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Arkham Arkham album cover
3.12 | 33 ratings | 8 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Upstairs in the Granery (5:11)
2. Eve's Eventful Day (Part 5 & 6) (3:22)
3. Monolithic Progression with Anticipated Rupture (8:00)
4. Brussels Shortly After (8:30)
5. Bleriot: Visibility Poor (8:18)
6. With Assays of Bias (10:21)
7. Eve's Eventful Day (Part 3) (4:45)
8. Riff 14 (8:48)
9. Tight Trousers (4:37)

Total Time 61:52

Bonus Tracks on Arcangelo Reissue (2013):

10. Brussels Shortly After (Part 2) (3:07)
11. Exhibition 47 - Penelope (4:40)
12. Eve's Eventful Day (Part 4 & 5) (8:02)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Luc Manderlier / hammond organ, electric piano, clavioline
- Daniel Denis / drums, whistles
- Patrick Cogneaux / bass, some strange frequency modulations

- Claude "Piccolo" Berkovitch / bass (3)
- Claude Deron / electric flugelhorn (8,9)
- Christian "Djoum" Ramon / bass (8,9)

Releases information

CD Cuneiform RUNE 160 (Recorded between 1970-1972 at various places in Belgium)

CD (Mini LP / SHM-CD) Arcangelo ARC-8075 (2013)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ARKHAM Arkham ratings distribution

(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ARKHAM Arkham reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Would probably get one more half-star if the sound was not so poor . Not that the outstanding Cuneiform Label hides it but some of the tapes I would hesitate to publish just because of the state they are in. But the music on the tape is among the hidden gems from Belgium, as this is the first group of Daniel Denis (from Univers Zero) . He and Manderlier make the backbone of this group who played at Amougies Festival in the early 70's along so many Canterbury bands and other. They never put out an album at the time so , this can only interest completist of those years. Worth a spin for whomever enjoys Soft Machine, Nucleus , Matching Mole and Placebo - not the actual one - the early 70's Belgian jazz-rock band fronted by Marc Moulin that did such a masterful three record never re-edited on cd .
Review by Carl floyd fan
2 stars This is going to test the patience of most music fans, even those who consider themselves devoted prog fans. Its isn't so much the fact that the music is weird or bad, but the sound quality, at best, is fair. And at worst, very poor. All these tracks were recorded live and by the looks of things, not professinally. Don't get me wrong, the music is orginal and even talented but greatly marred by obvious recording limitations. If you like canterbury circa Soft Machine Volume 3 with some RIO flavor thrown in, this group is for you. Otherwise, this cd may be to challanging for the average music fan. 2.25 stars.
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arkham was a very important early organ-prog group out of Brussels and though this record may not be an essential or pristine document, the band was key in the development of European progressive rock. Formed by keyboardist Jean-Luc Manderlier and drummer Daniel Denis (founder of Univers Zero) in 1970, they were joined by bass player Patrick Cogneux in October of that year. The band were local favorites in Belgium and eventually opened at Magma's first live appearance on September 4, 1971. During their final days, Arkham added trumpet player Claude Deron (co-founder of Univers Zero) and went through a string of bassists.

Brooding and macabre, Arkham was doing gothic before it was hip but sported a classical sensibility in Manderlier's dark organ dirge and Canterbury-style lines. This CD is a hodge-podge of old studio and live cuts ['70 thru '72] and starts with the excellent 'Upstairs in the Granary', a solid hunk of Prog, still a child as a musical format, with great playing and the classical-meets-jazz feel these early proggers produced. 'Eve's Eventful Day' is equally good with top notch syncopation and nice melodies. The eight-minute 'Monolithic Progression with Anticipated Rapture' is aptly named, slows down a bit and allows a better look at this accomplished outfit with a Doors homage and some freakout jazz. 'Brussels Shortly After' is a muddy affair of little note, and 'Bleriot: Visibility Poor' plays out like some ancient B&W horror flick. An early form of minimal rock fusion is also heard here, as it is throughout the music on this historic retrospective. The driving 'With Asays of Bias' (featuring a tremendous live drum solo from Daniel Denis) continues the twirling neo-classical workout and surprisingly tight kinetics-- at over 10 minutes, it is this collection's epic. Part 3 of 'Eve' is spectacular quasi-symphonic rock, 'Riff 14' is a remarkable, lovely warble a la Steve Reich, and 'Tight Trousers' finishes with some terrific carousel jazz rock. Crucial in the context of Prog history and a great band regardless, Arkham is highly recommended to those seekers of a beloved music when it was an unsteady but determined toddler, ready to walk on its own and take on the world.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars It's really too bad that this band never put out a studio or live album back in the day. What we have here are songs that were recorded live from concerts or rehearsals between 1970-1972. I say it's too bad because the sound quality is a lot like some of the bootlegs i've heard. Not very good at all. Fortunately some songs are better than others and at least we can appreciate how talented this band was. There is a real Canterbury flavour to thier music which isn't surprising considering SOFT MACHINE was their biggest influence.The band originally consisted of Daniel Denis on drums, he would go on to form UNIVERS ZERO with Claude Deron who coincidently was also part of ARKHAM(later on) playing electric flugelhorn. Deron is featured on the last 2 tracks.Jean-Luc Manderlier played piano and organ and would later join MAGMA and play on the MDK record. Daniel Denis would join MAGMA at the same time as Jean-Luc but only play a few concerts before leaving. The bass player was Claude Berkovitch who would leave and be replaced by Patrick Cogneaux who would go on to play for a great band called PAZOP. ARKHAM opend for MAGMA the very first time they played in Belgium in 1971. Obviously Vander was impressed. I want to touch on the 3 tracks that sound ok and also impressed me a lot.

"Monolithic Progression With Anticipated Rupture" opens with piano playing solo as bass and drums start to make some noise 1 1/2 minutes in. This is such a cool melody. A fuller sound 3 1/2 minutes in as the organ comes in and steals the show. Strange effects 5 1/2 minutes in as melody has stopped and then different sounds come and go. Piano and then a melody 7 1/2 minutes in. Amazing tune. "Eve's Eventful Day(Part 3)" has this uptempo intro that calms down to piano only rather quickly. A fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in as drums enter. I love the melody 3 1/2 minutes in of dark and melancholical organ, bass and drums. Nice.

"Tight Trousers" is one of the classic Canterbury titles. It opens with organ sounds and some flugelhorn before we start to get this great melody before a minute.The organ and bass play is outstanding 2 minutes in and the drums are all over the place. Flugelhorn comes and goes. Piano 4 minutes in.

For me this more of a historical document that I do value. There are certainly more songs than the three I mentioned that are worthy of conversation.To be honest though, you need to know that the sound quality is poor at times.The music would be 4 stars easy, but considering the sound of it 3 stars is fair.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I think long-lost band Arkham have been confusingly placed under the Zeuhl tag because of including future Magma and Univers Zero musicians Jean-Luc Manderlier and Daniel Denis in the band. Don't get me wrong, there's occasional darker passages and creeping atmospheres that would explain why everyone's favourite French alien cult came calling, but what we have here is a full blown band in the Canterbury style, frequently comparable to the Soft Machine and Egg, as well as early Pink Floyd in a few spots. Best to mention right from the start, the biggest issue with this release is that much of the sound quality here rarely rises above that of a bootleg. Some listeners will instantly dismiss this right away, but I ask you to please persevere! Were it not for these technical issues, as well as the fact this is actually a compilation of live performances other a three year period and not a proper studio album, I truly believe the music here would be spoken of as highly as some of the classics by the other Canterbury legends.

Just listen to the blistering fuzz organ, murky bass and rollicking Robert Wyatt-styled hearty drumming that dominates punchy opener `Upstairs in the Granary' to know you're in deep Canterbury town! `Eve's Eventful Day part 5+6' comes close to the maddening repetition of Egg, as does the groovy `Monolithic Progression With Anticipated Rupture', a perfectly titled slow-builder of glistening jazzy electric piano, rattling drumming before a boisterous fuzz-organ explosion in the middle before a disorientating psych period Pink Floyd finale!

`Brussels Shortly After' has an impossibly soulful and reflective organ passage before turning into a foot-tapping groover with a `Saucerful of Secrets/Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' uplifting close. I'm willing to be forgiving and say that the `recorded-in-a-toilet' sound quality of `Bleriot: Visibility Poor' actually enhances the dingy and slightly malevolent mood of this piece perfectly. It's all sinister creeping mystery full of organ reverberation and feedback. `With Assays of Bias' is thankfully more upbeat and keeps building in intensity with some manic drumwork and spiraling keyboard runs before an excessive and typically 70's overlong drum solo! `Eve's Eventful Day (part 3)' is a solemn yet somewhat uplifting electric piano piece than truly shines, very moving and thoughtful. `Riff 14' and `Tight Trousers' are sourced from a later line-up that included Claude Deron on Fluglehorn, the first is a hypnotic electronic experiment that morphs into a smoky drowsy shuffle that reminds of Italian fusioners Perigeo, where the latter is a short perky jazz tune that makes me wonder if the `tight trousers' of the band were caused by their love of Egg - sorry, couldn't resist!

The latest Japanese Mini LP SHM-CD reissue comes with three bonus pieces, and it's probably worth tracking down this particular version for these special extra fragments. The cute and endlessly upbeat `Shortly After (part 2)' will have you on such a natural high you'll float up to the clouds and want it to go on forever - the three minutes here is such a tease! `Exhibition 47 - Penelope' is more psychedelic and mysterious, the humming organ reminding again of the Floyd's early days before the band tears through a maniacal loopy run. The trio kick up a furious storm in the wild and delirious `Eve's Eventual Day (part 4 and 5). Just listen to this and shed a tear for a wonderful band we never got to hear more of.

If you can persist with the frequent bootleg-level audio quality of some of the pieces, you'll realize how tragic it is that the band never recorded this material in a proper studio setting, and also that these live recordings were not better committed to tape and preserved in the first place. The band would definitely have been down the scuzzier end of the Canterbury style, their occasionally darker sound would have made them really stand out with a unique contribution to the genre.

What we have left is a spectacular example of a missed opportunity, and progressive rock being robbed of a potentially exciting Canterbury styled band with wonderful music to offer the world. Luckily there's plenty of jaw dropping moments for you to discover throughout this compilation, and if you can look past the audio deficiencies and focus on the actual arrangements and talented playing, you may find this to something of a real treasure. I know I certainly do, and it's become an essential part of my Canterbury collection.

Four stars for this lost Canterbury secret.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars It's hard to believe that if you dig deep enough in the more esoteric arenas of the world of progressive rock that at some early distant point some of the most unlikely musicians crossed paths. Such is the case of Daniel Denis who founded Univers Zero. Denis actually started out in one of the best kept secrets of the early 70s. The band ARKHAM not only developed the seedlings of what would become the avant-prog chamber rock of Univers Zero but would also produce a future member of Magma. ARKHAM was formed in Brussels, Belgium in 1970 when drummer Daniel Denis and Jean-Luc Manderlier met and expressed a mutual admiration for the English progressive rock style known as the Canterbury Scene after hearing the phenomenal warped jazz-rock sounds that were emerging from bands like Soft Machine, Egg and Caravan.

After acquiring bassist Claude Berkovitch, the trio enrolled in a musical competition called "Guitare d'Or" in Ciney, Belgium and won the contest which propelled them into the live circuit and become one of Belgium's most interesting early progressive rock bands of the early 70s. The lineup changed quite a bit with bassist Patrick Cogneaux replacing Berkovitch and then joining Pazop and being replaced by Paolo Radoni and Christian Ramon before the band finally splintered off into different bands. In 1972, the final year of the band's existence, François Arnadeau joined to play guitar and Claude Deron was added for trumpet and flugelhorn, however the band's evolving sound pretty much revolved around the esoteric avant-garde musical visions of drummer Daniel Denis and keyboardist Manderlier.

Despite playing for three years, the band never was able to record any studio recordings however many live recordings were collected over the years and finally in the year 2002 the music of ARKHAM was finally released in the form of this self-titled live album. While not exactly an essential release mostly because of the poor production qualities as these concerts were recorded haphazardly on the road, this story of ARKHAM is essential for those trying to connect the dots of the evolution of how the Rock In Opposition world splintered off its angular avant-prog sounds from the early world of jazz-fusion, zeuhl and the nascent Canterbury Scene. This live collection of recordings displays a band that should've been one of the hottest items in the world of progressive rock during the day but was left behind while the more famous English and Italian bands captured the world's attention.

There are two versions of this album. The original 2002 version that contains 9 tracks and a remastered 2013 album from the Japanese Arcangelo label that includes three bonus tracks. The album runs the gamut of the band's early inception in 1970 to the final days of 1972. The music captured a unique crossroads where the early Canterbury sounds of Egg and Soft Machine collided with the bubbling zeuhl rhythms of early Magma along with bouts of complex jazz-fusion sensibilities from the likes of Nucleus. While Belgium wasn't known on the prog scene until bands like Univers Zero came onto the scene in the late 70s, it's quite fascinating to hear how that band emerged from the ashes of this fertile crossroads of early prog rock sensibilities. Denis' fascination with the world of H.P. Lovecraft is apparent even at this early stage with the name ARKHAM coming from the fictional town from the Lovecraft mythos.

The first track displays a unique truce between zeuhl rhythmic drives and Canterbury jazz flavors but tracks like "Eve's Eventful Day (part 5 & 6)" and "With Assays Of Bias" display the clear connections between ARKHAM's angular juggling of polyrhythms and the experimental avant-garde which evolved into the complex chamber rock prog styles that were fully developed on the earliest Univers Zero albums. The album is primarily based on improvised jamming sessions but clearly with some structural analysis before preceding with reckless abandon. The music is already quite developed at this stage but lacked the cohesiveness that masterpieces like "1313" and "Heresie" evoked. This collection is an interesting mix of styles where some tracks focus on the Canterbury sounds, some on more traditional jazz-fusion and some on the completely detached world of avant-prog.

This is actually a really excellent set of musical bliss however the sound quality is crap. This is one for the hardcore musical sleuths who love to know the roots of their demented musical tastes. Well worth the experience checking out even if this won't go down as the world's most essential release any time soon. Denis would of course go on to found Univers Zero while Manderlier was invited to join Magma after crossing paths with Christian Vander. The band in its short duration also featured Vincent Kenis, later of Ask Maboul and Claude Deron who formed Necronomicon in 1974 which evolved into the world of Univers Zero. This band was more like a progressive rock hatchery than a bona fide classic act itself but judging from the musical performances on this set of nine live tracks, this band was more than ready for primetime and had these guys resided in the English countryside may very well have been considered some of the top talents of the era next to the likes of their influences.

3.5 but rounded down. The sound quality is just too poor to round up.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Although released in 1994, this is a cobbled together album of live/rehearsal tracks from a relatively obscure organ-prog band which, although containing names associated with Magma or Univers Zero, is probably tenuously filed under Zeuhl and is more Canterbury style. The sound quality on the al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2944558) | Posted by bartymj | Wednesday, August 9, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If you're addicted to Egg or Soft Machine like I once was, I would suggest you track down this album. The sound quality isn't great, but there is some very beautiful Canterbury-esque music on here. Arkham is HEAVILY influenced by the Softs. The keyboard player even has a Mike Ratledge persona! Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#293158) | Posted by Tengent | Monday, August 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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