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ARZACHEL

Arzachel

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Arzachel Arzachel  album cover
3.61 | 149 ratings | 39 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Garden of Earthly Delights (2:40)
2. Azathoth (4:11)
3. Queen Street gang (4:20)
4. Leg (5:31)
5. Clean innocent fun (10:24)
6. Metempsychosis (16:19)

Total Time: 43:25

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Basil Dowling (Clive Brooks) / drums
- Njerogi Gategaka (Mont Campbell) / bass, vocals
- Sam Lee-Uff (Dave Stewart) / organ
- Simeon Sasparella (Steve Hillage) / guitar, vocals

Releases information

CD:TRC TRC021 (1992, limited edition); Drop Out DO 1983 (1994);Akarma AK184 mini gatefold CD 2002

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to mandrakeroot for the last updates
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ARZACHEL Arzachel ratings distribution


3.61
(149 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
27%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (8%)
8%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ARZACHEL Arzachel reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Take off your shoes, socks, turn off the lights, shut all windows and blinds and turn up your amplifier to 11... here comes some pure progressive psychedelia. ARZACHEL were in and out of the world of music for only a short period and have left behind this one and only little treasure of wonderful wierdness. ARZACHEL was really the young genius of Steve HILLAGE (guitars) and Dave STEWART (keyboards) and although never really intended for wide distribution has become one of the most collectible and trasured gems of this era. ARZACHEL contains classic HILLAGE acid guitar windouts and Dave STEWART's psychedelic keyboard drones and solos. ARZACHEL contains 2 longer length tracks (11 & 17 Mins) and 4 shorter numbers. The sound repro is as you might expect not in full digital, but does not detract from your listening enjoyment. The fine folks at Drop Out Records have included a nice little history and package about this band as well...

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#21650) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!! This could be seen as the first Egg album on Marijuana as the official Egg albums would be done on LSD . If I don't finish this review , it will be the fault of double U (also known as the evil Dubya) and his friends of "tolerance zero" knocking on my door because the terrorist I must be full of oil-mass destructing weapons hidden away behind the Mosque disguised as my garden shed . Sounds silly enough????

I think you are ready for the lunacy of this album. We are dealing with a very heavily laced drugged out psychadelia but it is of great quality, very fun and giving the urge to roll a doobie (or a spliff if you wish). The short opening track Darden of Earthly Delights is clearly out to give the tone of the album but also reminding you that we are still in the 60's. Queen Street Gang and Azatoth are pure psych and gives you a good idea of the potential that the group had even back then. However I am a little more reserved towards Clean Innocent Fun which I find a tad long (especially that it is a blues track). But clearly the masterpiece is the 16 min+ monster track Metempsychosis with its unreal themes , out of this world solos and lenghty interplay. I never saw the vinyl, but I wonder how they managed to fit the last two tracks (totals up to almost 27 mins) on one vinyl side back in 1969!

Ooooooppppsss!!!! I hear that ugly knock on the door now , time to gooooooooooooo! Hey wait a minute.... I am innocent.....but screw Dubya..... Aaaaarggghhhhhhh!!!!!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#21651) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004

Review by Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars wow what a trip. one of the most under rated psych albums EVER. very catchy songs but a little tough on the ears..blame that on the poor production..than again its a unique album and when you choose to listen to it, it adds its own unique touch to the day. try and pick this up..or at least d/l to see what psych was truly about in the late 60s. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#39534) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Many years ago I purchased this CD, unfortunately the recording quality was very poor (it must have been a bootleg recording). But the music blew me away, what a great compelling psychedelic inspired music! The excellent work from Mr. Hillage and Mr. Stewart (they had to use pseudonyms) are magnificent. After reading the recent euphoric review on Prog Archives I will try to find a decent recorded CD from this outstanding album!

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Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The style of the 60's can be heard pleasantly in the music of this album, as there are some blues influences and raw organ sounds on it. I'm not a big fan of blues, but I think that blues elements in music can be wonderful, as they are blended with some other musical elements, just like CREAM did for example. And psychedelia is a classic counterpart with blues, like a black pepper is to a dragon in cuisine! The album covers are great, and they describe the atmosphere on the album perfectly. The long epic track is interesting, but I liked the shorter tracks too. I think this music could slightly be compared to the album by AARDVARK and early PINK FLOYD works. ARZACHEL is just maybe a more organ driven band, and there are bit more aggressive and blues rock driven elements in it. Surreal and nice, highly recommended!

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#56998) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005

Review by NetsNJFan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Next too Pink Floyd's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and the omnipresent "Sergeant Pepper", this lone album by Arzachel is one of the best psychedelic albums ever. Arzachel (also known as Uriel) is essentially Egg + Steve Hillage. The band recorded this album in one afternoon, making it all the more remarkable. Boasting ethereal organ from Dave Stewart (who has not made a bad album) and the oh-so English vocals of both Mont Campbell and Steve Hillage, this album is a real treat.

It starts off with the short and efficient "Garden of Earthly Delights", a track driven by Stewart's organ and alternating verses sung by Hillage and Campbell. "Garden." is an incredible track that gets things off to an energetic and decidedly English beginning. "Azathoth" brings things down a bit, featuring haunting church organ and distant vocals from Hillage. Moving at a slow, stately pace, one hardly expects the organ-noise, which erupts halfway through before falling back into its hymnal melody. "Queen St. Gang" is an understated instrumental which continues much in the vein of "Azathoth", slowly churning along but progressing beautifully all the while. "Leg" is a bit less successful than the previous three tracks, delving into blues and away from the delicious psychedelia. It reminds me of Jethro Tull circa 1968-69 with organ instead of guitar. The album concludes with too long jams, "Clean Innocent Fun" which is pretty good, though derivative. The second jam, the sixteen minute monster, "Metempsychosis" is better than any 60's Pink Floyd instrumental in terms of madness. It slowly moves along, gaining momentum, and Hillage and Stewart in tandem are both ugly and hypnotic in this piece. It finally concludes with some distorted organ. Apparently the band watched the clock during the whole jam and only played until they had an album filled. The song is incredible however, but takes a few listens. True, experimental psychedelia at its most acid laced.

Overall, and excellent and energetic record. It shows just how talented these young kids were at the time, barely out of high school. Dave Stewart, obviously, shows the greatest promise here and goes on to become one of progressive rock's most famed musicians. Steve Hillage and the rest aren't slouches though. Highly recommended to fans of Psyche, Space, blues and Canterbury, it hits all of the bases.

4/5 Stars: Excellent, but not essential.

(Note: This album was made under funny pseudonyms, due to contractual reasons with Decca. (Egg had recently signed.) The clever boys use the names of depsied teachers as covers. For example, Dave Stewart becomes "Sam Lee-Uff").

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Send comments to NetsNJFan (BETA) | Report this review (#60848) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The production has oft been remarked upon, for this psychedelic fuzz-fest, but to my ears, this simply makes it all the more compelling, and lends the music the correct "free-festival" atmosphere.

In actual fact, the main problem with the production seems to be the almost complete absence of compression, and omnipresent and over-worked reverb, leading to what might be considered excessive distortion. However, I have to say that I find it a veritable feast of fuzz and feedback, with a great range of dynamics and a very full sound for each instrument - a beautiful and powerful sound.

The self-titled album from the psychedelic pseudonyms is a surreal trip through a variety of musical styles that go beyond psychedelia and into the realms of Progressive Rock proper. The band get into some seriously good grooves, and seldom if ever make the kinds of mistakes and fluffs that plague many Krautrock albums of this time, and Hawkwind albums for decades to come.

I've seen many comparisons made to Pink Floyd, and I'd like to scotch most of those rumours here and now. The huge organ sound that Dave Stewart produces is far more akin to Deep Purple - or more accurately, The Nice, inspired, as it was, by Keith Emerson, and Hillage's guitar work, although not the polished leading light of space rock that he would become in Gong and his solo work, is utterly remarkable. Especially when you consider that he was 17 at the time. Come to that, not one of the musicians were in their twenties when they made this recording, so the professionalism of musicianship is extraordinary.

The closest this album comes to Pink Floyd is in the cosmic "wooey noises" that begin the 14-minute jam "Metempsychosis", a track that threatens to drop into "Interstellar Overdrive" at any moment - but instead remains an energetic variation on a theme, albeit with slightly uninspired moments that drift off into stoned noodle. These, fortunately, are way more than balanced with moments of pure drama and psychedelic power with some particularly stunning vocal and keyboard work. Think Hawkwind at their very best and you're close.

As has been remarked upon, this album was recorded in a single day - Hillage himself is alleged to have said it was just done "for a laugh" - and the fun certainly comes across. The plethora of pseudonyms that plague the personnel were largely for contractural reasons, which the artists got around by using the invented names - even the band name was a pseudonym.

I guess that those fond of categorising are going to say that this is more of a psychedelic jam or Space Rock album than a "proper" Prog Rock album, and they'd probably be right.

However, it's so much more together than the average psych album, and so much more than pure Space Rock, that I'm just going to have to say that you really ought to have this in your Prog collection as an indeal representative of where Prog was at in 1969 (ITCOTCK excepted, of course!).

It's a bit of a masterpiece really ;o)

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#76200) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The band took their name from a crater on the moon and so it's no surprise that the music is spacey and psychedelic with some blues thrown in as well. I remember when I first received this record and saw the names of the band members on the back (with a funny write up about each of them) I thought I had ordered the wrong cd, because the guys used fake names to avoid any contractural problems that might arise. So Steve Hillage is named Simeon Sasparella (haha) and so on.

"Garden Of Earthly Delights" features the dual vocals of Campbell and Hillage that are done so well. We are treated to some drifting organ melodies and lazy guitar from Hillage that gathers strength before the song ends. "Azathoth" opens with organ as the drums come in as well as haunting vocals and some screeching guitar.

"Queen St.Gang" is an instrumental of drums and organ, and the organ sounds so good. "Leg" is a blues song with some incredible guitar solos. "Clean Innocent Fun" is another blues song with an organ / guitar melody 2 1/2 minutes in that is great. The final song "Metempsychosis" is very "Interstellar Overdrive" sounding except this goes on for over 16 minutes and eventually sounds like a Krautrock style jam. It's quite a ride anyway.

I admit I bought this because of the involvement of Hillage and Stewart and although it's good (the sound quality isn't) it doesn't compare to the KHAN's "Space Shanty" that they did together along with two other musicians. Still this is a good sample of an early Psychedelic record.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#111592) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I do believe this record is among of the most psychedelic ones in the whole music history! That's completely insane! The organ treatment is often pushed to the limits bearable. The tracks are really VISCERAL and borderline insane at many bits. During the experimental and crazy moments, the music just sounds lacerated, like the brutal & burning ache involved during a violent & deep expectorating cough. When the music is more structured, the tracks can be very good: the melodic & ardent organ offers a cavernous & religious texture: Keith Emerson immediately comes to mind, but the musician here is obviously less a virtuoso. I have a problem with the guitar sound: it is often dangerously badly crafted, seeming to focus too much on the bizarre & weird noise produced. "Azatoth" slightly reminds me the band Mandalaband, especially the lead vocals. There are some bluesy rock/hard rock textures like on "Leg" and "Clean Innocent Fun". The "epic" "Metempsychosis" is almost a total mess of disgraceful & annoying noises, comparable to the worst krautrock disasters: this last track contributes to lower the rating: I give an overall rating of 3 stars only because "Metempsychosis" lasts more than 16 minutes.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#123689) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Funeral psych be-in from Stewart, Hillage, Brown and Campbell in '69 just before the first Egg album sessions but having to avoid a dispute with Decca, down to using silly pseudonyms on the back cover. Steve Hillage was available on guitar and Stewart being no fool, grabbed him. With a whopping 250 pounds, they recorded a now highly prized LP for the tiny Zel label. It is a bedraggled but interesting moment, a meeting of dirty, sometimes freeform psych and early prog rock. The first half has some good bits such as 'Azathoth', 'Queen St. Gang' is warped and lethargic, and 'Leg' is led by Stewart's pipe organ. Hillage has good moments too, showing an ear for the heavy riff-blues that was swirling around the English scene. The second half is essentially a long acid freakout and sounds a bit like the band was in an airplane hangar, and though flashes of greatness can be seen sporadically, it is not frequent.

Short-lived outfit that recorded this mediocre but significant link in the psych/prog relationship and though new listeners should steer clear, it may be of interest to history buffs.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#155377) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2007

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Content Development & Krautrock Team
5 stars Arzachel is Steve Hillage (GONG) first historical formation and this album is among the freakiest 1969's progressive rock essays. This self title and unique album from the band is completely amazing and turned to seriously fuzzed out guitar sections, accompanied by crazy, eccentric keyboards. Arzachel's music alternates strong, incisive psych pop songs with long "lysergic" trippy improvisations where the guitar and keyboards duet propulses you into an other galaxy. "Garden of earthly delights" is a typical psych-pop compostion with reminiscence from early Pink Floyd, including catchy melodies and a happily 60's psych instrumentation with Emerson- like luminous keyboard treatments (thinking about The Nice). The guitar lead section at the end is pure magic, intense and emotionally spacey. "Queen street Gang" is a real trippy / hippie projection with an efficient leading musical theme, including a nice groove. The solo parts are dominated by an extravagant Hammond Organ. "Leg" starts with a funny pipe organ introduction then goes into a dynamic, powerful bluesy rockin' trip, including mesmerizing guitar solos, a pure musical "fury". "Clear innocent fun" is a more heavy rocking song, featuring a moody like musical expression and lot of guitars and distortion. An impressively emotional, abrasive and aggressive composition. My favoruite piece with the next to come. "Metempsychosis" sounds like an Amon Duul II B side, a gorgeous psych / atonal ambience with lot of noises and manipulations. This is a darker mantra like trip and the only instrumental piece on the album. So good! "Arzachel" is among my favourite 1969's progressive rock albums with "Electrip" (Xhol Caravan), A=mh2 (Clark Hutchinson) and a few others.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#155878) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the debut and sole album from psychadelic rock band Arzachel ( originaly named Uriel). The story behind Arzachel is pretty special as they weren´t together as a band at the time the album was recorded. Dave Stewart ( Organ), Clive Brooks ( Drums) and Mont Campbell ( Bass/Vocals) had changed the name of the band from Arzachel to Egg after Steve Hillage ( Guitar/Vocals) left. Shortly after Egg had signed a contract with Decca a small label called Zackariya Enterprises gave the musicians an opportunity to record an album. The material wasn´t written for Egg so the four musicians decided to reunite and record this album. The album was recorded and mixed in one long session which gives it a very special almost live feel.

The album has four shorter songs and two long psychadelic jams. The music is bluesy psychadelic rock but at the same time there is a strange dark mood to the songs which is primarely created by Dave Stewart´s organ sound. I have never heard an organ sound this thin and eerie. The sustained notes sound so great in my ears. Note that the crash cymbals on the drumkit makes noise when the organ is playing alone. This is basically recorded live in the studio.

Both Garden of Earthly Delights and Azathoth are great psychadelic rock songs with some great vocals from Steve Hillage or Mont Campbell ( I´m not sure who sings what on the album). Azathoth is especially eerie and dark. There is almost a psalm like feel to this song and a subtle chanting quality to the vocals. The third song on the album called Queen Street Gang is a great instrumental track where the organ plays some dark melodies. Leg is a very bluesy song but of course still psychadelic. Clean Innocent Fun has a bluesy vocal part before entering into psychadelic jamming while Metempsychosis is a 16 minute long psychadelic jam with lots of great inventive playing.

The musicianship is excellent on this album. Creating an album like this in a single long session is not something you do if you´re not an accomplished musician. I have the greatest respect for this performance. If you know the music that these musicians would go on to create with bands like Egg, Khan, Gong, Hatfield & the North, National Health etc. you probably won´t be too surprised but they are really good even at this imature stage of their career.

The production or lack of such thing is really charming and not at all disturbing for the listening pleasure IMO. I love the live feel this brings to the music.

The coverartwork is beautifully dark and intriguing. It fits the music perfectly.

Arzachel´s sole album is a real dark psychadelic gem from the late sixties. It´s seldom that I like albums from that period as much as I like this one. This is a must have album. Because of the dark approach in the music I´ll compare it to the mood bands like High Tide and Dr. Z also revel in but this is a unique album and it doesn´t really sound like any of those two bands ( maybe a bit like High Tide). For me this is a big 4 star rating. I can´t wait to get my hands on Arzachel Collectors Edition by Uriel ( which is a kind of re-release from 2007) which should include six previously unavailable bonus tracks. It can only be good.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#179160) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 08, 2008

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed by the reunited members of Uriel (a seminal band from the Canterbury scene), and while the trio Egg was already working, Arzachel recorded their sole album during a one-day recording session. The result was awesome, and you can tell that these guys had refreshing ideas, genuine enthusiasm, and a 20/20 capability to read each other's minds while cooking and jamming all the way through. What this album brings is an explosive mixture of psychedelic fireworks and jazz-oriented jam rock, with some notable touches of symphonic rock (much in the vein of the rough approach that was still around). This is no Egg, indeed, so don't expect that sense of stylish delicacy that Stewart, Campbell and Brooks delivered on their albums; Arzachel's sonic orientation is closer to the cosmic jamming punctuated with aggressive interactions that soon will make the best of Khan (a band led by Hillage a few years later), although Arzachel wins in this comparison regarding roughness and excitation. There is much influence from vintage Pink Floyd's harder facet, the Hendrix prototype and primitive hard rock. The talents of Hillage and Stewart at creating compelling musical excursions is infinite at this early stage of their respective careers, while the rhythmic foundation set by Campbell and Brooks is perfectly solid. The opener 'Garden of Earthly Delights' is a playful, gleeful piece that very much pursues the beat swing: I wish the fade-out didn't arrive so soon, since the lead guitar feels really mean. The Gothic, almost sinister vibe of 'Azathoth' states a very effective symphonic approach, and so does the melancholic 'Queen St. Gang': both pieces give Stewart enough room to display his gusto for academic insertions in a jazz-rock context, and they can in fact be described as a midway between early Procol Harum and the Egg factotum. Things shift toward the bluesy side of things abundantly in 'Leg' and 'Clean Innocent Fun': the former brings a heavy prog approach to the standards of Cream and early Led Zeppelin (well, back then for these guys they were fresh and contemporary), while the latter is crucially expanded through a Storm und Drag of psychedelic tension powerfully driven by the guitar phrases and the explosive organ chops. The album's culmination is displayed in the 17 minute 'Metempsychosis', a monster exercise on spacey jams that seem to set the world on fire while indulging on fiery sonic expansions where the disturbing and the mesmerizing collide and fuse into one musical force. The use of tribal cadences in many passages of the drummer's delivery helps to state a bumping dynamics to the jam's core. The vibe that grows and develops with the ongoing improvisation is the ultimate example of Arzachel as a unit - this album is a must for any serious prog collector, more so if you're a Canterbury freak and/or a space-rock hopeless fanatic. 4 1/3 stars for this one!

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#179186) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 08, 2008

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Heavy Psychedelic Blues Collector's Item

Egg + Steve Hillage = Uriel which had to record their single album under the name Arzachel. Even the band member's names were faked and the album remained an obscure secret for some time. It sounds like the makings of a rare progressive gem.

Alas, no. This is a record of some incredibly talented teenagers playing echo-ey psychedelic blues jams in the realm of Led Zeppelin I, early Pink Floyd, and most notably early Deep Purple. It is proto-prog in the true sense of the word. Though the music was somewhat exploratory for the time, it sounds very typical of the period now. What's more, these musicians developed massively over the next years' projects. While I do not have the first Egg album, the spirit of the second Egg album and this one could not be further away. Arzachel is bluesy improvisation in straight time. Egg relies on both complex time and harmony to create classically inspired, extremely challenging compositions.

I enjoy both styles of music, and the style of Arzachel has been near and dear to my heart since I first submerged myself in Led Zeppelin's music at age 14, over 20 years ago. The fact that Steve Hillage holds his own on guitar even compared to the colossal Yardbirds trio tells you something. Dave Stewart plays the blues organ like a seasoned master, though he was only 18 himself. But his massive range of tonality and complex signature style is really nowhere to be seen on the record. The rhythm section holds up, but playing this record alongside an early Deep Purple record reveals a more limited skill set, used well. The vocals are also simply adequate to fair.

The recording quality is very rough, to say the least. Though the musicians are basically playing live in the studio, and the energy is captured well on the record, the production quality itself is quite poor. The organ sounds sometimes bite painfully hard and the sheer volume on "Leg" overwhelms the tape beyond saturation. The EQing is harsh and the idea of listening to such an aggressive mix under the influence (which I hear suggested in many reviews) sounds about as unpleasant as a musical experience could be. Finally, the overdone echo / reverbs relegate the album toward 60's cliché.

There is really nothing about this album that makes me think prog. Everything here is well within the psychedelic toolkit, though both Stewart and Hillage explore those tools with youthful excitement and remarkable skill. If anyone tells you that in 1969 no one could match Led Zeppelin's heaviness playing the psychedelic blues, well Arzachel gives them a run for their money to say the least. It's just that these same players went on to play some of the most exploratory music of all time. This album shows the foundation upon which it was all built. But it really is for Canterbury fans exploring the dark alleys of the genre, and should be obtained only after one has already soaked in Stewart and Hillage's developed work. (Khan being the best single album, but Gong, Hatfield, National Health, and Hillage's solo work all being better). Outside of prog, this is a solid 3/5 start album. But its lack of progressive elements and poor sound quality lower it to 2/5 for me.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#241429) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arzachel's self-titled debut presents an early phase of two famous musicians of the Canterbury prog scene: Dave Stewart on Hammond organ and Steve Hillage on guitar. It is a rough, unpolished work clearly sounding like many psych/acid-rock records of the late 1960s.

First part of the album consists of 4 shorter tracks dominated by the heavy organ sound and certain Baroque feel, somewhere in line with contemporary experiments of THE NICE, PROCOL HARUM or what would FOCUS do in a year or two later on. Starting from the halfway through "Leg", the music evolves into a blues-based heavy rock, reflecting both the British blues champions like John Mayall or Clapton's CREAM (re-hashing of the old blues "rolling and tumbling" theme) and the emerging heavy rock of the Hammond-dominant DEEP PURPLE for instance. Two lengthy tracks present the transition from the heavy electrified blues towards the psychedelic space-jam with lots of improvisation and some really fiery guitar technique of Hillage. His guitar is still not recogniseable and sounds like any of the 1969 freaky guitar player on trip, but still it is a convincing play. The closer "Metempsychosis" is definitely over-streched psychedelic jam that does not appear as well-structured composition and can be really boring to listen to.

"Arzachel" is good effort and one of the fine examples of the acid-rock era witnessing the emergence of heavy riff-based rock music, but more important albums of these musicians would follow during the 1970s.

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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Posted Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars An excellent lineup of musicians released in 1969 an album that's a junction between the 60s psychedelia and what the Canterbury subgenre was about to become. The first track, "Garden of Earthly Delights", is evocative for the first half of the song, when it's bewteen the harmonies of Beatles and Caravan, driven by organ and voice. Then we have a psychedelic section on which bass and drums support the electric guitar giving the track a Floydian sound.

"Azatoth" is the "Idiot and blind God" of the HP Lovecraft's mythology (the writer, not the band). The church organ creates a pseudo-religious environment on which Steve Hillage sings a hymn to "the Almighty center of confusion". The hymn part and its chaotic counterpart which follows are probably the best interpretation ever made in music of the HP Lovecraft's horror. It's scary and bizarre, that's exactly how the writer described it.

The organ comes back to Earth on the following psychedelic track "Queen St. Gang" that has elements coming from the 60s blues-revival and has the mood of some hippy movies of the era. I think it has something to do with a BBC show but I don't remember which one.

"Leg" is a rock-blues that reminds to Colosseum. The bad production adds a "bootleg" flavour that enhances the sense of psychedelia. The guitar solo is a typical blues solo, nothing exceptional but enjoyable. While until now we have had organ based music, so very Canterbury oriented, it's like this song comes from before as it's a product of the 60s also with its chaotic final.

"Clean Innocent Fun" is another dark blues. Guitar and voice play the same melody on a loudy blues base to whom the organ gives its psychedelic effort. Put Janis Joplin's band (Big Brother) and the early Pink Floyd together and you'll have an idea of how this track sounds. I could define it "cannabis oriented". Also on this track the sound quality is not good, but it's part of the package and doesn't disturb so much. A cleaner sound would have likely been less drug-oriented. 10 minutes of classic noisy psychedelia.

"Metempsychosis" is the epic track. 16 minutes that open with noise very similar to the central section of "Saucerful of Secrets" (in the Pompeii version). When the guitar plays bass rhythmic notes, followed by drums, it's very similar to "Astronomy domine". I think this is one of the songs closer to Syd Barrett's music that I've ever heard out of Pink Floyd. The guitar solo plays over the repetitive bass and drums base, with the organ acting as Rick Wright on the noisy part of Echoes (Pompeii again). Hillage's guitar is more close to Barrett than to Gilmour, instead. After about 7 minutes it calms down. The organ plays discordant notes on which Hillage sings scary vocalisms. If you liked Ummagumma, this track is for you. Also the bass that introduces a rocky section after 9 minutes is in the style of Interstellar Overdrive. Let's remind that "Metempsychosis" is the word which indicates the transmigration of souls (KA) from one body to another in the reincarnation process. This is what the music is trying to represent. There's also room for a short bass solo by Mont Campbell followed by the last 4 minutes of heavy psychedelic music. A masterpiece for fans of the genre.

"Azatoth" and "Metempsychosis" are enough to rate this album 4 stars.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#299109) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Hillage /Stewart archive recordings of terrible sound quality. I believe this release has high historical value as early acid/psychedelic release of later well known great musicians. But speaking about his musical value, I am not so sure.

Music there is heavy psychedelic sound,based mostly on vintage simplistic organ passages. Not too much guitar could be heard (ok, sound quality doesn't help with that as well. Sound mix is below even that time standard, some songs sound just as unfinished demos (what is not too far from truth). Many elements of 60-s rock are mixed with new to time keyboards attacks, but now all sound is absolutely dated.

With my great respect to Hillage/Stewart legacy, I can't imagine someone listening this album just for pleasure. Rare and expensive release for collectors though.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#323342) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Appropriate that the cover art to this one should include a creature from a medieval alchemical illustration, because for this album Egg (plus Steve Hillage) mysteriously transformed into Arzachel, a unit with the same lineup as the earlier Uriel and working in a similar psychedelic vein, but performing material rush-written (or improvised on the spot) for this album.

Make no mistake - the thing was originally conceived as a purely commercial entity, the small record label that funded the sessions wanting a bit of hard psych to bolster their product line. (Dave Stewart tells a hilarious story about how when playing the closing improvisation - the epic Metempsychosis - the band were all watching the studio clock intently, jamming until they had enough material to finish the album off.) And you can kind of tell from the production values - the album suffers from a slightly muffled mix in which Mont Campbell's bass is rather buried and Dave Stewart's organ tends to drown everything else out.

Still, despite the album's humble origins, it still holds up quite well. It does, of course, introduce the record-buying public to Steve Hillage's guitar skills, and the album consists mainly of Hillage and Stewart trading guitar and organ solos with occasional vocals from Steve - with Mont Campbell contributing occasional singing. (The interplay between his vocals and Steve's on Garden of Unearthly Delights contrasts their voices nicely.) The lyrics tend towards loud declarations or foreboding intonations about somewhat mystical topics - Azathoth takes its subject matter from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft (the writer, not the then-active psych band), and Clean Innocent Fun has Steve yelling some nonsense at the beginning and end to sandwich the band's improvisation in the middle. On balance, the album probably wasn't ever going to set the world on fire, but it never fails to entertain. A four star album dragged down by two-star production standards - so let's call it three.

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Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Arzachel - st (1969)

This is a very interesting early progressive record, covering a wide variety of styles associated with the progressive movement. On this record you'll hear proto-prog, avant- garde-space-rock (Metempsychosis), extremely heavy rock , post blues rock (vocal parts on Clean innocent fun), majestic neo-classical organ driven rock (Azathoth and Queen Street Gang) and perhaps even a bit of proto-punk (on 'Leg'). The record became famous in the vinyl record community because of it's extreme rarity and it has some early musicianship of soon to be famous progressive rock musicians. Quite easily, Arzachel (or formerly known as Uriel) consists of Egg + Steve Hillage (Kahn, Gong, solo), with Egg consisting of Brooks, Campbell and no less then Dave Stewart (Egg, Kahn, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Bruford) on organs. Therefore, this record can also be seen as one of the earliest Canterbury records, though it's sound is quite different.

Recently I was able to buy a vinyl reprint of this otherwise unavailable record with a purple color, just as the early French reprint. The sound of Arzachel is very edgy. Whilst some compositions thrive in thickness of sound (with a pleasant slightly distorted vibe), the louder tracks seems to suffer from quite extreme loudness resulting in heavy noisy guitar and drums sounds. To some (like me partially) this will enhance the feeling of obscure heaviness and that relentless feeling of free garage experimentation. To others this will simply sound a bit ugly or unpleasant.

However, one thing is for sure. The song-writing and neo-classical compositions on side one and the free space/avant-garde experimentation on side two are sometimes plain brilliant. The guts to make such a 'heavy' progressive record is quite rare, especially in the late sixties. The way pleasant organ rock is combined with avant-garde on Azaroth is just so exciting and the endless heavy space jamming on Metempsychosis (over 16 minutes) is just unbelievable. The early guitars of Hillage are very pleasant, because he didn't yet found 'his favorite tricks and licks' - something that would bother me on later records. The psychedelic organ passages of Dave Stewart remind me a bit of Pawn Hearts era VdGG. Some people might argue that the record also has elements that make it sound unfinished or naive. Perhaps it can't be denied that with a bit more time and a better studio recording this would have been better, but the obscurity and rawness give the record a magic touch.

Conclusion. An excellent eclectic psychedelic/space record with the roughest edges you'll encounter. If you are searching for that 'heavy mind-set', that feeling of raw honesty and free garage experimentation - this is it. Others might be better of by first listening some of this material on youtube before buying the record. I myself feel tempted to give five stars, but the controversy of sound-quality makes me obliged to make it a very big four.

Simply ground-braking, exciting stuff that is spacier then the moon-landing itself.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#500899) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Arzachel is a crater on the moon and the music reflects the alienation and deep atmospheres of space. The opener announces the outlandish psychedelic style immediately, with a whirling dervish of sustained organ howls and spacey glissando guitar. It is little wonder the sound is hyper space intensity with the likes of Dave Stewart on keys and Steve Hillage on guitar. 'Garden of Earthly Delights' features Hillage's estranged vocals, and energetic pulses of organ, bass and drums.

'Azathoth' is driven by cathedral organ drones and slow vocalisations that seem sto come from the netherverse. 'Queen St. Gang' is a steady cadence of beautiful instrumentation, followed by 'Leg' which has a weird bluesy feel. The final lengthy jam sessions are provided to cap of this stunning curio. 'Clean Innocent Fun' and an epic Pink Floyd style classic 'Metempsychosis'. The tempo quickens as it progresses into a brain rattling time sig with organ distortion and high squealing guitar arpeggios.

Despite the poor production rough garage sound, Arzachel is a band that should be enjoyed by any space rock/ psychedelic prog addict.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#603724) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 05, 2012

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars Cult, legendary name of the UK Psych scene, formed at the fall of 67' in London and featuring David L. Stewart on keyboards, Mont Campbell on bass/vocals, Steve Hillage on guitar and Clive Brooks on drums.During the summer of 68' Hillage left Uriel to attend university and the remaining trio, pressed by its managers, changed its name to Egg.A brief reunion of the original group took place in 1969 and the four friends recorded an album under the name Arzachel, using pseudonyms to avoid comparisons with Egg's music.This rare self-titled LP was released in November 69' on the short-lived London-based label Evolution.

The first side of the LP saws a band with a unique talent of mixing hypnotic, psychedelic grooves with Baroque-inspired Classical organ parts, thus producing a variety of atmospheres, ranging from haunting instrumental passages to more dreamy vocal-led textures.Great but a bit dated music with superb organ work by Stewart and excellent vocals by Campbell.The closing track of the side, ''Leg'', sees the band entering more Heavy/Psych Rock realms with angry vocals, powerful guitars and dynamic organ paces.The second side is a different story, containg two long psychedelic jams with a very rich sound and a rather free structure.The mood becomes really sinister with more abstract lines, characterized by endless guitar solos, nervous organ masturbations and groovy drumming, while vocal pars come not easy either, having a very dark delivery.Interesting music for what it is, but with little true value, regarding the composition level.

As a tightly connected part of pre-Egg's history, ''Arzachel'' has seen numerous reissues over the years and comes as a recommended release to all fans of improvised Psych/Prog as well as to collector's of prog history as a nice hostorical and archival album.Recommended as a whole.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#943172) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Before the successful solo career, before Gong and way even before Khan, there was Arzachel. Yes, I'm talking about Steve Hillage, that legendary psychedelic guitarist who's forty-five year career has pretty much seen it all. And this is where it began. A deeply psychedelic excursion into early prog-rock territory laced with organs, spacey effects and neon dropped keyboards, underground psych-rock outfit Arzachel saw Hillage teamed with Canterbury keyboardist extraordinaire Dave Stewart and the multi-instrumentalist duo of Mont Campbell(bass) and Clive Brooks(drums), who would of course go on to form the quirky jazz-influenced group Egg. Nowadays, original vinyl copies of 'Arzachel' can fetch to upwards of £1,000, such is the rarity and reputation of an album steeped in Canterbury-lore. As an album it certainly has its moments, yet is let down by the two lengthy pieces that make up side 2, the shorter, more focused pieces such as the star-kissed opener 'Garden Of Earthly Delights' and the catchy r'n'b of the Stewart-led 'Queen St. Gang'. Elsewhere, the raucous acid blues of 'Leg' finds the group whirling deep into psychedelic territory, whilst the fuzzy 'Azazoth' exudes yet more of the album's deeply-lysergic ambience. Much more ambitious in their conception yet let down by incessant, unplesant jamming, overly-emphatic execution and an unpleasant, doomy feel, both the heavy and intense 'Clean Innocent Fun', which features yet more wild blues licks from Hillage, and the mind-melting cosmic madness of the aptly-titled 'Metampsychosis', simply fail to hold the attention. The low-budget production only adds to the slightly menacing atmosphere, though you have to give the group marks for pure intensity. Unlike Hillage's next album, the more polished and melodic 'Space Shanty', 'Arzachel' seems to lose focus just at the right moment, providing maybe just a touch too much far-out madness. That said, it's still a fasinating curio from the short-lived British psychedelic scene of the late-sixties, offering up intense underground thrills for all fans of darkly obscure progressive music. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#1159746) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2014

Latest members reviews

4 stars I would start by saying that almost everything Prog produced before 1970 had many things in the psychedelic vein. If we add a good dose of drug (whatever that is) here is the excess! Arzachel is a really unique band in this sense, the daughter of a night of sex between music and drugs! If you ... (read more)

Report this review (#630040) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album, in a sense, is the start of something big. Yes, everyone would go in their seperate ways, while some might meet up again, this is the start of Steve Hillage greatness. Of course, none of the other musicians are subpar (actually, the opposite), they didn't have the impact as Hilla ... (read more)

Report this review (#306885) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Little Steve Hillage was only 17 when he played guitar on this! But don't be fooled by that or the fact that they're a one album only crew. It's great stuff! This band would go on (minus Hillage) to form 'Egg' the following year. The recording quality is pretty ropey - particularly on some of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#208867) | Posted by Dobermensch | Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The nice trippy pop opening track Garden of Earthly Delights gives no forewarning of what will happens later on the album.... This album is the first recording of the likes of Steve Hillage and Dave Stewart if I am not much mistaken. In other words; ARZACHEL = EGG+STEVE HILLAGE. Some even say ... (read more)

Report this review (#203894) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Wow, what an incredible trip! Next to Piper at the Gates, this is the best psychedelic sound out there! I heard a ludicrous rumor somewhere that this album was recorded in an obscure cave in the Ukraine. Could it be true? The commies would never let these guys past the border. But you know what . ... (read more)

Report this review (#176170) | Posted by cohen34 | Saturday, July 05, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Call me a prog luddite, but I've only recently discovered this masterpiece. So quick, before the wife puts the hoover round, let me capture the mode of a 38 year old record, recorded in one afternoon. Wow, blown me away. Its mix of short and long tracks is brilliant, all of which capture the essen ... (read more)

Report this review (#144891) | Posted by malcra | Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In late September '06, I got this album,brand new,at a record store in Seattle for $13.50,and when I heard it, I was amazed! The songs on the first side are 4 typical psychadelic hard rock songs,but side 2 is the real highlight! ''Clean Innocent Fun'',which is 10.5 minutes long,has a blues-lik ... (read more)

Report this review (#110348) | Posted by jasonpw. | Thursday, February 01, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A total album! Starts with an track, that could be played by Black Widow called Garden Of Earthly Delights. Catchy melody, a little hint of the Canterbury Scene. Then the album gets a little more psychedelic with Azathoth, a track which starts witha an church irgan intro, then it starts to grow u ... (read more)

Report this review (#105656) | Posted by Deepslumber | Friday, January 05, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't think this band are very well known even among prog fans which is a shame as this their one and only album is a fine offering. To be honest I don't know a great deal about them so was suprised to discover only recently that Simeon Sasparella is non other than Steve Hillage. I got the ... (read more)

Report this review (#100265) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Five stars without a second of a doubt, this is a great sample of the obscure side of psichedelic/acid rock!!! The albums starts off with the soft almost giddy Garden of Earthly Delights, wich is just a premonition of whats about to happen. In the song the dark organ present in the next co ... (read more)

Report this review (#94771) | Posted by Doobie | Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Warning: no delights with Soft Machine or National Health taste will be found in this garden. 'Arzachel'is an unique piece, due to their origin and results. If there's any classification for their music, it could be psychedelic rock. The musicians' comments in the inside sleeve reinforce ... (read more)

Report this review (#88197) | Posted by Francisco Perez | Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Amazing sensation at first listening! The sound runs very slightly in the first part of the album ( "Garden of earthly delights", "Azathoth", and "Queen St. Gang") along the fantastic organ played by Dave Stewart, just interrupted by the chirping of a guitar (magnificient the Steve Hillage's p ... (read more)

Report this review (#73200) | Posted by Gigi | Sunday, March 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I've just heard about Steve Hillage, the guitar player of this album (he played also with Khan and Gong), so I xpected to be fascinated by his guitar. Nothing happened to me after having listened to this album...Yes, it's a quite good psychedelic album, very near to the first wave of progressive ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#67642) | Posted by Kord | Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is an absolute monster and it crushes almost all psychedelic albums easily. The Arzachel album is basically one freakout after another and the amazing thing is that none of the tracks are even remotely weak or boring in anyway. In fact the album is so solid that you'll wonder why th ... (read more)

Report this review (#62598) | Posted by | Saturday, December 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The only album of Arzachel released in 1969 "Arzachel". It is a member who forms EGG and an interesting work of Steve Hillage to understand the difference well though aimed.It is energetic and the performance is hot though it is an old-fashioned sound. It is overwhelmed to heat and the power i ... (read more)

Report this review (#54457) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, November 02, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I picked this up off the internet some time ago and listened to it knowing nothing about it aside from the fact that it was just really rare. I didn't love it the first time, but the second time I listened to it, I realized it was one of the best albums I own. That is saying quite alot considerin ... (read more)

Report this review (#41476) | Posted by cortwashburn | Wednesday, August 03, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is not the easiest to get hold of, but well worth the effort. It is one of the best psychodelic albums of its time, with leanings toward more traditional heavy bands of the day (mountain on acid perhaps). It is a shame it hasn't been remastered as the production is a bit iffy, but that may be w ... (read more)

Report this review (#21652) | Posted by | Thursday, April 08, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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