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Arzachel - Arzachel  CD (album) cover

ARZACHEL

Arzachel

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.65 | 197 ratings

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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
stefro | 3/5 |

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