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Ardo Dombec biography
Not much is known about ARDO DOMBEC except that they were an early 70's German prog band who released an album with a heavy, bluesy, and slightly jazzy feel, ending up barely sounding German at all. Often compared to COLOSSEUM, their music features a lot of saxophone, often matched by electric guitar and flute. Their arrangements are upbeat and bright, yet the lyrics are rather dark and cynical in contrast. The band consisted of Helmut Hachmann on sax and flute, Harald Gleu on guitar and vocals, Wolfgang Spillner on drums and vocals, and Michael Ufer on bass.

Their only cd, entitled simply "Ardo Dombec" (1971), collects just about everything the band has ever recorded. At times, their jazzy material flirts with pop and at other times, it sounds downright baroque. The band obviously enjoys strange and complex rhythms, SOFT MACHINE style. Although they seem to favour vocal tracks (which aren't exactly their forte), it is in the instrumental sections that they truly shine. Technically speaking, the musicianship is fairly good but the compositions may lack a little inspiration and excitement.

Not an essential album by any means but certainly worth a listen, if only for Hachmann's heavy sax grooves.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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3.54 | 34 ratings
Ardo Dombec

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 Ardo Dombec by ARDO DOMBEC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.54 | 34 ratings

Ardo Dombec
Ardo Dombec Eclectic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Infectious early prog rock grooves

You gotta hand it to the Garden of Delights label. These guys have rescued a fair deal of obscurities through the years, and this self-titled sole album from Ardo Dombec is indeed one of those lovable bastards. People with a penchant for the early years, and those of you who can muster an entire release without the omnipresent prog rock squire - also known as the synth, - you my dears are in for a real treat!

This is essentially young prog rock with emphasis on saxophone and flute driven melodies with a charismatic rhythm section blasting away in the back. Part of this rhythm thang is also the clean jazzy guitar that sounds like it was snipped off a Coltrane album from the preceding decade - albeit with a crunchier and more attacking touch to it.

No prog rock record without the odd solo, and whilst you do encounter some - either relegated by some inspiring electric guitar that breaks away from the jazzy mould - or perhaps a tooting saxophone akin to the lands of Canterbury and early British act Raw Material - the focus is still kept on the charismatic and deeply moving interplay between the different musicians here - keeping the feel democratic and tight as a rooster's poop-shute.

The moods of this record range from strangely alluring flute lead atmospheres that will have you dreaming of orangy Woodstock mornings with naked hippie chicks boogying float-some along to the breezy nature of the music - to muscular hard hitting rocking sections with turns and twists that pop and crackle like popcorn gone rhythmic.

Even the English vocals are of high quality - and here I am using the Germanic yardstick on which hundreds of similar artists have fallen on their respective backsides with a clumsy and archaic intonation well worthy of a guest appearance in 'Allo 'Allo. Here they back up the flow of the band without removing the focus from the impeccable music surrounding them. They're no match for the Gabriels, Stratoses and Hammills, but then again who really are?

Other musical flourishes that guest on this charming release are harmonica and though not an instrument per se, the infectious groove of this thing is indeed a musical proponent that needs accolade and attention, because what this album maybe lacks in progressive tendencies - it delivers in full force and quite deliberately through booty shakin' and head bumping grooves. 3.5 stars.

 Ardo Dombec by ARDO DOMBEC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.54 | 34 ratings

Ardo Dombec
Ardo Dombec Eclectic Prog

Review by Certif1ed
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I suppose this isn't really worthy of 4 stars in some ways, as it's not everyone's idea of Progressive Rock - there's almost nothing pretentious about it, it doesn't go off on a Classical tip, there's a definite focus and direction to the music as a whole, and it's really not a serious album in any way.

Nevertheless, it is very well crafted, and has a serious amount of entertainment value, whilst carrying flavours of popular Prog Rock bands. It would sit well next to Jethro Tull in your collection, if, indeed, the band were called Jerdo Dombec, or something...

I have to confess, I cheated - I wrote that introduction after I'd ripped the cellophane off, examined the tasteless cover, and had written the review as laid out below ;o). I've never heard this before, but was recommended it by a friend who is a fan of Kraut and insists that I don't listen to enough of it (I always say it sounds like a cross between Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, to his annoyance).

To my utter surprise, it sounds really good - not Prog by any kind of serious definition, but too out there to be anything else. Certainly, more complex than some other stuff I've reviewed recently on this very site, so 4 stars it is.

Spectaculum A set of truly fun(ky) grooves, infused with sax stabs that I would be very surprised if the Hip-Hop community had already exploited to death (if they haven't then keep this one to yourself!). The intial energetic groove is taken back a few gears to something altogether more slinky, before re-asserting itself after a subtle Can-styled strip-back. For fans of the more obscure, there's a passing similarity to Kaputter Hamster here.

There's no holding the grooves back in Supper Time, with quasi-operatic vocals suggesting Arthur Brown. Fun details expose themselves in the music, and the same tempo drop-back technique is used, bringing about a kind of harmonised Doors flavour. A searing dissonant guitar solo scorches its way across the musical landscape, bluffing wildly, but colouring effectively. The band, all the while, providing a some-nonsense, rock-solid boogie.

I'm again reminded of the Kaputter ones in A Bit Near the Knuckle, which is more of the same - solid jazzy, funky grooves, quasi-operatic vocals, time changes, wandering bass lines and fun details in the musical structure. Here, the slower section gets even slower and more laid-back, hinting at Pink Floyd, but with a jazzier, groovy edge and some fun chord leaps - and an even more fun build-up back to the verse. The vocals here are again a cross between Arthur Brown and Jim Morrison, featuring declamations with a core of anger, and the sax dominates proceedings without overpowering them. The solo, particularly is a wicked toe-tapping groove, around which the sax slithers and slides to tremendous effect.

A flute suddenly takes the sax's dominant position for the start of Clean-Up Sunday, a story about a girl halfway between Cinderella and Eleanor Rigby, it seems. Featuring the flute so heavily lends a natural Jethro Tull flavour at some points - but suddenly we drop into the jazziest, funkiest groove so far - around 1:36, and the flautists' vocalisations recall Ian Anderson very strongly indeed - but with something added in the humour department, comical without being ridiculous - a very good job indeed.

Some awesome jazz touches jump out of the groove before it suddenly dies, giving way to an acoustic guitar, which noodles around a little, appears to settle, fades out completely, then gives way to some parallel 5th chanting over tinkly bells, evoking a monastic kind of feel - suggesting the Sunday spirit of the piece, although not for too long. Another groove is laid down on us, with flavours of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit, and this grows, bar-by-bar back to the song and the story we've pretty much forgotten about by now!

No real surprises at the start of Downtown Paradise Lost - we're back to the sax dominated texture for an R&B flavoured number about the Red Light District. Despite some hugely emotive outpouring from the singer, and some very enthusiastic kit work from the drummer, there's not a huge amount of excitement to this song, despite its subject matter - although you can clearly hear RAP around 2:25 - to think that rap didn't take off as a genre until at least 10 years later (probably more)!

Here's where the song really hots up, as the story hots up - the music punctuates the action, before dropping into a sultry and suggestive harmonica-topped, hip-shakin' groove. Can't think why they didn't use the sax instead - but it does show up for a turn, before the story is resumed.

Heh - good job I've got a CD, instead of the vinyl (well, you try finding a vinyl copy!), or I might have been fooled by Oh Sorry, a vinyl owner's nightmare.

This is followed by the most progressive piece so far, 108, with a glorious acoustic guitar intro - really, this is how an acoustic intro should be written and played - none of your simple two-chord even-note picking rubbish here - PROPER guitar playing!

I could listen to an album of this, but then the flute joins in and makes it an even more pleasurable listen. OK, the chord sequence IS based around 2 chords here, but it's still fun and interesting, as the flute soars, warbles and chirps beautifully.

The album closes with the rockin' Unchangable Things, which, ironically changes persistently as it progresses over a solid bass groove, before dropping into the sax solo which sounds like it might have been lifted from a Gong album in terms of the overall sound produced. There's then another change to a new groove - and OK, I got the joke in the first sentence. Teutons and their musical jokes, eh?

Monster groove alert around 3:20 - this one's a killer, replete with psychedelic, noodly, wah-drenched guitar solo, which pulls out all the stops to avoid becoming predictable - and largely succeeds.

Despite the English words, a fantastic, fun piece of Krautrock, recalling many of the greats and the obscurites of that genre, but without truly going into full-blown Kosmische, a tremedous work of jazz/funk with wondrous grooves for all to enjoy and nice details in the arrangements to stop Proggers falling asleep.

A real pleasure to listen to and review - and nicely within this particular field of Progressive Rock. I even hung around for the bonus tracks, which are, yes, you guessed it, a lot of fun.

Excellent addition to your collection - although maybe not if you don't like funky grooves (and who doesn't? :o)

 Ardo Dombec by ARDO DOMBEC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.54 | 34 ratings

Ardo Dombec
Ardo Dombec Eclectic Prog

Review by greenback
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Ardo Dombec differs from other folk-blues-fusion-hard rock bands of the early 70's by the presence of omnipresent visceral saxophone arrangements that remain pretty structured, sometimes reminding the Dutch fusion band Solution. Because of the aforementioned subgenres, Ardo Dombec perfectly falls into the art rock category. The drums and bass are often very fast, rhythmic and complex, flirting with fusion elements, and reminding the early Camel without the keyboards. Despite their German origin, Ardo Dombec have nothing to do with the krautrock subgenre. The lyrics are sung in English. The tracks are pretty progressive for 1971. Many flute parts a la Jethro Tull, Focus and even Camel add some interesting variety; the track with the very pleasant visceral harmonica exhibition also shows how versatile the members can be. The music is quite addictive, disciplined and structured: this allows me to qualify the album as excellent. Some catchy tracks, combined with the typical lead vocals, should even slightly remind the listener a sophisticated Elvis Presley!

Rating: 4.5 stars

 Ardo Dombec by ARDO DOMBEC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.54 | 34 ratings

Ardo Dombec
Ardo Dombec Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.999 stars really. The only reason why this does not get four is that although excellent , this is not a must . This sole album ( and ultra rare vinyl ) is a typical product of those years in germany and there are many examples of this. I would not say this is a typical Krautrock in the understood value ( Guru , AD II , Can , Ash Ra etc.. ) but more of a proto-prog in the style of Gracious , Raw Material etc.... However , this is a typically tasteless cover such as most groups from Germany did for the joke and for the shock - After all this is rebelious R N'R . Provocation was really their thing as this has one of the shortest track ever layed down on vinyl : the 8 second Oh , Sorry that came complete with a loud scratch that made you jump out of the sofa to see what the problem was. For the rest , the music is excellent but slightly sloppy in production and the sung English lyrics are not perfect. Definitely worth a spin but there are other priorities.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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