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Pentwater Pentwater album cover
3.72 | 39 ratings | 4 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. AM
2. Living Room Displays
3. Memo
4. Orphan Girl
Side 2
5. Frustration Mass
6. Palendrode
7. War
8. Gwen's Madrigal

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Orsi / percussion, vocals
- Mike Konopka / guitar, flute, violin, vocals percussion
- Ken Kappel / keyboards, theremin, vocals
- Ron LeSaar / bass, vocals

Releases information

LP Beef Records,1977

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PENTWATER Pentwater ratings distribution

(39 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PENTWATER Pentwater reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is always a joy to discover a classic-period prog band from the U.S. There were few of them but they were usually good, or at least compelling, and they took influence from America's small but important prog scene as well as from Britain and Europe. When the leaders - guitarist/violinist Mike Konopka, drummer Thomas Orsi and the keys of Ken Kappel - are self-taught, it makes these compositions that much more impressive. A five-piece formed in 1970 from the shards of various Chicago groups, Pentwater played covers of classic rock but soon started writing original material and after working hard, began opening for big acts as Rush and Starcastle giving Midwestern audiences their own version of prog bombast and excess. This 1977 release is the portrait of a band with enormous potential, and with a bit more time and a good producer, they could have found more appreciation. Of course time is what their brand of complex and challenging rock was running out of by '77, and progressive rock's recession was just around the corner. Thank goodness the band reissued the debut because along with Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories, Yezda Urfa's Sacred Baboon and Cartoon's first two, it is another rough-cut gem in the crown of stateside prog.

The blood curdling screams of 'Frustration Mass' introduce an unsettled tone that runs throughout, the music gradually revealing a thoroughly progressive direction showing jagged lines and smart patterns. Bluesy 'Living Room Displays' breaks open with Kappel's ecclesiastic organ and tasteful use of synthesizer, the slow heroin pace of 'Orphan Girl' has room for thematic variance with dreamy space rock, ornate dual guitars laced with keys and counterpointed vocals. Influences are many: Zappa, early Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, but never in distracting abundance, the ensemble fluid in its quiet but efficient use of different styles. Actually the record is closest in kin to the brilliant but slightly mad work of Morgan Fisher, with nods to ELP and even the Beach Boys. Rather good 'Palendrone' rocks a hard anthem, and Konopka's teetering fiddle harmonies open the completely terrific 'War', a bellicose instrumental in the vein of the Tarkus suite, aggressive in all the right ways... driving, unrelenting keyboard-based prog at its very best and a must hear. The nauseous 'Death' waddles through followed by the refreshing 'Gwen's Madrigal', a light folk number with group vocals, flute & strings, and grows into a miniature symphony about the daydreams of a young woman, with the rave-ups of 'Wave' and funny Yes-like prog pop of 'Radioactive' finishing.

The production could be better for such a talented outfit and the material may not seem too distinguished or attractive at first, but the gold is abundant and these guys should delight lovers of good old fashioned prog when it wasn't afraid to lighten-up and have a good time. A wonderful surprise, this CD, and should be snagged if seen by any vintage prog nut.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1970 in Chicago, Illinois a bunch of schoolkids formed Pentwater River.Led by Mike Konopka (guitars,violin,flutes) and Tim Morsi (drums), next to bassist Marty Sachs, keyboardist Ken Kappel and guitarist Phil Goldman, Pentwater initially played Psychedelic/Classic Rock, before meeting the material of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Gentle Giant around 1972, when Sachs had already left the city and was replaced by Ron LeSaar, while the band was now simply called Pentwater.Gigs, radio broadcasts and several tracks followed, before Goldman quits in 1975 to be replaced by Ron Fox.This new five-piece line-up produced, recorded and released the band's self-titled debut in 1977 on their own Beef Records.

The album presents a very young and promising group, playing along the lines of ETHOS, YEZDA URFA and MAELSTROM, somewhat complicated Progressive Rock with multiple changes, polyphonic harmonies and sudden breaks, emphatically influenced by YES and to a lesser extent by KING CRIMSON and GENTLE GIANT.The performance of the band is usually sufficient and classy, though trapped in their own influences, but the general feeling is quite positive.The compositions have a strong YES flavor with deep bass work, STEVE HOWE-like guitar lines, while the use of multi-vocal harmonies among the soft symphonic passages is another proof of the Pentwater's major influence.Still the band lacks the unique talent of their English idols.The keyboard work is quite satisfying, though a bit dropped in the background for most of the album's length, with smooth piano parts and heavy mellotron/organ themes.Sometimes they even allow a slight Psychedelic Rock taste surface among their complex ideas.While Pentwater had little personality, their arrangements remained bombastic, atmospheric and really adventurous with both calm acoustic textures and captivating interplays dominating the musicianship.

A very interesting piece of the 70's US Progressive Rock scene.The 2003 CD reissue of the album contains four extra, previously unreleased tracks close to the style the band's presented in the original LP and the album comes strongly recommended to all fans of 70's Classic Prog...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars to talk about PENTWATER is paradoxically easy and difficult; easy to enumerate their influences (Yes,Gentle Giant, EL&P,Genesis,Kansas etc...),and exactly for this varied influences is very hard to define the band style !!! However, this task became more easy if you know another north ameri ... (read more)

Report this review (#234603) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Pentwater? Exactly what i thought.."Who´s that?" Well they are an American progband from the seventies..and this their only(although some new/old material has surfaced- lately:Out of the abyss.)record is an absolute GEM...blending many a style...and in a fantastic manner i might ad...i heard som ... (read more)

Report this review (#19373) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Thursday, March 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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