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PENTWATER

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Pentwater biography
PENTWATER is an interesting Chicago combo whose high-decibel rock effectively utilizes contemporary classical elements. They have found a sound that is extremely complex with layer upon layer of instrumentation supported by a lyrical violin and a bewitching flute and characterised by an abuse on polyphonic vocals and counterpoints. All the members are excellent musicians, which is important as the tunes are often intricate. Combining heavy helpings of YES, GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS and ELP with some of the weirdness of FRANK ZAPPA. One of America's finest progressive bands and recommended highly.

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Out of the AbyssOut of the Abyss
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$8.67
$10.49 (used)
PentwaterPentwater
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$11.21
$38.06 (used)
Ab-DulAb-Dul
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$14.89
$8.99 (used)
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PENTWATER discography


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

3.78 | 17 ratings
Pentwater
1977
3.46 | 25 ratings
Out of the Abyss
1978
3.78 | 14 ratings
Ab-Dul
2007

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

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

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

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

PENTWATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Second album from a this little-known Michigan band (they're named after one river in that state), that would be totally unknown if the Syn-Phonic label hadn't unearthed it in the early 90's - even Vernon Joynson ignores the band in g-his revised Fuzz Borderline book. Their lone album (reordered between 73 & 76) never got an official release (only a private one), and finally got an official through that (then-) essential label in 92, which coincided with a fairly important rebirth of prog in the US (Magna Carta label + Dream Theater). Musically, the quintet concentrates on a very English-sounding prog, often very close to Yes (to the point that 'clone' might be applicable), sometimes reminiscent of Gentle Giant or Genesis. This release is apparently the touched-up versiion of what was available from the band's s/t album in 78, so it's more than just the album, as the Cd last 65 minutes of music.

As hinted above, Pentwater is certainly not very original, leaning too much on their influences and only on rare occasions do they manage to create their own brand of sound, mostly when lead singer Konopka plays his violin - he's also playing guitar, flute, percussions and an important songwriter in the band. Despite the band sporting a two-guitar attack (including Konopka's part-time), the focus is more on Koppel's impressive array of keyboards (for a band that never broke through (despite what says the propaganda in the liner notes about opening)-act support if big names). My main gripe about the album is to tell apart the original vinyl album and the Cd final product' If there are any modifications, they were done in a very tasteful manner, careful of not using the catastrophic late-80's or early-90's technologies to screw up the ambiance and nature of the music. Fave track for me? The Journey, though Oceans has its charms as well.

One of Syn-Phonic's better early 90's release (which made the label's and owner Greg Walker's reputation), but ultimately, however interesting it may be, it's not really essential, but a welcome addition to your shelves, if you're not too uppity/mindful about its derivative nature.

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 Pentwater by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Pentwater
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars In 1970 in Chicago, Illinois a bunch of schoolkids formed Pentwater River.Led by Mike Konopka (guitars,violin,flutes) and Tim Morsi (drums), next to bassist Marty Sachs, keyboardist Ken Kappel and guitarist Phil Goldman, Pentwater initially played Psychedelic/Classic Rock, before meeting the material of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Gentle Giant around 1972, when Sachs had already left the city and was replaced by Ron LeSaar, while the band was now simply called Pentwater.Gigs, radio broadcasts and several tracks followed, before Goldman quits in 1975 to be replaced by Ron Fox.This new five-piece line-up produced, recorded and released the band's self-titled debut in 1977 on their own Beef Records.

The album presents a very young and promising group, playing along the lines of ETHOS, YEZDA URFA and MAELSTROM, somewhat complicated Progressive Rock with multiple changes, polyphonic harmonies and sudden breaks, emphatically influenced by YES and to a lesser extent by KING CRIMSON and GENTLE GIANT.The performance of the band is usually sufficient and classy, though trapped in their own influences, but the general feeling is quite positive.The compositions have a strong YES flavor with deep bass work, STEVE HOWE-like guitar lines, while the use of multi-vocal harmonies among the soft symphonic passages is another proof of the Pentwater's major influence.Still the band lacks the unique talent of their English idols.The keyboard work is quite satisfying, though a bit dropped in the background for most of the album's length, with smooth piano parts and heavy mellotron/organ themes.Sometimes they even allow a slight Psychedelic Rock taste surface among their complex ideas.While Pentwater had little personality, their arrangements remained bombastic, atmospheric and really adventurous with both calm acoustic textures and captivating interplays dominating the musicianship.

A very interesting piece of the 70's US Progressive Rock scene.The 2003 CD reissue of the album contains four extra, previously unreleased tracks close to the style the band's presented in the original LP and the album comes strongly recommended to all fans of 70's Classic Prog...3.5 stars.

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 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by João Paulo

4 stars This album is a good time of good music made ​​in America in the seventies. The musicians are excellent performers and we can check in the last track their quality It's a good album to listen to and enjoy, with very good quality of execution and conception of music, nothing boring. We can listen some parts of pure Jazz Fusion, blended with the sound of the keyboards as Gentle Giant, with a spacey intersting parts to. Not only for collectors but for all who enjoy good prog rock of the seventies like me. Note to team work flawlessly with the passages very well tested, especially on live tracks Please, listen and enjoy because it's not a masterpiece but really a good stuff It deserves 4 stars without a doubt

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 Pentwater by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Pentwater
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars to talk about PENTWATER is paradoxically easy and difficult; easy to enumerate their influences (Yes,Gentle Giant, EL&P,Genesis,Kansas etc...),and exactly for this varied influences is very hard to define the band style !!! However, this task became more easy if you know another north american bands of the same period like HANDS & YEZDA URFA. Pentwater bring to us a very elaborete mix of styles of prog music with a nervous changes of rhythmic and background sounds "landscapes". Highlights to " Living Room Displays", "War", "Gwen's Madrigal", "Radioactive" In my opinion this cd is obligatory in any prog collection and I recommend of the same band your subsequent release "Out of the Abyss" of 1978. My rate is 4 stars !!!

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 Pentwater by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Pentwater
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It is always a joy to discover a classic-period prog band from the U.S. There were few of them but they were usually good, or at least compelling, and they took influence from America's small but important prog scene as well as from Britain and Europe. When the leaders - guitarist/violinist Mike Konopka, drummer Thomas Orsi and the keys of Ken Kappel - are self-taught, it makes these compositions that much more impressive. A five-piece formed in 1970 from the shards of various Chicago groups, Pentwater played covers of classic rock but soon started writing original material and after working hard, began opening for big acts as Rush and Starcastle giving Midwestern audiences their own version of prog bombast and excess. This 1977 release is the portrait of a band with enormous potential, and with a bit more time and a good producer, they could have found more appreciation. Of course time is what their brand of complex and challenging rock was running out of by '77, and progressive rock's recession was just around the corner. Thank goodness the band reissued the debut because along with Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories, Yezda Urfa's Sacred Baboon and Cartoon's first two, it is another rough-cut gem in the crown of stateside prog.

The blood curdling screams of 'Frustration Mass' introduce an unsettled tone that runs throughout, the music gradually revealing a thoroughly progressive direction showing jagged lines and smart patterns. Bluesy 'Living Room Displays' breaks open with Kappel's ecclesiastic organ and tasteful use of synthesizer, the slow heroin pace of 'Orphan Girl' has room for thematic variance with dreamy space rock, ornate dual guitars laced with keys and counterpointed vocals. Influences are many: Zappa, early Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, but never in distracting abundance, the ensemble fluid in its quiet but efficient use of different styles. Actually the record is closest in kin to the brilliant but slightly mad work of Morgan Fisher, with nods to ELP and even the Beach Boys. Rather good 'Palendrone' rocks a hard anthem, and Konopka's teetering fiddle harmonies open the completely terrific 'War', a bellicose instrumental in the vein of the Tarkus suite, aggressive in all the right ways... driving, unrelenting keyboard-based prog at its very best and a must hear. The nauseous 'Death' waddles through followed by the refreshing 'Gwen's Madrigal', a light folk number with group vocals, flute & strings, and grows into a miniature symphony about the daydreams of a young woman, with the rave-ups of 'Wave' and funny Yes-like prog pop of 'Radioactive' finishing.

The production could be better for such a talented outfit and the material may not seem too distinguished or attractive at first, but the gold is abundant and these guys should delight lovers of good old fashioned prog when it wasn't afraid to lighten-up and have a good time. A wonderful surprise, this CD, and should be snagged if seen by any vintage prog nut.

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 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by ProggaWogga

3 stars Here's what you need to know about this cd/album: there is one masterpiece contained therein and one near masterpiece. The masterpiece a short little tune called Take which could be on any classic rock radio station and fit right in there with anything by Kansas. The musical themes are well conceived and there's a nice build up section that sort of serves as a chorus and is full of all the enigmatic wording of a Yes like masterpiece. The lyrical theme of the tune ..seems like each time we play, we were much more together, had more to say, in the days that were liike a feather..now we're sealed in today. The second near masterpiece The Journey, some beautiful work here towards the end of the piece where nylon string guitar and flute suddenly reappear to repeat the original theme. All in all, Pentwater tried to follow a Yes like vision, but my own impression is that they just didn't quite have the focus and grasp of musical composition to pull it off. Hard to sell yr music 2 a new crowd when u r not playing verse/chorus/versus/chorus/theme 2/verse/chorus, etc. There are some other good things here too, but chances r this won't be a top player 4 u.

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 Ab-Dul by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.78 | 14 ratings

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Ab-Dul
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars If you enjoy the prog rock music of old and obscure U.S. bands like Hands, Yezda Urfa and Arabesque, make room for one more cd.

Over the past ten years, the six members of Pentwater have been getting together to write and record some new songs, to record new versions of some their "classics", and to decide how to restore/remaster some of their personal favorites from the 1970's that heretofore had never been released. Having only been exposed to their eponymous debut album (which I thought was just O.K.), I didn't hold very high expectations for this new album, especially given the Arabic-sounding title and the quirky cover art that includes someone looking a lot like Osama bin Laden. Fear not.

This is a very well done cd recorded with modern technology, but staying true to the vintage sounds (i.e. without using midi, computer or digital effects). Some of the older stuff that they restored/re-recorded had only existed in 8-track or cassette form before, but sounds wonderful here. There is over 60 minutes of music here with some great keyboards, an early-Bruford drum style, classic Rickenbacker bass, and multi-layered vocals that are sort of a cross between Yes and Head East. Most songs are in the 3-4 minute range, with about 4 or 5 very short (under one minute) song snippets interspersed. Personal favorites after a few listens are "Luncheon at the Parade", "Sealed in Today" (the longest song at over seven minutes), and the cover of The Nice's "The Cry of Eugene". Great liner notes get you up-to-date on the band, and describe the origins of most of the songs.

I just think this is fresher and better than a lot of the new prog coming out, and the production is excellent. I think most long-time prog lovers will find this album worthy.

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 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by progadicto

3 stars Ok, this is not Yezda Urfa or Happy the Man, but this album sounds really interesting. Very inffluneced by Yes, the truth is that you wouldn't discover anything new on the eight tracks of "Out of the Abyss" perhaps it's a rare piece of collection starting with the powerfull and very prog "Em 54". In that stuff, I can recommend "Necropolis" and "The Journeys", maybe little and underrated classics of the 70's US prog. With a correct work on vocals and some jazzy tunes, the big problem of Pentwater is that they sound like many other bands of the 70's but they are better than many bands of the present...

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 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Not a proper album, more of a collection of rare live recordings and previously unreleased demos from the band's past. That said, it's surprisingly good. Like most American prog obscurities of the 70's, not a lot of originality, but these guys do blend their influences a lot better than most. Gentle Giant and Focus seem most in evidence here. At times, this seems almost like Spock's Beard in embryo, but without the sappy, clichéd or AOR-ish touches that make them so unpalatable to the "old school" proggers.

Stylistically, this is all over the map, with lush symphonic numbers, jazzy-tinged tunes, Gentle Giant-like contrapuntal vocal pieces and jam-oriented music. The sound quality likewise varies from tune to tune, further divorcing this from any sort of continuity. But the musicianship is of a high caliber, the individual tracks are strong and there's enough variety to ensure that even those suffering from ADD will never be bored. A vast array of classic keys are used, as well as a mess of other instruments like violin, flute and theremin. Diverse and interesting.

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 Out of the Abyss by PENTWATER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Out of the Abyss
Pentwater Eclectic Prog

Review by Tonny Larz

3 stars The return of the 6 piece from Chicago...that is....these guys are from way back then... in the seventies...ive reviewed their first? This album are more of the same....NO..NO.. dont get me wrong...this is as great as the first one (which came first?) I do not hear the resemblance of say.. Gentle Giant....but the overall feeling is sort of FLOCK meets STRING DRIVEN THING......great music...greatly concieved. I like the "first" one better.....its a matter of opinion. Still its a great prog album!! 3 and a half star......ohh that seventies sound just about kills me.......by all means....GET THIS!!! Get the "Pentwater" album first..then this!!! AAAhhhhhh...isnt life grand!!?

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