Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Supersister - Present From Nancy CD (album) cover

PRESENT FROM NANCY

Supersister

 

Canterbury Scene

4.04 | 198 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
5 stars The origins of SUPERSISTER go all the way back to The Hague, Netherlands in 1967 when Robert-Jan Stips (vocals and keyboard), Sacha van Geest (flute), Marco Vrolijk (drums) and Ron van Eck (bass) started the band under the moniker Sweet O.K. Supersister (the name they would release their final album "Spiral Staircase" under). In the few short years between their formation and the release of their debut release PRESENT FROM NANCY, a collection of absurdist musical tales of a fictitious girl having tea with the giant staircase gnome, the band honed their chops to become one of the biggest surprises of the nascent progressive rock scene in 1970 by taking the Canterbury traits of Soft Machine, Egg and Caravan and marrying them to the whimsy on steroids approach of The Mothers Of Invention all the while throwing in some Miles Davis and John Coltrane jazz effects mangled up in a classically infused compositional approach. All in the spirit of the wild experimental odometer years of the 60s turn 70s era.

While mere teenagers, this quartet dished out some of the most adventurous music of the early prog scene that literally took their influences to the next few levels and unleashed a truly bizarre mishmash of Vrolijk's military styled percussive drive (offering a somewhat cartoonish effect), blitzkrieg keyboard virtuosity delivered by the frenetic fingers of Robert Jan Stips (who simultaneously nailed the Robert Wyatt vocal style), the Caravan inspired fuzz bass of Ron van Eck and Van Geest's sensual flute performances that somehow provide a grounding to the electric performances that make up PRESENT FROM NANCY, one of the ultimate gifts of 1970 indeed and one of the Netherlands' finest hours. In the world of progressive rock PRESENT FROM NANCY simultaneously offers some of the most complex musical deliveries with outlandish humorous touches that even finds the band members cracking up!

The album starts off with a robotic percussive drive with a classic Canterbury jazzed up piano run, a juxtaposition of styles that carries on throughout the album's entire run, never lets up and offers only the unexpected after a sense of comfort dares creep in. The album could be thought of as taking up the continuation of Soft Machine's first two albums. While the Softs were hell bent for leather to jettison their Canterbury pop rock origins in favor of stodgy and whimsy-free jazz fusion, SUPERSISTER gleefully picked up where "Soft Machine II" left off and then found myriad avenues of creative liberties to breath new life into it by taking the most extreme elements of the musical landscape and finding a way to incorporate them into the greater scheme of things.

SUPERSISTER managed to deliver the whole package with pleasant, even addictive melodies teased out into elaborate compositions that simultaneously exhibited a caffeinated youthful energetic drive together with mature and thoughtfully laid out musical motifs that took all the best aspects of the English Canterbury sound along with jazz-rock, classical and even managed to throw in some ridiculously cool psychedelia via electronic freak outs over exquisitely complex time signatures. The sheer audacity on display in "Memories Are New" for example, a construct of three segments that make a greater whole runs the gamut of sweet Canterbury laced jazzy melodies, relentless fuzz bass stabs, electronic feedback run amok and even sizzling guitar leads on par with any heavy rock of the day. The "11/8" part takes the best aspects of Egg and Mike Ratelege only to more extreme levels.

"Corporation Combo Boys," right out of the Frank Zappa playbook finds jazz-rock and tango romping together but only a brief appetite whetter for "Metamorphosis," another three part suite that sounds like a pronto-punk band experimenting with jazzy lounge lizard exotica that slowly ratchets up the intensity until it implodes with the closing segment "Eight Miles High." "Dona Nobis Pacem" goes even further and finds the band displaying some of the most interesting electronic techniques made more famous by Tangerine Dream as ethereal organ runs taking a ride into space in a slow unwinding prancing session between the stars, a track that belies the frenetic and whimsical nature of the album as a whole. Some sort of calming effect perhaps for the unsuspecting audience of the day? Who knows but a perfect way to end the prog expresss that unapologetically wends and winds through both the known and unknown prog universe of the day.

With so many elements freewheeling around the racetrack at a million miles an hour, PRESENT FROM NANCY shows a keen sense of stylistic balance which allows the album to hum along in perfection. The frenetic aspects are tamped down by the sensual moments of introspection. SUPERSISTER became quite the sensation in their native country even spawning hit singles but once English DJ John Peel started promoting them on his BBC Radio One Show, the band found a wider audience following in all of Europe and successfully captured hearts in their live performances. While stylistically straddling the line between Canterbury, jazz, classical and psychedelia, SUPERSISTER's debut delivered one of the most diverse sounding albums of the early progressive rock years in the vein of King Crimson's mighty debut "In The Court" which boldly straddles the musical soundscape into hitherto unvisited nooks and crannies of sound. This was very much a grower for yours truly. What started out as a WTF type of album has slowly sunk in to become an all time favorite. Patience, my friends. All good things come in their due time. A PRESENT FROM NANCY is the gift that keeps on giving.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this SUPERSISTER review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives