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ROCKSESSION

Embryo

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Excellent jazzy Krautrock

Rock session is another album consisting of material they recorded during sessions between 1971 and 1972. Actually the band was planning to release this stuff already in 1972. But their record company UA was not pleased by it, so they recorded first Father, Son & Holy Ghosts and the songs from these sessions have been used for this album here and Steig aus. The line-up is almost identical on these two albums, with the difference that Sigi Schwab was replacing Roman Bunka on guitar. But it's anything else than a bad album and rather a very interesting one who is deeply into typical jazz-rock in the Krautrock vein.

The opener A place to go is a very orientally influenced piece with marimbas, keys, electric guitar, percussion and very "kraut-ish" sounding vocals. Really great stuff and anyone loving this sub-genre will be fascinated by it. Entrances, the longest track is dominated by Schwab's excellent jazzy guitar before Hammond is taking over. The work of the rhythm section is as well just awesome. It's a highly jazzy piece on an album that is probably the most jazzy one of their three session records, no wonder since jazz pianist Mal Waldron was involved in three of the four tracks as a composer. In the last third of the track there is an excellent sax solo by Hofmann. This one is for sure the highlight of the album.

Second side of the record is the more relaxing and soaring one starting with Warm canto, a very soft and mellow track played on vibes, keys, violin and percussion plus electric guitar and piano by Waldron in its second half. Although being a rather quiet song in the beginning it's revealing a fascinating development in its course. Last one Dirge is starting as well with a highly soaring atmosphere with vibes, guitar and then violin and e-piano. As on the whole album the bass and drum work is again excellent. Also this song is developing after a while to a fascinating one.

As a SUMMARY this album might be in a way different from their excellent other ones like Father,Son... or Embryo's Rache, but nevertheless I would say it's an essential one by them and recommended to any lover of jazzy Krautrock.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#36378)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
5 stars This outstanding German band plays a trippy jazz rock like no one else. "Rockession" is a very technical, achieved effort which develops long instrumental, groovy, syncopated tunes with an enormous feeling. (1) delivers an essential "freak out" jazz rock composition with oriental elements, a great sense of rhythm. and an insistent technical drum accompaniment (near to Miles Davis' "on the corner "). (2) starts with a bass guitar line pattern crossed with clean, technical speed accuracy electronic guitar solos with effects. Perfectly improvised and brightly executed in a total freedom. The track also includes interludes of long Hammond organ solos. Pretty effective. (3) is a more atmospheric, calmer, melodic track with xylophone parts and organ dominated arrangements with soaring violin solos. The last title provides an excellent, mysterious, strange jazzy rock tune with "ethnic" harmonies, an astonishing guitar solo accompanied by the Hammond organ and a very rhythmical bass / drum structure. This album can easily be a real revelation for every jazz rock lovers. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#43886)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Embryo is probably the only group that managed to have two record labels simultaneously releasing records, the first in Liberty records (also busy with crosstown rivals/friends ADII) and the second in famous Brain Metronome label (no introduction necessary, right? ;-)). While actually frequent in the jazz realm, this is definitely not so in the rock real, although Embryo is as jazz as it is rock. This situation would last some two years and four albums (two apiece) and the you'de be hard press to find a fan preferrring the worlks released on one of the labelsto the other. Originally on Liberty, they had a dispute about the commerciality of the album Embryo wanted to release, so Embryo went to Nrain records and got a Metronome release for Steig Aus, while the group went on to reccord the Father, Son, Holy Ghost album that seemed to please Linerty most, eve,n if one can't say the latter is overtly more commercial than the former. The situatiion went on with Rocksessions (and its weird/finny/tasteless gatefold artwork) released again on the Brain Metronome label while they would record the slightly more accessible We Keep On for the Liberty label.

Musically between Steig Aus and Roksessions, the line-up is slightly different with Bunka's absence (taken up by Schwab on guitars and Hoffman for the sax), but the three US jazzmen remained in the forefront of the group. Indeed, Jackson on organ, Waldren on electric piano and King on contrabass (the group also had Evers on electric bass), give much the tone of the group, but the German part of the group is definitely giving the direction, a Sub-Asian raga feel, which also dictates the length and imrpovisational nature of the four tracks (Steig Aus only had three), and even the short Place To Go shows no compromise with its heavy percussive manner and fuzzed-out guitar. The almost 16-min corker Entrances relies more of Jimmy Jackson's organ, on which all the soloists will improvise on a 7/4.

The flipside starts much gentler on Waldren almost straight jazz electric piano, soon relayed by Hoffman's violin and so on, but the tone remains calm, crossing ever so softly the rock realm but mostly on the soft side. The closing Dirge starts from a fusion centre deep in Earth's crust, melting rocks, preparing to spew its lava onto the outside layer of our planet. Fantastic stuff.

No matter how one may view Embryo's total oeuvre, it absolutely impossible to overlook the albums that appeared on the Brain Metronome label, mainly because they are among their bests, but they might also really represent what the group was up to musically than the more "commercial FSHG or WKO.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#173414)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Following in the footsteps of the previous album "Steig Aus", Embryo continued to dig deeper and deeper in their jazz and fusion interest in order to firmly establish their voice in Germany's avant-garde scene. The stylish derivation that had been subtly increased with each one of their first three albums had finally come to its fruition in the exciting, refreshing "Steig Aus" effort, and now "Rocksession" has the mission to reinforce it. This fifth album is full of beauty, ethereal vibrations and vibrant enthusiasm from beginning to end. The standards of psychedelic frenzy and explosiveness are toned down, compared to the band's first three albums, but the energy and impulse remain patent and relevant for Embryo's nuclear sound. One main focus regarding the instrumental deliveries is to let each individual shine without breaking the general mood. The African-Muslim exoticism of 'A Place to Go!' exhibits an amazing ethnic colorfulness, recycled through an aura of mystery: this jazz vibe is notably influenced by Weather Report. It is just a pity that this attractive motif doesn't get developed beyond the 4 ½ minute mark. 'Entrances' is a much longer piece, during a quarter of an hour. The band keeps exploring the Weather Report thing, with extra touches of Miles Davis and early Return to Forever. No doubt that Christian Burchard's heart and mind were akin to the avant-garde jazz work developed in the USA by the time. Jackson is heavily featured in his electrifying Hammond organ labor (that distorted vibrato states a very surreal atmosphere in many places), while Burchard displays a resource of complexity with his clever syncope tricks and fills. For the last part, Hoffmann delivers a beautiful sax solo that helps the track preserve its essential candor all the way towards the fade-out. Hoffmann assumes a more prominent role for 'Warm Canto', where he plays the violin (his most recurrent instrument). The basic motif is very beautiful, with a relaxing mode that allows the band to explore its introspective facet. The organ solo is mostly an expansion on the violin motif, while the simultaneous leads on guitar and electric piano are based on fluid chord progressions delivered with unsuspecting ease. At some point, the entry of the vibraphone forces the violin to retake the main motif and reshape it in the for together with the guitar: this interaction brings a particular warmth to the track's final minutes. I'm really convinced that this is one of the most moving Embryo pieces ever. 'Dirge' is yet another candid, introspective number that states the band's reflective side, adding a funky vibe that is managed in an exquisite manner. In this way, 'Dirge' complements and completes the soaring aura that had already been displayed in the preceding piece. All in all, while not as explosive as the preceding cornerstone album "Steig Aus", "Rocksession" is an excellent example of Embryo on top of their game.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#175890)
Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is really a sister album to "Steig Aus" as the material for both of these albums were taken from the same recording sessions. The music here is trippy and jazzy, as they jam and improvise brilliantly.

"A Place To Go" is the only track i'm not a huge fan of, but it's by far the shortest at 4 minutes.The music here has a strong ethnic flavour with lots of percussion. The song gets more intense 2 1/2 minutes in and it does sound much better from here to the end. I like the guitar that comes in late. "Entrances" is the longest track at 15 1/2 minutes. It opens with bass and percussion as guitar melodies come and go. Drums and organ come in as the sound gets fuller. They're jamming now, great sound 6 minutes in as Jimmy Jackson really shines on the organ. He leads the way until a blast of sax 10 1/2 minutes in signals that it's the sax turn to lead the way. Organ and bass become prominant after 13 minutes as the sax retreats.

"Warm Canto" is like being in paradise for 10 minutes. This is so beautful with vibes? and light drums. Violin melodies arrive a minute in. Organ 2 minutes in takes over for violin. The violin is back before 4 minutes as drums pound away. Guitar after 5 minutes. It settles down to opening melody as vibes return and tasteful guitar. Violin joins in as well. Gorgeous track. "Dirge" is also around 10 minutes in length.The intro is ethnic sounding and spacey. Violin after 1 1/2 minutes as the mood changes. Drums, bass and keys help out but the violin is leading the way. Great sound. Guitar comes in around 3 minutes. Piano replaces the violin before 4 minutes.This is trippy man. Guitar gets it's turn in the sun after 6 minutes as the tempo slows. Organ before 8 minutes.This is great !

I prefer "Steig Aus" but man these are two excellent albums. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#179149)
Posted Thursday, August 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars For the first time in their discography, Embryo presents almost the same line-up as on the preceding album. Compared to "Steig Aus", only the guitar position has changed, and just as on "Father Son and The Holy Ghost" it's Sigi Schwab replacing Roman Burka.

The approach is very similar to "Steig Aus". "Rocksession" delivers exactly what it promises: the band jamming their heads off in a rocking mood, not as rocking as Guru Guru, but still much more so then on other albums. In doing so they sacrificed much of the jazz, world and psychedelic elements of the Embryo sound. The result is a fine jam album that may be more accessible to rock audiences then other works from Embryo, but in terms of compositions and uniqueness it pales slightly in comparison to the albums around it.

The sorter pieces on the album are still as good as anything on "Steig Aus" but the 15 minute "Entrances" simply passes me by without ever catching my attention. It's jazz-rock jamming by the numbers for me, not bad but hardly surpassing background music purposes.

3.5 stars overall, possibly the easiest entry point into the world of Embryo but not their most representative album.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#404603)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink

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