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Pantheon - Orion CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.38 | 39 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars PANTHÉON (or PANTHEON) was the other Dutch band that dabbled in the sounds from across the English channel, namely the Canterbury Scene along with the much more talented and better known Supersister. This band from Arnhem existed at the same time when Supersister was rocking the Netherlands but only managed to release a sole album titled ORION which came out in 1972. The band was founded in 1970 and went through some lineup changes but by the time the album was recorded the members were Albert Veldkamp (bass), Ruud Wouterson (vocals, keyboards), Hans Boer (saxophone, harmonica, vocals) and Rob Verhoeven (drums). Oh, and PANTHEON is also known as being the only Dutch band that was on the Vertigo label.

The comparisons of Focus meets Camel are totally accurate. This band was sort of a symphonic prog band that added the distinct flute sounds of Focus while engaging in those distinct Canterbury jazz modulations. ORION originally consisted of five tracks which included two shorties ("Daybreak" and "The Madman"), one standard track length ("Anaïs") and two lengthy ones. "Apocalyps" was just shy of 11 minutes and the monster track on board was the 19 1/2 minute title track which swallowed all of side B on the original vinyl. The Focus influences make a lot more sense considering that PANTHEON performed with Focus as well as fellow Dutchies Solution and even the Steve Miller Band of all artists.

ORION is an album of subtleties and nuances. PANTHEON was not one of those flashy prog bands that dished out virtuosic explosiveness much like fellow countrymen Supersister. This band was about crafting smooth flowing chill sessions that resulted in a unique hybrid of mellow symphonic prog a la Camel and also a consistent flow of inspiration from Focus especially that style exhibited on the track "Eruption" from "Focus II." Add a little Canterbury quickness and charm to the mix along with occasional vocals and PANTHEON crafted a very unique mix of contemporary progressive rock excellence. This could be considered a very melodic style of prog as the band was very much about crafting rather accessible melodies and nurturing them at all costs therefore virtuosic performances are pretty much avoided and soft sensual craftsmanship rules the day.

There is not a lot of difference between side A and side B but the title track clearly rules the roost here but once again it totally follows in the footsteps of Focus' "Eruption" in composition but sets itself about from the Canterbury jazz chords that at times make it sounds a bit like Soft Machine on "Third," "Fourth," "Fifth" and beyond. This one is fairly simple in its layout and doesn't deviate much from the master plan and could even be considered wimpy because it's not nearly as bold and daring as a lot of prog was in the year of 1972 but yet PANTHEON were mastered of self-control and crafted a rather beautiful mix of the aforementioned styles on board. I actually think this is a pretty fascinating album that doesn't seem to get as much love as it probably should due to the fact that this band was in the shadow of Supersister.

Whatever the case, PANTHEON didn't exactly set the world on fire and given the crowded arenas of prog during the year ORION was released it's no wonder this band got demoted to bottom dwellers in the sea of excellence that was flooding the market however i cannot see why this one wasn't more revered as it provides an excellent listening experience. Yeah, the influences are worn proudly on sleeves and a sophomore release could've found the band blossoming into even more original nooks and crannies of the prog potentials but although this band only released this one album, i have to say that it is one that is quite consistently pleasant with enough idiosyncratic gusto to make it a compelling listen. Definitely not as OMG brilliant as Supersister but certainly more interesting than many make it out to be. Me likey!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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