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MANDALABAND

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Mandalaband biography
MANDALABAND were a short-lived 70's creation of composer and producer David Rohl. The actual band was short-lived and produced only a single album; however, Rohl would subsequently incorporate the name into a multi-musician theme effort after the original group disbanded.

Early years
ANKH recorded tracks in 1968 with support from MINDBENDERS and 10CC vocalist Eric Stewart and under contract to Vertigo Records, but to-date these have never been released. The collaboration with Stewart set the tone for Rohl, whose subsequent efforts would also be marked by the involvement of major names in the British music industry.

Following the ANKH project Rohl left the music business briefly for a career in photography, where his most notable achievements can be seen inside the gatefold of the MOODY BLUES' 1970 release 'A Question of Balance'.

Mandalaband
Rohl returned to music with the formation of MANDALABAND along with drummer Tony Cresswell and Camel Studios session keyboardist Vic Emerson and former FRIENDS members John Stimpson and Ashley Mulford. The group auditioned and signed vocalist David Durant and MANDALABAND was born and promptly signed by Chrysalis Records.

MANDALABAND undertook touring almost immediately, and by early 1975 found themselves opening for Robin Trower's UK. The band followed the tour with a trip to the studio for their first and only album, for which Chrysalis retained THIN LIZZY and YARDBIRDS producer John Alcock much to the band's chagrin. The theme of the album was centered around the Tibetan resistance movement against Chinese occupation begun after the redistricting of the area following World War II, and still smoldering today. Chrysalis executives were not pleased with the effort and eventually brought Rohl and future TALK TALK engineer Tim Friese-Greene back to the studio to remix the album. John Alcock. The final effort was not particularly well-received thanks largely to its Tibetan lyrics and highly complex and often dissonant musical structures, particularly coming as it did on the wane of popularity for bombastic and obscure progressive epics in the latter 70s. This album was reissued on CD in 1992 by Edsel Records but is not widely available. Rohl left the group shortly after the album's release, and the band eventually reformed around future MIKE & THE MECHANICS vocalist Paul Young and GYRO guitarist Ian Wilson under the name SAD CAFÉ.

Mandalaband 'Club'
For his part Rohl ret...
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AD - SangrealAD - Sangreal
Import
Legend Records 2011
Audio CD$15.00
$120.18 (used)
Eye of WendorEye of Wendor
Remastered · Import
Eclectic 2004
Audio CD$99.99
$65.99 (used)
BC AncestorsBC Ancestors
Legend Records
Audio CD$23.20
$18.76 (used)
3 (Bc-Ancestors)3 (Bc-Ancestors)
Import
Indies Japan/Zoom 2011
Audio CD$30.88
$35.99 (used)
4 (Ad-Sangreal)4 (Ad-Sangreal)
Import
Indies Japan/Zoom 2011
Audio CD$30.94
$36.21 (used)
Eye of WenderEye of Wender
Extra tracks · Import
Wea International 2004
Audio CD$99.99
THE EYE OF WENDOR +3(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)THE EYE OF WENDOR +3(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)
DIW Records (JAPAN)
Audio CD$188.90
$74.97 (used)
MANDALABAND I +3(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)MANDALABAND I +3(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)
DIW Records (JAPAN)
Audio CD$187.79
$130.96 (used)
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MANDALABAND discography


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

3.65 | 56 ratings
Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I)
1975
3.30 | 34 ratings
Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies
1978
3.35 | 15 ratings
Mandalaband III - BC: Ancestors
2009
3.15 | 22 ratings
Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal
2011

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

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

4.00 | 5 ratings
Resurrection
2010

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

MANDALABAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.30 | 34 ratings

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Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars An album with some merits, but...

Continuing a similar overblown classical sound as on the debut album, producer/composer David Rohl completely retooled the band and brought in an army of musicians for the follow up. The second album featured, among others, all of the original members of 10CC, the current members of Barclay James Harvest, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, and Steeleye Span's Maddy Prior.

The result is, understandably schizophrenic. There is a good amount of symphonic rock, although at many times the orchestral arrangements sound like Mantovani, where true emotion is replaced with heavy pounding on piano keys. The better portions are the tracks that more closely resemble the lighter, slightly folky sound of the Moodies and BJH. 10CC members add to the lushness of the vocals. Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley all have standoutmoments, while Lol Crème is left in the background. Maddy Prior's single track, Like The Wind is a fine showcase for her excellent voice.

So this album is a bit uneven, but it is also a slight step up from the debut.

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 Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.30 | 34 ratings

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Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Originally Mandalaband were never destined to exist since the great first album, but, while going to work at Indigo Sound in Manchester in 1976, Rohl was asked to write the soundtrack for a film version of The Lord of the Rings.This movie never appeared in the industry, but, as Rohl had already started working on its music, he finished his composing work around 1978.Without a supporting group he asked his close friends to help him out with the recordings of the so called ''The eye of Wendor'', that ended up to be a fantasy story by Rohl with a Tolkien-esque atmosphere.The result was a line-up of more than 30 musicians/singers, including Woolly Wolstenholme, John Lees, Justin Hayward to name a few, for a process that took place at Strawberry Studios in Stockport.The album was released in 1978 on Chrysalis.

While not exactly moving away from the style of the masterful debut, ''The eye of Wendor'' can be regarded better as an Orchestral Rock album, delivered as a symphony of multiple variations, somewhere in the middle of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST smooth, melodic orchestrations and THE ENID's more grandiose and Classical-influenced style.No long epics in here, this album consists of 14 very short movements, that are tighly connected to offer a long symphonic-oriented work, where a dreamy and ethereal atmosphere is evident throughout.Plenty of string sections, wind instruments and choirs produce a trully cinematic feeling, perfect for the needs of a similar movie.A few cuts are rather close to sound effects than structured musicianship and the extreme dose of orchestral textures may annoy the traditional prog listener.On the other hand Rohl's ability to create majestic soundscapes is undoubtful with all these nice piano interludes, beautiful, romantic vocal arrangements and Classical sections.Guitars and synthesizers are really measured, used where Rohl thought they should, but definitely adding the work an excellent power.A couple of more GENTLE GIANT-like quirky passages are also present, but seem to be a bit far from an otherwise very atmospheric and at moments dramatic work.Again though, at the end remains a bittersweet taste of the sporadically used guitars of Steve Broomhead, who managed to deliver some amazing melodies.

Absolutely far from the extraordinary compositions of ''Mandalaband'', this albums is a real stunner for all fans of cinematic Art Rock or melodic semi-Symphonic Rock of the BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST school.Still among these short pieces every listener will find plenty of beautiful arrangements with a rockin' attitude.Recommended.

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 Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.15 | 22 ratings

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Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Theo Verstrael

4 stars Many years back I managed to lay my hands on the second album by the Mandalaband. I was interested mainly because all members of Barclay James Harvest took part in tha project. The music turned out realy nice, in a way very much different from BJH but also reminiscent of the pastoral atmosphere that BJH used to come up with.

Last week I encountered this album in our local record store and since the album is dedicated to the memory of Woolly Wolstenholme I bought it immediately. I can surely recommend many of you to do the same if you like beautifully crafted, symphonic music with lots of intricate arrangements for flute, oboe, complete orchestras, brass sections, Indian instruments and, last but not least, electric guitar. The melodies are deceivingly simple, the lyrics are rather good telling the story of a holy Sangreal, a cup that could have been the Holy Grail but isn't, the vocals sung by different members of the project are not great but certainly very satisfactory and the overall feeling is just great. There are no stand-out tracks for me, although I like 'A bloodline born' and, of course, 'Galadriel' more than the other songs. I find this a really beautiful album, absolutely stronger than their first two albums (a far better production) because of the richer variety in songs and arrangements. And for those who really like BJH (like me) the fully new arrangement of Galadriel that is added as a bonus track is a absolute must: sung by Woolly, lushly arranged with orchestra, a different tempo yet very recognizable.

The art work is simply stunning, with all lyrics and the players in each song, accompanied by photos of all the people that contributed to the album musically. A very tasteful booklet is the result, a nice gem to look into.

For those who like BJH, Moody Blues, Renaissance or, maybe, the recent albums by Big Big Train, this is an album you won't regret to buy.

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 Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I) by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.65 | 56 ratings

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Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I)
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars This is a tough album to judge. The musicians are absolutely superb. Particularly I find Vic Emerson's keyboards and Tony Cresswell's drums to be up to par with many better known prog performances. But the compositions rarely do them justice.

The album is essentially two parts. The first half is a four part suite called Om Mani Padme Hum. This is a bombastic somewhat symphonic work, that relies heavily on orchestral and choral arrangements. There are some nice passages, but much of it sounds like it was recorded in a vast cavern, giving it a mushy sound. And while compositionally, the music is fairly good, it is spoiled by overly theatrical vocals.

The second half consists of four slightly proggy tracks, that have a sound that reminds me a bit of early Yes, or possibly Flash. Unfortunately, these songs also have the overbearing vocals, which happen to be singing unbearably naive lyrics, all pertaining to Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

There is some intrinsic value to the album, based mostly on the instrumental performances. But I can't give it any more than three stars.

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 Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.15 | 22 ratings

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Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Woolly Wolstenholme's final words

This is the fourth album released under the name of Mandalaband, the first two coming in the 70's (Mandalaband I in 1975 and Mandalaband II in 1978). It then took more than 30 years for Mandalaband III to see the light of day in 2009, and now in 2011 they present us with Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal. Like all the previous Mandalaband releases, this one too is a concept album. Musically, it is most similar to Mandalaband III in its pleasant mixture of World Music, New Age, Soft Rock, Symphonic bombast and some more modern sounds. Fans of Mike Oldfield, Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues and perhaps Vangelis will probably like this, but this new album is less good than all the previous ones.

Like on previous albums, there is a plethora of instruments played by a number of guests including Woolly Wolstenholme who took his own life shortly after this album was created. In tribute to Woolly, a new version of Barclay James Harvest's Galadriel is attached as a bonus track.

As I have pointed out in previous reviews, Mandalaband is not so much a band as a "project", similar to the Alan Parsons Project. The Alan Parsons of Mandalaband is David Rohl who is the main composer, orchestrator, producer and engineer. He also sings and plays various instruments. And he is also a professor of archaeology!

I recommend investigating the albums of Mandalaband in chronological order, this one is their least interesting so far. It is not bad as such, but it adds little to what they already gave us on the previous album.

Recommended only to fans (if there are any such?!)

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 Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.15 | 22 ratings

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Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Frans Verweij

4 stars Mandalaband - Sangreal

My love for the Mandalaband dates back to 1976, when that tremendous album "Eye of Wendor" was released (on vinyl) with collaborations of members of 10cc, BJH and the Moody Blues(and Maddy Prior of course), what a beautiful album. David Rohl, the initiator of the Mandalaband was/is a producer turned Egyptologist. So it wasn't until 2009 he released, as Mandaland, a follow up on "Eye of Wendor": BC Ancesors. (The previous follow up albums were scrapped due to lack of income/interest for/of the record companies). Not with the "star" line up we saw in "Eye of Wendor" but still with the basic musicians and with Wooly Wolstenholme of Barclay James Harvest, came BC Ancestors in 2009. Now then, out of the blue (for me), the new album "AD Sangreal". With same line up as BC and probably the last musical contribution of Wooly Wolstenholme, he sadly died December 2010. This is a good successor of BC, somewhat more direction in the album I think. A lot more mellow moods as in BC. Not realy prog I think, but not far off. If you like BJH you're well off. What I like the most is the Gregorian chant on the album. But also the more up-tempo songs. For that reason I could compare this album a mix of "Journey" from Janus and the Enid's "Journey's End". As in every Mandalaband's albums there is a story to tell, and this one is: (from the website) Mandalaband IV brings you the legend of the Holy Grail? but not the tradition surrounding King Arthur and the Round Table Knights. This is the story as handed down to us through the Romano-Spanish tradition of the Sangria - the true history of the cup used by Christ at the last supper. Arriving in Europe with Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea, over the centuries, it was transformed into the mystical relic known as the Holy Grail. I think for every BJH fan a must have, for others this is a trully fantastic album if you like a fairy tale style of music, or indeed with a liking of British tradition/myths.

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 Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.30 | 34 ratings

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Mandalaband II - The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, quite different in almost all aspects from their debut in 1975. While the first album was a symphonic rock album about a very real and contemporary subject (the invasion and domination of Tibet by the Chinese forces), this one is a more orchestrated celtic/pop-rock album of sorts telling a fairy tale story based on J.R.R. Tolkien´s writings (yes, even in the 70´s there were already people writing songs about hobbits and all). There was no band to speak of: none of the original members plays on this CD, replaced by an all star assemble to play and sing the parts of the characters. So members of 10cc, Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues, Steeleye Span, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, etc all participate on this overblown work.

I´m not surprised it didn´t chart at all (promping the recording company to cancel a proposed continuation of the story, which was supposed to be a trilogy). First, the timing was wrong (1978 wasn´t exactly the best year for such undertaken, right?). Secondly and most important, the album sounds a bit unfinished. There are several tracks that contains good ideas and very nice melodies that never seem to develop to their peak. So in the end, we have an album that is quite pleasant and easy to hear from start to finish. And yet it gives the impression that it lacks some cohesion and continuity. There are no real lows, but neither there are real highlights. My Eclectic CD edition has a beautiful reproduction of the original art cover and story, but no lyrics. A different version of Dawn O fA New Day is included as a bonus track.

Conclusion: good, ok, but hardly essential at all. Their debut was much more interesting and sounded like a band. This one is more like a soundtrack of a musical or even a good movie: nice, well done and works better when you´re watching the scenes. 3 stars.

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 Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I) by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.65 | 56 ratings

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Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I)
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must confess I was a little skeptical at first about the potential of this project. A concept album about China´s domination of Tibet? It sounded like one of those records where the cause debated is quite noble but the musical side takes a back seat on it. Besides I never heard of these musicians before. Nor about their creator, composer and producer David Rohl. And the ratings here varied wildly. However, I decided to take a chance on it and I was rewarded by getting a true 70´s jewel!

Side one consists entirely of the epic Om Mani Padme Hum, divided in four parts (or movements). The vocals are sung in tibetian and, believe it or not, they worked brilliantly. Musically this is symphonic rock at its best, with some fiery guitar solos, soaring choirs and wonderful keyboards. Nothing really groundbreaking of course, fairly common stuff of the time in fact, but excellent anyway. The instrumental part of this work reminded me of works by artists like Rick Wakeman and Renaissance were doing then, while the orchestrations bring up memories of Burt Bacharach´s arrangements he had done on the film Lost Horizon (1972). Some eastern sounds and rhythms are evident too, but not too much.

Side two is made up of four independent short songs, all still dealing with the main theme of the invasion and dominance of Tibet. But those tunes tend towards a less symphonic and more prog rock approach. Here we have english vocals and again nice guitars and swirling Hammond organs. All good ones, by the way. I really liked David Durant´s versatile vocals and the terrific musicanship of all involved. Production is ok for the time and there is not a single note wasted throughout the record. I guess the highlight of this album is the epic Om Mani Padme Hum, but the rocking side two is also quite powerful too.

Conclusion: one of the best obscure concept albums I found in many years, if not the best. Inspired, melodic, bombastic and very well done. I was tempted to give it a five star rating, but I think a 4.5 one is more fitting. If you´re into great symphonic works of the 70´s you can´t miss this one. Highly recommended!

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 Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I) by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.65 | 56 ratings

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Mandalaband (aka Mandalaband I)
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Free Tibet!

This debut album is by far the best of Mandalaband's three albums and (presumably) the sole reason that they are listed as Symphonic Prog. This album is also the only album on which Mandalaband is really a band; on the subsequent two albums they were more of a 'project' led by David Rohl (similar in structure to the Alan Parsons Project). But just like the subsequent two albums, this debut is similarly conceptual or thematic and the theme or concept this first time around was about Tibet.

It was quite hard for me to find this album, but I finally managed to find it on vinyl LP and I transferred it to my computer. I have subsequently tracked down a version of Mandalaband II on CD which contains the four-movement suite Om Mani Padme Hum as a bonus track. On the vinyl album this largely instrumental epic named after a Buddhist mantra and with occasional vocals in an unknown (to me) language takes up the first half while the second half is left to shorter and more direct songs sung in English. The sound of this album is quite unique, but bands and artists such as Focus (think Hamburger Concerto), Mike Oldfield, Caravan, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Beggar's Opera readily come to mind. While none of these references are quite able to fully capture the multifaceted nature of Mandalaband, this album will appeal to fans of classic Symphonic Prog.

After the rather gentle epic, the second side speeds things up considerably with the heavy Determination. This song has a very Yes-like (think Roundabout) bass and keyboard approach. This is probably my favourite track of the album. Song For A King is more Camel/Caravan-like, a nice melodic tune. Roof Of The World once again picks up the tempo a bit and this one reminds me a bit of Beggar's Opera or possibly Arthur Brown. Looking In is another Caravan-like, slightly jazzier piece that closes this album in fine fashion.

All three albums by Mandalaband are worth having, but this is definitely the one to go for first.

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 Mandalaband III - BC: Ancestors by MANDALABAND album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.35 | 15 ratings

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Mandalaband III - BC: Ancestors
Mandalaband Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars An appealing fusion of ancient and modern

Mandalaband is not so much a band as a "project", structurally similar to the Alan Parsons Project. The role played by Alan Parsons in that band is here played by David Rohl who is the leader, orchestrator, producer, engineer and the brain behind the concept of the album. David also sings and plays various instruments on several tracks. As indicated by the title this is the third album released under the name of Mandalaband, the first being from 1975 and the second from 1978. This means that it took more than 30 years for Rohl and company to release this third album (and as far as I understand a forth album is already in preparation)!

Mandalaband III - BC: Ancestors is a conceptual album but this is less obvious than you might expect. There are some vocals and spoken word passages in some ancient tongue, but there is no narrated story or such behind the album.

We find here an appealing and very pleasant mixture of World Music, New Age, (soft) Rock and Symphonic bombast with some more modern sounds like programmed drums and discrete sequensers. The instrumentation is a deliberate crossover between ancient and modern, mixing Rock instruments like electric guitars, bass, drums (real and programmed) and various keyboards with traditional and exotic instruments like uilleann pipes, various whistles, bazouki, Spanish guitars, mandolin, viola, dulcimer, marimba and a plethora of different percussion instruments. The vocals are shared among several male and female singers including Woolly Wolstenholme of Barclay James Harvest fame who also play keyboards and contributes a couple of numbers of his own. Woolly's songs are similar in style to those on his recent Maestoso albums.

Anyone expecting a Symphonic Prog album will perhaps not be fully satisfied by this, but anyone with a taste for Mike Oldfield, Barclay James Harvest, Vangelis (particularly his 1492 - Conquest Of Paradise album) and The Moody Blues will probably enjoy it very much. Some songs even remind slightly of Camel in their more relaxed and laid back moments. The production is flawless and the sonic quality of the album is really impressive. The biggest problem is that there are too many different singers involved which makes the album sound a bit incoherent. I am also not very fond of those tracks that have programmed drums.

Personally, I still think that this is a very enjoyable and highly pleasant album and it is better than Mandalaband II, in my opinion (I have yet to hear Mandalaband I). This is absolutely worth hearing.

Recommended, but not essential

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