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Pentwater Out of the Abyss album cover
3.67 | 45 ratings | 9 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Em 54 (7:59)
2. Take (2:45)
3. Cause and Effects (6:36)
4. Necropolis (6:12)
5. Billboard Smiles (6:49)
6. Gwen's Madrigal (The Violation Version) (8:05)
7. The Journeys (8:37)
8. Oceans (8:37)
9. Kill the Bunny (5:42)

Total Time: 61:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Orsi / percussion, vocals
- Mike Konopka / guitar, flute, violin, vocals percussion
- Ron Fox / guitars, oboe, vocals
- Ken Kappel / keyboards, theremin, vocals
- Ron LeSaar / bass, vocals
- Phil Goldman / guitars, vocals

Releases information

CD Syn-Phonic SYNCD 7 (1992) USA

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PENTWATER Out of the Abyss ratings distribution

(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

PENTWATER Out of the Abyss reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
3 stars A 6-piece ensemble from Chicago - Illinois, in the vein of YES, performing such a good progressive rock in the late seventies, with a touch of GENTLE GIANT(talking about the harmonization of the melody only) and also a remarkable use of vocals. They are inferior than for example BABYLON, MIRTHRANDIR or YEZDA URFA, regarding of such derivative bands performing in the same period, but anyway this album is very interesting. Recommended!!
Review by Progbear
4 stars Not a proper album, more of a collection of rare live recordings and previously unreleased demos from the band's past. That said, it's surprisingly good. Like most American prog obscurities of the 70's, not a lot of originality, but these guys do blend their influences a lot better than most. Gentle Giant and Focus seem most in evidence here. At times, this seems almost like Spock's Beard in embryo, but without the sappy, clichéd or AOR-ish touches that make them so unpalatable to the "old school" proggers.

Stylistically, this is all over the map, with lush symphonic numbers, jazzy-tinged tunes, Gentle Giant-like contrapuntal vocal pieces and jam-oriented music. The sound quality likewise varies from tune to tune, further divorcing this from any sort of continuity. But the musicianship is of a high caliber, the individual tracks are strong and there's enough variety to ensure that even those suffering from ADD will never be bored. A vast array of classic keys are used, as well as a mess of other instruments like violin, flute and theremin. Diverse and interesting.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Second album from a this little-known Michigan band (they're named after one river in that state), that would be totally unknown if the Syn-Phonic label hadn't unearthed it in the early 90's - even Vernon Joynson ignores the band in g-his revised Fuzz Borderline book. Their lone album (reordered between 73 & 76) never got an official release (only a private one), and finally got an official through that (then-) essential label in 92, which coincided with a fairly important rebirth of prog in the US (Magna Carta label + Dream Theater). Musically, the quintet concentrates on a very English-sounding prog, often very close to Yes (to the point that 'clone' might be applicable), sometimes reminiscent of Gentle Giant or Genesis. This release is apparently the touched-up versiion of what was available from the band's s/t album in 78, so it's more than just the album, as the Cd last 65 minutes of music.

As hinted above, Pentwater is certainly not very original, leaning too much on their influences and only on rare occasions do they manage to create their own brand of sound, mostly when lead singer Konopka plays his violin - he's also playing guitar, flute, percussions and an important songwriter in the band. Despite the band sporting a two-guitar attack (including Konopka's part-time), the focus is more on Koppel's impressive array of keyboards (for a band that never broke through (despite what says the propaganda in the liner notes about opening)-act support if big names). My main gripe about the album is to tell apart the original vinyl album and the Cd final product' If there are any modifications, they were done in a very tasteful manner, careful of not using the catastrophic late-80's or early-90's technologies to screw up the ambiance and nature of the music. Fave track for me? The Journey, though Oceans has its charms as well.

One of Syn-Phonic's better early 90's release (which made the label's and owner Greg Walker's reputation), but ultimately, however interesting it may be, it's not really essential, but a welcome addition to your shelves, if you're not too uppity/mindful about its derivative nature.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Now here's one for the prog addicts who just can't get enough complexity in their music. PENTWATER were true masters of delivering the perfect balance of melody and crazy complex prog rock elements into their woefully too underground career that formed all the way back in 1970 in the Chicago area by the adventurous duo of Mike Konopka (guitar, violin, flute, vocals) and Tom Orsi (percussion, vocals). These guys were untrained in a traditional sense but were eager in emulating their musical idols and then taking it several steps further. PENTWATER was one of the more unique bands to emerge from the USA. True that they followed down the path that fellow USAmericans Cathedral, Mirthrandir and Yezda Urfa trod with heavy driving complexity on steroids built on the influences of their overseas heroes but more than anyone else, PENTWATER managed to take these influences and melt them together like a prog collector's album collection left in a car on a smoldering hot Phoenix day during a blistering heatwave when temperatures exceed 120 degrees Fahrentheit / 49 degrees Celsius and in the aftermath leave a glistening glob of bizarre and unexpected artistic delight.

While they began their journey as far back as 1970, the duo began as mere imitators covering everything from The Doors, Hendrix and even Ike & Tina Turner however their ambitions were high and without knowing it found a knack and fondness for complex time signatures, polychromatic modulations and idiosyncratic modal interpolations. As they discovered the ever burgeoning world of progressive rock, they realized that their inclinations weren't merely in a vacuum and that there was indeed a desire to hear this strange sort of pomp and awe. As their ambitions flowed, so too did their magnetism and rightfully attracted equally adventurous minds and with the inclusion of Ron LeSaar on bass, Ken Kappel on keys / theremin as well as Phil Goldman on additional guitars and Ron Fox on yet more guitars and oboe too. The band formerly known as PENTWATER RIVER dropped the second part of their name and sallied forth into full musical adventurousness.

Adventurous indeed, but just a tad too late to catch the first wave of prog's golden age. Despite forming at the proper time all the way back in 1970, PENTWATER didn't really get their prog mojo flowing until 1975 and then didn't release their first and only eponymous album until 1977. However, while Beef Records was trying their darndest to steer this loose wire creative outfit into somewhat commercial channels, they didn't quite make a dent with their debut as it came out just when punk and disco were giving the prog world the boot off the world's stage. Luckily PENTWATER was recording and hoarding their heart's desire from 1973 to 1976 and those straight-from-the-heart recordings are featured on this archival release OUT OF THE ABYSS which was only released in 1992. As a result of spanning several years, the tracks are quite varied not only in style but in sophistication and it's easy to peg which came first and which chickens were fully hatched and run around like wild animals doing whatever they wanted.

Musically PENTWATER displays a healthy tribute to the 70s greats. Laced with a freneticism and jittery time signature workouts that pomp prog dreams are made of, OUT OF THE ABYSS displays Emerson, Lake & Palmer keyboard aggressiveness, symphonic Yes inspired classical compositions, Gentle Giant meets Crosby, Stills & Nash harmonic interplay and heavy eclectic jazz rock riffing that can change abruptly in midstream. There are pastural Genesis type segments and some of the keyboard riffs even remind me of Kansas and Supertramp. The beauty is how well it's all thrown in the blender and tastefully poured into a glass to be enjoyed as a prog smoothie with the utmost care in how melodic developments gleefully prance around in full prog regalia with time signatures run amok and filthy abandon at every juncture. In this regard PENTWATER most resembles fellow USAmericans Yezda Urfa in melodic sensibilities fused with reckless prog complexities, a rare trait that few bands can execute with such grace and precision. OUT OF THE ABYSS is tailor made for seekers of the most adventurous prog there is to be heard and more interesting a hundredfold from their sole album released in the 70s. While PENTWATER wasn't the only late to the prog game band that packed a whole career of ideas into a few short songs in the late 70s, they were one of the few USAmerican bands that managed to pull it off so convincingly. This one has become a favorite!

4.5 stars but rounded up because it's not getting enough love in these parts :)

Latest members reviews

4 stars This album is a good time of good music made ​​in America in the seventies. The musicians are excellent performers and we can check in the last track their quality It's a good album to listen to and enjoy, with very good quality of execution and conception of music, nothing boring. ... (read more)

Report this review (#460777) | Posted by João Paulo | Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Here's what you need to know about this cd/album: there is one masterpiece contained therein and one near masterpiece. The masterpiece a short little tune called Take which could be on any classic rock radio station and fit right in there with anything by Kansas. The musical themes are well conc ... (read more)

Report this review (#156957) | Posted by ProggaWogga | Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ok, this is not Yezda Urfa or Happy the Man, but this album sounds really interesting. Very inffluneced by Yes, the truth is that you wouldn't discover anything new on the eight tracks of "Out of the Abyss" perhaps it's a rare piece of collection starting with the powerfull and very prog "Em 5 ... (read more)

Report this review (#55341) | Posted by progadicto | Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The return of the 6 piece from Chicago...that is....these guys are from way back then... in the seventies...ive reviewed their first? This album are more of the same....NO..NO.. dont get me wrong...this is as great as the first one (which came first?) I do not hear the resemblance of say.. Gentle ... (read more)

Report this review (#19377) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Saturday, June 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Very interesting mid 70´s group, the music here have all elements that reminds me actual bands (that i like a lot) like Spock´s Beard. Among of the most undiscovered progressive rock records of the history. The drummer Tom Orsi is fantastic, and Ken Kappel is a catchy organ/synth player quite in Ker ... (read more)

Report this review (#19374) | Posted by fredfontes | Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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