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Polyphony Without Introduction album cover
4.02 | 103 ratings | 9 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Juggernaut (14:04)
2. 40 Second Thing in 39 Seconds (1:07)
3. Ariel's Flight (15:15) :
- a) Gorgons of the Glade
- b) The Oneirocritic Man
- c) Gift of the Frog Prince
4. Crimson Dagger (7:05)

Total Time 37:31

Line-up / Musicians

- Glenn Howard / vocals, lead & slide guitars
- Craig Massey / vocals, organ, Moog
- Martin Ruddy / bass, backing vocals
- Christopher Spong / drums
- Chatty Cooper / Congo drums, timbales, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Betty Cherry

LP Eleventh Hour - EH-1003-S (1971, US)
LP Out-Sider ‎- OSR024 (2014, Spain) Remastered (?)

CD Acid Symposium - AS 008 (2004, Greece)
CD Gear Fab Records ‎- GF-251 (2011, US)

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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POLYPHONY Without Introduction ratings distribution

(103 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

POLYPHONY Without Introduction reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is one of those mythical releases that you think you'll never hear because it's been out of print for so long and there seems to be no intention of re-issuing it. A huge thankyou to Todd for allowing me to finally hear this album. I first heard about it when I received Greg Walker's legendary list of his top Prog albums. I had never heard of this American band who are from Virginia Beach,Virginia. Glenn Howard came up with the name POLYPHONY after seeing this term used by some of the great Classical composers.They used this word to describe "The many voiced textures in movements designed to excite and capture the attention of their listeners". Man that so describes this music. A five piece band with a drummer, percussionist, guitar, keyboard and bass player. And vocals too although the extended instrumental excursions are the focus. The cover art was done by this woman who worked for Sun Records. She would listen to the master tape then meditate over it waiting for the vision of what the cover art should look like. That was how she always did it. This art work won several awards. It's a picture of the "Four elements of the universe subsiding toward an energy force which was "polyphony"." Released in 1972 this really doesn't sound like any particular band or album. And it's originality certainly is not forgotten when it comes to my rating here.

"Juggernaut" opens with outbursts of sound until it stays. Some intersting spacey sounds after a minute as percussion and drums support. Synths and heavier sound follows. Solo organ before 4 minutes then drums and bass return followed by the guitar which proceeds to rip it up. Vocals for the first time after 9 1/2 minutes. So good. Guitar and organ lead when the vocals stop. "40 Second Thing in 39 Seconds" is a mini-moog extravaganza.Very experimental but short.

"Ariel's Flight" features these angular sounds early on with some raw sounding guitar. It changes a minute in as the organ and drums start to lead. Chunky bass 3 minutes in and vocals follow. Man this is so good. The bass is ground-shaking. A change 5 1/2 minutes in as the organ comes to the fore.This is actually ANGLAGARD-like. Amazing. Vocals come and go. A calm with vocals 11 1/2 minutes in then it gets fuller again with pulsating organ and vocals. Hello ! "Crimson Dagger" opens with organ and drums as guitar and bass join in. A spacey vibe comes in before 3 minutes. A relaxing soundscape follows then the vocals join in. Backing vocals too on this one.

The hype is justified here. This suits my tastes perfectly.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What a lost gem this is! I have to thank PA member cannon for introducing me to this group, which I had literally never even heard of. This is the only album by this American band from Virginia. A collector's item before being reissued on CD. This is yet another one of those one-album wonders from the early 1970s where you wish there was a follow up. There was just so much great music coming out at the time that an album like this fell through the cracks. (Realistically, there was a lot of sh*t back then too). This is great prog from 1971, just as good as anything coming from the UK at the time.

The music can generally be described as equal parts symphonic prog and space rock. Not very derivitive but the organ work is very Emersonian (more The Nice than ELP though). The synth work is good but I've heard better tones used on analog monophonic synthesizers. This is your typical guitar/keyboards/bass/drums line-up but with a percussionist added. The added percussion only makes the already great music even better. Everyone except the drummer and percussionist do vocal duties. The album features two epics and two shorter tracks.

"Juggernaut" is mostly instrumental. There's lots going on and the music changes a lot. After 9 minutes is one of the greatest vocal sections in all of progdom. Lovely organ playing and echoed vocals are joined by the rhythm section and sinister sounding guitar. Very memorable section, I've had it stuck in my head a few times. "40 Second Thing In 39 Seconds" has a bizarre title, mainly because the song itself is over a minute long. This song is literally an afterthought, but it's what I refer to as "filler that works." It begins with an announcement of the first take; the voice has an accent that leaves you in no doubt that they are not from anywhere but the USA. The whole track is basically noodling on the MiniMoog. It starts out sounding like the beginning of "Baba O'Reilly" and ends sounding more like an organ.

Compared to "Juggernaut," the second half starts out more psych/space sounding. "Ariel's Flight: a) Gorgons Of The Glade b) The Oneirocritic Man c) The Gift Of The Frog Prince" is probably the highlight of the whole album, although the whole thing is very consistent. I like how the bass does a pause/unpause dynamic when the vocals enter. Great organ playing in this track. Gets into an awesome groove in the middle. Later gets more spacey with treated vocals. Near the end the music is in almost a waltz style. Great vocal melody in this part. You can listen to last song "Crimson Dagger" here on PA. This starts off in a rockin' symphonic way. Gets spacier and freer sounding for awhile. Some back-up harmony singing during the vocal section. The song ends abruptly; don't know if it did that on the original vinyl.

My only real complaint with this album is that abrupt ending. The only time I like abrupt endings to a song is when they are immediately followed by the next song. I don't like it when it happens at the end of an album. Apart from that, this is almost flawless. Great compositions, great playing and great production for 1971. More people need to hear this album, it truly is a masterpiece of progressive rock. 5 stars.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A band that makes the golden age prog lover clamor "Have you heard these guys?", and one more drop in the bucket of brilliant but completely missed stateside progressive rock, Polyphony's only release is what seekers of the early stuff, the real deal, would sell their sister to the Arabs for. "How could I have missed this?" you wonder naively in deep denial that surely any old prog act worth knowing, you know. Psych/Space yes, but as part of a firmly symphonic framework I would describe more as post-psychedelic art rock: or what became Prog. King Crimson's influence is palpable in some places, and as an early review glibly suggests, "Try to imagine a band whom upon hearing ELP's 'Tarkus' for the first time indulges in heavy amounts of mescaline and drops by the studio to have a go". Fair enough, but there's a lot more to this work than some tripping, impressionable musicians having fun. This dog hunts.

Keyboardist Craig Massey's wonderful 'Juggernaut' is fourteen minutes of unrestrained organ-based prog hitting you like an old friend suddenly spotted, a shared language, a secret exchanged. I mean this is what Keith E. and the boys were doing between takes and on weekends, something Rick Wakeman could really sink his teeth into during a relaxed moment.

Mind you, these fellas don't match the seasoned virtuosity of those greats, but frankly this is the good stinky stuff after it's been laying in the sun for a couple weeks-- completely authentic Prog, and from a group of Americans. 'Ariels Flight' (a clear homage) cooks something fierce, just tops, with drummer Chris Spong hitting mad under Massey's relentless organ & Moog, neat little jazz breaks, unforeseen surprises, and guitarist Glenn Howard's very competent singing. It morphs into a circus clown boiled-as-an-owl after work as he stumbles to his trailer, and continues onto vocal and very prog 'Crimson Dagger'.

Yummy in my tummy. Some scrumptious old time Symph that'll smell-up your house with the odor of early progressive rock and not go away for days. Your pets and family will have to stay with friends but it's worth it if you have a taste for the classic era with a rough edge. Fantastic.

Review by richardh
2 stars Its probably just me that finds this aimless and dull. Apart from the great organ work that at times is as good as Jon Lord I really can't find a great deal to get excited about. Recorded in 1971 ,I struggle to see this as some lost gem but rather a band with a decent keyboardist trying to be progressive at a time when it was the 'in thing'. Its messy stuff saved on occasions by the keyboardist suddenly cutting loose will only appeal to those looking for a band a bit like where early Deep Purple were at before they turned into a heavy rock/metal act. Its adequately produced and at 37 minutes is long enough.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars At ELP's inception, someone in the press began a rumor that there was a supergroup called HELP: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer with Jimi Hendrix on guitar. For those who would imagine what such a quartet would sound like, Polyphony comes close in my mind, fusing Hendrix's psychedelic guitar style with ELP's take on Hammond-based symphonic progressive rock. Tarkus lovers must absolutely seek this out.

"Juggernaut" Following a methodical organ and bass-led introduction, this first piece adopts a Middle Eastern flavor with a series of piercing slide guitar chirps. The Moog line that follows is similar to Aquatarkus. In fact, I'm inclined to think of "Juggernaut" as "Tarkus, Jr." The bulk of the piece features dazzling organ runs, heavy electric guitar, and frenzied drumming. The vocal passage that appears nearly nine minutes in is reminiscent of early Genesis (Trespass comes to mind).

"40 Second Thing In 39 Seconds" This oddly titled track is a brief synthesizer in tremolo mode, followed by deep tones. It is unfortunate that it was not developed into a full-bodied piece.

"Ariel's Flight" The longest track begins in a dissonant fashion, seemingly borrowing from ELP's debut. The lead guitar makes use of a slide and volume pedal. For a while it takes on a pace similar to the Apocalypse in 9/8 segment of Genesis' "Supper's Ready."

"Crimson Dagger" More organ and electric guitar working in tandem over a rapid rhythm section begins the closing opus. Midway through, it assumes a lighter, charming visage, topping it off with the best vocal performance on the album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars POLYPHONY was a short lived band from Virginia Beach, VA who put out this one highly eclectic album back in 1971 or 1972 depending on the source. Originally released on the Eleventh Hour label it has been long out of print until recent years. Unfortunately the re-release is pretty weak as it is not remastered, there are few liner notes and they actually list the wrong track order. Quite lame, however all that aside, it is the music that counts and the music is excellent and exciting. Probably one of the better progressive albums from the USA at this time.

I would call this an equal mix of influences from King Crimson in terms of proto-metal and avant-garde jazz, ELP or The Nice in terms of symphonic bombast and early Pink Floyd in terms of heavy psychedelic tendencies. The music is quite complex as it goes through many changes but generally always energetic and progressive to the max. This could easily be called eclectic. In addition to the major influences there are also Santana-esque percussion parts, strange slide guitar riffs, slow and pastoral Genesis-like symphonic parts and even some hard bluesy rock sections and circus music. The second track "Forty Second Thing In 39 Seconds" is a short little burst of symphonic moog wankery that is rather unique.

Unfortunately the production on this is not so good meaning bad. It has a tinny sound and is in clear need of a remastering. Musically this is quite exciting and I find it to be worthy of the term "long lost classic." The first track "Juggernaut" is just filled to the brim with every prog trick in the book and it takes a full 9 minutes of instrumental prowess to finally get to the vocals on the track. This is the kind of prog that has the right formula going on. It is both melodic and slightly dissonant at times. It varies the tempos, time signatures and compositional developments and keeps it interesting throughout its entirety. With two sprawling epic tracks, POLYPHONY more than proved it was capable of playing with the big boys of prog. This is a band that I would love to hear more music from for the mere 37 minutes is only a teaser! Musically 4.5 but i'm only giving this 4 stars because the production is just so bad it hurts.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars Obscure albums do pop up every now and then. This is one of those albums and as always I tend to be cautious when approaching them since there is a great chance of it being overrated. In the case of the one album wonder Polyphony the case is the opposite. And I'm glad to tell the tale.

First off I have to say something about the complexity of the music. This is no-nonsense progressive rock, let me tell you. This is not some pop-rock album with a slight hint of prog, nor is it some west coast sounding harmony drenched album with a bit of unusual chordprogressions at the end of it all. This is serious progressive rock. As far as the complexity goes I think of Gentle Giant and King Crimson, though Polyphony sounds nothing like those two bands. The sound is not entirely unique. I think of ELP at times because there are slices of classical elements in here but furthermore there is a rawness and urgency to it all. The organ is abrasive in a good way and the guitar, bass and drums are really intense.

There are only four tracks on the album. Apart from the odd "40 second thing in 39 seconds" the tracks are majestically elongated. The shortest of the remaining three is 7.05 minutes. The longest is "Ariels flight" which is divided into several individually named sections and this is my favorite on the album. The musical experience is really dense and intense throughout the album, which makes it such a joy to listen to. There are no less interesting bits. It's pure bliss.

I wish they had released another album and if the rumour is true they did but it got shelved and never released. Hopefully someone somewhere will release it properly. This is a magnificent album that is simply too good to pass by.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars This one really surprised me. When I first heard this CD, by pure chance, I thought this band might be from Germany. So what was my amazement when I found here in PA that they were an american assemble, from Virginia Beach! Of course I knew it was recorded in the early 70s because of the instruments timbres and the obvious Emerson,Lake & palmer sounds of their first albums. This album was their sole effort from 1971, and for a long time was collectors item for the very few who actually knew about them, since it seems this LP never got much promotion and/or distribution. Which is a shame, for their sound is very interesting and well produced for the time.

Although the vocals are only average, their long instrumental breaks reveal a musicianship and a songwriting skill that is superb and one only wonders how far they would have gone if Polyphony had better luck at the time. Certainly at least one follow up to Without Introduction would be very interesting. As for their sound itself, it is obvious that ELP was the main inspiration, but not only. There are some hints of early Genesis too, and the inclusion of the electric guitar all the way through is another feature that set them apart of so many keyboard driven, ELP inspired combos. Glenn Howard is a guitar player that always makes his presence felt, even if Craig Massey organ and moog threatens to overwhelm the compositions all the time, just like Keith Emerson used to do so frequently. In the end, Polyphony sounds just like that: ELP-like band with lots of guitars. And it worked, at least most of it.

Although not perfect, some parts are a bit repetitive, even aimless, most of the time they show a maturity and skill that some others american progressive bands (Starcastle comes to mind) could only dream of. Without Introduction is a prog gem that I was glad to find. It is first class symphonic rock and I recommend it to anyone who loves early ELP symphonic prog.

Rating: 4 strong stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Discovered these guys only a week or two ago, and what a pleasant surprise it was. Firstly, I was shocked they were American, and secondly, I was surprised they released this back in 1971, before "Prog fever" had even fully taken hold in Europe and the US. Tops on this album, as a few other revi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2673911) | Posted by ProckGnosis | Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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