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QUINTESSENCE

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock • United Kingdom


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Quintessence biography
Lead by Australian-born violinist and flutist Rothfield (AKA Raja Ram), keyboardist Phil Jones (Shiva Shankar) and Shambu Babaji on bass, this North-London group had very strong spiritual Indian classical music influences. Their first two albums, In Blissfull Company and their eponymous second album (they had much success riding on the popular sudden passion provoked by the BEATLES) are filled with Indian Sacred Chants and Psalms, but also much more accessible jazz-filled rock tracks full of delightful moments. Their third album Dive Deep was less spiritually oriented and contained more jazz-influenced improvisations with longer intrumental interplay tracks. After the partially live album Self some key members left to form the similar KALA, and QUINTESSENCE released on last album that was simply not quintessential anymore.

At their top , QUINTESSENCE was a magnificient group playing some superb Indian-laced psychadelic rock and are fondly remembered by all etnic fusion music afficianados and old hippies around the world.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :


Discography:
(1969) In Blissful Company
(1970) Quintessence
(1970) Dive Deep
(1971) Self
(1972) Indweller
(1972) Quintessence Live
(1993) Epitaph for Tomorrow
(1995) Self/Indweller
(2004) Oceans of Bliss: An Introduction to Quintessence

Quintessence official website

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In Blissful CompanyIn Blissful Company
Import
Repertoire 2004
Audio CD$9.40
$9.95 (used)
QuintessenceQuintessence
Extra tracks · Import
Repertoire 2004
Audio CD$11.02
$40.06 (used)
Dive DeepDive Deep
Import
Repertoire 2005
Audio CD$9.33
$12.95 (used)
SelfSelf
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2008
Audio CD$18.78
$7.99 (used)
Infinite Love: Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971Infinite Love: Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971
Hux Records 2009
Audio CD$25.60
$39.23 (used)
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QUINTESSENCE shows & tickets


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QUINTESSENCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

QUINTESSENCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 26 ratings
In Blissful Company
1969
3.14 | 19 ratings
Quintessence
1970
3.00 | 11 ratings
Self
1971
2.72 | 11 ratings
Dive Deep
1971
1.33 | 6 ratings
Indweller
1972

QUINTESSENCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.94 | 7 ratings
Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971
2009

QUINTESSENCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

QUINTESSENCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 7 ratings
Epitaph For Tomorrow
1993
3.09 | 3 ratings
Self / Indweller
1995
3.21 | 6 ratings
Oceans of Bliss: An Introduction to Quintessence
2004

QUINTESSENCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Notting Hill Gate
1969

QUINTESSENCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Oceans of Bliss: An Introduction to Quintessence by QUINTESSENCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
3.21 | 6 ratings

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Oceans of Bliss: An Introduction to Quintessence
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars This band operated in England but most of their members had an Ethnic background. Indian philosophy and music culture can be heard in their music. I'm not usually very keen on Eastern music but here East and West are united nicely. Quintessence may be of interest to listeners of early jazz-rock or instrumentally oriented Psychedelia, even if you don't actually expect to enjoy Indian influences.

This 68-minute compilation includes selections (some of them as live versions) from their first three albums, 1969-1971, which I believe is their best era. Probably a good introduction to the band. For me this is enough anyway. Some tracks I enjoyed to some degree, some I didn't.

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 Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971 by QUINTESSENCE album cover Live, 2009
4.94 | 7 ratings

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Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

5 stars Free acid folkish rock combo, back in the 1970s, Quintessence played a key role in the development of long musical excursion mixing raga-ish ornamentation and pop folk-inflected psychedelic improvisations. After a bunch of original and highly inspired mantric folkish-rock studio releases, the band culminates their whole career with this ritualistic and epic live improv recorded in 1971. This blissed out live session first introduces us into the spacious sound mandala with a highly intense, mid-epiphanic-nervous ballad then carries on a crystalline, gentle pastoral pop chanting hymn (Wonders of the universe). The rest of the album features Eastern buzzing and ravishing drone raga, expansive soundscapes (dominated by the dancing dreamy-like flute and the free folk rockin ensemble), amazing almost liturgical acoustic section. Incredibly elaborated sound signature and recognizable sonic sound travel which features essential convoluted freakout moments always within a classy stylish vein and an efficient sense of melodicism. The album is constantly luminous or charming despite that we can regret the brief presence of a few enthusiastic pop naiveties (which anyway don't affect the quality of the album). With their unique combination of improvised textures and sound alike syncrestism, Quintessence contributed to create what I would like to call ragadelic prog music. A tribute to the esoteric beauty. Warmly recommended to all prog lovers.

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 In Blissful Company  by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.21 | 26 ratings

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In Blissful Company
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Both this album and Quintessence's output as a whole has become rather dated over the years. Clearly riding the wave of enthusiasm for all things Indian that was inspired by the Beatles, the band's fortunes dried up at around the time that particular fashion did. Still, the group seem to have explored both Indian music and Indian spiritual beliefs to a significantly greater depth than many of their peers; a good many hippies of the era took a rather superficial approach to "Eastern" religions, and in the end of a lot of the cultural appropriation at the time comes across as simply another type of orientalism, a fetishisation of all that's "alien" and "exotic" about other cultures that ultimately comes across as faintly patronising.

Quintessence do not come across as superficial culture-tourists on this album; on Chant, for example, the Hare Krishna mantra is delivered with reverence and without embellishment or tampering. On the one hand, this does show an appropriate level of respect for the culture whose trappings the band adopted. On the other hand, it leaves the album a strange, patchwork affair - I mean, it's like a Christian rock band slapping a five-minute Gregorian chant in the middle of an album, it ruins the flow completely. At one point there will be a sincerely presented Krishna chant, whilst at other points there are flute-laden psych songs which come across a bit like early Jethro Tull cast-offs and the occasional sub-Donovan hippy-folk outing (Notting Hill Gate, the major single from the album, is an absolutely asinine song about how hip the neighbourhood the band lived in was at the time), and then at other points you'll get a psych rendition of some traditional Indian music. The album doesn't flow at all well - the different moods don't blend into each other so much and the transitions are just jarring - and the individual songs are pleasant but never much more than pleasant. Maybe Quintessence really were as sincere as they made themselves out to be, but whilst the sincerity is here the musicality isn't.

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 Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971 by QUINTESSENCE album cover Live, 2009
4.94 | 7 ratings

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Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by tbstars1

5 stars I am delighted to support Oliverstoned's assessment of this totally magnificent - and wholly unexpected - release. I have previously reviewed each of the band 's five studio-based outputs - including the awful Indweller - and consistently bemoaned the fact that no vinyl offering could ever hope to deliver the true Q because Q was a band who had to be experienced "live"; moreover, there was no chance, after all this time, of being able to do other than imagine how magical their concerts were. How happily wrong I was! Here we are, forty years down the track, with two live concerts (recorded at QEH on the same day) plus another half a concert, if you add in the surviving excerpts from the previous year's St Pancras concert, as captured on the sister CD, "Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970". What total joy!

Whoever mastered this double disc at Hux records deserves a medal - it has truly been a labour of love. The sound quality is absolutely crystal clear. The accompanying booklet is hugely informative - (two of the concerts at which I saw Q are missing from the itinerary at the back, but who can expect total accuracy after all this time?) - and this is altogether just about as good as it could ever hope to get.

I am not going to launch into a review of the individual tracks, because there is no need: people either loved Q or thought they were pretentious piss-takers who were peddling their own brand of pseudo devotional clap-trap. Guess what? I loved them. And the magic is all here again, on disc, in 2010.

I note that the commentator in the booklet sides slightly with concert number 2 as the preferred one. It's a severe case of splitting hairs, but, in my book, any concert that includes the quite stupendous Wonders of the Universe will win any race to the stars hands down, and, in my opinion, the first concert is duly the better of the two, with the band on absolutely top form. Music and lights from the spheres, indeed.

If I were to seek total perfection, I would recommend extracting the "Giants" suite off the St Pancras CD, and relocating it to its proper home in the QEH concert running order ie after Meditations (concert 1, track 4). This will leave no room for the concert 1 encore (the Dive Deep suite), but no matter - it will leave you with about 72 minutes of sheer, uninterrupted bliss, as the band fully lives up to its reputation, at the time, as being the best live band in the world. They were. And now, thanks to these companion CDs, they are again.

I couldn't recommend this double CD more highly. It's (quite literally) wonderful. As Oliverstoned says, a total masterpiecel

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 Quintessence by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.14 | 19 ratings

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Quintessence
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A superior follow-up to their debut 'In Blissful Company', this self-titled effort sees Notting Hill's Quintessence expand upon their exotic raga-rock sound with layers of guitars, drums, sitars and a slighly more progressive lilt. Some may find the quasi-religious mumblings a tad unbearable, and some of band-leader Raja Ram's rather indulgent noodlings do sometimes hinder the otherwise fluid acid rock, but it's all part-and-parcel of this quirky group's appeal. Imagine Hawkwind on valium and with acoustic guitars and tabla's instead of electric instruments and you get the picture, except Quintessence sport a slightly more refined musical style. Both of the group's first two albums are well worth checking out, especially for fans of Jade Warrior, Clark Hutchinson's 'A=Mh2' and ethnic krautrockers Yatha Sidhra, and despite the fairly laughable hippie-dippie lyrics, the sounds of offer here are genuinely progressive in their execution and the instrumentation richly-textured in it's attempt to re-produce the exotic sounds of India and beyond. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Self by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.00 | 11 ratings

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Self
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Thierry

3 stars Lead by the Australian violinist and flutist Ron Rothfield (a.k.a. 'Raja Ram'), the keyboardist Phil Jones ('Shiva Shankar') and Shambu Babaji on guitar and bass, this North-London band had, as you have guessed, very strong spiritual Indian music influences. Their first two albums, "In Blissful Company" and their eponymous second album had much success riding on the new passion provoked by the Beatles for Indian music. They are filled with Indian sacred chants and psalms, but also great jazz-filled rock tracks. At the top of their career, Quintessence was famous for playing superb Indian-laced psychedelic rock blend with ethnic fusion under gorgeous covers. Some young prog heads will find them obsolete or not prog at all.. By the lyrics (peace, love?), I think the message is eternal and we really need it now. As for the music, this is a mix of different culture and thus it corresponds to the very first definition of prog that is a melting pot. "Self", released in 1972, is their third studio effort. All fans of Iron Butterfly, Sweet Smoke, East of Eden will enjoy this remastered edition and its two bonus tracks.

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 Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971 by QUINTESSENCE album cover Live, 2009
4.94 | 7 ratings

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Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by oliverstoned
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Absolute masterpiece. Sorry, but i had to begin this review by these strong words.

This freshly unreleased 1971 double live album is an unexpected gem (and the word is weak) which expand a lot Quintessence's discography, along with the other « Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970 » CD also by Hux records which is almost in the same vein in term of performance, but not for sound quality.

The performance on "Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971" is stellar, that's why at the time some music reviewers claimed that Quintessence was « the best live band in the world ». Indeed, the band combines virtuosity and mystic fervour like nobody. Flute and guitar parts are awesome, the psychedelic jams evoke the best Grateful dead. Quintessence is really the following of the american psychedelic scene, with a unique indo progressive touch. The track list gather pieces from all albums including the masterpiece eponym track « Dive deep » with two versions including one clocking at 24 minutes.

This is rare enough to be precised : not only this concert has been very well recorded in 1971 -as explained into the very informative booklet- thanks to amplifier settings in order to make the flute and vocals clearly audible, but the CD transfer is a success too : for one time the sound is neutral and musical with great presence, no over-compression which makes this CD a delight to listen to, even on ambitious audio systems, which is rarely the case with « rock » records. Thanks a lot to Hux records for this great mastering job. This is the kind of CD releases which may save the CD industry ! The only drawback for picky audiophiles who don't like to put their fingers on their precious discs is the very unconvenient double CD jewel case which is a pain to use : it's very hard to remove the CD from the box without damaging it, which is very frustating with such a quality record. Besides this detail, this « Infinite love » is easily the release of the year in vintage progressive rock.

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 In Blissful Company  by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.21 | 26 ratings

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In Blissful Company
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by oliverstoned
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars 4 stars

Quintessence first album presents an under-rated band which appears to be quite precursor in the Indo folk progressive genre for this 1969 year. There's a strong analogy with another progressive band: Sweet smoke. For the jazz and Indian influences, the predominance of flute, the same happy hippy spiritual mood and the excellent guitar work. Quintessence music is never complex but can be well progressive anyway, like on "Midnight mode", the gem here: excellent flute, a mind-blowing psychedelic space guitar solo and an impressive pure traditional (Indian) end. A must! A nice introduction to this great band. The Repertoire CD release has a good sound and is very nice looking in its Digipack form.

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 Epitaph For Tomorrow  by QUINTESSENCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1993
3.71 | 7 ratings

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Epitaph For Tomorrow
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by greenback
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This is my first Indo prog/raga rock album! Well, I was expecting exotic sitar arrangements, flute airs that lift serpents and some psychedelic guitar patterns that help to elevate your spirit from your body. Actually, this description partly describes the principles behind "Epitaph for Tomorrow": I must add that there is a very present psychedelic jazz, rock and even hard rock dimension.

Let's say the many flute parts combined with some guitar and percussion parts sound a bit like the Ozric Tentacles. We also feel some Beatles influence too. There are many exotic incantation lead & backing vocals. The excellent "Chant" has a real Indian flavor. The tracks are not very progressive, despite the music is rather loaded. Like the Beatles, the electric guitar sound is rather sissy and inoffensive, often showing a Hendrixian wah-wah effect. The rare keyboards are very timid. There are some more catchy songs like the very good "Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga". There are some less good lengthy experimental or jam parts, but Quintessence are at their best when they play catchy and structured compositions. I give 4 stars for anything except the experimental/jam moments. Since there are less experimental/jam moments, then 3.5 stars seems appropriate.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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 Dive Deep by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.72 | 11 ratings

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Dive Deep
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This one had been the band's last of their three Island-records still featuring Shiva Jones and Dave Codling both having been fired late on. They carried here on more or less doing their typical ethnically inspired psychedelic rock presented in six rather simply structured songs. The opening title track, a straight forward pop song left me quite unimpressed but fortunately the quality of the tracks is gradually rising up after that one reaching its peak with "Epitaph for tomorrow". This one together with the final "Sri Ram chant" in pseudo-traditional raga style are the best tracks of this album. The remaining three songs are nice ones for a couple of spins though being not really elaborate compositions. It's in some way difficult to give this record a fair rating since it's not a bad one at all but certainly not on par with their first two releases. For sure I wouldn't recommend it as a starting place for this band but I guess it might be worth to be checked out by anyone who enjoyed their previous ones already. Still I'd like to rate it with 3 stars not without emphasizing that it might be only interesting for fans of Indian flavoured hippie psychedelic!!

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