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Raw Material - Time Is... CD (album) cover


Raw Material


Eclectic Prog

3.46 | 65 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars British band Raw Material recorded two albums over the course of as many years between 1970-71, and the second album from the band, `Time Is...' is a strong collection of mostly Proto-prog styled pieces with light psych, jazz and folk elements. Due to the inclusion of saxophone/flute player Mike Fletcher, fans of the sax dominated early King Crimson albums and Van der Graaf Generator will find much to appeal here, with bands such as Beggars Opera, Pink Floyd and Novalis also other possible little reference points. It's not an album that instantly impresses, instead one that gradually reveals the consistently strong instrumental and compositional skills of the band on repeated plays.

On lead track `Ice Queen', the band were evidently quite influenced by Van der Graaf Generator, but although the sax lines throughout almost exactly recreate the VdGG classic `Killer', accusations of this band being an outright clone of them are completely false! A powerful and dramatic opener with howling winds, a dominating vocal from keyboard player Colin Catt, drifting flute and snarling lead guitar, with a nimble spiraling piano and thrashing drums driven jazz breakdown in the middle. Announcing intimidating sax opens `Empty House', a deranged Roger Water-esque vocal from Colin snarling `You and me can have some fun, empty houses one by one...'! Plodding heavy Uriah Heep-style guitars, treated droning sax over commanding acoustic guitars before heavy electric grooves twist the piece.

The first extended piece `Insolent Lady' incorporates soft dreamy Pink Floyd-like acoustic guitar passages, a warmer vocal, glistening electric piano, heavier sax, shimmering cymbal crashes, rising organs and gentle washes of synths that almost bring a rising and falling orchestral quality. `Miracle Worker' reminds instantly of Beggars Opera, a more upbeat melodic tune driven by addictive Hammond organ, Cliff Harewood's rapid fire mangled Byrds-like guitar licks and a catchy distorted electric piano solo in the middle over smashing drums.

There's a very slight psychedelic period Beatles sound on `Religion', mostly one chord played over and over behind dirty honking sax blasts, the imposing drumming building in urgency throughout to become quite hypnotic. The three part extended closer `Sun God' offers plentiful changing moods. The first section `Awakening' delivers an unhurried acoustic guitar and flute passage not unlike the drowsier Novalis moments, quickly shattered by the raucous `Realization' with wild vocals and clattering percussion, thick Hammond organ stabs and lusty guitar grooves before calming down into mellow jamming, the murmuring bass a highlight. After a brief reprise of the first section, `Worship' closes the album on a reflective ocean of fading-in placid synths before a final stirring sax fanfare.

There's no absolute classics to be found here, nor should the album ever be confused with being a lost classic, but `Time Is...' is still a strong and solid collection of early prog- influenced tunes, and it's a shame the band didn't get a chance to offer more works from here. It's definitely one to consider adding to the collection if you come across an LP or a CD reissue at a decent price, and it remains a very enjoyable album that deserves a bit more attention.

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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