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Quill Sursum Corda album cover
3.30 | 61 ratings | 12 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Sursum Corda / Lift Up Your Heart :

1. First Movement (19:59) :
- i. Floating
- ii. Interlude
- iii. The March of Dreams
- iv. The March of Kings
- v. Storming the Mountain
- vi. Princess of the Mountain
- vii. Storming the Mountain Pt. 2

2. Second Movement (15:32) :
- i. The Call
- ii. Timedrift
- iii. Earthsplit
- iv. The Black Wizard
- v. Counterspell
- vi. The White Wizard
- vii. The Hunt
- viii. Rising
- ix. The Spell
- x. Sumnation
- xi. Finale

Total Time 35:31

Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Christian / vocals, Rickenbacker 4001 bass, nylon string guitar
- Ken DeLoria / Hammond B2 organ, Moog synths, Mellotron, Baldwin electric harpsichord, Steinert grand piano-forte, ARP String Ensemble, RMI Keyboard Computer
- Jim sides / vocals, drums, orchestral & tubular bells, timpani

Releases information

LP Cotillion SD 9017 (Issued as a pre-release only) / CD Syn-Phonic SYNCD 10 (1993)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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QUILL Sursum Corda ratings distribution

(61 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

QUILL Sursum Corda reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars In the early Nineties several USA progrock labels released CD's on a LP size so you could experience the technical progress of the CD sound and the pleasure of the size of a record. To me this was a fine but expensive initiative, especially because post from the USA tot Holland is expensive. This CD "Sursum corda" (the LP is from 1977) made by USA progrock band Quill was one of those releases, recently it has been re-released on the normal CD size. If you like the vintage keyboard sound, this trio is heaven on earth! The CD contains two movements (19 and 15 minutes) featuring warm and melodic symphonic rock. The parts sound flowing and alternating, from mellow to bombastic eruptions and from compelling to up-tempo. The music is very tasteful: powerful Hammond runs, fat Moog flights, majestic Steinway grand piano (with echoes from Gandalf), beautiful Mellotron waves and a soaring string-ensemble. The vocals have a bit melancholical undertone and fits perfect to the atmosphere on this CD. Every fan of Le Orme, Triumvirat, Hecenia or Rare Bird should give this wonderful album a chance. RECOMMENDED!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quill was a young American power trio devoted to give it a try unabashedly in the pompous side of symphonic prog. Following the example of ELP in terms of a taste for long compositions, epic arrangements and a predominant use of organ and Moog synthesizer for the lead melodies and main motifs, the fact is that the threesome don't manage to pass beyond the realms of what's nice and interesting. You can tell that they were heading for standards of excellency regarding the compositions, but the intentions portrayed on the arrangements and expansions of the main motifs are nothing but a promise half fulfilled. The lyrics are very naive and unsubstantial, and given the fact that the vocal input is poorly delivered, the sung parts come out as a distraction from what otherwise could have been a more thorough elaboration of the instrumental passages. That having been said, the keyboardist's skill is wide enough to provide the nuclear strength for the whole group, while the rhythm section stands solid and precise. One might wish that the rhythm duo had reached closer to the dynamics of other more brilliant progressive power trios, but all in all, they behave competently during DeLoria's ceaseless excursions of melodies, orchestrations and adornments. Their "Sursum Corda" album is a suite divided in 2 sidelong Movements. Had each of them been longer and more maturely conceived, I'm sure that the material would have driven the musicians to use more energy than the one registered in this recording. First Movement contains the brightest individual sections of the entire album - 2 to 5 -, but generally speaking it fails to create a consistent ambience and a sustained fluidity: it is really uneven. The opposite can be said about Second Movement, which is the most consistent and cohesive one, although it fails to create enough drama when it is apparently needed. The lyrical richness suggested in sections b and c is only partially exploited, while the instrumental interludes feel extremely short, not having enough room to develop and/or enhance the hooks evidently betrayed in the organ riffs and synth layers. All things considered, I must prefer the Second Movement to the First: like I said before, it is more consistent and it bears more successfully the ethereal mood of the epic's concept, which concerns man's travels in and out of the world of dreams. The album's main shortcoming is the failure to develop its potential strength and bring it to the fore; the album's main virtue is the clever use of attractive motifs. Nice, while not being really essential - "Sursum Corda" will make a good addition in any symphonic prog lover's collection.
Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Another seventies keyboard band that has inevitably been referred to as an ELP clone, but in this case the label is completely justified. Not only is the band almost completely centered around keyboards, but they manage to lift a good number of the riffs ELP recorded between about 1971 and 1973. Tastefully done, but lifted nonetheless. There is a bit of original material here, but not so much as you’d notice.

Credits to keyboardist Ken DeLoria though for hitting pretty much every base though: Hammond and Moog organs, ARP and RMI synthesizers, mellotron and even a grand piano and electric harpsichord for good measure. His parents must have owned a music store. Percussionist Jim Sides plays snare and timpani drums as well as some chimes, and Keith Christian plays bass as well as the few guitar licks that are on the album (acoustic I believe). The moog is more prevalent on the first half of the album then the second, while the Hammond pops up a bit more on the second half. Regardless of which is being played when, the various keyboards make up the vast majority of the instrumentation on the album.

There are relatively few vocals on the album, which is probably a good thing since the production quality of the singing is rather muddy compared to the excellent instrumental quality.

Besides ELP there are a few other bits and pieces of familiar music here. In the second movement there is a subtitled section (“the Call”) whose tempo and keyboard crescendo remind me a bit of the symphonic portions of early Kansas ala ‘the Pinnacle’ or ‘the Wall’. Bits of “Earthsplit” and “the Black Wizard” wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on a Styx album of the early seventies either. Neither of these is particularly surprising since both Styx and Kansas were huge in the years leading up to this album and Quill was an American band after all.

But mostly this is more and more ELP, keyboards upon bombastic keyboards with layers of drums over and under the keys. From what I understand the boys in the band had a tendency to dress up in pretentious garb like robes and wizard costumes and put on flashy light shows when they played live as well, so I suppose they really were emulating the bands they grew up on.

Anyway, this isn’t too original but it is kind of fun to listen to, especially if you really dig keyboards and enjoy trying to pick apart the instrumentals to determine where the individual sounds came from. If you like that sort of thing you’ll love this album. I’m only going to give it three stars due to the lack of originality, but the musicianship is very good so I don’t think most progressive fans would be put off by the album at all; they might just not consider it a masterpiece any more than I do. Give it a spin if you get a chance though.


Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Very intresting album by this symphonic band. At the time I found Sursum Corda I thought they were from italy. I was very surprised to know they were in fact americans since their sound is so close to what was being done in Europe in terms of prog rock. I guess by the time they released their debut album they stood little chance to make it, since 1977 was probably the worst year ever to do such a thing. Small wonder they were unable to put out a follow up, even if they did try very hard on it.

Quillīs music is not very original. They were very good muscians, no doubt about it. But they sound too much like ELP on some parts, too much like Triumvirat on others, and a tad like PFM and Le Orme all the time. Given time I believe they would eventually find a sound of their own, but unfortunatly that was not to be. Anyway, Sursum Corda is far from a bad album. In fact, if you donīt mind originality I think this album is quite good and enjoyable, specially for fans of the aforementioned groups. Vocals are the weakest parts. They did need a good singer, but the instrumental parts are very well done. Keyboardsman Ken Deloria is very skillfull and talented. Production is only average, but acceptable.

Conclusion: a nice album to hear. Not very original and far from being essential in any way. But worth a listen if you like keyboard driven symphonic prog in the vein of ELP. rating: something between 2,5 and 3 stars.

Review by loserboy
3 stars Quill were prototypes in the Triumvirat-ELO camp of prog with Hammond and Moog led classical symphonic progressive rock. "Sursum Corda" (which is latin for Lift up your heart) is a 36 minutes work divided in two parts named First Movement and (naturally) Second Movement. I suppose it has all the cliches of vintage prog rock but besides all the negativity in the reviews let me assure you this is an excellent recording. If you like the the US bands Surprise and Fireballet then I can assure you that Quill will not dissapoint you. Musically Quill blends lots of symphonic keys with excellent drumming, bass and guitar work. Their 2 epic songs are excellent and take us on a nice little jouney. The sound on this CD is also quite excellent and offers some great moments and I guess thanks for Syn-Phonic for making this available !
Review by b_olariu
3 stars Quill is an american trio very much in vein of ELP, Triumvirat or Trace, same aproach to music same manner of composing. The only thing maybe diffrent from those 3 bands from above is that they release a single album in late 1977 entitled Sursum corda and re release on CD in 1993 by legendary Greg Walker from famous Syn-Phonic label. The music as I said is very up tempo in places, combned very well with slower moments, but even those particular arrangements are hammond driven , without guitar, only drums , voice and bass. The album has 2 long tracks , 2 movements, each one divided in miny sections. Specially the part 2, the second movement is for me more close to my taste, the first one, is not a bad at all, but is too repetative in arrangements and has to many ELP similarities, to many. Over all a good album, but nothing fantastic if you ask me, they release this album a little to late in prog world, when disco and punk were all over, they didn't manage to survive to many years and disbanded in 1979. The CD has great band pictures, lyrics and history of the band. So a pleasent ride in prog rock realm, at least for me, but I don't think that this album will exciteing many listneres. 3 star is the best I can give.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This is quite a good album for those who like genuine seventies music; it istrongly keyboards oriented.

Synths sounds do take you back to some Banks moments and are completed with sweet and mellowish vocals. Most of my colleagues do refer to ELP which in a way is not alien to the music featured on this one and only album from this confidential US band.

Still, I don't consider this as a clone album ("Triumvirat" was much more on this side IMHHO). As a whole I would depict this release as a pleasant work which should be good enough to raise the interest from the readers of this site (although very few reviews are available for this one and only album).

Bombastic, poignant, and melodic are the combinations available during this "Sursum Corda". It is very much above average of the usual US production. It is maybe not too much original, but well performed all the way through (I quite like the vocals here).

Four stars is my rating (seven out of ten would be ideal though). It is a fine and fully symphonic album by all means. The first "movement" is my fave one of the two. It is more vibrant and melodic. "Genesis" and ELP fans should be pleased with such a work.

Review by Menswear
2 stars Neh.

ELP could have triggered a 'cash-factor' into some minds of talented keyboard players. I can see classical pianists thinking: 'Hey now, I can play Stravinsky and Mussorgsky. What if I could be like them? Wait a minute, this could be good They look richer than Cresus!' It did with Trace, Le Orme, Egg and Triumvirat, and they did get a (very) little slice of the cake. ELP where living the BIG life, and for a prog band (and very few bands if you think of it), it never came this huge ever since.

Quill maybe wanted to be a part of the select super-sympho-club that were the bass-keys- drums pattern. It worked well for some, but the stakes were high to make a decent statement. Maybe if Quill injected more originality and/or crazyness in their approach they would've got a shot, but their songwriting is low compared to the competition.

If you're looking for a lost gem, this is not the place. The lyrics are cheesy (white knight something...ugh), the bass is bland but the keys are not that bad (think Toccata in Brain Salad Surgery). It just lacks punch and lacks oomph, see? If your skills are not the highest, a good interpretation is crucial. And again, the band has too few to offer. You're in the entertainment buisness, so be a bit entertaining!

Making a symphony demands more thinking guys!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When you hear that a guitar-free trio are playing symphonic prog, of course your thoughts are likely going to instantly turn to the likes of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Triumvirat, and perhaps Trace. But despite the same set-up of keyboards, bass and drums, American rockers Quill were more than mere clones, and while they may not have been especially original, they absolutely had plenty of technical skill and ambition.

Two side-long suites cover Quill's sole 1977 release `Sursum Corda' (which translates from Latin as `Lift up your hearts'), although at the time of recording the album was only ever pressed as a promo LP (it's since been rescued from prog oblivion by way of a CD reissue from Syn-Phonic Records). A concept described as `a musical fantasy story of a complete and separate world which you can enter in and travel about, staying as long as you wish' should instantly convey the lyrical mindset of the group, and their music offers plenty of eclectic variety and winning symphonic themes to accompany the idea.

The sparkling piano, gentle chimes and softly murmuring bass that open the A side's `First Movement'' are quickly hit with peppy Moog runs and rattling drumming. Before long, a dizzying array of stop-start intervals and abrupt direction/tempo changes set much of the template for the rest of the disc, with memorable reprising symphonic themes, and while the vocals may not be the strongest, there's a meek and dignified quality that holds plenty of charm to them (and really, who listens to prog albums for the vocals?!). Some spacey synth coatings call to mind German band Eloy throughout the first extended piece, and the lengthy and frantic keyboard frenzy that closes this side has all the muscular bluster of the classic EL&P albums.

The flip ratchets up plenty of madrigal-like moments backed by regal organ pomp that stirs and swoons with fancy. Considering the band were American, there's never even a trace of them resembling anything similar to the big US prog-related bands of the time, and, if anything, this second suite touches more on the romance of symphonic Italian groups like Le Orme. Also, lyrically and instrumentally, it wouldn't be difficult to imagine a modern symphonic band like Glass Hammer taking notice of this one. The side-long epic flows with effortless grace lifted by a proud vocal, all performed with finesse and power by this talented band.

Quill would implode shortly after this effort, but they left behind a very underappreciated obscurity in `Sursum Corda', one of plentiful keyboard colour, imaginative variety and skilled musicianship that makes it well deserving of rediscovery by symphonic fans.

Three and a half stars (rounded up to four).

Latest members reviews

5 stars This Album is, perhaps, easily misunderstood. As a three piece band with no guitarist, the parallels that listeners draw to ELP are going to be numerous (and obvious), but that's no more relevant than the treatment that Cream and Jimi Hendrix received from reviewers back in the days when it wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#291847) | Posted by BIgFan | Sunday, July 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars well well..... Has anyone ever heard of this band?. They sound so english with the mood and the concept of kings and duels but this band is american and a pretty late comer to the prog sceen (1977). I must admit i was quite puzzlled when i found this CD for a low price at a used CD (and reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#68709) | Posted by | Tuesday, February 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I bought SURSUM CORDA in the time, 10 years ago, of prog re-discovery that saw the printing of lost good works.... well Quill's one and only LP was one of these. Originally recorded in 1976, was reissued by Synphonic in LP-sized papersleeve. The music is very good, with clear reminiscence ... (read more)

Report this review (#33159) | Posted by | Friday, November 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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