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Arzachel - Arzachel CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.65 | 212 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Arzachel - st (1969)

This is a very interesting early progressive record, covering a wide variety of styles associated with the progressive movement. On this record you'll hear proto-prog, avant- garde-space-rock (Metempsychosis), extremely heavy rock , post blues rock (vocal parts on Clean innocent fun), majestic neo-classical organ driven rock (Azathoth and Queen Street Gang) and perhaps even a bit of proto-punk (on 'Leg'). The record became famous in the vinyl record community because of it's extreme rarity and it has some early musicianship of soon to be famous progressive rock musicians. Quite easily, Arzachel (or formerly known as Uriel) consists of Egg + Steve Hillage (Kahn, Gong, solo), with Egg consisting of Brooks, Campbell and no less then Dave Stewart (Egg, Kahn, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Bruford) on organs. Therefore, this record can also be seen as one of the earliest Canterbury records, though it's sound is quite different.

Recently I was able to buy a vinyl reprint of this otherwise unavailable record with a purple color, just as the early French reprint. The sound of Arzachel is very edgy. Whilst some compositions thrive in thickness of sound (with a pleasant slightly distorted vibe), the louder tracks seems to suffer from quite extreme loudness resulting in heavy noisy guitar and drums sounds. To some (like me partially) this will enhance the feeling of obscure heaviness and that relentless feeling of free garage experimentation. To others this will simply sound a bit ugly or unpleasant.

However, one thing is for sure. The song-writing and neo-classical compositions on side one and the free space/avant-garde experimentation on side two are sometimes plain brilliant. The guts to make such a 'heavy' progressive record is quite rare, especially in the late sixties. The way pleasant organ rock is combined with avant-garde on Azaroth is just so exciting and the endless heavy space jamming on Metempsychosis (over 16 minutes) is just unbelievable. The early guitars of Hillage are very pleasant, because he didn't yet found 'his favorite tricks and licks' - something that would bother me on later records. The psychedelic organ passages of Dave Stewart remind me a bit of Pawn Hearts era VdGG. Some people might argue that the record also has elements that make it sound unfinished or naive. Perhaps it can't be denied that with a bit more time and a better studio recording this would have been better, but the obscurity and rawness give the record a magic touch.

Conclusion. An excellent eclectic psychedelic/space record with the roughest edges you'll encounter. If you are searching for that 'heavy mind-set', that feeling of raw honesty and free garage experimentation - this is it. Others might be better of by first listening some of this material on youtube before buying the record. I myself feel tempted to give five stars, but the controversy of sound-quality makes me obliged to make it a very big four.

Simply ground-braking, exciting stuff that is spacier then the moon-landing itself.

friso | 4/5 |


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