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POLYPHONY

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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Polyphony biography
POLYPHONY was a short-lived US outfit active in the early 70's. The band; consisting of Martin Ruddy (bass, vocals), Christopher Spong (drums), Craig Massey (vocals, organ, moog), Glenn Howard (vocals, guitars) and Chatty Cooper (percussion); recorded the album Without Introduction which was released in 1971. On this creation they fused vintage symphonic prog with psychedelic tendencies.

It is thought that the band disbanded soon after the release of this album; which was the only one made by this act.

For many years an obscurity sought after by collectors, the album has been available on CD for some time now; after a surge of interest and curiosity about this creation came at the start of the internet age.

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American PolyphonyAmerican Polyphony
Import
Hyperion 2015
Audio CD$15.19
Part: Choral MusicPart: Choral Music
Import
Hyperion 2014
Audio CD$13.01
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POLYPHONY discography


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4.04 | 57 ratings
Without Introduction
1971

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POLYPHONY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars POLYPHONY was a short lived band from Virginia Beach, VA who put out this one highly eclectic album back in 1971 or 1972 depending on the source. Originally released on the Eleventh Hour label it has been long out of print until recent years. Unfortunately the re-release is pretty weak as it is not remastered, there are few liner notes and they actually list the wrong track order. Quite lame, however all that aside, it is the music that counts and the music is excellent and exciting. Probably one of the better progressive albums from the USA at this time.

I would call this an equal mix of influences from King Crimson in terms of proto-metal and avant-garde jazz, ELP or The Nice in terms of symphonic bombast and early Pink Floyd in terms of heavy psychedelic tendencies. The music is quite complex as it goes through many changes but generally always energetic and progressive to the max. This could easily be called eclectic. In addition to the major influences there are also Santana-esque percussion parts, strange slide guitar riffs, slow and pastoral Genesis-like symphonic parts and even some hard bluesy rock sections and circus music. The second track "Forty Second Thing In 39 Seconds" is a short little burst of symphonic moog wankery that is rather unique.

Unfortunately the production on this is not so good meaning bad. It has a tinny sound and is in clear need of a remastering. Musically this is quite exciting and I find it to be worthy of the term "long lost classic." The first track "Juggernaut" is just filled to the brim with every prog trick in the book and it takes a full 9 ½ minutes of instrumental prowess to finally get to the vocals on the track. This is the kind of prog that has the right formula going on. It is both melodic and slightly dissonant at times. It varies the tempos, time signatures and compositional developments and keeps it interesting throughout its entirety. With two sprawling epic tracks, POLYPHONY more than proved it was capable of playing with the big boys of prog. This is a band that I would love to hear more music from for the mere 37 minutes is only a teaser! Musically 4.5 but i'm only giving this 4 stars because the production is just so bad it hurts.

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 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars At ELP's inception, someone in the press began a rumor that there was a supergroup called HELP: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer with Jimi Hendrix on guitar. For those who would imagine what such a quartet would sound like, Polyphony comes close in my mind, fusing Hendrix's psychedelic guitar style with ELP's take on Hammond-based symphonic progressive rock. Tarkus lovers must absolutely seek this out.

"Juggernaut" Following a methodical organ and bass-led introduction, this first piece adopts a Middle Eastern flavor with a series of piercing slide guitar chirps. The Moog line that follows is similar to Aquatarkus. In fact, I'm inclined to think of "Juggernaut" as "Tarkus, Jr." The bulk of the piece features dazzling organ runs, heavy electric guitar, and frenzied drumming. The vocal passage that appears nearly nine minutes in is reminiscent of early Genesis (Trespass comes to mind).

"40 Second Thing In 39 Seconds" This oddly titled track is a brief synthesizer in tremolo mode, followed by deep tones. It is unfortunate that it was not developed into a full-bodied piece.

"Ariel's Flight" The longest track begins in a dissonant fashion, seemingly borrowing from ELP's debut. The lead guitar makes use of a slide and volume pedal. For a while it takes on a pace similar to the Apocalypse in 9/8 segment of Genesis' "Supper's Ready."

"Crimson Dagger" More organ and electric guitar working in tandem over a rapid rhythm section begins the closing opus. Midway through, it assumes a lighter, charming visage, topping it off with the best vocal performance on the album.

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 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Its probably just me that finds this aimless and dull. Apart from the great organ work that at times is as good as Jon Lord I really can't find a great deal to get excited about. Recorded in 1971 ,I struggle to see this as some lost gem but rather a band with a decent keyboardist trying to be progressive at a time when it was the 'in thing'. Its messy stuff saved on occasions by the keyboardist suddenly cutting loose will only appeal to those looking for a band a bit like where early Deep Purple were at before they turned into a heavy rock/metal act. Its adequately produced and at 37 minutes is long enough.

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 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars A band that makes the golden age prog lover clamor "Have you heard these guys?", and one more drop in the bucket of brilliant but completely missed stateside progressive rock, Polyphony's only release is what seekers of the early stuff, the real deal, would sell their sister to the Arabs for. "How could I have missed this?" you wonder naively in deep denial that surely any old prog act worth knowing, you know. Psych/Space yes, but as part of a firmly symphonic framework I would describe more as post-psychedelic art rock: or what became Prog. King Crimson's influence is palpable in some places, and as an early review glibly suggests, "Try to imagine a band whom upon hearing ELP's 'Tarkus' for the first time indulges in heavy amounts of mescaline and drops by the studio to have a go". Fair enough, but there's a lot more to this work than some tripping, impressionable musicians having fun. This dog hunts.

Keyboardist Craig Massey's wonderful 'Juggernaut' is fourteen minutes of unrestrained organ-based prog hitting you like an old friend suddenly spotted, a shared language, a secret exchanged. I mean this is what Keith E. and the boys were doing between takes and on weekends, something Rick Wakeman could really sink his teeth into during a relaxed moment.

Mind you, these fellas don't match the seasoned virtuosity of those greats, but frankly this is the good stinky stuff after it's been laying in the sun for a couple weeks-- completely authentic Prog, and from a group of Americans. 'Ariels Flight' (a clear homage) cooks something fierce, just tops, with drummer Chris Spong hitting mad under Massey's relentless organ & Moog, neat little jazz breaks, unforeseen surprises, and guitarist Glenn Howard's very competent singing. It morphs into a circus clown boiled-as-an-owl after work as he stumbles to his trailer, and continues onto vocal and very prog 'Crimson Dagger'.

Yummy in my tummy. Some scrumptious old time Symph that'll smell-up your house with the odor of early progressive rock and not go away for days. Your pets and family will have to stay with friends but it's worth it if you have a taste for the classic era with a rough edge. Fantastic.

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 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars What a lost gem this is! I have to thank PA member cannon for introducing me to this group, which I had literally never even heard of. This is the only album by this American band from Virginia. A collector's item before being reissued on CD. This is yet another one of those one-album wonders from the early 1970s where you wish there was a follow up. There was just so much great music coming out at the time that an album like this fell through the cracks. (Realistically, there was a lot of sh*t back then too). This is great prog from 1971, just as good as anything coming from the UK at the time.

The music can generally be described as equal parts symphonic prog and space rock. Not very derivitive but the organ work is very Emersonian (more The Nice than ELP though). The synth work is good but I've heard better tones used on analog monophonic synthesizers. This is your typical guitar/keyboards/bass/drums line-up but with a percussionist added. The added percussion only makes the already great music even better. Everyone except the drummer and percussionist do vocal duties. The album features two epics and two shorter tracks.

"Juggernaut" is mostly instrumental. There's lots going on and the music changes a lot. After 9 minutes is one of the greatest vocal sections in all of progdom. Lovely organ playing and echoed vocals are joined by the rhythm section and sinister sounding guitar. Very memorable section, I've had it stuck in my head a few times. "40 Second Thing In 39 Seconds" has a bizarre title, mainly because the song itself is over a minute long. This song is literally an afterthought, but it's what I refer to as "filler that works." It begins with an announcement of the first take; the voice has an accent that leaves you in no doubt that they are not from anywhere but the USA. The whole track is basically noodling on the MiniMoog. It starts out sounding like the beginning of "Baba O'Reilly" and ends sounding more like an organ.

Compared to "Juggernaut," the second half starts out more psych/space sounding. "Ariel's Flight: a) Gorgons Of The Glade b) The Oneirocritic Man c) The Gift Of The Frog Prince" is probably the highlight of the whole album, although the whole thing is very consistent. I like how the bass does a pause/unpause dynamic when the vocals enter. Great organ playing in this track. Gets into an awesome groove in the middle. Later gets more spacey with treated vocals. Near the end the music is in almost a waltz style. Great vocal melody in this part. You can listen to last song "Crimson Dagger" here on PA. This starts off in a rockin' symphonic way. Gets spacier and freer sounding for awhile. Some back-up harmony singing during the vocal section. The song ends abruptly; don't know if it did that on the original vinyl.

My only real complaint with this album is that abrupt ending. The only time I like abrupt endings to a song is when they are immediately followed by the next song. I don't like it when it happens at the end of an album. Apart from that, this is almost flawless. Great compositions, great playing and great production for 1971. More people need to hear this album, it truly is a masterpiece of progressive rock. 5 stars.

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 Without Introduction by POLYPHONY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.04 | 57 ratings

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Without Introduction
Polyphony Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is one of those mythical releases that you think you'll never hear because it's been out of print for so long and there seems to be no intention of re-issuing it. A huge thankyou to Todd for allowing me to finally hear this album. I first heard about it when I received Greg Walker's legendary list of his top Prog albums. I had never heard of this American band who are from Virginia Beach,Virginia. Glenn Howard came up with the name POLYPHONY after seeing this term used by some of the great Classical composers.They used this word to describe "The many voiced textures in movements designed to excite and capture the attention of their listeners". Man that so describes this music. A five piece band with a drummer, percussionist, guitar, keyboard and bass player. And vocals too although the extended instrumental excursions are the focus. The cover art was done by this woman who worked for Sun Records. She would listen to the master tape then meditate over it waiting for the vision of what the cover art should look like. That was how she always did it. This art work won several awards. It's a picture of the "Four elements of the universe subsiding toward an energy force which was "polyphony"." Released in 1972 this really doesn't sound like any particular band or album. And it's originality certainly is not forgotten when it comes to my rating here.

"Juggernaut" opens with outbursts of sound until it stays. Some intersting spacey sounds after a minute as percussion and drums support. Synths and heavier sound follows. Solo organ before 4 minutes then drums and bass return followed by the guitar which proceeds to rip it up. Vocals for the first time after 9 1/2 minutes. So good. Guitar and organ lead when the vocals stop. "40 Second Thing in 39 Seconds" is a mini-moog extravaganza.Very experimental but short.

"Ariel's Flight" features these angular sounds early on with some raw sounding guitar. It changes a minute in as the organ and drums start to lead. Chunky bass 3 minutes in and vocals follow. Man this is so good. The bass is ground-shaking. A change 5 1/2 minutes in as the organ comes to the fore.This is actually ANGLAGARD-like. Amazing. Vocals come and go. A calm with vocals 11 1/2 minutes in then it gets fuller again with pulsating organ and vocals. Hello ! "Crimson Dagger" opens with organ and drums as guitar and bass join in. A spacey vibe comes in before 3 minutes. A relaxing soundscape follows then the vocals join in. Backing vocals too on this one.

The hype is justified here. This suits my tastes perfectly.

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