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Kaleidoscope - Faintly Blowing CD (album) cover

FAINTLY BLOWING

Kaleidoscope

Proto-Prog


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Under the influence

"Faintly blowing" was Kaleidoscope's second, and last album before changing their name to Fairfeld Parlour. The album is certainly a slight development from their first release, but the music is still firmly rooted in the pop of the late 60's.

The BEATLES, Pye era STATUS QUO, early MOODY BLUES etc., are all clearly major influences on the music of the band, and indeed the lyrics. Interestingly, this album actually resembles GENESIS first album "From Genesis to revelation" in a number of places, most noticeably "(Love song) For Annie". The echoed power pop choruses here sound very similar to the Jonathan King production.

Vocally, the band are strong though the lead voice needs frequent harmonising to maintain that strength. Those harmonies are very much of their time, the bonus track "Do it again for Jeffrey" sounding very like US harmony outfit FAMILY DOGG.

The BEATLES influence is probably strongest on "A story from Tom Bitz", a "Norwegian Wood" like fantasy tale which tells of a man who is lured by a mysterious lady to drink something potent. He ends up in jail where a cowboy persuades him to steal a horse, and so it goes on. I don't think Tom Bitz was the only one under the influence when it was written!

It is only when we come to the band's swan-song "Music" that we get any real hint of their potential, and even then the first half of the six minute piece is a fairly straightforward piece of pop with a bit too much phasing. Towards the end, the track disappears into a psychedelic cacophony with the chorus fading in and out, and a quick choral burst of "Hark the herald angels sing"! It is far from great, but it does show that the potential was there for the band to move on to more adventurous things.

Sadly though, time had run out for Kaleidoscope. A third album was released under the same name in the early 90's, which in reality was unreleased material by Farfield Parlour from the mid 1970's.

As for the quaintly named "Faintly blowing", it is little more than a good collection of late 60's pop songs. Pleasant but unremarkable.

Report this review (#93433)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't believe anyone would give this a rating less than mercurial! Here I am to set it right and set the record straight. Faintly Blowing is a landmark album not just in psychedelic music, but in that genre as it turned into progresssive rock. Kaleidoscope, with their multi-hued sound and sophisticated lyrics, were as much a unique art rock band as they were a Mod psychedelic band. For instance "Faintly Blowing," "Love Song For Annie," "Snapdragon," and "Music" are chock fulll of mind altering time changes, mood changes, and some brilliant imagery from the pen of Peter Daltrey and sparkling illumination from the music writer/ guitarist Eddie Pumer. This album does not have one unworthy track on it, but one of its most significant qualities is this was one of The First Progressive Albums! The lyrics are extremely literate and full of not just English, but also European history and myth. One might call them Shakespearean, but never pretentious. I can hear in this album what we all would soon be hearing from Crimson, Genesis, Fantasy, Czar, and the like. In fact, Czar and Kaleidoscope shared the same record company. The lyrics often deal with pro soldier/anti war subject matter, just listen to "Bless The Executioner" for a moving message song- short and very, very touching. The music is based around layering of guitars, voices, mellotron, and sound effects, all of this turning into a long phased out mindblower "Music." Daltrey agrees this is better than "Tangerine Dream," and that is a fact. Tangerine Dream was a playful psychedelic pop album, good but not a masterpiece, this one moved way further. No collection is complete without at least a reissue of "Faintly Blowing" and that is all I have. Original copies are unaffordable like so much music of this time frame, but unlike so much music of this time period there is no "period piece" quality here. 'Black Fjord" still sounds ahead of the game to me as does the whole album. Remember that Yes had yet to materialize, Crimson were just getting off the ground, ELP hadn't formed from the ashes of The Nice yet, so what I am getting at is Kaleidoscope were the first. And that shouldn't detract from their Fairfield Parlour album either, another full blown masterpiece. Kaleidoscope played and sung from the heart, they put a lot of emotion into this record, and to give it a rating less than a masterpiece would be degrading. As I have said, the melodic prog and the space rock we know and love couldn't have happened without early Floyd, Kaleidoscope, July, and the first wave of psychedelic/art rock/progressive bands. While "T. Dream" was made up of short concise songs, this album is made up of startlingly innovative 3 to 4 to longer tracks and a few interludes of poetry. Medieaval imagery and influences that we'd hear in all our favourite progressive music appear on this album, bright and as evocative as they were then. Just listen, me lads, listen and be blessed....
Report this review (#94024)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kaledioscope's debut album, Tangerine Dream, was a trippy but mostly whimsical effort, more Magical Mystery Tour than Piper At the Gates of Dawn. However, with their second album, Faintly Blowing, they showed that their sound was evolving in a more experimental direction. Indeed, the realms of psychedelia and in turn progressive rock were about to be open for full throttle exploration.

Faintly Blowing contains music that openly cites the influences of the day, from the Beatles to the Bee Gees to Pink Floyd. However, what sets Kaleidoscope apart is how they are able to take what may sound familiar yet make it all their own. There are also happen to be some really great tracks on the album such as "Faintly Blowing", "A Love Song for Annie", "If You So Wish", "Snapdragon", and "Bless the Executioner". The quality writing of Peter Daltrey is apparent, and his gift of melody is complimented by great arranging and performing. Eddie Pumer's guitar work is incredible. As a result it is difficult to find a lackluster track. However, the real gem of Faintly Blowing is the lengthy "Music", which takes the listener from mind expansion to mind explosion. It is a heavy track with what seems like every psychedelic production techinique in the book, from heavy phasing and panning to the heavy use of tape loops. This tune is a far cry from "Jenny Artichoke" from Tangerine Dream sessions.

Kaleidoscope is one of those all too underappreciated bands whose mention seems to always pit them in the shadow of more recognizable bands of their genre and era, British psychedelic music during the late 60's. That's a real shame because they deserve better. Any discussion of British psychedelic music from the 60's will inevitably turn to the Big Three: Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, and Tomorrow. However, as shown with Faintly Blowing, Kaleidoscope turned in mind-expanding music worthy of the Big Three becoming the Big Four.

Report this review (#131435)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Dobermensch
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This is the album that started my long-term hate affair between myself and Kaleidoscope. 'Faintly Blowing' starts things off - and it's an an interminable opening track that seems to go on forever in it's four minute duration. It's so.... ordinary.

Kaleidoscope were clearly influenced by many contemporary psychedelic bands of their era. It's just a pity they didn't have an original idea in their heads.

Peter Daltrey isn't big enough to fill the boots of Syd Barrett or whoever else he's plagiarising and lacks any semblance of presence or gravitas. Basically 'Faintly Blowing' is an empty retread of their previous album and that ain't up to much either, but at least it's a damn sight better than this.

An album so dated and derivative, it has no function as a piece of entertainment. Jeez - and that's me only at track four out of eighteen! How am I going to get through this? That's it, I'm off for a bottle of wine...

At last it ends... although it doesn't so much end as collapse in a heap of its own ineptitude. Really dull with very little imagination. The highly effected vocal melodrama makes things even more painful and I find myself with furrowed brow, scowling at my evil computer wanting to punch it in the screen. Baah!

Report this review (#422464)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Magic Zoo and Electric Midnight Mist

Faintly Blowing, the second full-length LP from Kaleidoscope, released in 1969, is arguably the finest LP from the British Psychedelic era. Pussy, Pussy Plays and The Open Mind's self-titled LPs are classics, but not as transcendent as this release. One could say it's on par with the equally amazing Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies, no easy task.

There are many reasons for this, should one try to pinpoint just why this record is so good. The opener "Faintly Blowing" should have been a hit, catchy, psychedelic, powerful. Same with the majestic, poppy "Black Fjord". "Snapdragon", "Story From Tom Blitz", "Feathered Tiger" are all just as good as well, there's not a weak track on the LP. "(Love Song) For Annie" has an addicting heavy pounding guitar bombast, that at first seems very un-love- song-like, that is then is repeatedly offset against the acoustic guitar interludes that invest a quiet sincerity to the ode. The end of the song is almost post-punk rythmically. "If You So Wish" has a Beatle-esque melodic quality with the orchestration of the era's pop groups. A solemn, introspective and quiet number, "Bless The Executioner" is a song waiting to be covered by some hipster, indie-folk-rocker.

All throughout, Peter Daltrey's vocals are perfect for the ethereal, storybook fantasy feeling that pervades the songs. The instrumentation is clear and precise, not overwhelmingly psychedelic initially perhaps, as acoustic guitars are present through much of the LP, but just when you think it may stay within a traditional 60s pop format, it opens up into something much wilder ("Music"). Awash with overdrive and phase, ambient ringing clear guitar notes, crashing chords? the album is a milestone for the band, they unfortunately didn't have the financial success to keep it going. The cover art I might add, is an astounding and strange piece of British rock mastery. A third excellent album as Fairfield Parlour was issued, From Home To Home, and a fourth double LP, White Faced Lady, that was unreleased initially, then finally made it out in the 90s. They mastered a musical body of work that is romantic, fantastical, and adventurous? and that's a damn good thing.

Of the highest recommendation to fans of British Psychedelia. Their performance at the 2013 Austin Psych Fest was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Report this review (#1044135)
Posted Wednesday, September 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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