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PYRRHO

Island

Eclectic Prog


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Island Pyrrho album cover
3.51 | 11 ratings | 2 reviews | 9% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Home Recording, 1975, in Windlach / Raat (Switzerland)
1-14. Pyrrho (39:04)

CD 2 - Live Version, 1976, in Africana St. Gallen (Switzerland)
1-24. Pyrrho (45:23)

Total time 84:27

Line-up / Musicians

CD 1
- Peter Scherer / keyboards, vocals
- Dani Ruhle / guitar, vocals
- Guge Meier / drums, percussion, vocals
- Egon Eggler / bass, vocals
- Beni Jager / lead vocals, percussion

CD 2
- Peter Scherer / keyboards, vocals
- Beni Jager / lead vocals, percussion
- Guge Meier / drums, percussion, vocals
- Rene Fisch / saxophone, vocals
- Alfio Sacco / bass, vocals

Releases information

Based on a Story by Akron

CD Z-Records (2005, Switzerland)

Thanks to Todd for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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ISLAND Pyrrho ratings distribution


3.51
(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
9%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
45%
Good, but non-essential (36%)
36%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ISLAND Pyrrho reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Much to the pleasure of the fans of Island's sole studio album, they get to see an "official" release of the live material that had circulated as some form of boot or another for the last decades or so. This rather dark and sober green artwork (again HR Giger) fits the general tone of the group's soundscape. Both live recordings date from 76, well before the album's actual sessions (summer 77) and therefore don't expect unheard material. What is relatively interesting is to follow the progression of the group, both in its personnel and in its musical direction, compared to the finished product. It seems obvious that the contents of the first disc is more ancient than the stuff of the second one, but both are subdivided in a flurry of track sub-division, which may seem and be a little arbitrary.

The first disc is announced as home recording, so you're warned, but like the bonus track on the CD reissue of Pictures, it's actually quite acceptable, and if every home recording was of that quality, there wouldn't have been many studios left in the late 70's. The group was then a quintet, based on the "basic trio foundation" drummer Scherer, keyboardist Meier and singer Jager, but included a guitarist and a bassist. Musically the group didn't have that Zeuhl dimension it would have in Pictures, being much more Emersonian- symphonic in style, but still jazz-rock tinged. Interestingly enough, this "home session" last some 40 minutes, enough material for an album.

The second disc is unsurprisingly not quite as good in terms of sound quality, being a live concert recording, with not all the parameters fully under control. Unlike the first disc, this could be a bootleg origin, but it's nothing scandalous either. Line-up wise, the guitarist is nw gone, replaced with saxman René Fisch, while the bassist has changed. While it may appear trivial or anecdotic, this change might be one of the key to the group's relative change of musical scope, as this recording does see the appearance of Zeuhl influences, absent in the first disc, but not nearly as dominant as it would be in their Pictures album. There are hints of VdGG influences appearing now, but I didn't detect any GG yet. So if you're looking for some more Pictures, this second disc would be up your alley, despite seeing your enthusiasm slightly tempered about the sound quality.

I certainly wouldn't call this double-disc affair essential to any proghead (given that the sound quality is not exactly up-to-par), unless you're an absolute fan of Pictures and really want to deepen your knowledge of the second-best Swiss band ever, after Circus. Interesting enough to listen to it a few times, but I'm not sure that you'll get a good mileage of this double-shot.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The year 1977 saw two of the greatest progressive rock releases in the nation of Switzerland's entire history. One was "Movin' On" by the Basel based Circus and the other was the now classic "Pictures" released by the WIndlach based ISLAND. This band that donned the famous H.R. Giger album cover art was as dark and mysterious as the album it released and seemed like it appeared from nowhere and then disappeared into the mysterious ethers but due to the fact that this band produced such a staggeringly complex array of progressive rock that took the keyboard prowess combo effect of Van der Graaf Generator with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and mixed in even wilder aspects of Gentle Giant, this band has become legendary.

Having released one sole album in the late 70s, it was impossible to compare this veritable masterpiece of progressive rock with any other works but in 2005 that changed when ISLAND at long last emerged from the shadows and finally gave a little context to the 1977 slice of prog heaven darkness that has enchanted those seeking the wildest rides that the progressive rock universe has to offer. It took near three decades but in the beginning of a new milliennium the archival release PYRRHO finally hit the market. This double disc CD set was released on the small label Z-Records which in reality was only a tiny record shop in St. Gallen, which made this rather unnoticed on the prog scene and still to this day remains a tad obscure.

PYRRHO was an ancient Greek philosopher and even though the disc didn't contain liner notes which kept the band basked in mystery and once again donning yet another Giger cover, it can be assumed that this is a concept album based on the few words that were printed, namely "Based on a story by Akron." Presumably this referred to the Swiss occultist Karl Friedrich Frey and the music has also been said to have appeared as a rock opera at the St. Gallen Stadtheater but none of that actually made it on to these home recordings. The first disc contained 14 untitled tracks that constituted the PYRRHO suite while the second disc was a live version of PYRRHO performed some time in 1976 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The home recording on the first disc preceded "Pictures" and was recorded in 1975 in the band's native Windlach.

It's quite interesting to hear the evolutionary process that went on in the two years before "Pictures" emerged and while there are many similarities, PYRRHO is less dark than "Pictures" and shows a clearer link to the band's influences which at this point sounds much more like a more adventurous version of Emerson, Lake and Palmer with ample Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant influences. There's also some clear references to King Crimson. These guys didn't mess around. They went straight for the cream of the crop of prog and wove their own tapestry of complex sounds that easily stand up to the best of what the 70s had to offer. Despite the two discs showcasing the studio and live versions of PYRRHO, the time differences between 1975 and 1976 are apparent as the two discs have different lineups.

Here's a comparison:

Disc 1 - 1975 Home Recording of PYRRHO 14 Unnamed Tracks

Güge Meier - Drums, Percussion, Vocals Egon Eggler - Bass, Vocals Dani Rühle - Guitar, Vocals Beni Jäger - Lead Vocals, Percussion Peter Scherer - Keyboards, Vocals

Disc 2 Live Version 1976 24 Unnamed Tracks

Beni Jäger - Lead Vocals, Percussion René Fisch - Saxophone, Vocals Alfio Sacco - Bass, Vocals Güge Meier - Drums, Percussion, Vocals Peter Scherer - Keyboards, Vocals

1977's "Pictures" Lineup

Benjamin Jäger / lead vocals, percussion Peter Scherer / keyboards, bass pedals, crotales, voice René Fisch / sax, flute, clarinet, triangle, voice Güge Jürg Meier / drums, gong, percussion

While not as deliciously dark and wrapped in the most obscure and adventurous prog mysteries as "Pictures," PYRRHO doesn't disappoint as a prequel to that album. Keep in mind this is a home recording and the production is inferior but the musicianship is off the charts brilliant and displays that this band was far ahead of many of the more popular European bands of the same era and had they existed in England a few years earlier very well may have been one of the top dogs along with King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. Despite the poorer recording quality, PYRRHO delivers the same playful and delirious arrangements that bombard the listener with incessant prog twists and turns.

This is an excellent archival release and one that rightfully should've been released in 1975 when it was recorded since even though the production isn't top of the line it's far better than many other so-called professional produced albums of the era. This is simply a must for those seeking out hardcore keyboard driven prog rock with both classical and jazzy touches stitched into every off-kilter cadence and labyrinthine crazed convolution through a sizzling sonic journey. Both the home recordings and the live performances here are well worth the time even though together they extend to the 84 minute and 27 second running time.

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