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Nektar - Journey To The Centre Of The Eye CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.76 | 342 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is not an easy album to appreciate despite the great effort that went in to creating it. Nektar had already recorded some fairly standard rock songs, which became known as the Boston Tapes, in 1970. However, when it came time to record a debut, the band insisted straight out on a concept album, a story about an astronaut who is met by aliens who take him to their galaxy where he learns to see with his mind and gains the power of the All- seeing Eye.

The band had it all figured out with songs telling the chapters of the story, instrumental parts providing music for the story, and lots of in-studio effects created with their equipment alone. The CD liner notes say that Frank Zappa was very impressed with the band's studio innovation and was interested in signing them to his own label. That, however, didn't pan out. Finding a label to take a new band and release a debut album that was based on a science fiction story and didn't seem to feature any good singles was a problem. But at last "Journey to the Centre of the Eye" was released with all the band's space effects, loud guitar and organ, and some instrumental segments that bordered on classical music performed by a heavy psych band.

I've listened to this album a few times now spaced out over several months (the listening periods were spaced out, not me) and some individual tracks a couple of times more. It's not an album for pulling apart, though "Burn out My Eyes" is good enough to stand alone. This is an album better suited for playing all the way through and then while reading the story details provided in the CD booklet. For just listening without knowing what is going on can have you wondering if someone didn't spend a little too much money for a group of guys to make experimental noise in the studio.

There are moments when I could imagine that this is what the Moody Blues could have been if they had dropped all the classical instruments and just went for all out space rock. Or perhaps there are some wires crossed with Ziggy Stardust. Did some of Pink Floyd's more adventurous studio efforts on "Ummagumma" have any influence here?

What makes this so difficult to assign a star rating to is that this could be a really brilliant album that is suffering just a bit too much from a weak recording and/or mixing. The vocals often sound like they were recorded in a room down the hall with the door open while the louder instruments sound like the speakers were crowding the mics. Actually, the first three Nektar albums all sound quite similar, though "A Tab in the Ocean" has some better examples of progressive rock in so far as tight and complex compositions are concerned. Here it's more the effort at creating a space suspense story soundtrack that earns Nektar prog cred.

I'd really like to say Nektar started their recording career with a stunning piece of work, but honestly it is not as easy to enjoy as "A Tab in the Ocean" or the much better "Remember the Future". This is a little too far out on a low budget for me to call it an excellent addition to any prog collection. Good but not essential would also depend. I hate to say it's for collectors and fans only but I can't feel justified in giving this one too much praise. High points for creativity and effort, but I feel the end result is an acquired taste.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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