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ARZACHEL

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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Arzachel biography
Comprised of what was then the band URIEL, this was the earliest formation of Steve HILLAGE and Dave STEWART. ARZACHEL had two things which helped transition it to be CD era: the music is a head above most other psych rarities, and the four musicians later achieved marginal success within the '70s progressive rock "Canterbury scene".

The record itself featured some of the most explosive psychedelia by an English group. The sound of sustained keyboard and guitar passages are full blown drawn-out psychedelia of the highest order, think EGG, GONG, NATIONAL HEALTH, CARAVAN etc. Collectors of rare psychedelia recognize ARZACHEL's sole LP as being one of the most desired (and pricey) relics from the late '60s.

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ARZACHEL discography


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3.62 | 137 ratings
Arzachel
1969
4.12 | 8 ratings
Arzachel - Uriel
2007

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ARZACHEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Before the successful solo career, before Gong and way even before Khan, there was Arzachel. Yes, I'm talking about Steve Hillage, that legendary psychedelic guitarist who's forty-five year career has pretty much seen it all. And this is where it began. A deeply psychedelic excursion into early prog-rock territory laced with organs, spacey effects and neon dropped keyboards, underground psych-rock outfit Arzachel saw Hillage teamed with Canterbury keyboardist extraordinaire Dave Stewart and the multi-instrumentalist duo of Mont Campbell(bass) and Clive Brooks(drums), who would of course go on to form the quirky jazz-influenced group Egg. Nowadays, original vinyl copies of 'Arzachel' can fetch to upwards of 1,000, such is the rarity and reputation of an album steeped in Canterbury-lore. As an album it certainly has its moments, yet is let down by the two lengthy pieces that make up side 2, the shorter, more focused pieces such as the star-kissed opener 'Garden Of Earthly Delights' and the catchy r'n'b of the Stewart-led 'Queen St. Gang'. Elsewhere, the raucous acid blues of 'Leg' finds the group whirling deep into psychedelic territory, whilst the fuzzy 'Azazoth' exudes yet more of the album's deeply-lysergic ambience. Much more ambitious in their conception yet let down by incessant, unplesant jamming, overly-emphatic execution and an unpleasant, doomy feel, both the heavy and intense 'Clean Innocent Fun', which features yet more wild blues licks from Hillage, and the mind-melting cosmic madness of the aptly-titled 'Metampsychosis', simply fail to hold the attention. The low-budget production only adds to the slightly menacing atmosphere, though you have to give the group marks for pure intensity. Unlike Hillage's next album, the more polished and melodic 'Space Shanty', 'Arzachel' seems to lose focus just at the right moment, providing maybe just a touch too much far-out madness. That said, it's still a fasinating curio from the short-lived British psychedelic scene of the late-sixties, offering up intense underground thrills for all fans of darkly obscure progressive music. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Cult, legendary name of the UK Psych scene, formed at the fall of 67' in London and featuring David L. Stewart on keyboards, Mont Campbell on bass/vocals, Steve Hillage on guitar and Clive Brooks on drums.During the summer of 68' Hillage left Uriel to attend university and the remaining trio, pressed by its managers, changed its name to Egg.A brief reunion of the original group took place in 1969 and the four friends recorded an album under the name Arzachel, using pseudonyms to avoid comparisons with Egg's music.This rare self-titled LP was released in November 69' on the short-lived London-based label Evolution.

The first side of the LP saws a band with a unique talent of mixing hypnotic, psychedelic grooves with Baroque-inspired Classical organ parts, thus producing a variety of atmospheres, ranging from haunting instrumental passages to more dreamy vocal-led textures.Great but a bit dated music with superb organ work by Stewart and excellent vocals by Campbell.The closing track of the side, ''Leg'', sees the band entering more Heavy/Psych Rock realms with angry vocals, powerful guitars and dynamic organ paces.The second side is a different story, containg two long psychedelic jams with a very rich sound and a rather free structure.The mood becomes really sinister with more abstract lines, characterized by endless guitar solos, nervous organ masturbations and groovy drumming, while vocal pars come not easy either, having a very dark delivery.Interesting music for what it is, but with little true value, regarding the composition level.

As a tightly connected part of pre-Egg's history, ''Arzachel'' has seen numerous reissues over the years and comes as a recommended release to all fans of improvised Psych/Prog as well as to collector's of prog history as a nice hostorical and archival album.Recommended as a whole.

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars I would start by saying that almost everything Prog produced before 1970 had many things in the psychedelic vein. If we add a good dose of drug (whatever that is) here is the excess! Arzachel is a really unique band in this sense, the daughter of a night of sex between music and drugs! If you do not know all this I think would be really hard to understand this album, confusing it with an album of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd! But, as Steve Hillage is not Syd Barrett, "Arzachel" respect to Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd albums is an album less sick but less rational, less psychedelic but initially, as a final composition (I can call it that?) Is even madder than Syd Barrett with Pink Floyd! Dave Stewart is another great organist in the vein of Keith Emerson or Vincent Crane and in this album is a great magician!

If you like the more sick Psychedelic Rock... Here is the album for you!

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Arzachel is a crater on the moon and the music reflects the alienation and deep atmospheres of space. The opener announces the outlandish psychedelic style immediately, with a whirling dervish of sustained organ howls and spacey glissando guitar. It is little wonder the sound is hyper space intensity with the likes of Dave Stewart on keys and Steve Hillage on guitar. 'Garden of Earthly Delights' features Hillage's estranged vocals, and energetic pulses of organ, bass and drums.

'Azathoth' is driven by cathedral organ drones and slow vocalisations that seem sto come from the netherverse. 'Queen St. Gang' is a steady cadence of beautiful instrumentation, followed by 'Leg' which has a weird bluesy feel. The final lengthy jam sessions are provided to cap of this stunning curio. 'Clean Innocent Fun' and an epic Pink Floyd style classic 'Metempsychosis'. The tempo quickens as it progresses into a brain rattling time sig with organ distortion and high squealing guitar arpeggios.

Despite the poor production rough garage sound, Arzachel is a band that should be enjoyed by any space rock/ psychedelic prog addict.

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 Arzachel - Uriel by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.12 | 8 ratings

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Arzachel - Uriel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars This is a private pressing of their 1969 album, done by some surviving members and for the fans. It is a fans edition. In addition to the songs from the 1969 album, there is also six bonus tracks.

Let me start to say that the packaging is great. It is a pity that this is a limited edition album only sold by the band itself. The music itself is a collection of some of the strongest songs to come out of the Canterbury/the British Psychedelic/Space Rock scene ever. The musicians is Steve Hillage, Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks. The band split later on to form the likes of Egg + many other bands.

The music here is full of heavy guitars (Steve Hillage), thundering bass and drums plus Dave Stewart's rampant Hammond organ. This is heavy, noisy Canterbury influenced Psychedelic/Space Rock. The songs from the 1969 album is pure high quality with the opener Garden of Earthly Delights as the best song. It is one of the best songs to ever come out of this scene, period.

The bonus tracks is various oddities. But they are never bad and never boring. The sound is dirty and spacey. But there is no fall or improvement sound wise from the original 1969 album to the bonus tracks. Hence, this whole entity feels like one unity.

In my view, this is the ultimate Arzachel album and a great addition to any Canterbury collection. I would say; an essential addition to a well stocked Canterbury collection. But most of all; the music here is great and great fun. It has put a smile on my face.

4 stars

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Arzachel - st (1969)

This is a very interesting early progressive record, covering a wide variety of styles associated with the progressive movement. On this record you'll hear proto-prog, avant- garde-space-rock (Metempsychosis), extremely heavy rock , post blues rock (vocal parts on Clean innocent fun), majestic neo-classical organ driven rock (Azathoth and Queen Street Gang) and perhaps even a bit of proto-punk (on 'Leg'). The record became famous in the vinyl record community because of it's extreme rarity and it has some early musicianship of soon to be famous progressive rock musicians. Quite easily, Arzachel (or formerly known as Uriel) consists of Egg + Steve Hillage (Kahn, Gong, solo), with Egg consisting of Brooks, Campbell and no less then Dave Stewart (Egg, Kahn, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Bruford) on organs. Therefore, this record can also be seen as one of the earliest Canterbury records, though it's sound is quite different.

Recently I was able to buy a vinyl reprint of this otherwise unavailable record with a purple color, just as the early French reprint. The sound of Arzachel is very edgy. Whilst some compositions thrive in thickness of sound (with a pleasant slightly distorted vibe), the louder tracks seems to suffer from quite extreme loudness resulting in heavy noisy guitar and drums sounds. To some (like me partially) this will enhance the feeling of obscure heaviness and that relentless feeling of free garage experimentation. To others this will simply sound a bit ugly or unpleasant.

However, one thing is for sure. The song-writing and neo-classical compositions on side one and the free space/avant-garde experimentation on side two are sometimes plain brilliant. The guts to make such a 'heavy' progressive record is quite rare, especially in the late sixties. The way pleasant organ rock is combined with avant-garde on Azaroth is just so exciting and the endless heavy space jamming on Metempsychosis (over 16 minutes) is just unbelievable. The early guitars of Hillage are very pleasant, because he didn't yet found 'his favorite tricks and licks' - something that would bother me on later records. The psychedelic organ passages of Dave Stewart remind me a bit of Pawn Hearts era VdGG. Some people might argue that the record also has elements that make it sound unfinished or naive. Perhaps it can't be denied that with a bit more time and a better studio recording this would have been better, but the obscurity and rawness give the record a magic touch.

Conclusion. An excellent eclectic psychedelic/space record with the roughest edges you'll encounter. If you are searching for that 'heavy mind-set', that feeling of raw honesty and free garage experimentation - this is it. Others might be better of by first listening some of this material on youtube before buying the record. I myself feel tempted to give five stars, but the controversy of sound-quality makes me obliged to make it a very big four.

Simply ground-braking, exciting stuff that is spacier then the moon-landing itself.

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Appropriate that the cover art to this one should include a creature from a medieval alchemical illustration, because for this album Egg (plus Steve Hillage) mysteriously transformed into Arzachel, a unit with the same lineup as the earlier Uriel and working in a similar psychedelic vein, but performing material rush-written (or improvised on the spot) for this album.

Make no mistake - the thing was originally conceived as a purely commercial entity, the small record label that funded the sessions wanting a bit of hard psych to bolster their product line. (Dave Stewart tells a hilarious story about how when playing the closing improvisation - the epic Metempsychosis - the band were all watching the studio clock intently, jamming until they had enough material to finish the album off.) And you can kind of tell from the production values - the album suffers from a slightly muffled mix in which Mont Campbell's bass is rather buried and Dave Stewart's organ tends to drown everything else out.

Still, despite the album's humble origins, it still holds up quite well. It does, of course, introduce the record-buying public to Steve Hillage's guitar skills, and the album consists mainly of Hillage and Stewart trading guitar and organ solos with occasional vocals from Steve - with Mont Campbell contributing occasional singing. (The interplay between his vocals and Steve's on Garden of Unearthly Delights contrasts their voices nicely.) The lyrics tend towards loud declarations or foreboding intonations about somewhat mystical topics - Azathoth takes its subject matter from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft (the writer, not the then-active psych band), and Clean Innocent Fun has Steve yelling some nonsense at the beginning and end to sandwich the band's improvisation in the middle. On balance, the album probably wasn't ever going to set the world on fire, but it never fails to entertain. A four star album dragged down by two-star production standards - so let's call it three.

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Hillage /Stewart archive recordings of terrible sound quality. I believe this release has high historical value as early acid/psychedelic release of later well known great musicians. But speaking about his musical value, I am not so sure.

Music there is heavy psychedelic sound,based mostly on vintage simplistic organ passages. Not too much guitar could be heard (ok, sound quality doesn't help with that as well. Sound mix is below even that time standard, some songs sound just as unfinished demos (what is not too far from truth). Many elements of 60-s rock are mixed with new to time keyboards attacks, but now all sound is absolutely dated.

With my great respect to Hillage/Stewart legacy, I can't imagine someone listening this album just for pleasure. Rare and expensive release for collectors though.

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Jazzywoman

2 stars This album, in a sense, is the start of something big. Yes, everyone would go in their seperate ways, while some might meet up again, this is the start of Steve Hillage greatness. Of course, none of the other musicians are subpar (actually, the opposite), they didn't have the impact as Hillage did on the music world, besides Dave Stewart possibly. The music itself is good for the times, though it still sounds like a 60s rock album from a jam band and the production is horrible. The album is still somewhat of a obscure oddity.

1.Garden of Earthly Delights - Excellent opener. Very mellow and laid back with excellent organ passages with drug induced lyricism, performed with excellent vocals. The most structured and listenable song on the album. (9/10)

2.Azathoth - This track, i find, much too preachy and sloppy for my tastes, despite the absolutly delicious opening church organ that is bestowed upon this track. The lyrics are not really anything to get excited about, and the vocals maybe even worse. The rythym section seems to be staying in beat just fine; the only part of the track that may be listenable. (3/10)

3.Queen St. Gang - Starts with a very groovy and mellow bass and drum beat, with trippy organ and guitar parts coming in. Very simple yet stylish for the times. (6/10)

4.Leg - Another average track that seems to not go anywhere. The cresendo at the beginning of the song maybe missleading, as it is excellently performed. It dosen't seem to go anywhere for a few minutes, though the guitar and rythym section come in to make an almost garage band type of sound is harsh and forced vocals from Hillage. (4.5/10)

5.Clean Innocent Fun - The lengthy track that I can stand. The vocals and guitar parts are very nice, and the jazzy organ seems to fit in perfect with the almost blues interludes. The lyrics are nothing to get excited by, but the performance is astonishing. (8/10)

6.Metempsychosis - Almost unlistenable. Trying at something huge and failing dosent go without its rewards, though. It's attempts at making an almost Hawkwind type of sound before Hawkwind obviously fail, as they hopelessly jam into inner space with no mission nor goal. Awkward to say the least. (3/10)

Though the album may contain some hopelessly horrific songs, it's not actually that bad. An early almost experimental album (at the least Side 2 is experimental in its own right) the band had huge goals, though these goals are not very prevailent here, they would be in future albums by Egg, Gong, and Steve Hillage. 2 stars for the effort.

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 Arzachel  by ARZACHEL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 137 ratings

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Arzachel
Arzachel Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars An excellent lineup of musicians released in 1969 an album that's a junction between the 60s psychedelia and what the Canterbury subgenre was about to become. The first track, "Garden of Earthly Delights", is evocative for the first half of the song, when it's bewteen the harmonies of Beatles and Caravan, driven by organ and voice. Then we have a psychedelic section on which bass and drums support the electric guitar giving the track a Floydian sound.

"Azatoth" is the "Idiot and blind God" of the HP Lovecraft's mythology (the writer, not the band). The church organ creates a pseudo-religious environment on which Steve Hillage sings a hymn to "the Almighty center of confusion". The hymn part and its chaotic counterpart which follows are probably the best interpretation ever made in music of the HP Lovecraft's horror. It's scary and bizarre, that's exactly how the writer described it.

The organ comes back to Earth on the following psychedelic track "Queen St. Gang" that has elements coming from the 60s blues-revival and has the mood of some hippy movies of the era. I think it has something to do with a BBC show but I don't remember which one.

"Leg" is a rock-blues that reminds to Colosseum. The bad production adds a "bootleg" flavour that enhances the sense of psychedelia. The guitar solo is a typical blues solo, nothing exceptional but enjoyable. While until now we have had organ based music, so very Canterbury oriented, it's like this song comes from before as it's a product of the 60s also with its chaotic final.

"Clean Innocent Fun" is another dark blues. Guitar and voice play the same melody on a loudy blues base to whom the organ gives its psychedelic effort. Put Janis Joplin's band (Big Brother) and the early Pink Floyd together and you'll have an idea of how this track sounds. I could define it "cannabis oriented". Also on this track the sound quality is not good, but it's part of the package and doesn't disturb so much. A cleaner sound would have likely been less drug-oriented. 10 minutes of classic noisy psychedelia.

"Metempsychosis" is the epic track. 16 minutes that open with noise very similar to the central section of "Saucerful of Secrets" (in the Pompeii version). When the guitar plays bass rhythmic notes, followed by drums, it's very similar to "Astronomy domine". I think this is one of the songs closer to Syd Barrett's music that I've ever heard out of Pink Floyd. The guitar solo plays over the repetitive bass and drums base, with the organ acting as Rick Wright on the noisy part of Echoes (Pompeii again). Hillage's guitar is more close to Barrett than to Gilmour, instead. After about 7 minutes it calms down. The organ plays discordant notes on which Hillage sings scary vocalisms. If you liked Ummagumma, this track is for you. Also the bass that introduces a rocky section after 9 minutes is in the style of Interstellar Overdrive. Let's remind that "Metempsychosis" is the word which indicates the transmigration of souls (KA) from one body to another in the reincarnation process. This is what the music is trying to represent. There's also room for a short bass solo by Mont Campbell followed by the last 4 minutes of heavy psychedelic music. A masterpiece for fans of the genre.

"Azatoth" and "Metempsychosis" are enough to rate this album 4 stars.

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