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CATAPILLA

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Catapilla biography
CATAPILLA were an English band from the early 70's who released two interesting albums of experimental jazz rock, without symphonic traces as in other bands of the moment such as AFFINITY, CRESSIDA, or SPRING. The band had a line-up of six to seven people performing on saxophones, keyboards, bass, guitar, vocals, bass, and drums.

In "Catapilla" perhaps the production is not so strong as it was necessary. The album consists of four tracks with extended, instrumental passages where guitar, saxophone, and keyboards get lots of solo space. Far superior to their first album, "Changes" is a very atmospheric piece of music. Their sound is more ethereal and spacey, but still a terrific blend of jazz rock/brass rock with an occasional psychedelic edge. This is another essential album you must hunt down and add to your collection.

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

3.45 | 119 ratings
Catapilla
1971
3.61 | 129 ratings
Changes
1972

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CATAPILLA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Changes by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 129 ratings

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Changes
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This time, there's less focus on the brass section and the sound has been improved as well as updated. Kudos to the drummer, who's trying harder on this album - just listen to his fill-ins on the first track.

The sense of improvisations is still preferred instead of rigid structure. The proof is the "Reflections" track that is rather directionless and the vocal is as improvisational as the saxophone. The track goes on for too long. I have the same complaint about the third track - 12 minutes again.

"Charing Cross" actually looks promising with having only 7 minutes instead of 12 and there is a melody and motive - bit of a lazy feeling but that changes to the frenetic speed after 2 and half minutes. "It could only happen to me" absorps Canterbury electric piano and chords - it is a highlight and there are no vocals!

Still, this album can't make it higher than to 3 stars, despite sounding less awkward than the debut album.

 Catapilla by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 119 ratings

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Catapilla
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The line-up and song lengths look very promising at first sight. There surely must be plenty of ambition on this record! The female vocal is used sparsely, not surprisingly - there are more than enough instrumentalists. The sound by the band is quite typical for 1969-1970 so even a bit older than the album was released in. By its nature, the music is not as adventureous as one might expects, however there's plenty of improvisations especially by saxophone, clarinet and flutes. Jam is the right word to describe the nature of the lengthy songs. The rhythm section is actually quite rock/hard-rock oriented. The classic rock combo provides the harder edge without falling into virtuoso danger. "Naked death" is a good listen but not too memorable or developed. "Tumbleweed" reminds me a bit of later Curved Air. It is quite a melodic piece of straightforward rock. "Promises" is a hard jazz-rock number but I don't like screaming by the vocalist. "Embryonic fusion" takes more risks. It has a couple of section and motives but if it wasn't for the saxophones and clarinet, it would be a painful listen for 24 minutes. This album would have been better if the first and last trac were cut by half. Not much for the progger to explore but a good testimony of the jazz-rock/hard-rock beginnings.
 Changes by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 129 ratings

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Changes
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars CATAPILLA were a short-lived, London-based, psychedelic Jazz-Rock ensemble who released two albums in the early 1970's. They released their eponymously-titled first album in 1971 and the album we have here, "Changes", was released in 1972. "Changes" is an apt title, because a keyboard player was brought in for this album, giving the album a distinctly different sound to the first album. Catapilla featured the lovely voice of Anna Meek, who also wrote all of the lyrics for this album. The album also features saxophonist Robert Calvert, although he's not to be confused with THEE Robert Calvert of Hawkwind fame. There's a side-long piece of music titled "Embryonic Fusion" on Catapilla's first album, and that could quite easily apply to the early fusion of jazzy psychedelia contained within this enthralling album. There are four extended pieces of two-part psychedelic Jazz-Rock grooves on the "Changes" album, so let's have a listen now and see if Catapilla will turn out to be a bright and beautiful butterfly or just a dull-coloured moth.

There's plenty of time for "Reflection" on this opening 12-minute-long, psychedelic Jazz-Rock freak out. If you're on a mission to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before to explore strange new music and to seek out "new" artists and "new" albums, then beam up right here and be transported back nearly 50 years in time and have a listen to this extended and exotic psychedelic Jazz-Rock Jam session. "Reflection" features echoey swirling vocals, a reverberant saxophone atmospherically phasing in and out and the ever-present sound of a psychedelic acid guitar soaked in reverb. If you're in an insouciant mood, then a bright sunburst of unrestrained Jazz-Rock "painted" in vibrant psychedelic colours might be just what you need. Be prepared for a dramatic metamorphosis eight and a half minutes into the song though, when this Catapilla song emerges like a beautiful butterfly into a floaty hypnotic ambience of swirling and echoey sound where you can be carried away peacefully into a sea of love and heavenly dreams. This music is groovy, baby! Returning to Earth now and our destination is London for "Charing Cross". This begins as a lovely laid-back and mellow Jazz-Rock groove. Prepare to be carried away by the soaring and uplifting vocals from Anna Meek with a cool saxophonist in accompaniment. There's a dramatic change of pace midway through the song though, when there's a sudden burst of energy and the song barrels out of "Charing Cross" station with all the power of a diesel locomotive daubed in psychedelic rainbow colours.

Side Two opens with "Thank Christ for George". There's no clue as to who the mysterious George might be, but putting that aside, it's another 12-minute-long psychedelic Jazz-Rock jam, featuring those lovely swirling and mellifluous vocals from Anna Meek with the gorgeously smooth and sophisticated sound of the saxophone in accompaniment. It's another two-part number, beginning as an uptempo and upbeat psychedelic Jazz groove and emerging into a slow dreamlike sequence where you may be tempted to just lay back and let the hypnotic and transcendental waves of music wash over you in an ocean of calm and peaceful serenity. If you haven't quite reached the heights of musical nirvana just yet, then the final meditative laid-back instrumental groove on the album, "It Could Only Happen to Me", might just help get you there. . It's seven minutes of sheer unadulterated psychedelic joy and saxophonic delight!

This mesmerising album of hypnotic beauty is like a potful of calming musical nirvana without the aid of marijuana. In the same way as nature can transform a grubby caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, the British band Catapilla have transformed sound into beautiful music with this marvellous album of Jazz-Rock drenched in bright and radiant psychedelic colours.

 Changes by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 129 ratings

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Changes
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Catapilla 2.0

It's like they heard my feedback (back to 1972?) and changed what grinded my gears! In this tasty second delivery, Catapilla threw out the 'I'm-going-to-frighten-you-Dario-Argento-style' screams of Anna Meek and told her to calm the hell down. It worked in the first one, but I frankly thought it was still over the top. Exit the crazyness and enter sexy/harmonious lyrical chant to our most pleasure.

Yes, now it's complete: the formula works to it's full potential. The almost muted singing is really going well with the jam and brass, releaving you of the dissonant and abrupt moments of violence of the first one. Meek is heading more towards Kristina of Curved Air (meeow!) and it's certainly with pleasure that I will revisit their albums. Talking about albums, the Vertigo press of this record is still fetching some sky high dollars and this time, the caterpillar is eating the corner of the LP. Clever and original!

New and improved Catapilla with more active ingredient: 'Calmex'

 Catapilla by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 119 ratings

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Catapilla
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Have you tried this one yet?

Life is too short to listen to Yes and Marillion clones, have a real taste of something TRULY original. I had to dig deeper into this band: weird name, obscure LP with abysmal sales and even weirder art cover and even weirder singer.

Everything is here to give you a real challenge: long (but stimulating) rock jams of guitar-bass-drum-saxes and a singing style I never heard outside an asylum. Just by listening, you could think Anna Meek is the scariest woman you've met. The kind who would seduce you but stab you instantly after. I'm not joking: her style is atonal, dissonant and bordeline insane; a nice walk hand in hand with a woman raised by angry wolves.

Have you what it takes to tame this beast? Can you go through and come out sane? Can you find the conducting thread in this record and even...enjoy it?

A truly original experience, a solid sonic challenge and a FUN one at that.

Classic I-don't-give-a-crap record!

 Catapilla by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 119 ratings

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Catapilla
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars An eclectic group from the early Seventies, Catapilla released two contrasting albums that boasted a tough but playful female singer and were full of furious and hair-tearing heavy jazz rock. A seven- piece group that wielded two saxophone players and another member on additional wind instruments, their self-titled debut in 1971 delivered two extended epics of endless improvised jamming passages with additional shorter compact pieces, aided by a welcome dirty production and a ferocious lively energy.

Arriving with droning sax before a filthy blast of heavy snarling guitar, the almost sixteen minute opener `Naked Death' slugs the listener in the face right from the start. A heady brew of thick and purring upfront bass, a battery of rumbling drumming with sax sultry and sweaty one minute, maddening and unhinged the next. The bookended voice of Anna Meek is anything but, instead she's a gutsy tornado of Janis Joplin-esque howling that resembles a witch and a banshee violently making love! She's really there to introduce and close a lengthy jam of funky breaks, jazz-fusion embers and fuzzy acid-rock blaring electric guitars, making for an epic full of great foot-tapping, head-nodding power throughout. The groovy `Tumblewood' is almost poppier in comparison with a sweet reflective lyric and Anna's voice taking on a cooing, motherly warmth in between constant little bluesy soloing from the fellas, and `Promises' slinks with funky danger and plenty of If-like call- and-response honking sax blasts.

But best of all might be the twenty-four minute second side `Embryonic Fusion', a whirling and unrelenting storm of dual-sax demolition, drifting ruminative clarinet, pumping distorted bass, brooding organ, a battery of rambunctious drumming and scuzzy acid-rock guitar-slinging. Anna's deranged voice drifts ethereally then erupts with foaming acid back and forth, the epic seamlessly transitioning in and out of sprightly up-tempo pounding jazzy runs, sombre and noisy Soft Machine- flavoured breaks and break-neck dying assaults. Constantly reprising musical themes worked in reign all the constant jamming commotion in cohesively without sacrificing intensity and vigor, and it delivers a fiery and dynamic conclusion.

Singer Meek's mostly roaring vocal may be a divisive issue for some listeners, but there is just so much great playing squeezed onto this lengthy 49 minute album, and while the follow-up album may offer a bit more subtlety and variety, this debut makes for an addictive and raucous blast of power all its own.

Four stars, but add an extra half star if you can handle the vocals!

 Changes by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 129 ratings

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Changes
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Imagine Chicago, Soft Machine and Nucleus involved in a crazed, LSD-fuelled jamming session and what you have is the blistering jazz-rock sound of British outfit Catapilla. Issued in 1971, Catapilla's self-titled debut remains one of the great lost British prog relics of the early-seventies, an album positively dripping with the kind of thick hazy atmosphere that could only have been cooked up in the heady days of the late- sixties. Featuring just four songs and capped off by the extraordinary twenty-four minute long epic 'Embryonic Fusion', Catapilla made Miles Davis seem tame in comparison, with lead vocalist Anna Meek squawking, howling and hollering her way through the group's hundrerd-mile-an-hour mixture of hard-hitting rock, fiery jazz breaks and genial lysergic madness without ever pausing for breath. As debut's go 'Catapilla' really was something, yet predictably the group failed to make any kind of commercial headway, instead releasing just one more album before calling it a day. That album would be 1972's 'Changes', a less intense follow-up housed in an intricate novelty sleeve that also failed to chart. Now, of course, both albums are worth a small fortune on the collector's circuit - this writer has seen a copy of 'Catapilla' on sale for 500 - and both have developed a deserved cult following over the years. Although it lacks the frenzied pace and burning jazz aesthetic of it's predecessor, 'Changes' does, however, still find time to both rock out and chill out, ambling loosely along the jazz-rock divide without ever igniting in the same incredible way as the group's debut. Like that debut, 'Changes' features just four tracks, with the laconic late-night pulse of opener of 'Reflections' backed by the skilfully-played 'Charing Cross', the dark and menacing fusion fuzz of 'Thank Christ For Geoge', and last of all, the jazz-drenched tones of 'It Could Happen To Me'. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014
 Changes by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 129 ratings

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Changes
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Their second offer from 1972 is almost the same with the first long improvised sax sections with plenty of psychedelic jazz atmosphere, the guitar , sax has an important role here. With Changes, Catapilla wanted to break the market from that period, they never siucceded, mainly because they've lost 3 memebers who appear on previous album, but the sound is almost the same as on first. The brass section is omni present on all 4 pieces, lots of sax solos and improvisation, maybe to much , at least for me. Not bad overall, but the sound is even date it then on first and the voice of Anna Meek is less intresting. Thank Christ For George is the best piece for me. 3 stars for Changes, good album but something is missing overall.

 Catapilla by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 119 ratings

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Catapilla
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Catapilla is one of those bands that never manage to survive in early '70's in prog rock realm. They've done two albums, the first one selftitle from 1971 is maybe their best one and most intresting but is not very diffrent then the second one Changes from next year. What we have here is eclectic brass prog with some jazzy psychedelic touches giving overall a very intresting atmosphere. The sax has an important role and having lots of space in solos combined with keybords and very unique and powerfull voice of Anna Meek. If I'm not very attached by the vocals here, the instrumental parts are quite ok, even great in places, Tumbleweed and Promises are the best from here, only 4 pieces, the last one Embryonic fusion has almost 25 min. A very intresting band for that period, very much in sound and manner of composing with lets say Flock among other with avant prog moments very well performed but I think the longer pieces has to much improvisation elements that at some point is little boring and aimless. Anyway a good album, good band they didn't gone with the flow in that period performing symphonic prog they optain for more avant jazzy prog quite original in places but in same time date it. The voice of Anna Meekis an acquired taste for sure. For me 3 stars, nothing more nothing less.
 Catapilla by CATAPILLA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 119 ratings

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Catapilla
Catapilla Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of those early progressive albums that positively drips with a hazy, late-sixties vibe, the debut album from little-known jazz-influenced outfit Catapilla is an underrated little gem blending elements of jazz, avant-garde folk, heavy prog and psychedelia to strange yet highly satisfying effect. Seven-strong, Catapilla's line-up featured Robert Calvert(no, not that one; Sax), Hugh Eaglestone(sax), Malcolme Frith(drums), Anna Meek(vocals), Thierry Reinhart(wind instruments), Graham Wilson(guitar) and David Taylor(bass), most of whom would re-appear on the groups second, and final, album 'Changes' a year later. With only four songs, this self-titled effort features a dense, multi-layered sonic tapestry of sounds, falling almost halfway between the jazz-flecked epics of Frank Zappa's more adventurous pieces and the fuzzy jazz-fusion of Nucleus and Soft Machine. The difference, however, are the deliberately manic vocals of Anna Meek, who squawks, sings, screams, howls and hollers her way right through the album in a show of pure, unbridled passion that needs to be heard to be (dis)believed. Of the four tracks - all are great - it is the final, firey epic 'Embryonic Fusion'(what a name) that finds the group at their most adventurous, the bleating saxophones, edgy guitars and skittering drums creating a swirling, almost mystical jazz journey that brings to mind the more eclectic works of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock et al, though with a hard-rock edge that soaks everything with a late-night effect often found in the best of cool jazz. Highly recommended to all fusion fans as well as lovers of classic progressive rock, this debut album is a wonderfully obscure relic from bygone days. Enjoy.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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