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Quintessence - Epitaph For Tomorrow  CD (album) cover



Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars For a long time this compilation was the only thing available from this band on this CD format. Apparently all the original albums are out now, to coincide with their entry in the ProgArchives.

This compilation gives a very good overview of what was the quintessence of Quintessence (I just had to do that pun before someone else did it ), as the influences are definitely axed towards Classical Indian music and they managed quite well. All of the tracks on this Cd are taken from the first three or four albums (from In Blissful Company until Dive Deep) and this is just fine because they started losing it afterwards going more commercial and diluting their differences. So the tracks taken show a good diversity/spectrum of what they could do and all tracks are full Indian-influenced psychadelic rock but with enough complexity to be considered as prog.

I am generally not a fan of compilation and sometimes wary of the tracks selection on those kind , but this one is much recommended.

Report this review (#34087)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you're like me and you prefer your Indian music filtered through Western influences (a painful admission for an ethnic Indian to have to make, believe me!) then Quintessence is a band you must try. Perhaps inspired by The Beatles' flirtation with classical Indian music (Love You To and Within You Without You anyone?), this sextet of white Englishmen who went by the names of Shiva (lead vocals/keyboards), Raja Ram (flute), Mada Dev (rhythm guitar), Shambhu Baba (bass), Allan (lead guitar) and Jake (drums) formed in Notting Hill Gate in the late 60s.

Their blend of Hindu chants, breezy jazzy psychedelic-rock and the occasional electric guitar freak-out may not be strictly progressive, but it is innovative enough to appeal to anyone with an open mind. The two bands I keep thinking of when I listen to Quintessence are very different ... The Incredible String Band and Kula Shaker! It would be incredibly trite of me to describe Quintessence's music as a cross between the two, but it wouldn't be the most inaccurate description one could come up with, either. This compilation album draws its material from Quintessence's first three (and best) albums In Blissful Company, Quintessence and Dive Deep and does a great job of showcasing the group's charms.

The six tracks from In Blissful Company that kick off this compilation are probably among the best the group ever recorded. They include the masterful chill-out tunes Giants and Body (on which Raja Ram's flute generally steals the show), the gorgeous melodic acapella mantra known simply as Chant, the heavy rock of Notting Hill Gate (imagine a Black Sabbath riff played on sitar!) and an eerie, frequently barely inaudible piece called Midnight Mode that combines the three main styles of Quintessence's music.

After those six tunes there is generally a lot of repetition, as most pieces tend to echo what has come before. The highlights from Quintessence' eponymous second album (which was actually the group's biggest commercial success) include Only Love and the guitar workout that is St. Pancras (which does go on a little too long for my liking). I must say that I would have preffered to see either Twilight Zones or Sea Of Immortality from that album included here, although St. Pancras admittedly contributes towards offering a more well-rounded view of the band. The Dive Deep tracks that catch the ear are the jazzy epic Epitaph For Tomorrow and another mantra-based offering Sri Ram Chant.

Although Quintessence actually recorded five albums (the others are Self and Indweller) most of their best work was done early on and this compilation is very likely to be all that most of us will need. ... 73% on MPV scale

Report this review (#34088)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's quite a few years since I put on that good ol' vinyl and listened to any of the first three Quintessence albums. Those were the ones that really counted for anything at the time. I'm sure the rest are interesting in retrospect - from the point of view of changing musical emphasis and so on. For an old fan, however, 'Epitaph for Tomorrow' was an unexpected surprise. Someone has not only gleaned the better tracks from those first albums, but has conscientiously laced them together into a harmonious whole, which preserves the Eastern impulse and tells the Quintessence story with a keen balance of their musical range. The CD is no less than a coherent 'cosmology' according to Quintessence, rather than some vaguely grouped collection of wild selections. This is delectable listening - for the old fan and the new hand alike. It's definitely one of the best compilations I've heard - for any group. For someone looking to try, it's a superb introduction to Quintessence. The two disappointments were the sparse historical notes (although with good photos and art work), and a bum note at the end of the second to last track, where the tape really wound down (at least, on my copy). Otherwise, bliss out on this - that's what it's for!
Report this review (#39996)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is my first Indo prog/raga rock album! Well, I was expecting exotic sitar arrangements, flute airs that lift serpents and some psychedelic guitar patterns that help to elevate your spirit from your body. Actually, this description partly describes the principles behind "Epitaph for Tomorrow": I must add that there is a very present psychedelic jazz, rock and even hard rock dimension.

Let's say the many flute parts combined with some guitar and percussion parts sound a bit like the Ozric Tentacles. We also feel some Beatles influence too. There are many exotic incantation lead & backing vocals. The excellent "Chant" has a real Indian flavor. The tracks are not very progressive, despite the music is rather loaded. Like the Beatles, the electric guitar sound is rather sissy and inoffensive, often showing a Hendrixian wah-wah effect. The rare keyboards are very timid. There are some more catchy songs like the very good "Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga". There are some less good lengthy experimental or jam parts, but Quintessence are at their best when they play catchy and structured compositions. I give 4 stars for anything except the experimental/jam moments. Since there are less experimental/jam moments, then 3.5 stars seems appropriate.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#123413)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink

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