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Sensations' Fix - Flying Tapes CD (album) cover


Sensations' Fix

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars Sensations' Fix never quite reached the same level of acclaim enjoyed by fellow Italian Prog rockers PFM, Banco, or Le Orme (to name only a few), but their relative obscurity within the greater Prog pantheon might simply be a matter of underexposure: Italy was a hothouse of musical creativity in the 1970s, and during their all-too brief heyday the Fix released something less than a handful of recordings, few of them outside their native country and none following the standard classical/symphonic template then in vogue.

Clearly here's a band in desperate need of a belated reappraisal, and this 1978 "best of" compilation is, without question, the best place to start. For newcomers the album provides a perfect introduction to the distinctive Fix sound, with a fairly representative selection of tracks drawn from each of their five previous albums, all released between 1974 and 1977. And for already confirmed fans it offers the added bonus of being entirely remixed, dramatically eliminating the low-tech, kitchen sink sound of the original home-produced LPs.

Briefly: Sensations' Fix was a space-rock trio (later a quartet) led by ace guitarist Franco Falsini, an unabashed admirer of Robert Fripp, to whom he dedicated the 1974 FRAGMENTS OF LIGHT LP, in a note on the front cover reassuring the Crimson King that the Heavenly Music Corporation was alive and well outside Florence, Italy, where the band had its home at the time. But unlike other ardent Frippheads (step forward, Richard Pinhas) Falsini developed a guitar style uniquely and recognizably his own, anticipating (in primitive form, but with a similar battery of filters, flangers, and atmospheric synthesizers) the same cosmic terrain that groups like Ozric Tentacles would be exploring a generation later.

Which may explain why their music holds up so well after all these years.

The first two tracks on FLYING TAPES are both from the aforementioned FRAGMENTS OF LIGHT, including the quintessential Music Is Painting In The Air, in style and title perhaps the best definition of the Sensations' Fix (and, by extension, the greater Prog Rock) philosophy. Next, from the (likewise) 1974 album PORTABLE MADNESS, are Leave My Chemistry Alone and Strange About The Hands, a pair of tracks revisited in song form on later LPs but presented here in dynamic remixes (re-recordings?) of their original instrumental arrangements. It's been probably 20 years since I last heard either of those first two early '70s LPs, but nothing about them stands out in memory as having anywhere near this much strength and vigor.

Side One of FLYING TAPES concludes with Cold Nose Story, the title track of a now rare 1975 Franco Falsini solo album, written as the soundtrack to a movie (directed by Filippo Milani) about cocaine addiction. Gentle guitar arpeggios float over a bed of ominous bass synthesizers, with Falsini's dreamlike vocals drifting somewhere in the middle distance.

Anyone still familiar with the 1976 album FINEST FINGER probably won't recognize the version of Boat Of Madness introduced here on the flipside of FLYING TAPES. The rhythm section is, as elsewhere, pushed front and center in the mix, and the remodeled song continues far beyond the point where the original version faded out in a wash of percolating synths, adding another trademark Falsini solo before the whole band kicks in with a final, convulsive coda.

The 1977 album VISIONS FUGITIVES was an oddity, recorded outside Italy (in California!) and released, on the All Ears label, only in the USA. Two more instrumentals have been excerpted here: Fleetwood Tri L-Track and Warped Notions Of A Practical Joke (such playful track list prolixity was a Sensations' Fix hallmark). The former is a brief, semi- psychedelic interlude of tentative guitars and treated bass; the latter is an uncharacteristically upbeat rocker, with a curious bayou vibe in the acoustic guitar intro, straight from the swamps of the lower Mississippi delta.

The album ends with Faux Batard, the closest thing in this collection to a traditional song, as well as the nearest in sound to the original version, from the 1977 BOXES PARADISE LP.

After recording five albums in a span of three years the band was at a creative peak when FLYING TAPES was released in 1978. Of course by then, for most Prog Rock musicians, the writing was already on the wall, scratched in angry day-glo punk calligraphy (Mene-Mene- Tekel-Uparsin-Anarchy-in-the-UK?) Artists like Falsini and company were marginalized almost overnight, and many a worthwhile recording, including this collection, barely saw the light of day before disappearing into undeserved, premature obscurity.

Sadly, only one of their original albums has, to date, been rescued from vinyl and re-issued on compact disc: the early FRAGMENTS OF LIGHT. I would nominate FLYING TAPES as the ideal candidate for an overdue digital transfer, but until then you'll have to trust in luck, legwork, and good old fashioned serendipity to find yourself a copy. Good hunting.

Report this review (#29115)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A call from the heart to the Wind I join my voice to Mann (Michel) regarding his call to nominate FLYING TAPES & FINEST FINGERS as candidates for an overdue digital transfer . please rescue these albums from vinyl . in 2008 , thanks God to extend my life and to hear what MANN said on progarchieves . for your info MANN ,, Sensation's fix has'nt disappear into undeserved premature obscurity . i bought all SF albums in vinyl from Milan & Rome between 1974 - 1979 - ( still up till now in good shape ) . i believe that these rarities worth millions for me , and i was really surprised by some ig***rnts trying to sell these albums for a pack of cigarettes . These albums are too precious for me in vinyl surely , and to satisfy you more my friend , Franco Falsini & Stephen Head of Sensation's fix will never disappear in obscurity . as long as , I and thousands other proggers in Lebanon & the middle east still listen approximatly daily to their amazing works ........,,, Beirut - Lebanon --- best regards to Progarchieves & Mann's review . Essential in every progressive rock collection , as well as Finest Fingers .
Report this review (#164462)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Man this is such a find and I have to thank Todd for making it happen. This is a compilation album that the band released in 1978 and they've re-worked the tracks so they do sound somewhat different from the originals. It's been interesting reading the opinions about this record as some feel the new versions aren't nearly as good as the originals and besides it's a compilation album so they rate it low, while others like myself are blown away at how good this sounds from top to bottom. If it wasn't a compilation album i'd give this 5 stars, that about sums up my feelings on this release.

"Fragments Of Light" is my favourite. This is really beyond words. The guitar tone playing over the beat is heaven. Synths come and go beautifully. "Music Is Painting In The Air" has a catchy beat as the guitar solos over top. Spacey synths come and go. Great sounding track. "Leave My Chemistry Alone" sounds so good to start with the guitar and drums building. So much tension like a MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA song. That flavour disappears quickly though. The drums are crisp throughout. "Strange About The Hands" is spacey with atmosphere to open. The guitar and drums come out of that mood. So good ! "Cold Nose Story" is actually a track from Franco Falsini's solo album. We get vocals for the first time in this spacey and dreamy soundscape. So much atmosphere.

"Boat Of Madness" is almost experimental to start with those synth sounds then the drums kick in with vocals. Synths lead when the vocals stop but they don't stay quiet for long. This rocks out pretty good late. Nice. "Fleetwood Trip L-Track" is a short hazy drugged out piece. "Warped Notions Of A Practical Joke" opens with intricate guitar then it kicks in hard before a minute. Strummed guitar before 2 1/2 minutes as the sound changes. Spacey synths too as the drums pound. "Faux Batard" is a catchy vocal track but it is psychedelic all the way. There's a tasteful guitar solo half way through.

A must for both SENSATIONS' FIX and Psychedelic music fans.

Report this review (#758760)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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