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ABSTRACT TRUTH

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock • South Africa


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Abstract Truth biography


Abstract Truth (they shunned the prefix of "the" because they didn't want to sound dogmatic) was the brainchild of one Kenneth Edward Henson (dubbed Ken E Henson by David Marks).

The band Abstract Truth existed only for a very short time, but it was a time of super-creativity. They exploded on to the Durban music scene early in 1969, released 2 studio albums during 1970 (as well as a compilation in the same year!) and, after numerous line-up changes, imploded in 1971.

Henson had been the guitarist in a band called the Leeman Ltd, which had formed in Durban in 1965. In 1966 he and the enigmatic Ramsay MacKay got together with ex-Navarones members Colin Pratley and Nic Martens to create Freedom's Children, arguably South Africa's greatest rock band. Clive Calder, who signed Abstract Truth to EMI in 1970, said recently that Freedom's Children in his opinion "was then and probably still is today (over 30 years later) the only SA rock group that, given the right circumstances in the right geographical location, could have become an internationally successful rock band just by being themselves and doing what they did."

Henson was involved in the early single releases by Freedom's Children, which were unbelievably credited to "Fleadom's Children" because the government of the time considered the word "Freedom" as unacceptable! Henson then left Freedom's Children to join The Bats for a six-week sojourn.

In 1969 Henson and sax-player Sean Bergin were in a jazz group called The Sounds. Henson says, "In February 1969 I was approached by the owner of a local hotel. He had heard that I played the sitar and asked if I could get together an exotic/Eastern-sounding outfit to back a belly dancer in the hotel's disco/pub." The pub was called "Totum" and was situated at the Palm Beach Hotel in Durban's Gillespie Street.

Robbie Pavid, who had played drums for The Mods in 1967, remembers: "[The club owner] wanted a backing band for a belly dance act that would attract customers to his cocktail hour. Ken got hold of Brian Gibson who would play bass, formerly from the British group the 004's, Sean Bergin who would play flute and sax, myself on percussion, who was with the band The Third Eye, and Ken on lead guitar and sitar. I was playing in The Third Eye at the same time as Abstract Truth (whose gig at "Totum" was a 5 to 7 cocktail hour gig) and would then rush off to The Third Eye gig.... ahh, what you can do when you are young!!!!"...
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We Have a Thing [Vinyl]We Have a Thing [Vinyl]
Single
Wave Music 2002
Vinyl$7.14
$10.00 (used)
Silver TreesSilver Trees
Shadoks Music 2009
Audio CD$16.83
$16.75 (used)
TotumTotum
Shadoks Music 2009
Audio CD$11.82
$9.95 (used)
Get Another Plan (Remixes)Get Another Plan (Remixes)
Single
Wave Music 1997
Audio CD$178.84
$8.22 (used)
Get Another Plan EpGet Another Plan Ep
EP
Street Wave Music 2009
Audio CD$3.99
$1.48 (used)
We Had a ThingWe Had a Thing
Single
Wave Music 2001
Audio CD$24.99
$7.99 (used)
Road Less TraveledRoad Less Traveled
CD BABY.COM/INDYS 2009
Audio CD$247.84
$10.00 (used)
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LP silver trees
ABSTRACT TRUTH
~ USD $41.54
CD silver trees
ABSTRACT TRUTH
~ USD $13.62
CD totum
ABSTRACT TRUTH
~ USD $13.62


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ABSTRACT TRUTH discography


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

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

3.51 | 18 ratings
Totum
1970
3.59 | 24 ratings
Silver Trees
1970

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

ABSTRACT TRUTH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Cool Sounds For Heads
1970
4.00 | 2 ratings
SILVER TREES AND TOTUM
2005

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

ABSTRACT TRUTH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Silver Trees by ABSTRACT TRUTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.59 | 24 ratings

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Silver Trees
Abstract Truth Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by PROGNATURE BEAST

4 stars Very good progressive rock from South Africa, tinged with Psychedelic and Jazz leanings similar in style with the sound of mid-Traffic or even Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. It's a period piece for sure but, considering the year (1970) and the place (South Africa) you can only admire the effort of the musicians participated. Check out also their first album of the same year Totum, but this one is more mature I think. Totum, had covers played with gusto, but this one contains only original compostions all of them full of moods and worth to mention. I particularly like the longest one " Silver Trees " also " Pollution " and " In A Space ". " Blue Wednesday Speaks " adds a more traditional South African style to the composition with very good results. It's a shame they couldn't go on. A nice addition to your Prog-rock collection.

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 Silver Trees by ABSTRACT TRUTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.59 | 24 ratings

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Silver Trees
Abstract Truth Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars South African prog is not all that familiar to me. As in any country or continent there are bound to be acts playing something relating to the term progressive rock and Abstract Truth certainly is one of those.

Progressive rock in it's infancy is often pleasant. Sometimes complex and brilliant, sometimes only brilliant and on occasion simply pleasant. This album balances between brilliant and pleasant, with emphasis on the latter. Now, that is not bad at all. It is actually quite good. Really.

When I listen to "Silver trees" I get the same feeling as I do when I hear Tamam Shud. It is sort of fragile and shaky at times. That could be labelled charming and it could be labelled annoying. I find it, after all, quite charming. The music of Abstract Truth and Tamam Shud is connected in some ways. It holds specific trademarksof it's origins, in this case a flavor of african music in the track "Pollution", and that is, I think, great.

The music can be described as organ-laden progressive on the softer side. There are no real outbursts of heavy rock or anything like that. Instead it is melodious, very pleasant and very enjoyable. The album holds only a few real standouts of which "Silver trees" is the best and most epic, due to it's length. The remaining songs are all good but it all blends together a bit I feel.

The instrumentation is good, the vocals great and the overall feel is one of warmth and sincerity. This is progressive rock when it is in it's infancy and produced in a country and continent not primarily associated with that sort of music. I think that the album is sadly overlooked, actually. It is not the greatest of prog albums and certainly not the boldest or most complex of the lot. It is however a well constructed album, drawing influence from the '60's west coast and the comings of musical progression and lands in the same territory as Gracious!, Skin Alley and the likes.

Conclusion: Three solid stars and a plea to all of you to give it a spin.

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 Silver Trees by ABSTRACT TRUTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.59 | 24 ratings

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Silver Trees
Abstract Truth Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A marked step above the preceding Totum, Silver Trees finds Abstract Truth in a more determinedly progressive mode, with a unique and curiously sparse sound loaded with fertile possibilities which, alas, would remain unexplored after this due to the group's untimely and unfortunate dissolution. Weaving together the softer side of early prog as represented by the likes of Jade Warrior or Traffic with a wider than average scope of world music influences, the album stands out for its reliance on flute, with no less than three of the four band members bringing the instrument to bear at points during the album's running time.

Unfortunately, the album relies a little too much on extended, repetitive motifs which aren't quite developed enough to save them from being irritating. If they'd persisted with this style they may have been able to accomplish something truly memorable with it, but as it stands this album has to stand as a more humble high water mark than the band perhaps deserved.

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 Totum by ABSTRACT TRUTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.51 | 18 ratings

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Totum
Abstract Truth Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Psychedelic folk-rock with some raga influences filtered via George Harrison, that's the name of the game on Abstract Nova's debut album. A rock band singing broadsides against racial segregation like Oxford Town was no rarity in the 1960s, though it was a dangerous game to play in South Africa. One can only imagine that Abstract Nova survived through obscurity, since the album seems to have fallen through the cracks somewhat, perhaps due to the sometimes unremarkable cover versions. However, when the band get into a groove and go off on a flight of fancy, special things happen, so it's worth a listen if you like a fat dose of 1960s in your early 1970s folk-rock.

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 Silver Trees by ABSTRACT TRUTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.59 | 24 ratings

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Silver Trees
Abstract Truth Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Straight Air

5 stars I remember seeing Abstract Truth at a concert in 1971 and the only song I recognized was a cover of "Feelin' Good", similar to Traffic's version on "Last Exit". I was impressed but somehow never laid my money down, maybe because there weren't any albums in the record racks. I finally came across this album in '78 in a record library. I didn't play it often as it was in poor condition. Now that I have the silver disc, still with those same distortions and crackling transferred, I've managed to catch up with the amount of plays that 'Traffic's "John Barleycorn" has received and that is a lot.

"Pollution" starts the album with a possible hit single but unlike Rare Bird's "Sympathy", not many heard it. Despite the depressing lyrics, the final part features a joyful South African Township Jazz section with requisite saxophone and ringing guitar.

"All the same" and "Original Man" have similar messages pertaining to the state of inequality in South Africa. Both songs have similar Rare Bird type tunes with organ and flute, only the ringing guitar sound preventing them from being completely European in origin.

"Silver Trees" is the Truth's highest spark of brilliance, a musical trek through an African wilderness with images of the shimmering trees in the unrelenting heat of the sun, then the peaceful sound of dragonflies and birds under a shaded stream. This scenario was to be explored by Jade Warrior in '71 and again in '74 with '"Floating World".

"In A Space" doesn't lose the momentum set by the previous song and is almost a part 2.

"Moving Away (at the speed of light)" with harpsichord and flute is as spaced as Traffic's "40,000 Headmen" while 'Two" is similar to Harry Nilsson's "One". Keeping up with the similarity theme is "Blue Wednesday Speaks", almost a carbon copy of the yet to be released "Light Up and Leave Me Alone" while the final track 'It's Alright with Me" is, you guessed it, similar to Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright?" except they knew the truth of their feelings.

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