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Yezda Urfa

Eclectic Prog

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Carl floyd fan
5 stars I Can't believe I am the first one to review this gem! This is amazing symphonic prog much in the vein of yes and jethro tull but at more frentic speeds. Amazing mid 70s USA music that is very unique comapred to much of the other prog albums being released around the same time. I would consider this an under rated classic and one that you must pick up if you find it. But seeing as no one has reviewed it I am guessing the album is ultra rare, so try and download it, you won't be disapointed! I am not afraid to hype this one, it deserves it!
Report this review (#17670)
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe even better than SACRED BABOON, yezda's first record had no label, it was a sort of "demo recording". It's absolutely brilliant, but you should get SACRED BABOON too, for some GENTLE GIANT vocal performances. This one also sounds like YES a lot, but guitarrist Mark Tippins would scare even Steve Howe! One of the finest moments is BORIS AND HIS THREE VERSES, including FLOW GUIDES AREN'T MY BAG. On the SACRED BABOON album this medley is melted into two tracks. Get both records (if you can find it), cos it's worth the price.

Baldin, 14 yr.old from Brasil.

Report this review (#17671)
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This is on the legendary Syn-Phonic progrock label from Greg Walker, one of the leading progheads in the USA. I read that this CD version from a demo was on the brink of release, well , here it is featuring six compositions (most around 10 minutes). Remarkable is the Yes influence but Yezda Urfa sounds far from a Yes clone. Their compositions are very varied, ranging from acoustic piano, rhythm-guitar and vocals to pieces delivering church- organ or a sumptuous climate with Howe-like guitar runs. At other moments there is a banjo, a guitar in the vein of Rory Gallagher, interplay between acoustic guitar, electric piano, xylophone and harpsichord or ebullient keyboards featuring Moog flights and choir- Mellotron. THIS IS EXCELLENT, VARIED PROGROCK!
Report this review (#38441)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars YESDA URFA BORIS Syn-phonic

You missed something, lately? Maybe, you have just heard the call of a strangely heartrending sparkling attraction of a very chilled music heaven, like, let's say, the two breathtaking magnum opuses of the Scandinavian prog monsters Anglagard, "Hybris" and "Epilog". You know, this kind of a tremendously accurate and highly powerful opposition to the arena neoprog salad-galore. But after this crucial crash test, after this undisputedly awesome experience, you felt that something is still missing, something has been lost in this mutated folk-prog hyperhybrid's overdrive. Probably, the missing sense is the lack of a more tender and standing sensibility in these organic, obviously medieval-folk rooted, manifestos of supermodern suspense. Or, even, the missing element is the sensuality of the hotest crimsonian ingredients of this consciously fractalised (and thus tantalizing and tantalized) inspiration. Lack of a self-confident romantic character, here? No, I am not really sure about it. Maybe Anekdoten could sniff the true answer to this enigma better than me. The only thing I know for sure is that when, afterwards, heard at last Yesda Urfa's lost masterpiece "Boris" (Syn-Phonic), I was sentimentally stroked, to say the least, revitalizing shocked by its generous powerful imagination, the outstanding deep lyricism (especially when the a la Jon Anderson singer shines on!) on the top of their labyrinthic interplay, the almost archaic spirit of their feverish exploration and exploitation, the uplifting feeling of a liberating inner voice which tends to paralyze your attention though your heart is been kept hot and hungry for more and more and more! For the history, "Boris" was conceived as a demo album for distribution to radio stations and record companies (deaf ears, closed doors, negative answers!) and it was recorded on a shoestring in just a few days in 1975 at Universal Recording in Chicago IL (the bonus track of the CD world premiere of "Boris" was recorded later, in 1976). These five magnificent musicians, Brad Christoff (drums, percussion), Phil Kimbrough (keyboards, synthesizers, mandolin, wind instruments, vocals), Mark Tippins (guitar, banjo, vocals), Marc Miller (bass, vocals) and Rick Rodenbaugh (lead vocals), made me feel sick of today's recycling cynic instinct and, last but not least, made me also feel more comfortable with Gentle Giants's cruel fading in the late seventies. You see, someone else was already born and really ready to cut his teeth, lifting Giant's spirit up and pushing it to the limit. With a little help, inductively, of the frippian magic in the quest for a victorious leading of this emotionally electrified, surrealistic mind-blowing and heartbreaking jungle of twisted, symphonic climbing songs. The highly inspired psych-folk informed moments with the mellow singing (in a dream of a modern Agincourt or Ithaca saga) are the best, but the whole context is truly unearthly in its unique character as a provocatively successful genetic experiment. Think of a handy clonism of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Egg and Gryphon -all in their intuitive early years-, catalyzed with melodic RIO sophisticated alchemy. You have to hear it, to believe it! To cut the long story short, Yezda Urfa had all the advantages to be the leaders of the American progressive rock, as their next "lost and found" album "Sacred Baboon" shown equally clear (but this is another adventurous story). My personal congratulations to the producer Greg Walker for his well-aimed music hunting.

Christos Tsanakas Author Athens, Greece E-mail: [email protected]

stars: *****

Report this review (#67000)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Okay! I want everyone reading this to get up, break out your wallet/purse, bolt out the door, get into your car and find a store that has this album. If you can't find it, look for it on the internet. Talk about an album that is criminally under-appreciated! These guys from the US of A are as good as any band that you can dream up. Like a cross between symphonic prog and Canterbury, the lead singer sounds like Jon Anderson's kid brother who than harmonizes with a guy who sounds like he came from an indie/college band from the 90's. I mean honestly, it's a shame their not talked about more. When listening to this disc I'm reminded of Italian symph band Il Balletto di Bronzo; breakneck speed with virtuosity, with excellent singing. And good God they can play the heck out of their instruments. I could go on and on, but the proof is in the pudding. Try a MP3 if you can find one, or go to their website. An absolute masterpiece that rivals any US prog band from the 70's and can give all the albums on the top 250 on this site a run for their money. I can't wait to play it again!!!
Report this review (#72108)
Posted Friday, March 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just can't understand why they are not famous, becouse they really deserved that. It is one of the best and most unique albums i've ever heard. They are more than excellent musicians, they all are virtuosos of their instruments. I can't find words to describe how good this music is. Just listen to it. It may be difficult to understand some pieces in the beggining, but it really worth to try.By the way, in YEZDA URFA's official website, it is written that they are working on a new album. I can't wait for it.
Report this review (#87185)
Posted Monday, August 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Criminally misconstrued by he music industry, and therefore, kept from a posible audience that might as well give them the break that they deserved, the fact is that Yezda Urfa is one of the best names in the history of USA's seventies prog. Their first recording "Boris" was actually a demo, and so we can have this catalogue comprising a selection of ideas that are still to find a final expression in their self-financed album, but also other tracks that only appear here. All of them are damn great in their own extravagant manner. The repertoire is a combination of Yessian melodicism and Gentle Giant-like elegant management of counterpoint and dissonance, all of it properly seasoned with touches of jazz-rock, circus music, folk-pop and country. You can notice slight similarities with the earliest Happy the Man ("Beginnings" and "Death's Crown"). This band sure loves to gamble with contrasts all the time, yet they do it naturally, never letting the inventiveness lead to forcefulness nor making their inherent pretentiousness a room for self-indulgent seriousness. The aware listener will quickly recogniza the humour, unhidden by the exhibition of skill and the abundant dynamics in the transitions between sections. The first track includes what would be two separate tracks in the "Sacred Baboon" album, but once you get familiar with this version, you will notice that the yfit perfectly despite their mutual differences. There is an extra last section, an acoustic ballad built on a very moving melody: it would have fitted perfectly as an Air Supply song had it been arranged differently, but then again, the beauty would have been taken to corny places. So,because this is a prog band with a solid humorous vibe, what we get is a clever rearrangement with a combination of extravagant flavors and symphonic pomp. keeping enough fluidity as not to spoil the motif's delicate beauty, yet giving it a sort of low-weigth Zappaesque twist. The brief instrumental 'Texas Armadillo' is based on the dialogue between mandolin and banjo over a catchy, evers-peeding rhythm pattern that sets a partying mood. '3, 3, Almost 6 Yea' and 'Tota in the Moya' are two YU banners: besides two thirds of the opening track, these are the first versions of numbers that will reappear soon after in the "Sacred Baboon" delivery. Here, the sound is rougher in the rockier passages, which leads to a more pronounced contrast against the calmer moments: these first versions are as good as the intended definitive ones, but not for the same reasons. '3 Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands' starts in a very serene manner, gradually getting into familiar Yes-meets-GG territory. The flute (played by Kimbrough, a multi-instrumentalist preferentially focused on keyboards) turns out to be a very prominent instrument here in some crucial passages. Finally, 'The Bases of Dubenglazy', a leftover from the "Baboon" album, is a hint to the increased stylish sophistication that the band gained after this demo's release. All in all, "Boris" is a slightly more adventurous prog effort than the subsequent "Sacred Baboon", so I enjoy it more. I genuinely love the "Baboon", but to me "Boris" is the real Yezda Urfa masterpiece - what's more, a masterpiece in itself, a gem that only recently has come to be properly appreciated by a section of the worldwide prog community. Hopefully, more and more people will dare enter the Yezda Urfa world and discover the sonic magic that lies within.
Report this review (#99724)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is such good stuff, it's hard to understand why this is so obscure. I'ts a strange and unique album (as pointed out by reviewers before me), but if you try to listen to it a few times, you will most certainly love it!

A mixture between the best of Gentle Giand and of Yes.

From strange crowded instrumental passages, to near sweet ballads, VERY VERY good and seriously recommended to anyone who likes more than the most simple prog!

Report this review (#105011)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent band that falls under artists which start with "Y".

Now, this is instantaneously pleasing music. One could say they have a sound like all the favorites: Yes, Tull, Gentle Giant, Gryphon. One could say Jon Anderson has a long lost brother as the lead vocalist. But Yezda are by no means a clone. They are, however, pretty darn good. Somehow their music fits the idea of happy, table-dancing kind of medieval folk from the Middle Ages (not that any of us have lived such a thing, which is why it is truly a melodic adventure). That, or a really good trip to the circus. Clear, tender ballads and quirky instrumental passageways seem to work in favor. I hope you have an immediate positive reaction, as I did.

Boris is a little less than an hours' worth of a brilliant listen. Although, I know I tend to cut it short a couple minutes by skipping Texas Armadillo. Despite my appreciation for mandolin and banjo, it absolutely makes me cringe. They are easily forgiven for that. If you can't make the complete effort, please, at the least, try to get your ears on Boris and His Three Verses, Including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag. It is delicious.

And as a bonus, you can weird out friends and family with track titles such as Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands. Cheers.

Report this review (#157992)
Posted Monday, January 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A superb album that came in the mid 70s in USA. Yezda Urfa must be one of my favourite band of this genre. I recommend this album to everyone that is looking for something new to listen to. The vocal in the song ''Boris And His 3 Verses, including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag'' at 7:00 minutes is one of the best I've ever heard ! 5 stars ! :D
Report this review (#165306)
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Definitive set of mid-70s symphonic rock that will leave you wondering where these guys have been hiding... and they're Yanks, too. What makes this record stand out from the pile of Yes and Gentle Giant wannabes is the easy-going attitude and relaxed production - it was recorded as a demo after all - jumping from dazzling prog dowsed with walls of keys and guitars to Celtic pastorals and clever vocal arranging. You'll swear lead singer Rick Rodenbaugh is a woman, and sometimes the group strays into unsure waters flirting with Country ('Texas Armadillo'), commercial jazz and folk. But mostly it's just some of the best stateside symph you'll ever hear.

Clear inspiration is taken from the prog spectrum of their time including Giant, Renaissance, Gryphon, Caravan, Yes, ELP, a distant Crimson influence and even Zappa, yet somehow it's reconstituted in an unexpectedly original way with less academic pretense and more a desire to just play, 'Boris' at times sounding like the band walked into the studio one afternoon and said "Hey, let's make a record today". The album opens on a twee note but slowly builds and suddenly we have an instant unknown classic staring us in the face, with Phil Kimbrough's synths squealing nobly above a powerful backdrop of acoustic & electric axes, Brad Christoff's heroic drums hacking through layers of tough prog, and Mark Tippen's guitar the backbone. It's 10 minutes of music no classic era Prog lover should be without. Kimbrough's contemplative piano sets the tone for instrumental 'Almost 4.6 Yea', another wild and wonderful bit sounding quite cutting-edge for '75, and no lack of rock power. 'Tuta in the Moya' is playful and eclectic, splitting between crashes of freeform jazz, country rock, refrains of harpsichord and culminating in a beautifully extended chorale. And 'Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands' is typically outstanding, tasteful but powerful and overflowing with maddening time signatures and absurd rhythmic tumbling.

Utterly recommended to almost anyone reading this review and an absolute joy to discover. Hats off to Greg Walker.

Report this review (#170393)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Boris is Yezda Urfa´s debut album or rather it´s the debut demo album from Yezda Yrfa as Boris was not proberly released back then. I thought Yezda Urfa was some kind of obscure east european prog band with that name but in reality they are an american band which is obvious when you listen to the music. It´s hard to understand why Boris wasn´t released as it is certainly deserving the high praise it gets here on prog archives. If there ever was a forgotten gem, this is it. Once again the music industry rears it´s ughly head and dismisses one of the most promising american bands of the seventies.

The music is eclectic as it draws influences from lot of different genres. The rythm section is very active and is obviously jazz/ fusion influenced. I hear some symphonic tendencies here too ( Most evident is the Yes influence). There are lots of moog and flute on Boris. Two vocalists share the melodic and memorable vocal lines. At first I thought one of them was a woman, but seing the lineup has convinced me that it´s a man with a very female sounding voice. There´s a short bluegrass song in Texas Armadillo while the rest of the songs are controlled by the strong jazz/ fusion rythm section and the aforementioned flute, keyboards ( especially moog) and vocals. Bases Of Dubenglazy which is one of the bonus tracks on the version I have has some polyrythmic vocals which reminds me of Gentle Giant. There´s also a definite folky edge to some of the parts in the songs. As you can read from my description of the music on Boris it´s hard to pin down the genre which Yezda Urfa belong to, so I agree to the eclectic genre term which I feel suits this music well.

The musicianship on Boris is outstanding. The drummer/ percussionist Brad Christoff has to be mentioned as he is relentless and very skilled. Some of the percussion parts he plays makes me think of Zappa. He is a real treat to listen to. The keyboardist Phil Kimbrough who also plays the wind instruments on Boris is also very good even though he uses the moog just a bit too much in some peoples opinion. I love the sound of the moog though so I don´t have a problem with this.

The production is the weak point on Boris but taking into account that this is a demo album the production is good. The sound is good enough to hear everything that is happening and it´s certainly good enough for promoting yourself to record companies even in today´s standard.

This leads me to say: What were those record company executives thinking about when they dismissed Yezda Urfa ? They must have had an ass where we normal people have ears. It´s a bit disturbing but on the other hand it´s also very intriguing to think about that there might still be some forgotten gems out there like this one. Boris is certainly an excellent album and it deserves 4 big stars.

Report this review (#170601)
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What a weird album by this almost legendary and underrated band of prog rock...and ,believe me, it is very difficult for me to deliver you the exact sound of the band in a few lines...This is one of the most intricate and complex adventures I've been through so far...I have listened to this album about 10 or 15 times and every time I discover something a lost part that I didn't notice in my previous listening...

The album starts with a YES-like song with some accesible music and vocals at the beginning and at the end of the track but a very musically intricate middle part.'' Texas Armadillo'' follows and this is a rather funny instrumental speed track that could easily be composed by YES as well...The best track of the album follows, a beautiful dark symphonic instrumental where the band reminds me a lot of GENTLE GIANT...''Tuta in the Moya...'' is next and this track brings to the surface all of the bands influences...A few vocals and tons of complex, chaotic music with unstoppable interplay between the instruments, simply stunning!GENTLE GIANT,JETHRO TULL,YES and even some italian prog bands come to mind...And finally ''Three tons of fresh thyroid glands'', another prog monument with hints of GENTLE GIANT,CAMEL and Western America culture...Nice finish for the disc!

The vocals do not dominate the album and are used rather to fill the music with another ''instrument''...but what about them?...Well, I could say that Rick Rodenbaugh's voice is a mix of Jon Anderson of YES, Roger Hodgson of SUPERTRAMP and a lighter version of David Surkamp of PAVLOV'S DOG...

I don't have to write much more,go and find this masterpiece of music...It is 100% prog and you will spent a lot of hours until you discover all of its hidden treasures...Extremely highly recommended for all the music adventurers!!!

Report this review (#172428)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I don't think I would be out of line in saying that this band was one of the best to ever come out of the U.S.A.. All you have to do is read the other enthusiastic reviews to know that you need to hear this band. Incredibly complex, yet melodic at the same time. These guys wrote intelligent lyrics and they certainly had a sense of humour (look at the song titles).

"Boris And His 3 Verses, Including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag" opens with dual vocals, the one vocalist sounds so much like Jon Anderson. The sound builds as drums, guitar and synths come in. Check out the drumming after 2 minutes. A change 3 minutes in as it turns dark. Man these guys can play !This is such a great instrumental section. Nice heavy guitar with lots of synths after 5 1/2 minutes. This passage ends before 7 1/2 minutes. It then becomes mostly acoustic with vocals for a minute. It ends in an uplifting way with vocal melodies then vocals. "Texas Armadillo" is a short instrumental with banjo ! You have to hear the way this thing builds to such a fast pace. Amazing ! "Almost 4, 6 Yea" opens with piano before being replaced by a darker, heavier section. The guitar is outstanding. It then becomes very complex. Flute after 2 1/2 minutes. A calm with acoustic guitar before 4 minutes. Vocal melodies a minute later before it turns dark again. The guitar in the next passage reminds me of the guitar on "Houses Of the Holy", this section ends 8 minutes in. Some nice drumming follows to end it.

"To-Ta In The Moya" opens with a full sound that is quickly replaced by a laid back passage, with vocals arriving 1 1/2 minutes in. A terrific sound follows. It sounds like Howe on the guitar 4 minutes in. It's darker a minute later. The song continues to change as a fun section comes in around 6 1/2 minutes. Vocals return before 8 minutes to end it. "Three Tons Of fresh Thyroid Glands" yummy. I like the way they use the flute in the intro. A change 1 1/2 minutes in as guitar and drums take the lead. Nice. The flute is back ! There's that "Houses Of The Holy" sounding guitar again. Vocals before 5 1/2 minutes. The tempo and vocals pick up speed 7 1/2 minutes in. It settles down after 9 minutes with flute and a darker sound.

Well I do prefer this to "Sacred Baboon", but if you can get your hands on either of these don't even hesitate.

Report this review (#182793)
Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I simply cannot believe that this album is in a better position than lots of more important and better albums, but this is, still, a very good and decent material that sadly remained unreleased (or released with few copies) for 29 years

You know, Yezda Urfa is one of many bands that i discovered through Prog Archives that i would probably never find another way. I mean, the band has a highly unusual name, is not very commonly discussed in any prog forum, does not have important or influential albums, it's not exactly a mainstream band (even by prog rock standards) and it is an american band (no offense, but the american prog scene back in the 70's is not my cup of tea).

So, when i saw that this album is better rated than lots of albums that i LOVE, like Lark's Tongues, Free Hand, Octopus, Acquiring the Taste, Power and Glory, Anabelas, Lizard, Power to Believe and many others in the eclectic genre alone, i thought that it would be a true mind blowing experience. And it was, at least until the title track, Boris, was playing. Boris is a wonderful song and it is surely the best song of this terrific album, but the band somehow was not able to keep up with the same quality all the way through, and though Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands is also an amazing song, Boris exceeds it by far.

Please don't get me wrong, the album is fantastic! I just think it does not keeps up to such a high grade. The only issue i i think this album has is with the bonus song The Basis of Dubenglazy While Dirk Does the Dance, which has too much background hiss (probably bad master tape or bad recording equipment or both).

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

Well, this album have some very good music indeed and though it fits quite well in the eclectic sub-genre, mainly because of the songs structures, their music is not so challenging or difficult to be fully appreciated as King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Van der Graff Generator, probably because Yezda Urfa's music is more direct or have less experimentalism and dissonances as the previously said bands. Yezda Urfa's music is also less challenging to be played then most of the songs from the said bands, but it is still not an easy task to play them.

Although the whole albums is great, there are two songs that i think deserve to be highlighted: Boris and Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands, being Boris the best album song and Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands the second best.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Boris is a great release, but i think that it simply does not deserves the masterpiece grade because it is not as good, so the 4 stars grade is more fitting and does better justice to the album true valor. However, it must be pointed out that it is remarkable that with such record they could not find any label to release their stuff: how could so many labels simply discard such a good albums is really unbelievable. That truly shows that the music industry is not interested if it's good, but if it sales, no matter how much it sucks.

A real shame that they could not get any recognition at their time and were forced to stop doing something they loved and had talent to do.

Report this review (#184659)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Who needs drugs with that kind of music?

Humbly, this has to be by a long shot the sickest UFO of all my collection; but at the same time, the Yes and Harmonium reminders (vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards..well,er..everything finallly) are putting us in some known ground. I founded out that this is a demo that was supposed to be send to record companies. The company guys must've let it slip because this somewhat rough recording is mind- boggling! Of all the obscure bands that made the cut: Neuwastein, Locanda Della Fate, England and such: they get gold medal!

Their aptitude to create (very) complex songs is beyond my comprehension, and to give you an idea, it gives Gryphon some serious competition (and to me, they squash'em bad). In all my years of listening music, nobody ever tried as hard as Gryphon to catapultate such density in a record; well Yezda Urfa is giving a lesson to all those who think they're all that....this is how it's made!

Completely crazy lyrically (read LSD) , this is an outsider amongst the outsiders, the ultimate, obscurest band I've known. Amateurs of hidden-in-your-uncles's-basement-in-a-dusty-pile-of-old-crap-records, you'll find a real diamond.

I will not listen to it often, truly disturbing.

Report this review (#192231)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Boris: the definition of Eclectic Prog.

The best way to describe the music of this obscure American band is as follows: The intriquit technical qualities, and blazing speed all taken from Gentle Giant, put together with King Crimson's (Larks' Tongues in Aspic) song structure. Now if you take that unique mixture, and saturate it by adding the lush melodies and feel of the best Italian Symphonic rock, you have Boris, by Yezda Urfa.

There is not a weak track to be associated with Yezda Urfa on this album. From the moment it starts to it's explosive end, the music keeps you at the edge of your seat, keeps you holding on so you aren't swept away from the sheer power of it all. The music also has a certain uplifting quality to it; the melodies are bright, the vocals warm, and there is just an overall sensation that the musicians had an absolute blast in the studio with this one.

If we were to decompose the music itself, and analyze each component separately, we would see that Boris is a lot more complex than he is made out to be on the lovely album art. The first thing you would notice are the beautiful, yet strange, harmonies that fill Boris with life and soul. Next you would notice the thumping bass that caries the music at its relentless pace. The bass style is in the vein of Renaissance's Jon Camp, with a clean tone, always thumping, always melodic; the brawn of Boris. The drumming comes next; which at times reminds me of some Bruford drumming during his time in Crimson. Fast, complex, ever changing beats; the drums are the true structure, the bones of our friend Boris. Boris' next feature, the flute is the most dynamic instrument on this album. Sometimes the flute making you think of a pretty spring meadow, with pretty and soothing playing... then suddenly, the flute will explode into aggressive fits of anger, dominating all in its path, as if it were the temper of our good friend Boris. Now for the two most important factors of the music: The omnipresent guitars and keyboards. These two instruments are the flesh of Boris, allowing him move and flow. At times these two instruments will be peacefully following along with the melody in the background, content as can be...but they are building up pressure, frequently exploding , as if they were geysers, into beautiful and complex guitar riffs, or synth flights.

Boris is a masterpiece of American music, that does not get its deserved recognition, as many have said before me. If you read this review, and feel tired of the music you have been listening to, Boris is calling your name. Fresh, unique, powerful, beautiful, fast, funny, uplifting; Traits of an album you should have in your possession.

Report this review (#200596)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I never heard about this band and for a first time found this name on PA only. So, one day I decided just to listen it ( mostly because of high position in PA Top and good reviews).

I wasn't disappointed. The music is really interesting and quite unusual. First of all, even if they are using many of symphonic prog elements, they still are too eclectic to be classified as symphonic rock band ( what is a big plus in my eyes). Second, they mixed many different elements in their music, so the result is never boring.

For me, they sound as proto symphonic ( it is still not overproduced, without heavy keyboards arrangements, still having the freshness and acoustic soul of rock) based band with folk, Americana and heavy prog elements. Some moments even are jazzy enough! The are very melodic ( some pieces sound as early RPI), almost folk-pop melodic, I can say. But musicianship all is complex and very progressive."Texas Armadillo" is absolutely out of place bluegrass/Americana song, but even it doesn't sound bad in their mixture.

No way masterpiece, this album is really interesting listening - symphonic prog based album for fans, who doesn't like symphonic rock too much!

Report this review (#257145)
Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where do I begin with this one? As most of the reviewers before me have made quite clear, the sound is far too complex to be described in just a few sentences. The closest thing I could compare the instrumentation to is Gentle Giant, but this goes beyond even their style in terms of complexity. The songs are full of wonderful changes and incredible moments that reflect quite clearly the many facets of eclectic prog (at one point I could swear it sounded just like the theme to "The Three Stooges"). And as if it weren't enough to pack as many changes as they did into each song, they seemed to go that extra mile and added all manner of math to any passages that seemed "easier" than the others, giving the listener a nice surprise every few seconds. This may sound off-putting when I write it, but rest assured, the songs are as melodic and beautiful as they are complex and bizarre. The sound seems to be derived from various other progressive bands of that era, with piercing mellotron sounding uncannily like Keith Emerson's, instrumental passages reminiscent of Yes, Gentle Giant, or possibly Genesis (this album includes the short instrumental "Texas Armadillo", which reminds me quite a bit of Yes' The Clap), and bits of seemingly improvised flute, sounding quite a lot like Ian Anderson's. Though the sound seems inspired by many other, more well-known bands, it is anything but derivative, and carries its own peculiar charm. I give this one five stars, a paragon of eclectic prog.
Report this review (#262481)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Pushing Prog a Bit Further

Yezda Urfa was an absurdity loving American prog band that never got a record deal during their time together. Their history as a struggling band is crucial in understanding their discography. BORIS, their most famous "album" actually served as their demo for some time. Their second, SACRED BABBOON, was an attempt to self-produce a more complete album product while still shopping for a deal. Many of the same songs were re-worked and re-recorded for the second work, and it is a bit difficult to completely separate the albums. However, I tend to agree with the band that SACRED BABBOON is the better work. BORIS is the band's signature, however, and so I will give my review of it here.

As has been said a million times, Yezda Urfa is a hybrid of the prog giants. Lead vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh sounds uncannily like Jon Anderson, and guitarist Mark Tippins leans heavily on Steve Howe's sound and licks. The music, however, is more eclectic with a mixture of Gentle Giant intertwining lines and Gryphon-like pastoralisms. The synth playing is more in the Camel vein or maybe even Keith Emerson. The rhythm section is tight and spastic, giving the band its "Hyper Caffeinated Gentle Giant" reputation.

On BORIS, perhaps the biggest drawback is too much eclecticism, a lack of focus. The twisted honky-tonk of "Texas Armadillo" has little relation to the band's actual sound, other than it's silly and fun. "Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands" switches from hyper-prog to medieval singalong abruptly and not necessarily with musical purpose. "The Basis of Dubenglazy While Dirk Does the Dance" follows suit, beginning with a section very reminiscent of "Sound Chaser" and then proceeding to get more jerking and angular, including a "Knots" style vocal section. While the song offers all the tasty morsels one would expect from taking Relayer and doubling its intensity, it is also just as chaotic and unfocused as you'd expect as well. "Dubenglazy" is BORIS in its full glory, warts and all.

Three songs: "Boris and His Three Verses including Flow Guides Aren't my Bag," "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea," and "Tuta in the Moya" all made it onto SACRED BABOON and deservedly so. Each has a more distinctive melodic theme, a bit more focus, and simply better songwriting. Unfortunately, on BORIS, no song gives us the best of both worlds (insanity and songwriting). For that we'll have to wait for the more official album, which I'll review next.

My biggest suggestion on Yezda Urfa is to ignore the current ratings here on PA and get SACRED BABBOON first and then take in BORIS if you want the full recordings of the band. Great little known prog, but this is not the essential album. 3/5

Report this review (#272958)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Boris is the first release by american eclectic prog band Yezda Urfa, apparently it is only a demo, hard to believe... The songs are absolutely beautiful. They sound like other bands from the era in one way, but they are totally unique in another way. It's too bad they couldn't get a decent record deal and continue as a band as I believe they would have become one of the recognized classics of the genre, they sadly remain an underground gem, probably an understatement. One thing that I found interesting is that Yezda Urfa sound recognizably "american" in contrast to most other 70s progressive rock bands that were from England. They mix in american folk influences very well. I was also amazed by the instrumental capabilities of the band. All parts are excellently played. If you can find this rare album (there is a reissue with bonus tracks by now) I highly recommend checking it out.
Report this review (#274013)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was listening to 'Boris' the other day. It's quite a good album, especially considering that this is virtually unheard of.

In fact on the album 'Boris' the band 'Yezda Urfa' play complex prog that is highly pleasing and expertly performed. They also vary things up a bit; you don't only get the organ/synths and guitars, the chord changes and interesting time signatures, there is also some medieval music thrown in. On the first song, they do play a Clavinet, or at least a synthesiser that sounds a lot like a Clavinet.

On the down sides the vocals are poor at times it's virtually impossible to understand what's being said without having to refer to the lyrics sheet. The singers are good but how the lyrics might mesh with the music isn't always executed well.

Also, the band make no attempt at writing that is catchy or memorable. Well if that's essential is progressive rock or not is debatable. It seems a lot of bands have an escape route, if they can't write decent hooks, call it 'prog'.

Also they aren't really trying to carve out their own place in music history, rather just 'joining in' with the prog crowd at the time.

But at least I can appreciate that it was hard for an American Band to achieve this at that time, with the record companies attitude in mind. Still their dedication to their art has paid off, having earned a lot of high marks with the progressive rock community, some 35 years after this was released. This album sometimes shows up on the top 100 on progarchives now and then so good on them.

It's definitely a good prog record with some excellent inspired instrumental music, and lets face it, that's the main ingredient for progressive rock.

Report this review (#278631)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A situation at that time would not have been necessarily a good environment for the activity and this album of Yezda Urfa. Recognizing of Music whom they were doing again might risen because the history of album and their activities comes to be known gradually. Their neither material at that time nor sound source might have circulated. However, their existence might have given the charm to the fan and the listener including the part of the mystery.

It is said that Yezda Urfa was formed in Indiana state in 1973. The history of an original activity goes back to the activity of the band by the high school student. And, it is said that neither an activity before this album is announced nor a commercial material exist.

The band replaces the member and becomes a final organization in February, 1975. It is said that it recorded for the first time for the demonstration in May, 1975. The album independently produced is issued by 300 numbers. The original board was a start of this album.

The band sent this original board to the broadcasting station and the recording label of the radio and waited for the chance of the debut. However, this sound source was never almost accepted. At this point, existence and the sound source of the band become more valuable existence. They exchange Dharma Records with the contract and record formally in 1976. However, it is said that the contract fails and the sound source was not announced for about 13 years.

As for this album, the recording was done by five person organization. All members except the drum player can do the chorus. The history of them at this time is said as a history and a transition of the band at the period after the composition in which acoustic is made a center. Introduction of various musical instruments. Introduction of flute, mandolin, and banjo. The construction of the melody that gives symphonic and an aggressive impression overall is described as a part where "Yes" and "Gentle Giant" are often reminiscent.

"Boris And His 3 Verses.Including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag" starts by a pastoral song. The sound of the guitar and the keyboard with which the sense of relief overflows reaches the peak gradually. Sound of keyboard that produces part of complete symphonic. The part of symphonic put on three rhythms shifts to an aggressive part while continued. Aggressive melody to get on rhythm of three rhythms. Unison of Riff and keyboard of guitar. Introduction of dash feeling and irregular rhythm. Development that constructs complete, symphonic heavy rock is overwhelming. The tune completely receives the top while introducing the rhythm of the shuffle. Shift of melody with expression of feelings. Or, a peculiar chorus. It is an anyway strong tune.

"Texas Armadillo" is a tune with which the flavor of country tunes overflows. The tune to make good use of the banjo and the mandolin increases the dash feeling and advances. A dash feeling that the band produces in union and a complete unison are overwhelming. The performance of the band that splendidly combines the irregular rhythm is still strong.

As for "3,Almost 4,6 Yea", the overall, aggressive melody is constructed. Many of aggressive melody done by making good use of 7 rhythms, 3, and four rhythms. The storm of the melody that develops one after another while continuing the dash feeling is overwhelming. Flow of acoustic that pushes flute out to previous. The style beauty with which expression of feelings overflows will make the impression of the tune diversified before long. Part where expression of feelings of baroque melody is introduced. The tune will return to the theme before long as the part of symphonic heavy gradually twining. The composition of the tune is overwhelming.

The melody to get on three rhythms produces the sense of relief and the anacatesthesia to "Tuta In The Moya&Tyreczimmage". The unison of the melody makes complete symphonic with the song and the chorus. Construction of moving melody. Part where complex melody and rhythm are completely constructed. Acoustic, good flavor in close relation to dash feeling. Element of Heavy Rock in close relation to there. Part of Solo of flute. A good tension and the sense of relief continue.

As for "Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands", the melody of the band where expression of feelings exists is expressed well. Construction of rhythm and melody developed one after another. The guitar and the flute also contribute to the tune. The flute and the keyboard in close relation to the rhythm with the dash feeling are complete. Pastoral song and chorus who has them recollect Yes. The tune constructs complete symphonic.

All complete parts of this band and the music characters are blocked in "The Basis Of Dubenglazy While Dirk Does The Dance". A complete dash feeling and a complex rhythm and the melody are splendidly developed. Uniting acoustic and symphonic might be splendid. The impression to which a more aggressive melody and the rhythm are developed from the music character to recollect Yes and Gentle Giant is given. Uniting of rhythm with dash feeling with chorus. A sense of existence of the band is overwhelming.

The sound source and the activity of Yezda Urfa are valuable existence also between fans including the compilation album. However, the music that they were doing might always be high-quality. The concealed good band is here.

Report this review (#289170)
Posted Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars I've been considering whether to give this album one or two stars for a bit. I think I'll know by the time I finish writing this review. That said, either way I must give you a warning: If you're like me and you wanted to check out this obscure album based on the overwhelmingly positive praise it's been getting on this site, stay far, far away. This is an album of demos for a reason, and that reason is that these musicians, while clearly talented, simply had no idea what in the blue Hell they were doing.

The first song opens with an embarrassingly dated onslaught of hippiedom, from the tambourine to the high-pitched vocals(more on those later) and the generic, throwaway psychedelic lyrics("I see a sun ship setting into port"). It almost would've been better if the song stayed this laughable, because most of the next ten minutes are a dull instrumental that sounds like it's trying to ape The Cinema Show and failing hideously. This applies to the whole album, as the whole thing reminds me of Selling England By The Pound as preformed by amateurs, but on this song it's particularly egregious. "Texas Armadillo" is filler, pure and simple, and the instrumental, while no great shakes, is perfectly tolerable.

Folks, settle in, because "tolerable" is the best this album is going to get, and it's all downhill as of Side 2.

"To-Ta In The Moya" starts out sort of promising, with interesting percussion and the singer's vocals clicking for the first time, but it devolves into yet another unremarkable solo, dominated by keyboards that would make an NES sound chip blush with embarrassment. Still, it isn't offensively terrible, it's mostly just boring. That "offensively terrible" thing is reserved for the final song, "Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands", which is every terrible progressive rock cliche lumped into one smörgĺsbord of unmitigated catastrophe. The keyboards become even more grating, buzzing in the listeners ear like mosquitoes, the lyrics are half-assed Wild West tropes sung by someone who doesn't have a cowboy bone in his body, and the vocals can only be described as a crime against humanity-high, sharp and goofy, it's impossible to process whether to grimace or burst out laughing the first time you hear them.

It's not like there aren't a couple good things about this album-the drums are spectacular throughout and the bassist gets a really nice groove going for some of the songs. But the songs themselves are far too long, wandering aimlessly from whizzing, squeaking keyboard passages to impromptu flute solos without ever giving the listener a reason to care. When you add in the grating vocals, the most dated keyboard effects I have ever heard in my life, and then top it with the fact that the songs are too indulgent to be exciting and too spastic to relax to, you have an album that is completely impossible to recommend to even the most stalwart prog aficionado.

You know how people outside of prog circles will often call King Crimson "tasteful" prog? Well, this is what they're comparing it against. "Boris" is everything you think of when you consider bad progressive rock-it's indulgent, aimless, corny and dull, and it's concrete proof that good musicianship doesn't always mean good music. One star, and it pains me to give it, but this album deserves no better.

Report this review (#299325)
Posted Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The album begins with a beautiful high pitched hippie folk song, Boris and his Three verses. Without warning, the song ends and shifts in an awesome transition into very progressive territory. By the first ten seconds of "Flow Guides aren't my Bag", you'll realize what this band is really about. From this point forward, the music is fast, the musicianship is astounding, and you'll be blown away by the complexity. Despite this, you can still hang on to the tunes, and they remain quite memorable after listening.

Following the epic intensity of "Flow Guides Aren't My Bag", there is a short bluegrass song, "Texas Armadillo". About half way through this song, all the instruments speed up to crazy speeds, enough to get anyone caught up in the Americana intensity.

The next song, "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea", Is another venture into complex speedy awesomeness, and brings the first side to a very sudden end, in the best way possible.

The Second side consists of two ten minute tracks. Just as strong as the first side, but a harder of a listen. Basically more American progressive rock to make your ears explode with joy.

By the end of this album, you might need a minute to process what you've just listened to. In the end, this unappreciated gem should be ranked among the more popular prog rock bands, such as Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Jethro Tull.

Report this review (#402561)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the hidden gems in the scene....

Well, perhaps not that hidden. The Syn-Phonic label has done an admiringly excellent job by digging out this album and give it an official release.

What hits me first is the parallells to the other hidden gem from the US scene; Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories. And the similarities music wise is there too. Much of the same sound, no less. But Boris is much more varied and drags in influences from a wide area.

Besides of the Cathedral similarities, Boris takes a lot from bands like Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, Gentle Giant and Yes. Add some folk rock influences too and we are approaching the end result. The sound is rich. The same goes for the vocals and the huge organ sound.

The music is very varied with both pastoral passages and huge symphonic passages. Yes, it sounds like a 1970s album and that in a positive meaning. The opening track Boris And His 3 Verses, including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag is a good example where it ebbs and flows. A truly great track. The rest of the album is great too. The only thing missing is that killer track who would blow all doors from their hinges. But this is a great album and one I suspect I will enjoy more and more in the remaining decades of my life.

4 stars

Report this review (#425313)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am reviewing this album having just purchased it and hearing it for the first times in my life, so please excuse my usual comparisons to other bands' musics--much of which unfairly post-dates the recording and publication of Boris.

At times folky, bluegrass, jazz fusion, Boris is most often presenting an ELP, FOCUS, or YES feel in the structures and sounds.

"Boris . . . " (9/10) sounds to me like 60's San Francisco scene blues rock singing (reminiscent of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS), CARL PALMER drumming, KEITH EMERSON keyboard stylings, guitar playing between JAN AKKERMAN and STEVE HOWE, all within a kind of epic FOCUS song. Awesome and often very moving song.

"Texas Armadillo" (6/10) is a definite bluegrass song with the CARL PALMER drums being the only thing anchoring this into the rock'n'roll scene.

"4, Almost 4, 6 Yea" (9/10) merges the ELP-YES vibes into one very interesting song--at least until the 2:30 mark when a country-folk JETHRO TULL sound takes over. Then 3:40 sees switch to a kind of classical JAN AKKERMAN/FOCUS style and sound. Add a electric harpsichord and you feel like you're in France. At 5:30 we return to an ELP section. 6:10 switch back to the FOCUS sound. 6:50 ELP with BEATLES Abbey Road. 7:40 begins a very cool outro seeming to combine all styles against the courtly French keyboard sounds.

"To-ta in the Moya" (9/10) is a gorgeous weave of acoustic mandolin, electric guitars, rolling bass playing, CARL PALMER drumming, synthesizer keys, and beautiful harmonized vocals, all performing at virtuosic speeds and skill levels and yet conveying very pleasant and controlled melodies. Brilliant song. Probably my favorite on the album because it presents Yezda Urfa in all its own sound and glory.

"Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands" (8/10) reminds me so much of FROGG CAFÉ. Of course, the TULL, CSN&Y, ELP and YES familiarities are all very strongly present. An excellent tune truly representative of the progressive rock sounds just preceeding it?especially the symphonic bands/songs.

"The Basis of Dubenglazy . . . " (8/10) has such a familiar YES sound, feel to it--though more from the Yes Album period than Fragile or CttE. Guitar, bass, even JON ANDERSON-like vocals all fit well with the "Yours Is No Disgrace" era and feel. Even some GENTLE GIANT vocal/musical stylings later on. Well met, lads!

A wonderful progressive rock album--from Americans!! Masterful performances throughout. I would call this an undisputable masterpiece; I hesitate to do so because there are so many sounds, stylings and structures herein that are clearly imitative. Still, I like this one far more than the much lauded Hybris from ANGLAGARDE. This is without a doubt great music. So, 5 stars! Why not?!

Report this review (#459492)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars With an interesting twin-vocalist lineup, complexities worthy of Gentle Giant, and a sense of drama and majesty reminiscent of Yes at their best, Yezda Urfa had some pretty convincing material on their hands with their demo debut album Boris. You've got to give credit to an album which intersperses its extended prog epic with the super-brief Texas Armadillo, which somehow manages to combine bluegrass with prog and make the resultant mixture curiously listenable. With the more epic tracks showing an incredible technical mastery, with amazingly complex pieces played at frenzied, breakneck paces, it's a genuine shame this album didn't get more exposure back in the day, but at least now it can take its place in the sun thanks to the efforts of the internet prog community. At the same time, I do find the album to be a little hit and miss, its listenability relying on not focusing on any particular musical direction quite long enough for the less entrancing parts to get truly irritating.
Report this review (#548533)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Once a hidden gem, almost prog cult this Boris release right now up there with the better, if not the best albums prog has to offer. And quite rightly so I feel. Yezda Urfa has all the ingredients true prog fans are looking for. Like complex compositions, original sound and some experimental music here and there.

But when I say complex I don't believe it's pushing the boundaries really. Boris is not a hard album to get into. It's symphonic prog with folky and jazzy influences so eclectic prog is the right category indeed. In the end Boris is an upgraded demo album and I feel we have to be thankful to the initiators who decided to release a CD ultimately because otherwise this special album would have stayed unnoticed to a larger audience. It's not really surprising they couldn't find an enthusiastic label back then because this is pretty alternative stuff of course.

On a personal level my appreciation goes to Three, almost 4 , 6 yeah and mainly the start of this track is captivating. After some 100 seconds the organ and distorted guitar deliver in superb style followed by great flute and everything else. Magnificent stuff this. Also Boris and his three verses is very interesting but in a very different way. And this is another strength of the album: all songs are very different and original. So hardly any complaints from my part which could even mean the highest score but then I have to come clean and admit that it's not enough according to my personal taste. It's on the same level as Bubu's Anabelas, superior prog rock and highly recommended to all die hard proggers. 4,25 stars.

Report this review (#723863)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Although the music of YEZDA URFA is often cited as a mixture of Yes and Gentle Giant, it is in fact unique and sounds like nothing else. Yes, it has the complexity of Yes complete with classically driven riffs here and there and the amazingly eclectic diversity that Gentle Giant took on, but YEZDA URFA proves on this debut demo BORIS that they absolutely had it all together as they can take you on the most frenetic progressive journey at breakneck speeds with amazing crazy time signatures and interplay and then in a flash turn the song into a melodic folk rock song that is catchier than any 70s pop rock and then back again to the amazing musicianship of a prog freak out.

This is simply a horribly underrated and unknown band that more than deserves to finally have its music basking in the sun for more than a fleeting moment. I can understand why this may have been a little over-ambitious in 1975 as prog was waning around then and although complex albums had been more popular a few years before this was complex even by those standards. The keyboard runs are so fast that it is hard to even follow them at times. The drumming and guitars always have a strange tension like they're ready to fall into complete dissonance but they always resolve themselves at the oddest of times and then the band itself will come together and make it seem like you just had a very strange dream. The best analogy I can think of is if you were in an airplane and suddenly went into freefall for a while and then at once everything was normal leaving you with a heightened sense of awareness and dismay of what you have just encountered.

Not only is YEZDA URFA talented beyond belief but they added a further distinction to their identity by incorporating the strangely-out-of-place-yet-still-works-somehow bluegrass track "Texas Armadillo." I am hooked on this stuff and can only imagine the music they could have churned out if they had been given the opportunity to display in full regalia all their musical tricks up their sleeves throughout the course of several albums. It wasn't meant to be but at least this and the one other album SACRED BABOON are still around for us to enjoy.

I have the newer remastered version which has a bonus track titled "The Basis of Dubenglazy While Dirk Does the Dance" which at 9:51 not only adds an extra 10 minutes to the listening pleasure but feels like it was meant to be part of the original album. This particular bonus track does have a lot more Gentle Giant influence but it is done so very, very well that I don't care! It is just that good. I simply cannot praise this album enough for it delivers all the goods throughout its entire run and leaves me wanting MORE!!!

Report this review (#1129095)
Posted Sunday, February 9, 2014 | Review Permalink

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