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THIRD EAR BAND

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock • United Kingdom


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Third Ear Band biography
THIRD EAR BAND originated from Canterbury and started out as a psychedelic band called THE GIANT SUN TROLLEY gaining residency in south-London clubs doing long and improvisations and eventually changing their names to THE HYDROGEN JUKEBOX, recording one live album as such with Sweeney's percussions as scissor's clipping noise (with the mike attached to them) as he progressively undressed completely his girlfriend by clipping her dress during the conert (cut-out were very "in" at that time). Having finished their concert recording they discovered all their equipment stolen. So by sheer coincidence and obvious necessity, they became an acoustic band taking the name THIRD EAR BAND.

They are considered by many to be the first who invented the term "world" music. Published during the late 60s an album as "Alchemy" is seen as a landmark of ethnic fusion music, including many elements of improvisations and obvious eastern and medieval accents. They used a lot of "raga" instrumentations thanks to cyclical, dancing oboe patterns and "tabla" percussions. They often included jazzy rock parts next to India spiritual music. Stylistically this is a band who have brought to the fore a kind of "transcultural" music. Their impressive and cult first effort was followed by what we can consider to be the summit of their career. Their self titled album recorded in 1970 is an outstanding collection of ethereal, ethnic improvisations, totally floating, extatic, consequently directed to a high level of consciousness. A real travel through suggestive, imaginative dreamscapes. The music is executed with genius and always orientated in favour of various acoustic experimentations. Originally released in 1972 for the Roman Polanski Movie their following "Macbeth" carries on this intense, trippy musical adventure but stresses the folk & medieval acoustic structures (including for the first time some vocals). Atmospheres are sometimes creepy, sinister admitting weird and melodic guitar lines. The music is less improvised and really turned to efficient, enchanting, moody and medieval ambiences. This one is recognised as their most popular effort. After a long break the band recorded in 1988 the album "live ghost" with a new line up, continuing a similar musical experience, always making a fusion between a sensitive raga / ethnic style and powerful jazzy rock improvisations. Their following efforts "Magic Music" (1990) and "Brain Waves" (1993) include more evident electronic arra...
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Macbeth /  Third Ear BandMacbeth / Third Ear Band
Remastered
BGO: Beat Goes On 2017
$8.45
$5.71 (used)
Third Ear Band -  Alchemy/ElementsThird Ear Band - Alchemy/Elements
BGO 2015
$10.71
$10.70 (used)
Abelard & HeloiseAbelard & Heloise
Voiceprint 2014
$7.46
$7.45 (used)
Brain WavesBrain Waves
Gonzo 2017
$9.80
$9.99 (used)
Songs From the Hydrogen JukeboxSongs From the Hydrogen Jukebox
Blueprint Uk 2003
$7.69
$7.68 (used)
Magic MusicMagic Music
Blueprint Uk 1997
$9.32
$13.75 (used)
SpiritsSpirits
Gonzo 2017
$14.46
$14.50 (used)
ExorcismExorcism
Gonzo 2016
$14.25
$14.45 (used)
Lost BroadcastsLost Broadcasts
Multiple Formats
Ais 2011
$8.08
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THIRD EAR BAND discography


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

THIRD EAR BAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 40 ratings
Alchemy
1969
3.38 | 42 ratings
Third Ear Band
1970
3.30 | 28 ratings
Music From Macbeth
1972
2.57 | 8 ratings
Magic Music
1990
2.00 | 4 ratings
Brain Waves
1993
2.55 | 4 ratings
Radio Sessions
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
Magic Music
1997
2.74 | 8 ratings
Necromancers Of The Drifting West
1997
3.01 | 11 ratings
The Magus
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Third Ear Band and Roberto Musci: Mosaic A Tribute to Third Ear Band
2016

THIRD EAR BAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 5 ratings
Live Ghosts
1989
5.00 | 1 ratings
New Forecasts From The Third Ear Almanac
1990
3.04 | 6 ratings
Live
1996

THIRD EAR BAND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.04 | 4 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts
2011

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

5.00 | 1 ratings
Experiences
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox
1998
3.00 | 2 ratings
Hymn to the Sphynx
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
Alchemy / Elements
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Necromancers Of The Drifting West
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Exorcisms
2016

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

4.50 | 2 ratings
Fleance
1972

THIRD EAR BAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.30 | 28 ratings

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Music From Macbeth
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars THIRD EAR BAND released their self-tiled album also known as "Elements" in 1970 having found notoriety with their other-worldly mix of folk ragas, chamber music and free jazz cranked out on medieval acoustic instruments. The band managed to score gigs by cohorting with some of the psychedelic 60s bigwigs including Pink Floyd and Pretty Things. During the same year, the band was commissioned to create a soundtrack for the animated film "Abelard And Heloise" but remained unreleased until it finally appeared in 1997 on the book / CD set "Necromancers Of The Floating West."

Although it remained occulted for decades, it still resulted in the band participating in yet another soundtrack, the one for Roman Polanski's dark and sombre version of "Macbeth," which was his first movie he made after the horrifying murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, who was snuffed out by Charles Manson and his homicidal death cult. Like his real life tales of torturous pain and doom and gloom set in the tenebrous fog and rainy lands of Scotland, Polanski's version of MacBeth reveled in a cursed and terrifying history and in many ways mirrored the very personal experiences he suffered from the miscreant Manson family.

Polanski could not have chosen a more suitable band for his project for no one at the time matched the sheer terrifying sonic scope of THIRD EAR BAND. For their limitations to a mere handful of acoustic instruments such as oboe, recorder, cello, drums and violins, no one else of the era could evoke such hair-raising emotional power as this band could with their utterly alien approach of seeking out new chapters of musical composition. On MUSIC FROM MACBETH, technically the band's third and final album of the first chapter of their initial run, the band straddles beautifully between bizarre formless constructs of sound and more lugubrious renditions of medieval dance and anachronistic swing.

While there is no mistaking the distinct THIRD EAR BAND sound, this album was different than their previous two works. Firstly, the long improvisations that extended to swallow large chunks of their album's real estate had been truncated into sixteen shorter tracks thus allowing a more focused approach. This album also contains electronic effects as well as angelic vocal contributions by a prepubescent 12-year old Keith Chegwin (although sparingly). The album utilizes the same sort of chamber music as before but there are also elements of Indian and Middle Eastern influences strewn about as well. The tracks alternate between more structured period pieces that are somewhat uplifting and completely detached and alienating tracks that utilized the terrifying effects of aleatoric music which THIRD EAR BAND accomplished with astonishing success.

While some soundtracks are made to accompany a cinematic experience and do not hold up on their own two feet, MUSIC FROM MACBETH is an exception as it lends just enough focusing effects on the music to give it a unifying theme yet allows the band to explore their tumultuous and improvisation acid folk techniques to full glory. This is an excellent slice of early 70s freak folk that manages to take a creative road through what one would assume to be tried and tested material. Much like Polanski's personal experiences, "MacBeth" was a dark and sombre take on Shakespeare's famous oeuvre and THIRD EAR BAND's sonic touches proved to be one of the best decisions he made in regarding the perfect film score to match the film's intensity. This music more than stands up on its own and seems like a logical precursor to the chamber rock avant prog that Univers Zero would adopt several years down the road.

 Third Ear Band by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.38 | 42 ratings

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Third Ear Band
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While initially forming out of the ashes of a band called Hydrogen Jukebox, percussionist Glen Sweeney switched gears to form THIRD EAR BAND, which was created to improvise Indo-raga type droning effects with freeform instruments that swirl like insects around the percussive drive. The band found success as they signed a three record album deal with Harvest Records. The debut release "Alchemy" displayed a totally unique form of musical experience that was part Indo-raga, part Medieval folk and part schizoid avant-garde bizarr-o-rama weirdness. Despite the completely freaked out nature of the album, this was the late 60s, a time when Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart were finding their day in the sun, and THIRD EAR BAND offered yet another mind altering musical experience to the impressive legacy of the era.

The second album, simply called THIRD EAR BAND continued the freeform improvisational setting of the debut album albeit in a slightly more accessible form, if accessible is the right word. By that i mean that this eponymous sophomore release is more structured and more tamped down by a steady percussive drive that sound to me like some sort of talking drums having conversations with one another. There are only four musicians. Percussionist Glen Sweeney, Paul Minns alternating between oboe and recorder, Richard Coff alternating between the violin and viola and Ursula Smith exemplifying her best cello torturing skills, however nothing on this second release is as far out and startling as the debut.

While eponymously titled, the album is affectionately called "Elements," that being due to the fact that it contains four tracks referencing the main elements of the Earth from antiquity. Those being of course: "Air," "Earth," "Fire" and "Water." Each track presents a musical motif that generates the overall vibe of the corresponding element. Therefore, "Air" is somewhat quickened like a vaporous gas with a heavy percussive drive and loose woodwind and string structures that are as formless as the clouds in the skies above. "Earth" is more grounded and sounds more like a Middle Eastern oasis stop with Arabian musical scales augmented by a rather Celtic sounding fiddling session that ratchets up ever slightly until it is fully caffeinated by the end of its near ten minute run.

"Fire," as expected is, well, fiery. This is the most avant-garde track on the album. While it utilizes the same steady percussive drive, it presents a cacophonous series of counterpoints like flickering flames in a campfire. The oboe provides an incessant drone while the recorder bounces around like a cauldron of popcorn at a movie theatre. Likewise the violin and cello are screechy and buzzing around each other like drunken bees on psychedelic honey. "Water" ends as the shortest track (just barely over seven minutes) and provides a nice relaxing counterpoint to the frenetic nature of "Fire." The drone enters and sustains uninterrupted for a long period. It is joined by ocean waves which i assume are field recordings. The percussion enters but is far gentler than any other track. Likewise the strings and wind instruments join in harmony as they gently unify to create a melody. This one offers a strange Celtic vibe with Medieval folk as the oriental influences have dissipated.

While far more adventurous than the average rock band of the 60s, "Elements" does tame down THIRD EAR BAND's bombastic display of their debut "Alchemy" quite a bit. Although staunchly avant-garde, this one has a smoother and more mature display of the musical flow. While some may deem this too repetitive or even dare i say, boring, i find this to be quite meditative. It has a passive beauty with the complexities shining through on the dissonant freeform counterpoints of the strings and woodwinds. It's also easy to hear how THIRD EAR BAND's improvisation style built on droning rhythmic flows of percussion were antecedents to the electronic pioneers of industrial as well as the more artistic angularities of post-punk especially in the no wave world. While not as adventurous as the debut, this one has a charm all its own in how it flows in a more controlled fashion. Another great album by THIRD EAR BAND.

 Alchemy by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.08 | 40 ratings

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Alchemy
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The year 1969 was amazing year of explosive experimentalism in every direction with artists like Cromagnon, Amon Duul II, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper and not to mention prog classics like King Crimson and East Of Eden hitting the marketplace leaving listeners grasping for new nomenclature to slap onto the hitherto unheard sounds spewing forth. While free-form and improv were certainly nothing new having been a staple of the jazz world for decades, the rock scene was relatively new to the game and the freedom that the 60s offered gave a green light to artists far and wide to fly their freak flags as high as they could possible fly.

One such band was the THIRD EAR BAND which was formed by Dave Tomlin who participated in free-form jazz sessions at the London Free School and took the show over to the famous UFO Club where he would solicit a free-form group of audience members and band members after hours to engage in spontaneous jams around Indo-raga, European folk, Medieval classical and experimental styles. While they gained the name Giant Sun Trolly, they soon attracted the attention of the EMI Harvest label, changed their name to THIRD EAR BAND and found minor success with their first two albums. This debut ALCHEMY displays all the styles that they set forth in the club scene in all their improv jam session freedoms and laid down to tape.

While loosely tied in with progressive rock, this isn't rock at all but rather a strange mix of tribal percussion such as chimes, tabla and hand drums, chamber rock style oboe along with violin, viola and cello and other strange instruments such as slide pipes. This first album was actually promoted by the great DJ John Peel who contributes jew's harp on a couple tracks. The music flows much like an Indian raga in a linear way with the percussion keeping a constant rhythm while the strings and winds are allowed to float off into a fantasy world as they create fluttering melodies and build up tension until they transmogrify into too-fast-to-hear-individual- notes-ish type droning. The recorder seems to bring about the Medieval flavor which makes this album sound sort of like a Indo- raga prototype of Gryphon's first album.

While ALCHEMY may have come as a shock to the rock'n'rollers engaged in the psychedelic branch of the genre at the time, in reality it wasn't overly different in approach to what Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra were dishing out on their most outlandish albums at the time. Sun Ra would regularly use similar sounding tribal drumming with his improvised jazz section with similar bouts of dissonance and avant-garde compositional structures. THIRD EAR BAND takes a similar approach with more of a classical chamber ensemble of instruments that creates thick and impenetrable counterpoint melodies between the string section and the woodwinds. The tension is thick and it all comes across as a war march through the streets of the capital city (wherever that happens to be) as to rally the troops for an impending attack on a neighboring city state. Somehow they manage to keep a Medieval sort of feel throughout.

ALCHEMY was one of the earliest forms of psychedelic freak folk that showcased dueling woodwinds, completely unhinged violin and viola freak outs alongside meditative percussive beats. While most of the tracks adhere to that description, the near ten minute "Egyptian Book Of The Dead" sounds more like an early electronic industrial album as it creates and eerie atmospheric soundscape out of chimes and woodwinds that sound like the wind revealing esoteric knowledge in coded form. The track builds tension as the instruments come to life and eventually a sort of Native American powwow beat occurs but the crazy noises that come out of the cello are startling and totally frightening! This track is totally unhinged and the most successful at totally freaking me out with all the demonic tones, squeaks and frenetic entropy breaking out at the speed of light. The drums ratchet up the tension as the track nears completion as the squawking swarm of instrumentation begins to sound like a plague from hell ready to consume all of reality. OMG! I can't take it anymore. This has to be the scariest and most intense track of all the 60s!

After all is said and done, THIRD EAR BAND leave you feeling like you've heard something that you have never experienced before and even well into the 21st century, i still have never heard any other artist that sounds even close to the style that they displayed on their debut album ALCHEMY. While the band would change things up over time, this early artifact is a gem of avant-garde musical improv expression and most likely one of the major influences of many of the free-form electronic thinkers such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil and Nurse Without Wound that would take a similar stylistic approach only direct it into the world of electronica rather than the Medieval freak folk instrumentation. This is certainly a jarring one, but a totally unique musical experience that only could have come out in the completely tripped out year of 1969. While not as musical as Comus or Spirogyra, this one more than makes up for its lack of compositional complexities with clever sprawling drone inspired raga marches.

 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.30 | 28 ratings

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Music From Macbeth
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm always left wondering why I bought albums by this mob. I guess I'm a real sucker for impressive artwork. Being the soundtrack to Roman Polanski's 'Macbeth' film, you'd think it would be a bit more dramatic.

They're known for their swirling, acoustic trance music. It's certainly swirling - Iistening to this makes me feel like I've been on a Merry-go-round for two hours after drinking a bottle of gin and wanting to get off pronto before the unthinkable happens.

There's an awful lot of droning atonal oboe and violin at play here and despite their professionalism it's terribly untuneful and wayward. In fact it reminds me of the superb band 'Biota' but far more minimalistic, gloomy and grey - and being from the early 70's, played with a lot less effect units. Supposedly there's a VCS3 synth used, but for the life of me I'm never aware of it.

A few notes are repeated incessantly, ovelapping and at odds with one another. It's all strangely discordant and vague. I do like the field recordings of the seagulls and later on - blackbirds. I could be cruel and say that they have more musical sense than 'The Third Ear Band'.

I've never seen the film, so perhaps I'm being a bit harsh here. Perhaps it fits perfectly with the visuals it accompanied? It does remind me of Pasolini's 'Canterbury Tales' movie. Both are similar in sound.

'Macbeth' improves the longer it plays. Your ears and senses become accustomed to the out of time beats, the groaning strings and screeching recorders. It's a 'difficult' album but with perseverance can implausibly be quite rewarding in a sadistic kind of way.

I'll give it this - 'Macbeth' must be the worst hangover album ever made. If you play this on a Sunday morning after a heavy Saturday night, you'll regret it - big time...

 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.30 | 28 ratings

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Music From Macbeth
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars As with soooo many scores written for the screen the music is suited for an audiovisual experience, rather than simply listening to it. It's the case with, for instance, Popol Vuh's soundtrack albums to the Herzog movies. Extremely beautiful and engaging, when combined with the actual movie. The same goes for Third Ear Band's "Macbeth".

Whenever I watch the movie, a favorite of mine, I love everything about it, not least the music with it's chaotic, scary ambiance. When I listen to the soundtrack I am less amused. Obviously there's brilliance on this record. The band is brilliant. It is simply a question of the music not being able to sustain the brilliance on it's own. Accompanied by the movie it is an easy four star album, when listened to without the movie a solid three star. That does not mean I fully grasp the music. No, not at all ('cause I don't) but I can feel it, knowing and understanding that it is good.

My favorite track on the album is "Fleance". That track is as gourgeous as music gets. Steeped in history and molded in an amazing coat of a strong, beutiful voice of a young boy it lifts me up and transports me in to Time and Space, allowing me to touch tha world of yesteryear. Obviously I am raving but it is quite a powerful track. When combined with the footage it is heavenly, on it's own captivating. Easily a five star song and one I return to ever so often. I thank Third Ear Band from the bottom of my heart for that track.

Conclusion: Great soundtrack, not so great an album. Brilliant but not as enjoyable on it's own as with the actual movie. Still, "Fleance" is a track making the album worth every single penny.

 Alchemy / Elements by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Alchemy / Elements
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by thellama73
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars The Third Ear Band is the fortuitous result of a struggling group of rock musicians having most of their instruments stolen. Left with no amplifiers, guitars, keyboards or drum kits, they were forced to make do with a violin, a cello, an oboe and some hand percussion and assorted other small noisemakers. The ensuing sound came to earn them some unexpected popularity and record deals were soon forthcoming.

This release combines their first two studio albums, "Alchemy" from 1969 and a self-titled release commonly known as "Elements" for reasons that will soon become apparent, from a year later. The music is very loosely structured, and the melodies and instrumental palate create a sound that is somewhere between the music of medieval Europe and the more exotic textures of Indian classical music. The band have managed to capture a feeling of mystery quite well both with their sound and cover art littered with alchemical symbols and imagery from the dark ages.

The first album contains many short pieces of different character and energy levels, while the second has four long tracks, each named for the four elements of classical antiquity: earth, air, fire and water. These last are accompanied by appropriate sound effects, which may seem a bit silly and over the top to some, but I find it enhances the mood nicely. On the whole, it's hard to say which album I prefer. They are both enjoyable in different ways. When I want to hear a theme fully fleshed out and developed over the course of ten minutes, I turn to "Elements," but when I'm in the mood for short bursts of contrasting styles "Alchemy" suits me just fine.

It is unclear how much of the material here is improvised, but I suspect that the answer is "most of it." There seems to be some general plan as to themes and structure, especially on "Elements," but the individual parts do not have the feel of careful composition, which I think lends an authenticity to the music that is quite exciting. The melodies are not the kind that western ears have become accustomed to, and these albums would doubtless prove too dense and inaccessible for many people, but those who enjoy Indian ragas or medieval polyphony should find plenty to love in the Third Ear Band.

 The Magus by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.01 | 11 ratings

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The Magus
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Though I never have grown as a huge fan of Third Ear Band, some charm from their earlier records had lured my thoughts enough still, making me want to skim their discography for any ancient minimalist droning or scarce beautiful sequences make me to understand their tale more deeper. With this album one is able to witness the final moments of their 1960's/1970's line-up, recorded after the "Macbeth" soundtrack, and released postponed after thirty years. Most radical changes in their sound for the earlier records heard are in my opinion heavier presence of electronics via Simon House's VCS3's, deeper emphasis for clumsy vocals of Mike Marchant and more solid rhythmic presence from the beat of Glen Sweeney's drum set, these factors locating the music more powerfully to the rock-music context from their earlier more acoustic tonal prayers. However Paul Minns' oboe sings still its recognizable joyless song, echoing with archaic power of ancient pagan history. These familiar events blended to the electronic rhythmic approach make some songs radiate slightly similar fuzzy vibrations as Hawkwind's cosmic explorations did; as for example the weird treatments of vocals on the title track are quite powerful with their surreal appearance. The singing voice is a factor which slightly disturbed my own listening experience, fitting most suitably to recital upon atavist textures of "The Phoenix". Though the album is not a huge monolith of aural revelation for me, I believe it is still a document of honest personalities, searching their own way from these notes of the underground. If the tracks were done more on guidance of tarot cards and spliff inhaling, it is not maybe surprising that the atmosphere and individual choices will be more dominant on compositions than lengthily matured, focused musical constructions. The album booklet has a quite definite history of the group and member's interviews, some of these giving strong impact for my orientation of observing this group from the human perspective, making the music appear more powerfully as rustic history documentations of these fellows' life from the flower power days than conventional music enjoyment.
 The Lost Broadcasts by THIRD EAR BAND album cover DVD/Video, 2011
4.04 | 4 ratings

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The Lost Broadcasts
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars A recent and oh-so precious live and filmed TV broadcast of one of the more enigmatic bands of the turn of the 60's, this DVD sees the TEB is a way very unusual form, the band bing much more electric than one could've anticipated in most of their studio albums (with the exception of the posthumous The Magus release). Indeed, a "normal" fan of TEB wouldn't expect to see or hear a rock band, but that's exactly what we get on this German TV Beat-Club broadcast. The group is presented with electric guitar and bass, oboe, drums and percussions, quite far away from the cello, clarinet, percussions and violins usual studio instrumental version. Ok, outside mainstay Sweeney (drums) and Paul Minns (oboe), we find newcomer Paul Buckmaster (bass) and Denim Bridges (double-necked guitar) and some (unidentified) black conga player. So we're fairly close to the line-up that would go on to record the McBeth soundtrack

Only three tracks in this Radio Bremen session, dating from Sept 70, all three apparently in a different decorum showing all the studio trickery of the German television of the era. The opening 6-mins In D is obviously an evolution of the Raga In D, reworked for the band's present line-up and provides a slight trance and features Bridges' guitar answering Minns' oboe. It's clear that the conga player is a recent addition, and he's not yet familiar with the band's material, but he's no deadweight either. One of the major surprises is the second track, the previously never-released before 8-mins+ Hyde Park, that features some vocals, courtesy of Bridges, but the main lead instrument is Paul Minns' haunting oboe. As for the fantastic 15-mins David Groching, we're dealing with a modal improvisation that sends us flying across the stratosphere and into the troposphere. Exhilarating stuff.

Ok, the TEB is rather static, but you can't expect them to pull Blackmore or Page stage antics on such transient music, but outside of Hyde Park, the filming and light effects are entertaining enough. While the running time is just around a half-hour, if you can find this at a decent prize, this is an absolute must, even if the band's format is not the most representative of what to expect from TEB.

 Live by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Live, 1996
3.04 | 6 ratings

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Live
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Apparently, this is a vinyl-only release (which kind of explains the redundancy the Hymn To The Sphynx CD release), this second-era TEB live album bears some relatively interesting tracks, because it actually makes a link to the band's first life. While only Sweeney remains from the original line-up, he's joined by the fairly stable second-life line-up that features ex-Softie windman Lynn Dobson, guitarist carter and violinist Black. Released in 2002, the live recording dates from 1990, right around the time of the Magic Music album, but it's confusing matters, because there were two different TEB releases with that title as well.

From that 1990 MM release we have the Sun Ra and Third Ear ragas, and they're not what I would call the gig's highlight, despite the former's heavy Indian-music influences. The main interest of this album (for moi, anyway) is their two first-era compositions of Egyptian Book Of The Dead and Pyramid Song (both from their debut), which is an interesting exercise in comparison between the two eras - quite different versions, and the original being superior, but these are not without charm and featuring some Dobson-scat vocals. It's relatively interesting to hear that this TEB line-up was sounding less "electronic" or "industrial" than in the studio. Up to you if you want to go for the vinyl with a cool snake and pyramid artwork or the ugly artwork CD compilation.

 Hymn to the Sphynx by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Hymn to the Sphynx
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars The present double-disc collection is a weird throw-it-all-together compilation, mixing some already-released first-era TEB material and some studio and live second-era recordings. The main interest of HTTS is the band's history in the booklet. A fairly ugly artwork disgraces this confusing compilation album as well, and while the music is mostly about the second-era, the pictures in the booklet are solely about the first-era, which kind of induces (willingly?) in error.

I'll first spend a few lines over the Abelard & Heloise suite, which had received a few months before its own release, and it represents quite well the TEB's first line-up. If you want to know more about A&H, read my review on that album's page. Of course, you'll find much more info about the piece and its background in the booklet of the present collection. To be honest, I'd have preferred the A&H suite to be released with the BBC sessions (are they still available?), rather than the second-era stuff present on HTTS.

Coming to that second TEB life, the studio tracks (recorded in 90, as part of the Magic Music lbum) on the first disc present relatively lengthy (5 to 9 minutes) ragas, that while being interesting, are mostly diluted via the electronic violin gear of Neil Back, while Dobson's saxes are in the line of what Minns did. But drummer Sweeney is the only remaining original member on this session. The trafficked violin gear was able to produce some electronic loops, sometimes approaching the future techno music stuff, even developing a slightly industrial feel, especially on the session-closing Midnight On Mars. The booklet tells us not to confuse the music of this session with the Materiali Sonori album of the same name, but you'd have to be a real TEB expert to tell a difference. To be honest, it's quite a relief when the A&H suite comes around.

As for the live recordings of the same year (featured on the second disc), it features the same line-up as the studio session; but they don't sound as "electronic" or "industrial" as those studio tracks, although the extended raga gives it a family resemblance. The set features a couple of tracks from their future album (most notably the very Indian-sounding Sun Ra Raga), one from the previous Live Ghosts, and more important their first-era compositions of Egyptian Book Of The Dead and Pyramid Song (both from their debut, the latter featuring some Dobson-scat vocals), which is an interesting exercise in comparison between the two eras - quite different versions, and the original being superior, but these are not without charm. It's unclear to me whether these live tracks are the ones that came out on the Voiceprint label's 96 release TEB Live, in which case this would render the present compilation almost utterly useless. Not sure the Mooncrest label did you a favour to you by releasing this one, because even parts of the liner notes seem to be paraphrasing Joynson's Tapestry Of Delight book TEB entry. I'm rounding this up to the upper third star.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to sheavy for the last updates

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