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Embryo - Father, Son And Holy Ghosts CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars After their Rache album (and a cancelling of their Spanish tour because of a track "Espana si, Franco no" on Rache) , Embryo will go in a frenzy recording three albums worth of music in 8 months time but their label (United Artistes) only released this one as the rest was deemed too uncommercial for release. The sleeve artwork looks like a hippy playing with the Olympic flame (they are in Munich and in late spring 1972) and the group is now a keyboard-less quartet, which will alter the group's sound quite a bit. Most of the songs are still above 5-mins, but still retain a certain opening towards ethnic jazzy jams.

This third album is well in the line of their first two , ever diving deeper into eastern influences producing some of the earliest examples of fusion music (ethnic folk & jazz-prog) much worth the investigation as well as the investment. Forgotten Sea is particularly moving with its amazing bass and guitar interplay and The Sung Song (which is anything but) could almost fit on Santana's masterpiece CARAVANSERAI, recorded the same year.

The other two albums recorded simultaneously (don't quote me on whether they were working on the three albums at once, but I've read this one more than one occasion) are Steig Aus and Rocksession but were released much later. Steig Aus being even better than this one, but both are much worthy your investments.

Report this review (#30618)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Somewhere in the musical cavern sandwiched between perhaps AMON DUUL II and Miles Davis lies a very underrated band from Germany called EMBRYO. "Father Son & Holy Ghosts" is the third album released by Embryo and marks for this music lover one of the finest pieces of work to have come out of Germany in 1972. Interesting note is that Miles Davis too was right into this band at the time so I guess I am in good company ! This is not prototypical German underground prog but very much eastern world influenced raga psych prog rock (best way I can describe). EMBRYO utilize a fantastic range of instruments with marimba, vibraphone, flutes, saxophone, violin, a very versatile percussion arsenal on hand. The guitar work of Sigi Schwab is also quite stellar without every really getting in your face and or overpowering the band. Overall an amazing album and one of Unger's favs from the vaults.
Report this review (#38394)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A incredible performance of that great jazz-rock/fusion band. Here is more rock-symphonic vein as jazz. The interaction of flute/guitar/bass maining in the tracks "The special trip", "sun song" and "forgotten sea" is great. In the final track the duo violin/bass flows like waves in the sea, and the guitar/drums work like a true hurricane. A real masterpiece of that fantastic band.
Report this review (#42508)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Embryo is most definitely one of the more obscure bands (as if there aren't a lot of obscure bands with progressive tendencies, haha) but they are one of the few bands that can say they were favored by the great Miles Davis, who is known for his high musical standards. Now, I am not exactly sure which albums of theirs this praise applied to but this album is definitely a wonderful example of jazz-fusion recorded during the early years of the genre, which I believe he would have at least found amusing. In particular it is the eastern influence in the band that is most striking. On "Father, Son, and Holy Ghosts," the band members run a gambit of instruments including veena and tarang sitars, flute, violin, marimba, vibraphone and numerous other precussion instruments. Using a few different time signatures and, in a lot of cases, jazzy rhythms, they weave some very fun "jams" ontop a foundation of space rock. Crossing a line between Pink Floyd's crescendoing, Gong's jazzy wit and time signatures, and krautrock bass-lines and afrocentric rhythms, supplied by supposed viruoso bass-player Dave King and the groups leader and drummer/precussionist, as well as ex-Amon Duul member, Christian Burchard. The most noticable player on the album is the incredible Sigi Schwab on guitar and sitars and the best part of his playing is that he does not over-power the music at any point with his soloing or pedal effects, always adding and never taking away. As for the tracks themselves, "The Sun Song" and "The Forgotten Sea" stand out as the most compelling and original tracks on the album. "The Sun Song" is, according to them, a trip to the sun; this is interesting as this track is the most eastern-influenced of them all with its pounding sitar, sometimes disspondent but always interesting eastern flute work, and great precussion anchored by the marimba. All the instruments featured play incredibly well off of each other and do indeed provoke an esoteric sense of travelling towards the sun much like the idea behind a lot Pink Floyd songs such as "Meddle," Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun," etc. "The Forgotten Sea" is a jazz jam featuring marimba and guitar as the featured soloists. I don't find this song overly challenging beyond the soloing, but very fun and probably the song on the album besides the latter mentioned that I could see appealing most to Miles Davis. On the otherhand, who knows. All the other songs are great as well. King Insano runs like a a song that could have influenced the David Cross/John Wetton incarnation of King Crimson with its brooding violin play via Edgar Hoffman. Marimbaroos is a bit along the same lines only instead of brooding, much more peaceful and moving. But regardless, this album is most definitely one of my favorites and is recommended to any parties interested in the above bands or jazz-rock fusion.
Report this review (#42746)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Embryo were actually one of the finest german bands to come out of the krautrock explosion of the early seventies mixing some very tight ensemble playing in a jazz fusion combined with eastern modal jam based style. I would highly reccomend their all instrumental albums 'steig aus' and 'rocksession' as two of the best albums of the whole genre. Like much of their other work, this music is charachterized by diverse and exotic eastern improvisations with and fine musicianship throughout but with some of the most toneless, strained and off- key vocals I have ever heard! This truly sounds like a man being poisoned. I cannot in good faith reccomend this ruined album.
Report this review (#53963)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This would be EMBRYO's third release and the first that would have a "World Music" flavour to it. The album cover is interesting as the Olympics were to be held in Munich that year (1972), so one of the band members wives took a picture of one of their roadies pretending to be a fire- eater in front of some of the buildings of the Olympic area. Well just as she snapped the picture a wind came up and blew the fire in his face as you can see, resulting in him being taken to the hospital with severe burns. I'm surprised they still used it as the cover but it's one of a kind that's for sure.

"The Special Trip" has this catchy rhythm that builds as violin joins in. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. They stop when the violin comes ripping in, guitar follows. Nice bass too. A big finale on this one. "Nightmares" is a short tune with acoustic guitar melodies. "King Insano" is a top three. It's laid back with gentle flute that reminds me of KING CRIMSON's debut. It kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes as guitar and violin light it up.This reminds me of AREA. The intro melody is back 3 1/2 minutes in to end it.

"Free" is kind of funky early with humerous lyrics that are pretty much spoken to follow.The vocals stop and they jam the rest of the way. Some interesting sounding guitar before 3 1/2 minutes, nice bass too. "The Sun Song" opens with flute, sax and atmosphere. It kicks in around 3 minutes with lots of percussion and sax. "Marimbaroos" of course has marimba in it along with percussion and violin. "Forgotten Sea" opens with intricate sounds coming and going. It's all so laid back and tasteful. Violin after 3 minutes, guitar 4 minutes in. Great sound after 6 minutes as the guitar continues.

I think any of EMBRYO's first 6 albums are a must, this one I would rate in the lower half of those.

Report this review (#239755)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Everyone that is familiar with Embryo already knows the story behind this and the two ensuing albums. In the 8 months following their second album Rache, the band recorded 3 albums worth of material but their label refused most of it due to the lack of "commercial potential". Only the songs that ended up on Father Son and the Holy Ghost were deemed accessible enough. Luckily, the other material was eventually released by Brain.

During these 8 months, the band changed musicians as swiftly as they wrote material, and each of the 3 releases contains a different line-up. It's something that very much defined the sound of each album.

On Father Son and the Holy Ghost the band is down to the Burchard-Hofmann nucleus with one David King on bass/vocals and Sigi Schwab on guitars. So no keyboards, and by consequence this album sounds very different from the preceding Embryo's Rache. In a way it almost returns to the guitar dominated kraut-rock sound of the debut. I guess that must have been what the label deemed 'commercial'.

While the album sounds a bit hurried and rough around the edges, it only contains mostly excellent material. Two songs have vocals which remind me slightly of Blue Oyster Cult's early albums. The remainder of the tracks is split up between 3 longer improvisations and 2 short interludes. Nothing is really essential and the best composition Forgotten Sea appears in an alternative and superior version on the ensuing album Steig Aus (where it is named Dreaming Girls).

Overall an enjoyable collection of songs for Embryo fans, but any other album from Embryo's first 6 is better. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#394740)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In search of a bassist Embryo would recruit Dave King, who would later appear in several Kraut/Jazz Rock bands, with Bunka focusing on guitar.Recordings for a new album begun already from September 71', but Embryo's label United Artists, afraid that the fresh material would be a commercial failure, refused to release it, somehow forcing the band to smoothen their style.By the dawn of 72' there was enough material for two album, but Embryo kept producing music, now having joined forces with talented guitarist Sigi Schwab with Bunka remaining behind the scenes.Eventually the album, which was to be titled ''Father, son and holy ghosts'', was along the strict lines of Embryo's label and it was eventually released in 1972.

It is quite hard to imagine what really turned off the management of United Artists, because Embryo's third effort sound no less complex than their previous releases, maybe the addition of a pair of happier or more funky tunes was enough for them to keep the whole thing rolling.Otherwise ''Father, son and holy ghosts'' sounds quite close to Embryo's previous efforts with enigmatic spaced-out experiments, lots of Ethnic tunes and a fair dose of complicated, twisting grooves with powerful, psychedelic tones.Once more the ability of the band to deliver stretched, instrumental themes with long sax solos and elaborate passages with archaic flute drives displays their talent on Ethnic Jazz/Fusion.Schwab's freaky guitar solos is a new element in Embryo's style, but generally the Germans managed again to create a diverse and interesting album, which gets the principles of Kraut/Psychedelic Rock, passes them through Ethnic filters and put it up there with the freedom of Jazz.The result is often outstanding, featuring extended instrumental exercises with only sporadic vocals, either led by the jazzy saxes, the elegant flutes or the folky violins, powering them finally into majestic experiments, full of loose solos, intense bass playing and drumming and hypnotic rhythms.They still lack the more emblimatic moments of the previous album, but nevertheless this is a very dynamic Kraut Rock album with tremendous changing moods.

Add another winner in Embryo's discography.Apparently the band was in an orgasmic inspiration with tons of material written in 1971/72, some of it ended up to be this cool release.Strongly recommended, Garden of Delights' CD reissue features also an extended version of Embryo's classic ''You don't know what's happening''...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1133664)
Posted Wednesday, February 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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