "Traffic & Elephants" (wouldn't you like to know where that title came from?) is a caffeine freak's dream come true.

But they were also able to craft moments of ethereal nuance as well: lend an ear to the haunting, hook-filled moodscapes of "Rubber Star" or "Leda & the Dog", ideal soundtracks for lonely, late-night contemplation. I only wish the band had enjoyed wider exposure, but you have to remember the ground was thick with virtuoso Jazz Rockers in those days, and SECRET OYSTER was simply lost in the crowd. In the end the group probably couldn't help but live up to its all-too fitting name, remaining for the most part a well-kept secret beyond the frontiers of their native Denmark.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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