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Third Ear Band - Abelard & Heloise CD (album) cover


Third Ear Band


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

2.96 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The British group THIRD EAR BAND were forerunners of ethnic fusion music -- or "world music" -- in the late sixties. In the summer of 1970, when they had released two albums, they played some concerts in Germany and made the music for a German TV drama Abelard and Heloise. In fact the music remained an unavailable obscurity until the late nineties when it was issued on CD.

I'm citing the liner notes of the 3-disc compilation Elements 1970-1971 (Esoteric Recordings, 2018): "The drama was directed by George Moorse, featuring psychedelic, overexposed colourful drawings by painter Herbert Fuchs: it told the dramatic, contrasting love story between Peter Abelard (1070-1142), French philosopher and theologist with a troubled life, and Heloise, a French nun and niece of a Canon, Fulbert, who to hinder this passion between the tutor and his pupil, recruited friends to attack and castrate Abelard." Cellist Ursula Smith recalls: "We first reached the movie though on a TV screen and then it was played in front of us while we improvised the music."

The raga-flavoured improvised music for oboe, violin, viola, cello and percussion flows rather peacefully, at times almost hypnotically. Oboe and cello are throughout the soundtrack the most heard instruments. The six tracks are unnamed; the first part lasts nearly for 14 minutes while the others are shorter. The slow second part is especially medidative, and on the more dramatic third part the strings are constantly see-sawing the same frantic riff. Because of its improvisatory nature the music becomes at times quite vague and unshaped. Sonically it's a blend of raga-rock and the early/mid 20th century chamber music. Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (although it features vocals too) has something similar in the introvert and estranged atmosphere.

I don't know how to rate this work. Third Ear Band is not much up to my taste in the first place, or the raga-rock genre in general. I certainly prefer listening to the classical chamber music that is composed, not improvised. Or the Finnish Piirpauke when it comes to ethnic fusion. But for the friends of this group, Abelard and Heloise is undoubtedly fairly interesting. A bit later they made their other film soundtrack, for Macbeth directed by Roman Polanski (which album I probably prefer if I had to choose between the two).

Matti | 3/5 |


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