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Sigmund Snopek III - as the Bloomsbury People CD (album) cover


Sigmund Snopek III


Eclectic Prog

3.13 | 4 ratings

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3 stars Sigmund Snopek III's recording career began as part of the short-lived Bloomsbury People, a group from Milwaukee, Wisconsin with some talent for short, catchy pop tunes wrapped in late sixties psych vocal harmonies and rather eclectic, experimental instrumentation as well as occasional iconic musical references. While the band technically released two studio albums this is the only one issued under the name 'Bloomsbury People' with the other coming out as a Sigmund Snopek solo effort.

Two things stand out on this record. First, the psych sensibilities in these songs were already dated and waning in popularity by the time the album released in 1970, although it is interesting that despite this the group managed to secure a major label contract with MGM. And second, these guys could write some pretty memorable pop tunes that on the surface don't sound like pop at all, thanks mostly to Snopek's alternately frenzied and poignant keyboards, bits of fuzz guitar and some clever riffs.

The album kicks off with "Birdsong" and "Witch Helen", two mildly Haight-Ashbury sounding pop-psych numbers with driving rhythms, frantic organ forays and multi-part harmonized vocals (think Quicksilver Messenger Service without the country twang and a little of the Blue Things without Val Stoecklein's laconic vocals). But the songs here run something of a gamut, ranging from the haunting piano and vocal melody "Demian" to the funky, rhythmic "So It Seems" to the post-Beatles sounding "Witch Helen". "Golden Lion" smacks a bit of Donovan while "The Resurrection" combines a church-choir vocal intro with a bit of doo- wap with a bit of the sort of disjointed saxophone the Violent Femmes would later feature on several of their albums (Snopek appeared on three of those records and played as a live 'Horns' member for many Femmes tours).

Only at the end with the closing "Suite Classical #II" does the group begin to show some serious progressive rock leanings. This is neither classical music nor a suite, but it does have pretensions of both with a lengthy composition that shifts between driving percussive sections, languid vocal pieces and snippets of delicate piano. I can't quite figure out what the point of the whole thing is supposed to be, but clearly Snopek and company are exploring the outer fringes of their capabilities in a way that would continue to manifest itself on most of the Snopek albums that would follow.

On the surface this is a rather forgettable album, mildly interesting but nothing earth- shaking in terms of innovation or discernable direction. But given the eclectic body of work Sigmund Snopek III would create in the ensuing years I think this is a great introduction to a talent that has rarely been given his due outside his native Wisconsin. For anyone even remotely interested in his music I would recommend this as a great starting point, followed by his seminal solo album 'WisconsInsane'. Three solid stars, almost but not quite four, and a hearty recommendation.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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