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Pocket Orchestra


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Pocket Orchestra Knebnagäuje album cover
4.00 | 12 ratings | 1 reviews | 36% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Imam Bialdi (6:25)
2. R. V. (7:02)
3. Regiments (14:55)
4. Letters (13:53)
5. Blueing (7:10)
6. White Organ Meats (7:03)
7. Grandma Coming Down The Hall With A Hatchet (5:33)
8. Bagon (16:48)

Total Time: 78:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Craig Bork / keyboards
- Joe Halajan / clarinets, saxes
- Bill Johnston / cello
- Tim Lyons / bass
- Tim Parr / guitar
- Bob Steerman / drums

Releases information

CD release of two unreleased demo tapes by MIO records.

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POCKET ORCHESTRA Knebnagäuje ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (9%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

POCKET ORCHESTRA Knebnagäuje reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pocket Orchestra is the name of an unsung pillar of USA's ever prolific progressive avant- garde scene. Together with Cartoon and a few other names from the late 70s/early 80s, this band initially named Knebnagäuje and later re-baptized as Pocket Orchestra recorded demo material that, luckily for us all avid collectors, has been issued in a digital format. It is a pity that the untimely death of Tim Parr, guitarist and leader of the band, had to lead to the ultimate abortion of Pocket Orchestra's musical vision. The first 4 tracks belong to a 1984 demo tape (soon before Parr's demise), the remaining ones come from a 1979 demo. What do we have here in the whole CD? Well, 'Imam Bialdi' starts on a very Univers Zero- related mood, properly augmented with a sense of constrained agility not unlike the Miriodor standard (a few years later). The main body shifts to a more explicitely playfoll mood, closer to Zappa and SMM. 'R.V.' starts with a less extroverted atmosphere, more focused on elements from avant-garde jazz (a-la Keith Tippett), with added touches of Latin- like swings. As the track progresses on, the mood becomes gradually more neurotic, just like a demented variation of Canterbury sonorities. Once the climax is being built up and achieved, the sense of madness has already exploded in a kaleidoscope of exciting flames that light up the darkest skies of the human heart. The disturbance is really diabolic, in the most literal sense of the word. 'Regiments' gets in next to occupy a less than 15 minute space. The initial section is quite reflective, focused on soft piano motifs and gentle flourishes on sax. Further on, the instrumentation gains a bigger vitality although there is not a complete exaltation at the end of the day. The musicians indulge on occasional reflex acts a-la "Grand Wazzoo"-era Zappa, fluidly intertwined with grayish tones of somber darkness. A few seconds before the 6 minute mark, a surreal passage incorporates elements of minimalism and experimental percussions. The 11 minute mark finds the track moving toward a controlled climax that shows off its most bizarre facets, ultimately leading to a very lyrical coda. 'Letters' has a more relaxed cadence, overall. The occasional playful moments are akin to Hatfield and not so much to the usual suspects-heroes of RIO (and chamber rock): especially the closing section, which features a very optimistic mood plus an astonishing guitar solo. The album's second half starts with the very punchy 'Blueing', which could be well describes ad the missing link between Samla and Zamla. Even though PO know how to add a somber element to the typical colorfulness of the aforesaid Swedish counterparts, this track is undeniable connected to humor. 'White Organ Meats' does not spray too far from this musical framework, but you can tell that the dose of extravagance is wider. The jazzy nuances may remind us of early Henry Cow, as do the deconstructive variations that take hold of the track's finale. 'Grandma Coming Down the Hall With a Hatchet' bears a very funny title, and so it happens to bear a deep circus feel to it (in a Dadaist manner), but that's not the whoel story. This piece also comprises some lyrically driven jazzy moments (something like Hatfield-meets-Gilgamesh): the resulting warmth is based on the solid interaction between flute and electric piano. The 16 ¾ minute long 'Bagon' closes down the album providing PO's most explicit progressive extravaganza. Its combination of R.I.O., Canterbury (a-la Matching Mole), fusion, musique concrete and Gong-related spacey ornaments is proficiently ordained in a bizarre palette where weirdness and beauty become one single quality. These 1979 tracks show that Parr & co. were yet to find a focused artistic ideal, but nonetheless, the band was enormously talented and abundantly versatile. Pocket Orchestra's legacy is really important to understand and appreciate the special magic that was generated under the wings of the R.I.O. ideology in the margins of U.S.A.'s musical scene. Great, a real great progressive item this is.

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