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ATMOSPHERA

Symphonic Prog • Israel


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Atmosphera biography
ATMOSPHERA, not to be confused with a Brazilian art-rock band with the same name, is an Israeli progressive rock band from the late 70's. They recorded two long, epic pieces for an album with English lyrics (Shakespeare & Lord Tennyson), but the album was too far-out for the small Israeli music industry, so the master tapes were archived and the album was never issued on vinyl. 25 years later, a small collectors' label, MIO records, gathered all the tapes, videos and information on the lost band, and issued the album on CD, with bonus tracks and a videoclip.

ATMOSPHERA's style is "mainstream prog" - heavily influenced by YES's symphonic style. The music is melodic, classical and well-arranged. The band lineup consists of Efrayim Barak on vocals, Moti Fonseka on guitar, Alon Nadel on bass, Yuval Rivlin on keyboards, and Ami Lipner (later re-named himself to Mi El-Ma) on drums. Mi El-Ma, the drummer, is influenced by Bruford's style, Nadel, the bassist, emulates Squire's sound, the keyboardist, Rivlin, uses some of Wakeman's tricks, and even soloist, Barak, sounds very much like Jon Anderson. YES fans will find delight in this highly-capable group of musicians, who offer virtuoso abilities and solid compositional skills.

The double album boasts three major highlights: "Lady of Shalott", "Cuckoo - Alternate Version" (new remix with added Mellotron and digital effects), and the avant-garde "Catharsis" by a different, later line-up called ISTOPY. In 2002 a double CD was released with the debut tracks and some bonus tracks, live renditions, video clips and VCD material with new packaging.

: : : Uri Breitman, ISRAEL : : :

UPDATED 2014 ---AtomicCrimsonRush (Scott Tuffnell)---

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ATMOSPHERA discography


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3.69 | 52 ratings
Lady of Shalott
1977

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ATMOSPHERA Reviews


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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Hello Starcastle, Druid and other Yes derivative bands fans! This is surely for you!! I was amazed to find out that this Israeli group recorded this album in 1977. I mean, did anyone knew Israel had a prog band? And in thye 70´s? Yeah, I was amazed too. And they do play very well, by the way. The first two tracks are very much Yes unfluenced, vocalist Efrayim Barak emulating Jon Anderson so well one can only guess if he was not the man himself lending his voice to this group. The two other compositions that compromised the original LP are less Yes-like and more original, but they are also less interesting. While the perfomances are superb - guitarrist Moti Fonseka and drummer Ami Lipner are both specially skilled and creative - the production is understandable weak. The remastering for CD might have helped a little, but still is obvious those guys recorded under rather less than ideal conditions (the keyboards sound suffered the most). Still, they did a nice job.

This 2 CD version includes the whole original LP on the first disc, plus an alternative version of cuckoo. the second record has the video of the title track, two tunes from the LP recorded live, plus a few tracks from bands the members formed after Atmosphera broke up. This stuff is far more experimental and avant guard than their former outfit. Again it´s more interesting than really good.

Overall I liked the Lady Of Shalott work. It´s doubtless very symphonic and quite promising. Too bad they call it a day before developing some more. They surely have the chops and the talent to go a lot further than they did. Still, this CD is quite a find. It´s good to see that so many people were touched by prog music and tried hard to express their love for it everywhere.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Atmosphera's sole album is essentially a love letter to Yes. Like Druid, Atmosphera produce new compositions following the pattern set by The Yes Album and Fragile, and perform in a manner directly inspired by their heroes - bassist Alon Nadel in particular seems particularly good at creating a big Chris Squire bass sound. Unfortunately, the fuzzy production values on this album prevents it from ascending to the heights that Druid attained. Ultimately there are so many bands out there following the lead set by Yes, and I can't say that Atmosphera represent a blindingly amazing example of this sort of thing; the lack of any compositions of the complexity of Yes' from Close to the Edge to Relayer only underlines the gulf between the inspiring masters and the inspired apprentices. One to pick up if you absolutely cannot get enough of bands who try to sound like early Yes.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Atmosphera: Lady of Shalott [1977]

Rating: 7/10

Oy vey! Prog from Israel!

(Note: I'm only reviewing the four tracks that were on the original album. I'm not including any of the copious bonus material that was put on the reissue.)

Atmosphera's sole album is yet another gem from the vast treasure chest of obscure 70s prog. This particular gem is unusual due to fact that it came from Israel. This is probably a major reason why this band didn't receive the attention it deserved; Israel isn't exactly a bastion for progressive rock, and it was difficult for the band to promote themselves during the pre-internet age. This is a shame, because Lady of Shalott is a superb album. The music presented here is bombastic symphonic prog with an enormous Yes influence. Every musician here plays their respective instruments the way the members of Yes would play theirs. Needless to say, the musicianship here is fantastic. Every member is excellent, but the most impressive musical component of this album is undoubtedly the drumming from Ami Lipner. This guy has serious chops, combining technical finesse with engaging creativity.

The epic title track opens with ethereal piano, and a stunning rhythm section leads into the vocals. Slightly spacey guitar and marching snare drum then transition into a lengthy section of instrumental interplay. This is a spectacular song; it truly captures the spirit of symphonic prog. The equally epic "Cuckoo (Love Labour's Lost)" is less majestic and symphonic; somewhat jazzy instrumental interplay plays an even bigger role here. The rhythm section is incredible yet again, particularly when it's backing up the pleasant vocals. Fonseka's guitar takes the lead on "Tomorrow", and his playing is excellent. It rings of Steve Howe, but with a stronger blues twist. This blues/hard-rock vibe is explored further on the final piece, "Love Waiting for a Lover." The guitar playing is sublime yet again, even though this probably the weakest track on the album.

Symphonic prog fans should be careful not let Lady of Shalott slip past their radar. It is not a perfect album - the second half is significantly weaker than the first - but there are moments of pure magic to be found here. Many write this album off as a "Yes clone", but this is unfair. The Yes influence here is unmistakable, but the band manages to create inspired and intriguing compositions; there's a difference between "stylistically similar" and "derivative." This is one of my favorite obscure 70s prog albums, and it certainly should not be overlooked by fans of this particular style. And how about that rhythm section!

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by Formentera Lady

4 stars Sounds like Yes. (I am only referring to disc 1.)

Yes, it sounds like Yes, especially because of the typical high pitched voice and the Bruford-style drumming. The keyboards, with frequent use of chord breaking, sometimes sound more like Genesis than Yes. The guitar player proved he listened a lot to Howe-Fripp-Hackett before he played his part. A special mention goes to the bass player, who plays fascinating virtuosic bass lines without imitating Squire at all.

The music is maybe a style copy of Yes with a pinch of Genesis, but it is not a compositional copy. I might be wrong, but the pieces sound like nothing I have heard before. The opener Lady of Shalott starts with a forte chord and immediatlely gets you gripped inside of the music. This and the second track Cuckoo are the highlights of the album. Both are well-structured songs in a light-hearted mood with nice melodies and intertwining of keyboard and guitar.

The other two tracks, which float into each other, are a bit darker, more rock and blues oriented, with good guitar work. Also the voice is lower. I hear a bit Ian Gillan influences in the vocals on "Love". Funny is the atari-sound like keyboard on these tracks.

The fifth song is an alternate version of Cuckoo which does not add anything special to the other version, perhaps except some more mellotron. But it is such a beautiful song I could listen to various versions of it.

I could listen to this album several times in a row in a joyful mood without ever getting bored. What, they were only 16 when they recorded it? I can hardly believe it. I wonder what became of the musicians?

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Atmosphera comes from Israel. Unfortunate, they only released this album. The last version comes as a 2 CD version. I only have the original album (CD 1) and it is that one I am reviewing.

This is a very good birthday gift to any Yes fans out there. Both as a gift to yourself or someone you know.

The vocals is very much in the Jon Anderson vein. So is the rest of the musicians too. I am sorry, but this cannot be called anything other than a Yes clone just like their countrymen in Trespass was a Genesis clone.

When that is said, the music here is pretty good. The first two tracks Lady of Shalott and Cuckoo, both over sixteen minutes long, would not shame a Yes album. Both are complex, pastorial and pretty dynamic. The other three tracks, including not a particular alternative version of Cuckoo, is pretty good too. But the first two tracks are alone worthy the price of this album.

This is a good symphonic prog album and well worth checking out. The sound is a bit bad. But do not let that scare you off. It is a pity this band (consisting of 16-17 years old kids) only released this album. A second album could had been really great.

3.5 stars

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by manofmystery

5 stars One word review: WOW

More than one word review: With my jaw hanging down so far and tears of joy over owning this pooring down onto my keyboard it is rather hard to type out how amazing this album sounds. This my friends is no YES clone, this could very well be a YES equal! Now I know how that sounds and part of me hates to type it but I can't get around the fact that this album brings just as much pure listening joy as the majority of YES' work (CTTE not included). The play and composition is at such an impressive level that it may take a certain amount of effort from symphonic prog fans (at least those who believe they've heard it all) to allow their brains to believe whats being beamed into their ears. You may ask yourself: Am I really hearing this? And: How could I have missed this? Maybe you'll say things like: There is no way music like this could have come from some band from Israel I've never heard of. Or: Why, this just can't be.

While the final three tracks, the (Me El-Ma) songs, aren't as in step with the rest of the album (or even my own particular tastes) I can appreciate what they were doing here as this is a concept album (actually the mix of two concept albums) after all. The instrumental and compositional ability is still tremendous.

If you are able to accept the fact that ATMOSPHERA is are playing YES like music at YES like levels without actually being YES then I honestly believe you'll love, not like, this album. And while this review may have seemed like nothing more than fawning praise it is only because I'm struck with very little to say describing the actual music and am very comfortable with letting it speak for itself.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars This is simply amazing music!!

Atmosphera really out did them selves, being only kids when they recorded it, this is highly progressive rock with a lot of sensitivity, I have only high appreciation for them, writing this music in those early years of life . Although I have the cd version which contain some other material like ami lipner's remixes, which actually has no place in this release, I have to judge this one by more than only the cd version. The two main compositions are what we are gathered here for. Staggering performance by all, drums are accurate and are simply amazing, guitar is beautiful with some fiery solos around, bass is also stunning and keys are just perfect. The music is very melodic with some jazz elements mixed with rock, very interesting. Both compsositions flow from one part to the other easily like it was a 4 minutes song. although the sound is similar to YES they are no clone, I am amazed of how talented they are writing and performing this. this is my favourite israeli prog and it beats a lot of releases from other great bands around the world.

CD 1 also contain some live jamming which is not equaly good as the previous tracks, I think mainly because of the horrible sound, the first live track if it were recorded with the two main compositions it would have been equally good but the garage sound ruins the song, and the next one which is a blues track. nice overall.

CD 2 contain some live tracks, and another track done by the band 'Istopy' which is a different version of atmosphera, what a killer track that is!! it has an amazing climax, it starts with a slow scary atmosphere, great piano, killer keys join in with the rest of the band, it than return to the main theme with jazzy bass and drums and as the vocals turn more aggressive so does the rest of the band until it blows up to crazy aggressive bass and drums with good vocals. the audience didn't know what hit them!!

Things like that is hard to find in israel those days so i'm left only with admiration. even though this release is not constant due to bad recording and some live tracks, the studio tracks make up for it and worth the whole album alone.

I love it and i will give it 5 stars.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Get ready for a big shock when you will listen to this.

Of course it does sound as "Yes". So what ? Can you imagine a bunch of Israeli youngsters producing prog rock at his best in 77 ? Well, listen to this album.

The opener "Lady Of Shalott" is fantastic. Vocals are so close to Jon's ones that you really believe that it is a YesForgotten album.

The comparison with the master is easy : great symphonic moments, complex instrumental passages (especially in "Cuckoo"), very good musicianship (Moti Fonseka sounds as Howe at times). This band really deserves a close listen.

Three stars for this effort.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by TheLamb

4 stars Lady of Shalott is one of the highlights of Israeli prog, a very interesting album with some very high "ups" and minimal "downs"... Almost every moment is virtuoso playing, lush composing, ranging from minimalstic to bombastic...

It's hard to say that every moment is musical genius, but nearly every single moment is freaking COOL. Everything is very complicated, you can sense the complexity, and yet, the tunes are simple, melodic, easy to love. In this sense, it reminds me of Camel... Complex but simple...

Although, I wouldn't say that Camel are a main influence, that would have to be Yes. It's hard to avoid the feeling of "Damn this is an absolute Yes ripoff", but somehow that dosen't bother me... Well, personally, I don't get a sense of deja-vu when I hear them... they just don't sound unique, they sound like a rip-off, but it's not like you will hear any familiar Yes tunes on this album...

The vocalist [Efrayim Barak] though, is just a pretty mediocre immitation of Jon Anderson... the keyboardists [Yuval Rivlin] is also highly influenced by Rick Wakeman.

I must say that the bass on this album is spectacular, Alon Nadel does not remind me of Chriss Squire at all, his style is amazing and I think he is freaking brilliant.

Also, the Drumming on this album is definitly the highlight. Yeah, he immitates bruford... but he sounds different, more technical, sometimes more complex and creative. I love his drumming much more than I do bruford... so props to Mr. Ami Lipner.

All around I think this is a very good album. Not essential though. I couldn't give it a 5 star because it's not an important album, its not a masterpiece. it is VERY, VERY cool though, and I listen to it more often than I do some 5 star albums.

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 Lady of Shalott  by ATMOSPHERA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 52 ratings

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Lady of Shalott
Atmosphera Symphonic Prog

Review by tomereinat

4 stars After years of searching for another band providing quality progressive music, as found in albums of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd (and a few other) - I've finally put my hands on this double album. No, I'm not saying it equals to any of the above, but this is as close as it gets, as far as I know.

Atmosphera (which is hebrew for what you think it is) is aware of their immitating Yes - they even used to call eachother by the names their matching members in Yes. Although the influence of the great progressive "empires" is noteable, Atmosphera truly had tons of input here. Lady of Shalott is all about creativity, and great virtuosity. Their music is highly complicated - and the harmony between all the instruments (the singer being an instrument as well) is astounding!

Unfortunately, this late 70's material was only released in 2002. In addition, I don't know how much Lady of Shalott is available outside Israel. But if you're in the opinion nobody ever made music as well as King Crimson, etc. - this is a MUST! Lady of Shalott is easily international in its quality; it kicks the hell out of most of the prog I've heard.

Allthough all of the above, Lady of Shalott still doesn't compare to albums like Tales from Topographic Oceans, Islands, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which are the real alltime masterpieces of music.

- So a 4-star, and a must listen!

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