Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Ethos - Ardour  CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Take a big spoonful of Yes, a big splash of Jethro Tull, a modicum of Gabriel-era Genesis and lots of Deep Purple and you may get an idea of what this 70s era prog band from Indiana is about... From the earliest strains of "Intrepid Traveller", you can hear their influences throughout the album. Half the fun of listening to this hodgepodge of styles is recognizing that particular part or this as influenced by whomever... Some would say this work is a lame attempt at prog rock, but I say it's more like a testament to the love these musicians have for the genre. I especially enjoyed the sci-fi theme of "Space Brothers", which melds hippie love with ultimate sci-fi Truth. "Everyman" is a typical cautionary tale, reminding us that sometimes the most important member of the community could be the least expected. "Atlanteans" brings us to a feel-good environmentally-friendly ballad, while "The Spirit of Music" laments the death of the past. I felt that "Long Dancer" was an attempt at early New Age-ness, while "Dimension Man" poses a Twilight-Zone-like problem. Wrap it all up with another feel-good environmental song to ease you out of the mix. The first thing that attracted me to the album was the imaginative pastel cover art (which impressed me so much I recreated it with colored pens and framed it... Still on a wall in my home to this very day)... I was intrigued enough to buy it and take it home. First time on my turntable, I was bowled over! I played it again and again, just so I could be sure I heard what I thought I heard. To make a long story short... A nice novelty to keep in your collection of obscure albums, to play when you're feeling nostalgic for some good old fashioned prog rock American style. Four stars!
Report this review (#19035)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars When this LP was first released I fell in love with the cover. So I took a chance and purchased it hoping that the music might also be as cool as the cover. And I was right. I still listen to this LP but on cassette. I also still have the "Open Up" LP.

I never knew that there was a rare Ethos, Ardour CD from Japan available. I would love to find a reasonably priced CD version of Ardour.

Report this review (#19033)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the average it should deserve a "3 stars score";anyway- regarding of the 70's US derivative scene- this US band produced a good work, "YES oriented" and with a good taste.Then you find also excellent keyboards and a decent job as well, concerning instead the rhythmical section (even though it's a bit fuzzy), which is often quite captivating!!

This album is recommended, although it is not completely essential...

Report this review (#19036)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars ETHOS was a little known American prog rock band that came from an unlikely place: Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kinda strange to see a prog band coming from an area of the country that tends to be conservative. But they were lucky and got signed to Capitol Records, and went to New York and got busy recording this album. The band seemed to be lead by guitarist/vocalist Wil Sharpe, the rest of the band consisted of keyboardist Michael Ponczek, drummer Mark Richards, bassist Brad Stephenson, and keyboardist L. Duncan Hammond.

This album isn't exactly what I call essential, this is an American band trying to be European, but still sounding American (at least KANSAS had the sense of sounding American). The vocals still sound quite American, but there band had the benefit of two keyboardists, in which Moog and Mellotron are the most dominant. The lyrics all have that cosmic sci-fi theme that seemed to be a common theme to many prog bands in 1976. The cover to the LP has an Atlantean theme. The music can be a bit on the clichéd side, lyrics included, like the opening "Intrepid Travellers". "Atlanteans", as you might guess, is the song describing the cover. The lyrics seeme to more speak of Atlantis in the present tense, rather than the famous rise and destruction (like what EARTH & FIRE did three years before with their "Atlantis" album or ELOY did one year later with "Ocean"). "Spirit of Music" has some rather dumb lyrics lamenting about how the rock scene isn't the same in 1976 as it was in 1964, which is really odd, given they were playing prog rock, which is hardly supposed to sound like anything bands were doing in '64! And like the rest of the album, "Spirit of Music" is prog rock.

Basically this whole album is like many of the prog rock albums I own: decent enough, worth having, but not essential.

Report this review (#19037)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars ETHOS was another one of those US bands from the 70's who tried more or less successful to emulate the kind of symphonic prog done by the seminal British ones. I've read somewhere that they claimed to be America's answer to KING CRIMSON, but IMHO the presence of this influence is rather minor in their music. Instead the most obvious influence of them was certainly YES, not only due to the Squire-alike Rickenbacher bass but also the hymnic compositions and heavy use of different sorts of keyboards like piano, Mellotron and synths. Slight early CRIMSON reminiscence I can only detect in the quirky guitar riffs of Everyman and by the overall frequent use of the Tron. Most of the compositions are rather intricate and playful having a multi- part structure. ETHOS combined all these influences with a rather US-typical looseness giving them a bit of their own style and leading to a quite enjoyable result.

HIGHLIGHTS: The already mentioned Everyman and The Dimension Man, an excellent versatile composition with great rhythmic section.

CONCLUSION: As some of my co-reviewers I wouldn't regard this album here as an essential one but nevertheless as a quite good one and worth to be checked out by fans of this sub-genre. Definitively a nice listen and worth for 3.5 stars I would say!

Report this review (#37901)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the more infuriating albums out there. I guess you could call this the North American equivalent to TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS.

Some passages of this album are blistering, unique and amazing, with fiery guitarwork and dual keyboards (Hammond, Moog, piano, Clavinet, Mellotron/Chamberlin, etc.) that really do add an extra dimension to the music, some of the finest moments of any American prog album ever. Some passages are downright embarrassing-derivative and saccharine, exemplifying the worst tendencies of American prog-rock.

The big problem is, you can't pick out any one track. They're ALL like that, with amazingly excellent and abysmally bad sections sitting side-by-side. This is why the album is so infuriating! You're FORCED to listen to the bad stuff to get to the good. Combine that with the fact that this contains what surely must be the worst sets of lyrics by an native-English-speaking band EVER and you'll understand why I don't play this one much. Silliest lyrics (and there's serious competition for that, believe me) are probably found in "Everyman" a conceptual piece (centered around the imaginary river Si, pronounced "sigh". I can hear you groaning already.) with metaphors so obvious you can see them from space.

Second prize probably goes to "Spirit Of Music", whose lyrics would become highly ironic mere MONTHS after the album's release.

Report this review (#45365)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Album is The Best Ever American Propgressive Music, challenged only by its follow up album "Open Up" and sadly last offering from Wil Sharpe and Friends. ironically, This is filled with quite The English Inspiration side of Prog, formed by all of the usual suspects. But the main Sound here is King Crimsonesque, Some Camel, and a wacky Gentle Giant approach, especially with The Spirit Of Music and its quite funny sound scapes, courtesy of Mini Moog. The opening of this album has possibly the finest Mini Moog solo I've heard ever in my life. The use of both Pitch and Modulation is Superb. Even gives Jan Hammer a run for the money. L.Duncan Hammond was sorely missed on Open Up LP, But Michael Poncek did keep up the strength of the Keys on his own quite well. Wil Sharpe's voice (although not a skilled singer) is almost Italian Prog sounding, (Close to the sound of for instance Libra, or PFM, and also kinda close to Mick Ronson, or Timo Laine, or even some small moments of Japanese Rocker Kyoji Yamamoto.) a very smooth and soothing sound coming out of his body and pipes. Fantastically pleasant to listen to. Long Dancer is by far the finest track on the album, a severely emotional progression throughout and with aerie passages only to culminate into what I consider being the penultimate Guitar Solo of all times, hands down... Unbelieveable emotion and handling from Wil, His Guitar tone is indescribeable, but I'd call it Rubber Steal, in how he bends those G Notes into an A, The Only sad thing about Long Dancer is that it ends...!!! Mark Richards Drumming is Bill Bruford on Acid or a laid back Terry Bozzio... Fantastically unique approach to Roto Toms and Gongs and a fine sounding Snare to boot, brings us a most satisfying enigmatic challenge as a listener. Brad Stephenson, who years later wound up playing with Peter Banks Empire Project in L.A. is yet another Rickenbacker Plectrum player Galore... I can't help but just loving it, especially these days with all slap and lame soft fingers, lacking precision and stop timing issues. I've read some other reviews where words such as Embarrassing and not essential came up. I beg to differ... If you like Progressive Rock, This is the one you need to have along with Open Up. As for Embarrassing... A wise man once told me All forms of art is embarrassing and ridiculous. Thank God for such insight... without it, we would be arrogant pompous asses, all of us... Liten Up and have some Fun! I own this recording on LP, Cassette, 8-Track and Yes Japanese CD Release, and i still play all of them :-) I Give this album 10 Stars out of 5. Cheers! BOLLE_!_?
Report this review (#87298)
Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had this album earlier this year and all but ignored it. What a fool! Here is about the one US band you've put up here I'd give the full 5 star masterpiece rating to, and don't let this one pass you by as it can still be found affordably, comes in a beautiful cover, and has the music to match. A progressive band from the American Midwest, Ethos for once give the listener a sound that is unique, atmospheric, and thought provoking with even some fun being had in the lyrics. Wil Sharpe wrote or co wrote every track and provided the band with guitar and vocals. If he's the lead singer his voice is gentle, soothing, and sung in for most of the album a whisper where in the few loud parts he sounds like David Bowie. The only other group I could think of like Ethos would be Yes (early on) and Fantasy, maybe also Jasper Wrath. Things begin fantastic with "Intrepid Traveller-" a bit of a Gentle Giant influence evident on this and much of the album, but better than Gentle Giant! There's thoughtful verses, strong choruses, dynamite playing from the group with lots of mellotron, and some fine guitar work too. "Space Brothers" continues Sharpe's fascination with space and life on other planets, but this won't bore you like if the local philosophy teacher dressed up in his robes and stepped onto a stage keening in an embarrasing imitation of a space alien which so much neo prog does. Technically, Ethos at 1975 in release date were tail end of prog, not neo prog. Punk rock fans must have been horrified by this. In fact, Ethos and Leviathan are the only two bands I can think of who sounded "dangerous" and "threatening" to the American public's lack of taste and interest in progressive rock. Side One closes with two tracks that are linked together by the Atlantis story- "Everyman" is a song I particularly empathize with. An old man who has been an outcast all his life saves a village from a flood every year and the people give him nothing but insults and stupidity. Finally, after writing his own epitaph (!) when the old man dies the town is washed away. Do we feel any sympathy for them? Hell, no! "Atlanteans" continues the theme with gentle flowing melodies and a haunting atmosphere. Side Two's "The Spirit Of Music" has a little fun in its story of music history from The Beatles to the present time (which then was 1975). The rest of the side is even better than that amazing track, and even more impressive than Side One if such a thing is possible. This is an outstanding record. Even the synthesizers are for the most part used tastefully and don't wreck anything. I would strongly reccommend this to anyone who loves progressive music, but for the Kayak/Camel/Fantasy crowd (myself one of those) this album can't be missed! If at first you don't get this, try it again. I found a copy for cheap and boy am I glad I gave this one some serious listenings since fetching it back again. Masterstroke!
Report this review (#98517)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A rather forgotten band from USA,this quintet hailed from Fort Wayne at the state of Indiana.ETHOS got lucky to be signed by Capitol Records and soon they moved to New York in order to record their first album.By the end of 1975 the work was almost ready and the eight arrangements of ''Ardour'' were all written by the leader of the band,vocalist/mandolin player/guitarist Will Sharpe.

''Ardour'' is the absolutely perfect example of balanced instrumentation and also an absolute heaven of instrumental interplays.While the band delivers an evident symphonic sound,the variety of instruments and the alternation of sounds,moods and tempos will leave you speechless.The sound of the band is a great mix of early-KING CRIMSON's cleverness and YES' complexity with touches of GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT.Will Sharpe's vocals are reminiscent of KING CRIMSON's Greg Lake,while Hammond delivers an amazing performance on mellotron,with the various flutes and strings blended with piano and organ creating a chaotic atmosphere.Stephenson's bass lines are complex and heavy in the vein of YES' Chris Squire and Sharpe's guitar parts are also in the path of YES' Steve Howe.The polyphonic vocal harmonies resemble to a bastardation of YES- and GENTLE GIANT-like harmonies,while some delicate organ/mellotron parts will remind you of GENESIS' Tony Banks.The musicianship is fantastic and all tracks are...what can I say...maybe the right term should be ''accesibly complex''!...I honestly love this album,which came as a total surprise to me...ETHOS were a US band,obviously influenced by the British acts of the time,who managed to refine their inspiration in a personal,amazingly-crafted and perfectly-composed LP!

Report this review (#151742)
Posted Monday, November 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I see lots of people here generalizing this group as a mediocre American wannabe Prog band. I don't care were it came from (and I'm not an American), I just interested in the music and I think this album is simply excellent. Very few bands are able to combine beautiful melodies with complex arrangements, and sound fresh and enjoyable, yet interesting. I think everything is here, good melodies, good production and excellent musicianship. I think this is a must for every one who consider himself as someone who enjoys music - regardless to were it was conceived and by whom. Do yourself a favor and listen to this album, it will make you day and life better.
Report this review (#283278)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I've never seen so many 3.5 star ratings for an album before as there is around "The Net" for this one. It might be because it's too good to simply give it 3 stars, yet to give it 4 stars would be to over value it. The "good" about this recording is the bass and mellotron, I mean both are all over this album.The bad is the lyrics, concept and the fact it just comes across as cheesy. That's the first time and hopefully the last time i'll use that word, but for this record it fits.This American band actually got signed by a major record label in 1975 which is quite impressive.Two keyboardists and the band I thought of most often was YES.

"Intrepid Traveller" opens with strummed guitar as other sounds come and go. Keyboards take over with drums a minute in. Vocals follow. A calm with piano and reserved vocals as mellotron rolls in. It stays mellow until it picks up with a YES flavour 6 minutes in. "Space Brothers" opens with strummed guitar and mellotron. Vocals join in. I like the vocal melodies on the chorus. Nice chunky bass 2 1/2 minutes in with synths. Howe-like guitar 4 minutes in. "Everyman" has these laid back vocals with mellotron. It picks up a minute in then settles back as contrasts continue.

"Atlanteans" opens with mellotron as reserved vocals enter with bass. It picks up then kicks in after 2 minutes with bass and synths. The intro section is back after 3 minutes. Nice bass a minute later. It settles late with piano and mellotron. Waves end it. "The Spirit Of Music" has a corny intro but it becomes a lot better when the chorus arrives. The lyrics are cringe-worthy though. I like the heavy outbursts with mellotron after 3 minutes. "Long Dancer" has lots of mellotron and keys as vocals come in. More great bass before 2 minutes. The guitar with bass and mellotron is incredible after 4 minutes. "The Dimension Man" calms down a minute in. Vocals follow as it gets fuller. Contrasts continue. It's KING CRIMSON-like briefly before 2 1/2 minutes. Nice. "E'Mocean" is not a lame title is it ? Yeah it is. Sea-gulls and waves to open and close this tune. Strummed guitar, keys and vocals in between.

Of course I give it 3.5 stars. Mellotron fans may rate it higher because this is drenched in it.

Report this review (#291716)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Is very hard to me understand why this lost pearl of the progressive scenery of the seventies, presents so few reviews (only 11). I prefer to believe, that it is due to the ignorance on the part of the collaborators' of the PA community, that for some indifference type! However, I also verified (with satisfaction) that the last 4 posted reviews, have given the deserved value to this albun.(5 stars) Speaking about the disk , this first work of the band ETHO'S, presents a sound a little more symphonic in relation to the albun "Open Up" (I compare the 1° in relaçâo to the 2°, because I already wrote a review on the same). Such fact maybe is dueto the presence of one more keyboard player that through the use in separate from the melotron brings as in the track "Everyman" (simulating a flute) a bucolic air, and in Track "Atlanteans" (where it simulates a suit of violins, cellos and other bowed instruments the most symphonic characteristic). However that is not dazzling in any way the mixture of symphonic prog/jazzprog/hard prog and space prog (that is the signature of this fantastic band), inside of this same track. That it is one of the prominences of the albun. The Track 5 presents an air a little heavier, with a rhythm dragged in some moments and permeated by instrumental deliriums. However, so that you can have the exact notion of what is this fantastic disk , goes direct to the Track 7 "The Dimension Man" and then you will understand clearly (I hope ...) because my quotation is 5 stars!!!!!
Report this review (#291773)
Posted Saturday, July 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3.5 stars, really. My good friend Erik Neuteboom sent me thie debut CD of this obscure american band that I had never heard of. Although Ethos was based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, they sound like an european group. Unlike other USA outfits like Kansas, that has always included almost as much american influences as the ones from the continent (especially from England), Ethos seems to come from anywhere BUT America. That´s not a bad thing. Like so many artists of the time those yankees really loved prog music and tried hard to produce something similar like people from Holland, Italy, Brazil, etc. And their debut is not bad at all. In fact I found Ardour quite promising and interesting.

Their main influence is certainly Yes and it shows: the opener Intrepid Traveler has more than a passing resemblance of Yes Astral Traveler in its opening riff. the good news is that unlike other Yes worshipers (like Starcastle) Ethos does not tries to copy the originals all that much (singer and guitarist Wils Sharp avoids, mercifully, any falsettos a la Jon Anderson) and includes a good dose of strong elements from other prog icons, specially early King Crimson (just listen to Dimension Man), but also Genesis (Everyman) and even some early Uriah Heep on some parts. Another strong point is their songwriting skills. Although far from being original or groundbreaking, they showed a real knack for the nice melody line and these tracks quite stand on their own after all these years. And with two keyboards men on board, If you´re a fan of mellotron waves, this album has plenty of them.

With a good production work and strong musicianship of all involved, Ardour showed that theses americans had talent and could go far had they come a little earlier (by 1976 the prog scene was already on decline and under the heavy attack of critics and punk rockers, as you all know very well) and had time to develop their sound into something more of their own. As it is, the music here is pleasant and well done, although still a bit too derivative for comfort. I´m looking forward to listen to their follow up, 1977´s Open Up. This one is certainly not a lost gem, but it is still quite enjoyable, specially for 70´s prog lovers like me.

Good CD, but certainly not essential. 3,5 stars, because they have the right influences and tasteful tunes.

Report this review (#1771555)
Posted Monday, August 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

ETHOS Ardour ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of ETHOS Ardour

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives