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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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Third Ear BandThird Ear Band
Import
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2002
Audio CD$39.99
$15.99 (used)
National Balkan EnsembleNational Balkan Ensemble
Import
United States Dist 2015
Audio CD$11.10
$12.92 (used)
Music From MacbethMusic From Macbeth
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$12.51
$25.44 (used)
Third Ear Band -  Alchemy/ElementsThird Ear Band - Alchemy/Elements
Import
BGO 2015
Audio CD$10.98
$10.97 (used)
MacbethMacbeth
Import · Remastered
BGO: Beat Goes On 1990
Audio CD$8.97
$7.58 (used)
Lost BroadcastsLost Broadcasts
Multiple Formats · Import
Ais 2011
DVD$6.64
$21.11 (used)
Songs From the Hydrogen JukeboxSongs From the Hydrogen Jukebox
Import
Blueprint UK 2003
Audio CD$6.81
$5.82 (used)
The MagusThe Magus
Import
ANGEL AIR 2009
Audio CD$8.68
$13.52 (used)
AlchemyAlchemy
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$12.54
$119.00 (used)
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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)

3.01 | 31 ratings
Alchemy
1969
2.70 | 6 ratings
Abelard And Heloise
1970
3.26 | 30 ratings
Third Ear Band
1970
3.18 | 23 ratings
Music From Macbeth
1972
2.00 | 4 ratings
Brain Waves
1993
2.49 | 3 ratings
Radio Sessions
1994
2.57 | 8 ratings
Magic Music
1998
3.01 | 10 ratings
The Magus
2005

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

2.95 | 3 ratings
Live Ghosts
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
New Forecasts From The Third Ear Almanac
1990
3.00 | 3 ratings
Raga Live
2002

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

3.95 | 3 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts
2011

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

0.00 | 0 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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Necromancers Of The Drifting West
1997

THIRD EAR BAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.18 | 23 ratings

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

Review by Dobermensch

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...

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 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.18 | 23 ratings

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

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 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.

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 The Magus by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.01 | 10 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.

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 The Lost Broadcasts by THIRD EAR BAND album cover DVD/Video, 2011
3.95 | 3 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.

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 Raga Live by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Live, 2002
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Raga 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.

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 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.

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 The Magus by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.01 | 10 ratings

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The Magus
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Brendan

3 stars THIS IS WHERE YOU COME FOR STUFF YOU HAVEN'T HEARD BEFORE (NOT NEO- PROG!)

Have you ever ever heard of a movie called 'Dude, where's my moog?' ? (yes the two question marks are necessary!) No? Oh come on! Everyone's seen that one! Nup????? Oh well, I'll explain. There's a modern day neo-prog band, they decided to call themselves "We love Peter Gabriel". A lot of people liked them because they sounded like Genesis and copied them and completely avoided any original ideas, because, that might have gotten them kicked out of ''the crowd''. One day the record company decided to send them to music school as part of a reality TV show called 'Rock Band goes to school'. On the very first day the music teacher starts reading out a list of instruments used in orchestra's

'Oboe'

This made the band members of "We love Peter Gabriel" very confused 'What's an oboe?' they questioned. The music teacher went on

'Flute'

'Clarinet'

'Cornet'

'Recorder'

After this the keyboardist of "We love Peter Gabriel" got such a headache from hearing all these instruments that he yelled out 'Dude! Where's my moog!' and hence, the title of the movie. What happened after that is not important, but what IS important is that for prog fans looking for original ideas in their prog, they should perhaps investigate this band, THIRD EAR BAND.

This is where you come for 'STUFF YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD BEFORE'.

Don't get me wrong, their rating is only 'three', they aren't going to make the sky fall in, mainly because they can be sloppy and poorly crafted, with some ill-conceived ideas, but at least they were trying to expand on the repertoire of Rock Music, rather than become an accepted member.

They explore a variety of instruments, they play a lot of Eastern melodies, a lot of strange lyrics, the vocals could be better though. However, I was taken aback by how striking and accomplished the keyboard/synths are on this album.

The best song is 'I the key' simply because it is the most refined, it's a kind of supernatural love song, with a prog-folk arrangement set to Indian drums. Also a highlight is 'The Heirophant' a mix of prog and Indian music with a disco beat, my personal favourite. 'New Horizon' is very intriguing, a haunting bass line which is mirrored by the organ, in the background is this infectious beat, which is actually a lot faster than the music. The title track is also stunning , with some amazing keyboards.

But there are some mistakes they made, by 1) not putting the vocalist high enough in the mix on a lot of the tracks and 2) having the same song twice. Also the whole thing is rough and unpolished, which is sometimes an advantage, but not here. The track 'The Pheonix' is poem reciting, with a bit of recorder or playing softly in the background.

So, it ain't a masterpiece. Okay, but it's better than some nasally-nosed teenager trying to sound like Gabriel, and, hey, why not listen to guys with long-beards who smell of 'substances' talk about big birds with supernatural powers and charm snakes with sitars while levitating and meditating at the same time? It sounds kind of froggy to me... sorry, I meant proggy ; - )

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 Third Ear Band by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.26 | 30 ratings

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

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars This is the second album from UK outfit Third Ear Band(love that name). Although their first album was called Alchemy, the songs here are called "Air", "Earth", "Fire" and "Water". Alchemy would have been a better title for this album, which is sometimes referred to as 'Elements'. The music here is almost completely acoustic. A mix of Indian raga, psychedelic folk and medieval music. It never really "rocks" which might turn off some people.

"Air" starts with wind noises. Then comes violin and oboe along with tabla. Later an odd sounding string instrument plays in a dissonant way. In the middle the tablas get louder and more intense creating a droning sound. The wind noises return and the song slowly fades out. Unlike the other three tracks, "Earth" actually has some key/chord changes. It starts with mandolin(?) and then oboe and another wind instrument. There is a plucked string instrument and constant banging on a percussion instrument. The song slowly increases in tempo, gets faster and more intense. Everything calms down about halfway through and then starts all over again. Then it fades out.

"Fire" is very hypnotic. The song doesn't change very much over it's 9 minute duration. It ends with what sounds like a loud trumpet blast. "Water" is maybe the best song here. Slowly it fades in with the sound of waves. The music starts off slow and then picks up with the tabla. There is a nice bass sound from the cello. Good oboe playing. It ends with wave sounds.

This kind of music was very original when it first came out, but it does not stand the test of time very well. It's nice to listen to when you want to hear something other than vocals, guitars, drums and keyboards. This might appeal to some space rock and Krautrock fans. Overall a good album but nothing essential. 3 stars.

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 Alchemy by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.01 | 31 ratings

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Alchemy
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Dobermensch

2 stars 'Alchemy' sounds like a bunch of guys trying to play after each drinking a bottle of whisky. It's tuneless and actually quite irritating and repetitive. Nothing seems to sound in key. If that's an attempt at being experimental - then it fails miserably. The clay pots they use for percussion are unadventurous and flat. I always imagine with hindsight that this album sounds better than it actually is but each time I play it I'm disappointed and usually struggle to make it to the end. The unlikely appearance of John Peel of all people doesn't make it any more palatable. He twangs away playing a Jews Harp. On the plus side, it has a definite old worldly creepiness about it - as if it were actually recorded in the 1600's and the front cover's pretty good. It's alright if played once a year - but does not make good repeated listening. Doing that would drive any sane person completely mental.

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Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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