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CHRONOMETERS

The Muffins

Canterbury Scene


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The Muffins Chronometers album cover
3.77 | 30 ratings | 8 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chronometers (22:59)
2. Come What Molten Cloud (2:52)
3. Apparently (3:31)
4. Courtesy of Your Focal Interest Span (0:44)
5. Please Do Not Open Dr. Fischer (2:23)
6. The Manilla Robots (2:21)
7. Joe Crop on a Toxic Planet (5:09)
8. The Bush (2:41)
9. Mammoth Hide (1:34)
10. Creature Comforts (1:29)
11. Like a Machine That Only Works When It's...(1:59)
12. Look at the Size of That Sponge (1:45)
13. Early American Ears (1:15)
14. Three Days That Won't Soon Fade (2:53)
15. You Eat Them Pears (5:05)
16. Peacocks, Leopards, and Glass (3:38)
17. Crezner Ok (3:40)
18. Blind Cave Tetra (2:46)
19. Evening Hataiva (1:37)
20. Six Thick Thistle Sticks (0:31)
21. L (1:24)

Total Time: 72:16

Lyrics

Search THE MUFFINS Chronometers lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search THE MUFFINS Chronometers tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Scott / clarinet, flute, oboe, sax (Alto), sax (Soprano), voices, xylophone, clarinet (Alto), melodica, bells
- Michael Zentner / guitar, harmonica, violin, voices
- Billy Swan / organ, bass, percussion, bass (electric), voices
- Stuart Abramowitz / drums, voices
- Dave Newhouse / organ, percussion, piano (electric), voices, xylophone, engineer
- Mike Zeltner / guitar, harmonica, violin, voices

Releases information

Cuneiform

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to mellotron storm for the last updates
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ChronometersChronometers
Cuneiform 1995
Audio CD$10.05
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THE MUFFINS Chronometers ratings distribution


3.77
(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
59%
Good, but non-essential (26%)
26%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

THE MUFFINS Chronometers reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a collection of out takes and demos recorded mostly in the mid 70s and finally released on this splendid CD by Cunieform in 1992. Parts of this may be familiar to some listeners - an edited version of the title track was released on the Recommended Records sampler in the early 80s, for instance - but this CD is probably the best introduction for the newcomer and essential for any devoted fan.

The Muffins absorbed a lot of the Canterbury style, but stayed closer to the tongue in cheek approach of Hatfield and the North than the more avant prog stylings of Henry Cow or Soft Machine. They also had a definite American feel, despite their anglophilia, an effect particularly noticeable on the 23 minute title track which blends dialogue from The Wizard of Oz with some nimble jazz guitar and multi tracked reeds playing Zappa-esque chords. This epic justifies the price of the CD on its own, but what follows mostly lives up the high standard. Much of it sounds like it was recorded in one marathon session, rather than in dribs and drabs over half a decade, although some of the shorter pieces do have the feel of half finished sketches.

Chronometers is an essential introduction to a remarkable band, and is also a good taster for the Canterbury sound in general. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#39081) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This album is more of a compilation of various recordings that took place before The Muffins released their debut album. So as an album/unit, this one is not really flowing that well together, but named after the lengthy Chronometers, to which the Cuneiform label gave it (in 93) the great artwork, it represents the early "formative" years of the Muffins as a quintet: Newhouse, Swann and Scott were there, but Abramowitz was holding the drum stool (instead of Sears) and there was an extra Zentner (guitar, violin) player.

The overall feeling is still one of Canterbury's spirits meeting with the Cow from Henry and the Mother of Zappa. The title track is of course the single most impressive track, but is hardly without its share of flaws, but certainly for an early summer of 76, this is still quite a feat given that it was not to be released.

Most of the other tracks (all dating from the previous fall) are under the 3'30" length (except for two that are around 5 minutes) and we are struck with the sense that they are not entirely finished, most likely waiting for a future assembling that never came. Molten Clouds and Apparently are both excellent tracks that National Health would not disown, but if the much shorter Interest Span and Dr. Fischer mesh quite well as a unit (so do Blind Cave and Evening later in the album), not the same can be said about the rest of the tracks, even if there is some obvious care at the sequence they are presented in. However disjointed this album maybe, most of the excerpts are quite enjoyable (Toxic Planet, Bush, the spoken lyrics of Three Days and the superb Peacocks), but others are much less interesting and sound completely unrefined or unfinished (Manilla Robots, Size Of That Sponge and Mammoth Hide) or some lack interest (Creature Comfort, Early American Ears and the weak Pears).

After these sessions, Abramowitz and Zentner would leave the group, leaving The Muffins to tour as an improvising trio, before Paul Sears would then join them. While not as exhilarating as their proper debut album Mirage, Chronometers might be the second most essential Muffins icon you should own, even if Open City (yet another pre- debut recording session) and 185 have their own arguments.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#123306) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a compilation of unreleased material that was recorded around 1975-1976. On the Wayside Music site they descibe this record as THE MUFFINS most Canterburian. As Syzygy suggests this is an excellent place for someone to check out how this band sounds. Bands that came to mind were HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, NATIONAL HEALTH, Frank Zappa and HENRY COW.

The album opens with the 23 minute title track. I'm not a big fan of the intro but it's very short, and when the melody arrives before a minute i'm hooked. Love the sound. The song changes so often though,which is part of it's charm. Clarinet leads the way for a while. Sax and guitar are up next before 4 minutes. A calm 8 minutes in as we get samples from a movie? that ends in a funny way 10 1/2 minutes in. Some fuzz before 11 minutes as a strong psychedelic flavour comes in. Some nice guitar and piano follows. Funny Zappa-like vocals say "Travelling through time is not such a hot way to go." Tempo starts to pick up briefly then flute joins in. The song stops dead 16 minutes in and when it comes back it sounds like we're listening to a bunch of drunks at a party. Haha. Music plays in the background. Drums then xylophone 18 minutes in. Total chaos 19 1/2 minutes in. Violin follows. What a journey that was. "Come What Molten Cloud" features violin and light drums. Keys and bass are also prominant. "Apparently" is a cool, jazzy tune with clarinet, light drums and some nice guitar. The next song is less then a minute of some great uptempo music that blends into "Please Do Not Open Dr.Fischer" where sax, bass and guitar shine.

"The Manilla Robots" is a funny instrumental of drums, clarinet, fuzzed out guitar and sax all taking part. "Joe Crop On A Toxic Planet" opens with lots of dissonance. It does calm down though as we even get some aboe. A change before 3 minutes as it turns into an uptempo guitar / drum driven tune. Violin 4 1/2 minutes in as it blends into "The Bush" an uptempo tune with flute, light drums, keys and guitar leading the way. The next five songs are all under 2 minutes. Then we get "Three Days That Won't Soon Fade" a very humerous story about a detective. The Zappa spirit lives here. Excellent piano to end it. "You Eat Them Pears" features piano, guitar, drums, clarinet, sax, flute and harmonica as the tempo shifts. "Peacocks, Leopards And Glass" is a relaxing tune that I like a lot. "Crezner OK" has a mellow intro with liquid keys. It changes quickly though as violin, bass and drums lead the way. It calms back down with some sax 2 minutes in. Nice. Keys and especially guitar standout a minute later. "Blind Cave Terta" is a mellow song with intricate sounds and some spacey ones as well. It become volitile 2 minutes in. "Evening Hataiya" is a jazzy little tune. Violin a minute in. "L" opens with some fine guitar playing before a jazzy climate takes over.

I really like this kind of music, these guys can really play. Although there may be lots of shorter tracks, they often blend into each other without me even knowing. Excellent release.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#172910) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 02, 2008

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Chronometers is a collection of unreleased recordings from the mid 70s by the Muffins. The album has tracks of all sizes, starting with the title track epic at 22 minutes, down to tracks which barely last for half a minute. The album was released by Cuneiform, and gives listeners a good idea of what the Muffins were doing before releasing their excellent debut. The pieces are generally pretty good. Some parts of tracks, however, don't do too much for me. For example, the title track has random bits where they inserted clips from The Wizard of Oz or re-enacted them themselves, and it just doesn't seem to have much of a point to me. To be fair, it does add a certain dream-like, surreal atmosphere to the track, and it doesn't detract much from the piece, but it doesn't add too much for me either. I definitely prefer the epics on Manna/Mirage. The album as a whole is similar in style to that album, but it seems less focused, less well-prepared than their official debut to me. The album seems to me to be just a tad bit too long as well, as it's almost full to the brim. Some of the tracks feel like they could have been cut, but then again a lot of the tracks after the epic seem to run into each other to make multi-track epics of their own.

Overall, it's an enjoyable listen, but not one that I think is quite as essential to every prog collection. Obviously if you're a fan of their style of music you'll want to snap it up while you can, but for new listeners of the band I'd suggest starting with their debut. Four stars from me.

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Send comments to SaltyJon (BETA) | Report this review (#280449) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 03, 2010

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
4 stars The whole dark period of the early Muffins' history came to an end with all these archival releases poppin' out here and there.So in 1975 the trio of keyboardist/saxophonist Dave Newhouse, guitarist Michael Zentner and bassist Billy Swann was accompanied by wind instrumentalist Tom Scott and drummer Stuart Abramowitz.This line-up recorded a great number of tracks between 1975 and 1976, which finally saw the light almost 20 years later with the great documentary release ''Chronometers'' by Cuneiform Records.

''Chronometers'' refers to the grand 23-min. epic recorded by the group between May and June 76' at The Muffins' studio.This is really The Muffins at their best, showing great instrumental diversity and a phrenomenal ability to switch between unrelated themes and music styles.It comes like a cross between demanding Jazz Rock, elegant Canterbury Fusion (to which The Muffins listened a lot around the time), quirky Avant-Prog, US vilolin-driven KANSAS-like Hard Prog and even dreamy Symphonic Rock.No need to mention there are endless changing themes throughout the composition, ranging from inventive guitar-based jazzy solos and Canterbury-influenced rich interplays in the vein of SUPERSISTER, CARAVAN or NATIONAL HEALTH to ZAPPA-esque vocal breaks with theatrical/satirical tendencies and tons of saxes/clarinets and folky/symphonic soundscapes with warm flute parts in the vein of GENESIS.This track alone is a good reason to hunt this very nice archival work.The rest of the album contains 20 more, mostly instrumental, tunes, of a short length, some of them sound not fully developed or fairly unfinished, others sound completely connected like creating a longer piece, and come from recordings around November 75' at Paragon Studios in Silver Spring.These follow more or less the vein of the grand eponymous track, showing the direction the band was heading in the mid-70's.Quirky, sometimes frenetic, energetic, passionate and diverse Progressive Rock with Jazz, Canterbury, R.I.O. and Fusion influences, highlighted by the impressive interplays and the extremely high level of technique of the group.

One of the archival releases from the past that need to be in your collection.The title track is excellent and the rest of the shorter tunes are satisfying as well.Strongly recommended to all fans of Progressive Rock.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#888017) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars I love muffins, so... sometime ago I needed to try this band. When I randomly found this 1993 album from a Wahington DC band, I had no idea of the oldschool Canterbury feeling I would taste. Maybe becaus THIS IS NOT from the 90s. This is a compilation of unreleased band material from 1975. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1005675) | Posted by VOTOMS | Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Chronometers is great. First Muffins I ever heard was an excerpt from Chronometers on a Recommended Records sampler. It made me want to pursue whatever else the band had done, and eventually I found it all. ... (read more)

Report this review (#81672) | Posted by davEy | Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fantastic sounds from the vault! Here you get a bit more of the Manna/ Mirage sound. Only in Open City could you get a few pieces of vintage muffins. Great canterbury / Mothers styled prog with some heavy injection of unique-ness. Really the Muffins are as good and and great as any of the englis ... (read more)

Report this review (#35450) | Posted by | Monday, June 06, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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