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Tetragon - Stretch CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.85 | 29 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars And Then There Were Four

So, if this instrumental four-piece had hired a singer, would they have been called Pentagon ? Whatever, I was gob-smacked to unearth this obscurity in my local Brisbane store as Australian retailers tend to view Prog with the same reluctance as basic hygiene and grammar:

Can I hear a bit of this?

No yeah,'s all good dude (gestures for me to don headphones that appear to have been dipped in a bowl of elephant's earwax and betray a thick blanket of leprous dandruff)

What's this track called again? or summat... (Proceeds to indulge in an impromptu snack from the contents of his nostril larder)

You're kidding!

Ya wannit or not mate?

Not wishing to prolong this dubious hi-fidelity experience any longer than was necessary, I only got to hear half the first track, and so impressed was I by this critter, splashed my filthy Lemming lucre on the even filthier counter. Done deal (bro)

Tetragon's previous release Nature was a good but rather unfocused amalgam of alternately classically inspired prog and jazzy noodles. According to the sleeve notes that Garden of Delights have compiled for Stretch, this appears to be the unreleased follow up which for reasons best known to the band's erstwhile label Soma, never saw the light of day until 38 years later.

Snowstorm - Probably the most fully developed composition on the album as evidenced by the tightly bound unison playing that prefaces a robust main theme. Yep, some fiendish chops are browning nicely hereabouts but I get the nagging feeling that the melodic outline carries more than an aroma of something Beggars Opera served up on their first album? Regardless, the instrumental textures and disciplined dialogue between organ, guitar, bass and drums might conjure up reference points like the Nice, Collegium Musicum, Finch, Beggars Opera and Colosseum. Significantly there is very little horizontal activity here that could be construed as jazz related, (despite the vertical harmonic flavours and scale choices, this has the unyielding grunt and forward motion of unadulterated rawk.

Listen Here - One of the most accurate homages to Brian Auger that I've heard in a long while. Schaper dials up an uncannily Augerish tone on the Hammond on a tune written by Eddie Harris. Unfortunately it ain't no Freedom Jazz Dance but a rather cramped two chord jam which Tetragon to their credit, do disguise sufficiently and with ingenious cunning to carry off as being imbued with more substance than it really merits. Entertaining certainly by virtue of the playing and wealth of ideas culled from such a meagre source but only twice as much fun as a one chord jam all said and done.

The Light - Probably Jaehner's most enduring performance on the record. Up to now his guitar had been a wearyingly thin fuzzy compendium of rock postures but after this epiphanic inspiration, he spices up his tone with creative use of wah-wah, octave soloing and explores a more lyrical aspect to his playing to telling effect. Notice the same wah-wah effect harnessed for Schaeper's organ which appropriates a swelling string pad and just goes to show that with sufficient imagination you don't really need every single Moog gizmo at your fingertips to create arresting new sounds. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to innovation is innovation itself. There are a lot of very strong ideas on this track and considerable detail to be enjoyed in the careful development and building of excitement as the number unfolds.

Hovering Stones - The angular and rapid-fire unison riff is redolent of Tarkus (but then to be fair to the lads, pluck some notes at random and repeat same in a circular fashion at a high tempo and it's not gonna sound like ELP's epic?) Despite this enticing opening it soon lapses into another distinctly ordinary two chord jam before (rather self-consciously I suspect) they dive into a completely unrelated idea at a quicker tempo. My Uncle Bill who worked in the used car business always told me: Never buy a vehicle that has been compiled from two separate wrecks.

Dragon Song - The album closes on a very distinct high courtesy of a swaggering romp through a John McLaughlin tune (of which I have never heard the original) It could be deemed rather repetitive in places but given the sheer irresistible license of the groovy riff employed, those nay-sayers in our midst are cordially invited to imbibe toxins of their own choosing. Brian Auger's Oblivion Express come readily to mind here as Dragon Song inhabits a similar territory to the latter's more inspired work.

Stretch will appeal to those who enjoyed the previous Nature (but is rationed of the jazzier candy of the former) plus the bands I alluded to above. Well worth hunting down for lovers of the Hammond everywhere, irrespective of what genre of music butters your corn baby.

PS Note to self: Buy Prog albums on-line in future and pass off using 'groovy' in a review as ironic.

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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