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NORTHWIND

Heavy Prog • United States


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Northwind biography
NORTHWIND first formed as far back as 1968. Jan STEPKA(keyboards) and Roland ERNEST(guitars,keyboards,vocals) along with drummer Steve WHITE were influenced by the likes of Procul Harum, The Doors, ELP and King Crimson. These influences give an organic sound to their music with heavy laden guitar riffs, organ and keyboards dominating proceedings. 1970 saw the birth of rock opera 'Looking Back' and in '72 the band recorded an untitled demo.

Tom IACABONI replaced WHITE on drums and in 1974, the band unofficially released a demo album which for the sake of discography purposes was called 'Woods of Zandor'. In '78 they competed the project 'Distant Shores' but only one song - "Just Yesterday" - ever officially saw the light of day on local radio stations.

The band underwent several more line up changes up to 1978 when they disbanded, failing to land a recording contract. Their sound is worth seeking out and can be sampled on their website.

Chris S

additional info supplied by Marty McFly

Northwind official website

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Buy NORTHWIND Music


Circles In The FireCircles In The Fire
Palo Alto
Vinyl$10.99
$1.25 (used)
circles in the sphere LPcircles in the sphere LP
PALO ALTO
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NORTHWIND discography


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

2.94 | 5 ratings
Woods Of Zandor ( Northwind)
1974
2.71 | 8 ratings
Distant Shores
1978

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

NORTHWIND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

2.66 | 4 ratings
Last Day at Lokun
1972

NORTHWIND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Distant Shores by NORTHWIND album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.71 | 8 ratings

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Distant Shores
Northwind Heavy Prog

Review by The Mystical

2 stars Northwind - Distant Shores

"Distant Shores" is an unofficial demo release from underground prog band "Northwind". The album is a whimsical collection of songs that vary in length. The album is rather nice, and is very good fun if you are in the right mood, but it is non-essential and there are some definite flaws.

I have a soft spot for this funny little album, and I wish to express this. However, I think that this album is definitely non-essential as it certainly lacks in certain areas. Roland Ernest has a voice that you will probably either love or hate depending on your mood, and since the album is so vocally orientated, this will effect the way you hear it. The lyrics are rather hit-or-miss as well. There are some excellent lyrics, but there are also some rather weak ones. For example, we have:

"Like sundays walking in the rain, Time is but a way to wash away your worries..."

Rather clever. But then we have some lines like:

"If you were ten shares of RPM, I would have sold you right there for a dollar."

Ouch.

Still, there is some humour that can be found here. And that is what makes this album interesting. Prog is generally rather humourless in nature, as many of the great prog bands tend use music as an expression of more serious topics such as politics, humanity, mentality and spirituality. While the topics that are explored in the lyrics of this album are not always humorous, the lyrics are written whimsical and fun fashion. At times this is also the album's biggest flaw. There are times throughout the album that the lyrics can get a little bit dumb, the biggest example being "Pretty Face". Here we see the band attempt a slightly poppier sound, which does not work to their favour. Another example of this is "Silly Little Will", only the music in this track is excellent.

The best tracks on the album are "When Dreams are Lost", and more importantly, the triumphant opener "The Sentient Man". "When Dreams are Lost" is the only melancholic track on the album. The track has some excellent instrumental work, somewhat reminiscent of Fragile era Yes and early King Crimson. "The Sentient Man" is a memorable track, driven by saxophone and a great organ riff. This song has a truly excellent vocal melody, which brings the it to a climatic conclusion. This is the only song on the album that I would call a "masterpiece".

Non-essential, but quite a bit of fun.

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 Last Day at Lokun by NORTHWIND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
2.66 | 4 ratings

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Last Day at Lokun
Northwind Heavy Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars US Progressive Rockers Northwind were formed in 1968 by keyboardist Jan Stepka and singer/guitarist Roland Ernest.With Steve White on drums the original line-up created and performed a rock opera under the title ''Looking Back'' in 1970 and two years later they recorded a demo on a 2-track tape at Oakland University, pressed in a limited number of vinyls.Thanks to bandcamp this demo is available as a digital download.

1972 finds Northwind performing in a very British style of Prog, reminiscent of CRESSIDA, FANTASY or BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST.The compositions of the band contain plenty of shifting moods between softer and heavier moments and the use of synths, organ and piano by Stepka makes their sound very rich.Interesting arrangements with some hard guitar parts but always enlightened by a number of keyboard acrobatics like virtuosic piano lines, strong organ runs and moog synth solos.Vocals are great with a sweet and romantic approach, often with polyphonic lines.The atmosphere changes from pleasant and pompous to dramatic and somber in a rapid way, another section Northwind were strong at, but the below average recording quality leaves much to be desired.

For anyone into early-70's Progressive Rock with a strong British flavor, ''Last Day at Lokun'' is simply an auto-buy.Charming and well-played music, that comes warmly recommended.

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 Woods Of Zandor ( Northwind) by NORTHWIND album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.94 | 5 ratings

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Woods Of Zandor ( Northwind)
Northwind Heavy Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars From what I understand, this is a demo from a 70s group which never really got off of the ground. Thanks to the internet, however, they've been able to distribute this recording, which is, if nothing else, an interesting listen and something of a time capsule. Northwind plays a very folky kind of rock music that obviously has a lot of influence from the prog bands of the day. Throughout this release I can hear shades of almost every 'big' prog band of the seventies, with nods to Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson pervading the album.

'Live' begins with an acoustic/electric guitar duet that sounds to me to be fairly reminiscent of some Allman Brothers work, of all things. Some nice vocal harmonies enter fairly quickly, but there's not really a whole lot else to the song. A pleasant bass part and some nice guitar fills round out the sound and it's a fine listen if nothing particularly special.

'Nightmares' begins with a more uptempo guitar part, and on the whole it's a pretty similar song to 'Live.' Good vocal melodies and interesting if not particularly complicated instrumental parts. 'Nightmares' does improve over 'Live' by adding a couple of instrumental breaks and some interesting syncopated vocals that are at least reminiscent of, if far simpler than, Gentle Giant. As for the overall sound of the track, Crosby, Stills and Nash wouldn't be a bad comparison, with the folky melodies and pervasive vocal harmonies recalling the work of that band.

'Zandor' begins with a more driving bass line that sounds a bit like latter day Zeppelin. Vocals enter quickly and the song takes on an epic, western feel that's undercut slightly by some rather dated synth sounds. This song really shows a lot of the band's influences, with sections that bring to mind Genesis, Rush, and the aforementioned Led Zeppelin without ever managing to reach the sophistication of any of those bands' work. Nonetheless, it's a fun listen and it makes one wonder what this band could have done if they had ever gotten their big break and moved beyond demos. The rather cheesy synths return for a still enjoyable final instrumental which closes out the track.

'Some Other Way' begins with a classical guitar part before launching into a vocal section that sounds a bit like a folkier Wishbone Ash. A nice guitar solo breaks the otherwise acoustic folky feeling of the track. This album really does have some great vocal melodies and harmonies, a trend which perhaps even reaches its apex on this track.

'Aftermath' is the final track here and probably the proggiest as well. Beginning with an epic guitar-backed-by-organ intro section, the song transitions into a keyboard solo that sounds like a harpsichord. Vocals enter soon after, with crystal clear tone and a rather delicate delivery that really highlight the strength of the vocalist. The track gets a bit heavier after that, and another good guitar solo appears before vocals re-enter. The first theme is repeated before the track switches gears, going into an extended instrumental section before vocals return. 'Aftermath' reminds me quite a bit of early King Crimson, with the dramatic vocals highly reminiscent of 'Epitaph' or 'The Court of The Crimson King.' While 'Aftermath' is certainly not as polished as any of the 'big' bands of the era, it's still a fine epic and a fun listen.

When listening to this album I often got the feeling that the music was reminding me very strongly of another band, but for the life of me I couldn't pin down what it was. I suspect it's a result of the blend of influences that pretty obviously permeate this recording. It should come as no surprise that this obviously doesn't measure up to any of the big recordings of the 70s, but it's interesting to hear this release almost 40 years after it was recorded from an up-and- coming prog band that never quite got there. Not a necessary listen by any means but a lot of fun.

3/5

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 Last Day at Lokun by NORTHWIND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
2.66 | 4 ratings

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Last Day at Lokun
Northwind Heavy Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars The debut demo from this band which really never broke out of their village and into the scene. Thanx to Bandcamp, this and their other two offerings has got proper releases. Another good reason to love Bandcamp then.

This demo has a lovely analogue sound with the occasional sound disturbance from the LP player. Very charming. The overall sound is very good and this does not sound like a demo to me, sound wise. The Bandcamp format may have something to do with that though.

The music is charming 1960s sounding melody based proto prog. The songs are long and the band tries to pull of long compositions without really succeeding. The material on this demo is anonymous and dull. But this band had talent, but perhaps not the business skills required to break out. This is a decent demo, but nothing more. It is highly recommended to all proto prog fans.

2.5 stars

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 Woods Of Zandor ( Northwind) by NORTHWIND album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.94 | 5 ratings

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Woods Of Zandor ( Northwind)
Northwind Heavy Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A band from Michigan, USA or thereabouts who never got their break.

Thankfully, the band has now re-released their three releases through Bandcamp as free or pay if you want downloads. The second coming of Northwind, in other words.

Woods Of Zandor, or Northwind to be more precise according to the history bit on Bandcamp, contains half an hour of flowing folk prog with some keyboards, guitars, drums and bass. The music is gentle and pastoral. The vintage keyboards is thankfully dominant throughout this half an hour of music. The vocals are great too. The guitars are adding flavours to the music. The drums and bass is great too.

The overall quality is good throughout. The nine minutes long Aftermath is a great epic. In short, you cannot go wrong with this free download. It will keep you warm through the cold winter nights.

3 stars

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