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Abstract Truth - Silver Trees CD (album) cover


Abstract Truth

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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5 stars I remember seeing Abstract Truth at a concert in 1971 and the only song I recognized was a cover of "Feelin' Good", similar to Traffic's version on "Last Exit". I was impressed but somehow never laid my money down, maybe because there weren't any albums in the record racks. I finally came across this album in '78 in a record library. I didn't play it often as it was in poor condition. Now that I have the silver disc, still with those same distortions and crackling transferred, I've managed to catch up with the amount of plays that 'Traffic's "John Barleycorn" has received and that is a lot.

"Pollution" starts the album with a possible hit single but unlike Rare Bird's "Sympathy", not many heard it. Despite the depressing lyrics, the final part features a joyful South African Township Jazz section with requisite saxophone and ringing guitar.

"All the same" and "Original Man" have similar messages pertaining to the state of inequality in South Africa. Both songs have similar Rare Bird type tunes with organ and flute, only the ringing guitar sound preventing them from being completely European in origin.

"Silver Trees" is the Truth's highest spark of brilliance, a musical trek through an African wilderness with images of the shimmering trees in the unrelenting heat of the sun, then the peaceful sound of dragonflies and birds under a shaded stream. This scenario was to be explored by Jade Warrior in '71 and again in '74 with '"Floating World".

"In A Space" doesn't lose the momentum set by the previous song and is almost a part 2.

"Moving Away (at the speed of light)" with harpsichord and flute is as spaced as Traffic's "40,000 Headmen" while 'Two" is similar to Harry Nilsson's "One". Keeping up with the similarity theme is "Blue Wednesday Speaks", almost a carbon copy of the yet to be released "Light Up and Leave Me Alone" while the final track 'It's Alright with Me" is, you guessed it, similar to Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright?" except they knew the truth of their feelings.

Report this review (#819401)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars A marked step above the preceding Totum, Silver Trees finds Abstract Truth in a more determinedly progressive mode, with a unique and curiously sparse sound loaded with fertile possibilities which, alas, would remain unexplored after this due to the group's untimely and unfortunate dissolution. Weaving together the softer side of early prog as represented by the likes of Jade Warrior or Traffic with a wider than average scope of world music influences, the album stands out for its reliance on flute, with no less than three of the four band members bringing the instrument to bear at points during the album's running time.

Unfortunately, the album relies a little too much on extended, repetitive motifs which aren't quite developed enough to save them from being irritating. If they'd persisted with this style they may have been able to accomplish something truly memorable with it, but as it stands this album has to stand as a more humble high water mark than the band perhaps deserved.

Report this review (#1164485)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars South African prog is not all that familiar to me. As in any country or continent there are bound to be acts playing something relating to the term progressive rock and Abstract Truth certainly is one of those.

Progressive rock in it's infancy is often pleasant. Sometimes complex and brilliant, sometimes only brilliant and on occasion simply pleasant. This album balances between brilliant and pleasant, with emphasis on the latter. Now, that is not bad at all. It is actually quite good. Really.

When I listen to "Silver trees" I get the same feeling as I do when I hear Tamam Shud. It is sort of fragile and shaky at times. That could be labelled charming and it could be labelled annoying. I find it, after all, quite charming. The music of Abstract Truth and Tamam Shud is connected in some ways. It holds specific trademarksof it's origins, in this case a flavor of african music in the track "Pollution", and that is, I think, great.

The music can be described as organ-laden progressive on the softer side. There are no real outbursts of heavy rock or anything like that. Instead it is melodious, very pleasant and very enjoyable. The album holds only a few real standouts of which "Silver trees" is the best and most epic, due to it's length. The remaining songs are all good but it all blends together a bit I feel.

The instrumentation is good, the vocals great and the overall feel is one of warmth and sincerity. This is progressive rock when it is in it's infancy and produced in a country and continent not primarily associated with that sort of music. I think that the album is sadly overlooked, actually. It is not the greatest of prog albums and certainly not the boldest or most complex of the lot. It is however a well constructed album, drawing influence from the '60's west coast and the comings of musical progression and lands in the same territory as Gracious!, Skin Alley and the likes.

Conclusion: Three solid stars and a plea to all of you to give it a spin.

Report this review (#1235238)
Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good progressive rock from South Africa, tinged with Psychedelic and Jazz leanings similar in style with the sound of mid-Traffic or even Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. It's a period piece for sure but, considering the year (1970) and the place (South Africa) you can only admire the effort of the musicians participated. Check out also their first album of the same year Totum, but this one is more mature I think. Totum, had covers played with gusto, but this one contains only original compostions all of them full of moods and worth to mention. I particularly like the longest one " Silver Trees " also " Pollution " and " In A Space ". " Blue Wednesday Speaks " adds a more traditional South African style to the composition with very good results. It's a shame they couldn't go on. A nice addition to your Prog-rock collection.
Report this review (#1285289)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2014 | Review Permalink

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