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Crossover Prog • Australia

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Aleph biography
Although based out of Sydney beginning in 1974, and later on the New South Wales North Coast, Aleph?s connection with the Northern Tablelands was through Ron Carpenter, Dave Froggatt and Dave Highet, all of whom were former members of the Armidale band Bogislav. Aleph was initially a six-piece outfit which performed an all original repertoire. Utilising Mellotrons, moogs, Oberheim synths and elaborate guitar effects, along with traditional rock instruments, the band?s music during the early years has been described as full-blown, complex symphonic rock in the vein of Yes, Genesis and King Crimson. In this respect the band, along with Sebastian Hardie, helped pioneer the art/prog rock genre in Australia.

At the end of 1974 Aleph recorded six songs at Sydney?s Albert?s Studios. Another band recording its debut album there at that time was AC/DC. Interestingly a connection existed between the two bands through Ron Carpenter. The drummer had only recently left AC/DC after having spent much of 1973 and 1974 playing in several of its early line-ups (AC/DC and Aleph later even played a gig together at the Sydney Haymarket ca. 1976/76). By late 1974 Aleph had also begun playing gigs around Sydney, and over the next few years steadily built a following through its consistently high level of musicianship. The band also secured a contract with Warner Brothers around this time.
Although Aleph?s reputation as one of the country?s leading art rock bands was building, these early years were quite difficult, with a number of factors conspiring against the possibility of national success. The most serious was the band?s 1976/77 national tour which unfortunately resulted in a significant financial loss. The recording quality of the debut album, 'Surface Tension', was also deemed unacceptable by the band and they subsequently asked Warner Brothers to allow them to re-record the songs. Warner denied the request, however, and went on to release the LP in 1977. This eventually led to the band and record company terminating their association. Aleph then lost lead singer Joe Walmsley to illness in 1978, and that same year had its custom PA repossessed as a result of being $400,000 in debt. The band was also forced to abandon its touring for several months after Ron Carpenter was asked to fill in as temporary drummer for Cold Chisel. Carpenter also spent much of 1979 pouring his energies into the band 'First Light', which recorded and released a self-financed album that...
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4.04 | 17 ratings
Surface Tension

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ALEPH Reviews

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 Surface Tension by ALEPH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 17 ratings

Surface Tension
Aleph Crossover Prog

Review by sl75

4 stars Aleph's music is an attractive blend of obvious symphonic-prog influences and ambitions with an always-accessible pop-rock edge. You won't hear a lot of unusual time signatures or virtuosic showing off; and only once on this album will you hear an extended composition attempting (fairly successfully) a more symphonic structure ("Mountaineer"). What you will hear is a band with great senses of melody, arrangement, songcraft.

They're most of the time somewhere between Yes/Genesis and Supertramp. I think the Yes influences, where audible, are more overt - Joe Walmsley is clearly trying very hard to channel Jon Anderson (but badly - it's not a very attractive voice), there is a section in "Mountaineer" that very clearly sounds like the latter stages of "Siberian Khatru", and plenty of grand mellotron-laden choruses that take their cue from "Awaken" or "And You And I"; but the more I listened, the more I heard Genesis parallels - a very keyboard-driven approach (the piano particularly being the basis of most compositions), the guitar often taking a less prominent place in the mix (but occasionally stepping up for solos which more than a couple of times reminded me of Hackett), and much more of an emphasis on arrangement/orchestration that virtuosity for it's own sake.

"Mountaineer" is the most overtly proggy song. "Man Who Fell" (about Bowie) and "(You Never Were A) Dreamer" are the poppiest. "Morning" and 'Banshee" take a heavier approach within a standard song structure. "Heaven's Achaepelago", the closer, is an epic ballad, piano & mellotron-driven (did anyone else notice that the opening chords are the same as Traffic's "No Time To Live"?)

Not a lost masterpiece, but a very worthwhile album that any fan of 70s symphonic or crossover prog should enjoy. It's unfortunate that they didn't have the success they deserved.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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