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Third Ear Band - Third Ear Band CD (album) cover


Third Ear Band

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Third Ear Band's second album is not their more particularly exciting album and if I give it a three star , it is a bit out of complacency due to the rest of their Oeuvre .

As you might guess from the track titles , this is supposed to be a concept album about the four elements. Exciting , no? Actually back in 70 , it was a new and relatively fresh idea. Tooo bad that the music is not more interesting, because as you might guess......wave and wind and fire noises appear a lenght on top of the same-sounding music as their debut.

If you are not familiar with TEB, try their debut or their Mc Beth album for which they got a grammy award (or its British equivalent).

Report this review (#40710)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third Ear Band were unusual in an era noted for unusual groups. The conventional armoury of the rock band was put through all kinds of odd permutations, but there was always something linking prog groups to conventional rock music - an electric guitar, a drumkit, conventional songs - but TEB had none of those things. violin, cello, oboe and hand held percussion played lengthy instrumental pieces which owed more to minimalism and ragas than to the Beatles or the Stones, so it's remarkable that all of their albums made it into the UK top 50 and that they became a fixture on the festival circuit.

This album (sometimes referred to as Elements) was their sophomore effort, and features four long pieces named after each of the four elements. Air opens the proceedings with some wind noises, the four musicians gradually fading in during the first two minutes. This sets the tone for the rest of the album; nobody solos, nobody coasts and the pieces have a mantra like, compelling quality to them. The playing is good from all four musicians. Glenn Sweeney's feverish percussion at times can be compared to some of Daniel Fieschelsher's work with Popol Vuh, another band who were as concerned with vertical texture as they were with linear development. Paul Minns plays the oboe with a surprising range of tone and impeccable phrasing - in some parts he's overdubbed, creating a shenai-like sound as the melody lines chase each other over the rhythmic foundation. Air is as light and breezy as it's title suggests, while Earth starts as a slow paced dance around the Maypole, with piizzacatto strings and plodding percussion, and gradually builds to a dervish frenzy befroe the whole thing falls away and starts again. Fire is a monotonous, dissonant piece that doesn't really go anywhere and takes over 9 minutes to do it, while Water is appropriately the gentlest of the four tracks, featuring another enchanting Paul Minns oboe part over a hypnotic beat and some low viola and cello chords. The album closes with the sound of waves lapping the shore, as it started with the sound of the wind.

Not a masterpiece, but worthy of four stars for being so adventurous in terms of instrumentation and style. Fans of GY!BE and A Silver Mt. Zion may find this interesting, or it could be seen as an instrumental counterpart to Comus' First Utterance. Well worth tracking down.

Report this review (#40747)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars A new line-up (Davis is replaced by Ursula Smith at the cello) which is able to keep the inspiration high and even through four instrumental songs, whose plot is focused on the natural elements of the world: air, earth, fire and water. In particular this latter is captivating, but also the "ethnical" tone of "earth" is not bad ,as it could be a gift to another interesting proto-prog/indo rock band called "Jade Warrior" (I think of their "Floating World") .but T.E.B. cannot be reduced to a simple emulation of the best English bands within this hybrid genre, because their style was pretty unique and you could discover this way an unknown work, worth to be collected at know it's not my favourite music genre, yet it's another interesting album!
Report this review (#46727)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The third studio record of Third Ear Band continues the group's excursions within archaic oriental-influenced trance labyrinths. The songs are named as the four basic elements of European medieval alchemists' doctrines, relating to the theme from the band's first album. The first element "Air" builds up from a steady beat of tribal drums giving the rhythms for violin to improvise, the whole piece being surrounded by sounds of howling winds (surprisingly). On "Earth" the guitars and drum play a nice fastening and slowing marching progression, which is colored by klezmer sounding oboe lines. This is the best track here in my opinion. "Fire" has quite chaotic one-key violin / oboe improvisations over a tribal drum beat. The last suite "Water" is introduced by rolling waves, the playing starting up carefully with subtle and mystical string sounds. The start of King Crimson's "Providence" improvisation actually resembles this starting quite much in my opinion, until the primitive drumming comes in and the oboe / violin co-playing movement begins, having more constructed pretty melody runs than the majority of the album. The record is interesting, but maybe not extremely impressive album however. If you like acoustic ancient minimalistic music, this is a good source for such sonic charms.
Report this review (#149596)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars This is the second album from UK outfit Third Ear Band(love that name). Although their first album was called Alchemy, the songs here are called "Air", "Earth", "Fire" and "Water". Alchemy would have been a better title for this album, which is sometimes referred to as 'Elements'. The music here is almost completely acoustic. A mix of Indian raga, psychedelic folk and medieval music. It never really "rocks" which might turn off some people.

"Air" starts with wind noises. Then comes violin and oboe along with tabla. Later an odd sounding string instrument plays in a dissonant way. In the middle the tablas get louder and more intense creating a droning sound. The wind noises return and the song slowly fades out. Unlike the other three tracks, "Earth" actually has some key/chord changes. It starts with mandolin(?) and then oboe and another wind instrument. There is a plucked string instrument and constant banging on a percussion instrument. The song slowly increases in tempo, gets faster and more intense. Everything calms down about halfway through and then starts all over again. Then it fades out.

"Fire" is very hypnotic. The song doesn't change very much over it's 9 minute duration. It ends with what sounds like a loud trumpet blast. "Water" is maybe the best song here. Slowly it fades in with the sound of waves. The music starts off slow and then picks up with the tabla. There is a nice bass sound from the cello. Good oboe playing. It ends with wave sounds.

This kind of music was very original when it first came out, but it does not stand the test of time very well. It's nice to listen to when you want to hear something other than vocals, guitars, drums and keyboards. This might appeal to some space rock and Krautrock fans. Overall a good album but nothing essential. 3 stars.

Report this review (#333759)
Posted Thursday, November 25, 2010 | Review Permalink

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